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Still having problems with temperature: some questions

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I've done a few more cooks since I last posted - and while they are getting better, I still think I'm having problems with temperature. Basically, I'm just not sure the smoker is getting hot enough. 

 

I have a dual probe digital thermometer and a copy of the franklin BBQ book - he says you should aim for a temperature in your smoker of 275F as a decent reference - This seems right at the upper end of what I can achieve, its more around 220/230 most of the time.

 

having played around with various things - below are my notes & questions.

 

- I don't think enough air is getting into the firebox, even with the side flap open it doesn't burn properly - There is this whole 'backdraft' thing going on (as in the movie) where as soon as I open the lid a little it suddenly catches and I can see flames, and smoke of course. 

 

- If I open the firebox lid just a little (I'm talking 2 or 3 mm) , I think I get more oxygen in. So I'm trading losing a little smoke (and heat) out of the top of the firebox so that I get a more intense burn and a higher temperature in the smoker chamber. I was contemplating propping this ajar, again only by 2 or 3 mm for the duration of the smoke -  Is this a complete no-no?

 

- is the 275 degrees a fair reference? - am I aiming too high? 

 

Cheers,Ace

post #2 of 10

Are you keeping the damper on the stack wide open? If you're not, you should.

You might want to try it without the water pan and see what happens there. I have never used one in any of my offsets and everything was fine.

Next I would switch entirely to lump after the initial briquette start. Lump will burn longer with coals more akin to a regular fire. That rig, with it's thinner gauge metal and inevitable leaks ( like the char-broils and brinkmans) tend to make them some fuel eaters so you may have to really shovel the coals to it to get it up and running..

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pit 4 Brains View Post
 

Are you keeping the damper on the stack wide open? If you're not, you should.

You might want to try it without the water pan and see what happens there. I have never used one in any of my offsets and everything was fine.

Next I would switch entirely to lump after the initial briquette start. Lump will burn longer with coals more akin to a regular fire. That rig, with it's thinner gauge metal and inevitable leaks ( like the char-broils and brinkmans) tend to make them some fuel eaters so you may have to really shovel the coals to it to get it up and running..

 

 

Yep - if "Damper" is the the little door on the side of the firebox, yup - it's wide open... I guessed that the thin metal of my landmann is leaking heat like there is no tommorow. I'll give it a try without the watering pan. 

 

is the temperature I'm aiming for reasonable? - or am I shooting too high?

post #4 of 10
I've smoked for years @225ish with great results. For chicken I'll bump it to 300+ for crisper skin but I've made great chicken at lower temps. As far as the damper, if there is a damper on the smoke stack throw it wide open. It does sound like you're having an airflow draft issue. Or possibly a fuel issue. If you're using charcoal, make sure it's on a grate of some kind. This will allow for more airflow underneath the fire and also keep ash accumulation from choking it out. If you still can't reach your desired temp, try adding a full split instead of chunks or chips. It will burn hotter and elevate your temp. Or, switch to burning splits entirely.
post #5 of 10
Open the damper on your stack or chimney. All the way at first. Then adjust when/if you get higher temps.
post #6 of 10
What Lance said. I've never tried to control heat with the smokestack--only leads to creosote build-up. Always control the heat with the damper on the firebox. Think about it: you don't open or close a baffle on top of your chimney at home to try and regulate the heat, so why would this be any different? Throttle the heat close to the source.
post #7 of 10

well one thing you can try is make the smoke stack longer  to increase the draw through the smoker. experiment  see how  it goes just light the smoker up  with no meat in it,  and do a trial run with different lengths  to the chimney see how effective it is . i always  cook at 275  range frankly it doesn't really matter what range you cook at though .

 the most important thing is choose a temp and stay there  the worst thing you can do  is cook at 275  then let it drop to 220 then fire it back up and it goes  to 300, its gonna mess up your cook and add way more time  to the process. the best suggestion i can give is practice with it your smoker may simply not like to run at 275  maybe it prefers 240 or 220 you really dont wanna force it to do something it doesn't want or is not capable of doing 

post #8 of 10
I have Frankln's book too. It's a good book. But........ You may not be able to follow it as close you you like. At least at first.

First, don't sweat the temp thing too much. 225 and above is good enough and with time you can figure out how to get it hotter. But for now I would focus on maintaining a relatively steady temp. That's part of the learning curve. Know you box temp and know your meat temp.

Second, Franklin designs and makes his pits to his liking to cook the way he wants. He likes 275* for likely many reasons but most pick a temp and stay with it for predictability reasons. He has timelines to meet for his restaurant. You may very well be asking that smoker to do more than it is capable of. Learn that smoker and spend time on it. That will help you determine what you really want in you next smoker.

Third, you may be trying to use too much water in your chamber. There is a difference between using water to add some moisture and using it as a heat sink. Too much water will act as a heat sink and make it difficult to get temps up. Try less and just add a little as it evaporates.

Fourth, he is a master with many, many yeas of brisket smoking. There is a learning curve. Give yourself a chance.

Good luck.
post #9 of 10
I have Frankln's book too. It's a good book. But........ You may not be able to follow it as close you you like. At least at first.

First, don't sweat the temp thing too much. 225 and above is good enough and with time you can figure out how to get it hotter. But for now I would focus on maintaining a relatively steady temp. That's part of the learning curve. Know you box temp and know your meat temp.

Second, Franklin designs and makes his pits to his liking to cook the way he wants. He likes 275* for likely many reasons but most pick a temp and stay with it for predictability reasons. He has timelines to meet for his restaurant. You may very well be asking that smoker to do more than it is capable of. Learn that smoker and spend time on it. That will help you determine what you really want in you next smoker.

Third, you may be trying to use too much water in your chamber. There is a difference between using water to add some moisture and using it as a heat sink. Too much water will act as a heat sink and make it difficult to get temps up. Try less and just add a little as it evaporates.

Fourth, he is a master with many, many yeas of brisket smoking. There is a learning curve. Give yourself a chance.

Good luck.
post #10 of 10

What kind of smoker?

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