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Help this newb!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Guys, I'm new here and to smoking. In fact, I'm smoking my first rack of ribs right now. Here's my problem, I can't seem to keep the temperature on the outside thermometer stable. I have three settings; Warm, Ideal and Hot.

When it gets below 'Ideal' I throw in a little charcoal or mesquite then it jumps back up....it just went up to 'Hot' about 10 minutes ago and now its between 'Warm' and 'Ideal'. What am I doing wrong here?
post #2 of 19
Skip invest in a digital meat thermo. Maverick ET-73 is the one I like the most. You should try to maintain @ 225-250 degree if you can. make sure you have the air flow adjusted also. Good luck
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks Smokey. Hey, you're only 10 mins from me, I'm in Bel Air.

I think my gauge might be reading a little high. I just put in a metal meat thermometer and it read 228 despite being between the Warm and Ideal settings.

Ugh, I guess I'll get the hang of this.
post #4 of 19
and watch your pullback on the meat until you get a good thermo- ya can send the wife to the store for a $3.95 accurite oven thermo if ya got time.that'll give ya grate temps.
post #5 of 19
Welcome to the site, your on the road to success now.
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
I did just send the wife to the store for more charcoal (just in case) and a better thermometer. I think I could be reading the gauge wrong. After using my thermometer I dont think the needle needs to be directly on the words 'Ideal'. It just has to be between Warm and Hot, I'm guessing.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Alright, so the wife brought back the digital thermometer and it is reading 236 F. Meanwhile, my gauge is teetering on Warm and Ideal.

Also, does the water in the pan have to remain at just 1" below?
post #8 of 19
The water is mainly for temp regulation, and blocking direct heat from the meat. As your ribs get closer to being foiled <3-2-1 method ya doin?> the water level becomes less critical. keep the pan at least half full and it'll be fine. I don't even use a water pan, I have a steel grate I cover in foil for a tuning type plate in my vertical ECB.
post #9 of 19
BTW what kind of smoker you have, anyway? this is why the Roll Call post BEFORE the meat hits the smoker is VERY important. We can give better advice if we know what yer runnin'. Be sure to post an intro note there
post #10 of 19
and no matter what kind of smoker you are using- those stock thermos are basically just there for looks- i take grate reading & add marker to the stock hood thermo for a basic idea w/out having to open the hood.
post #11 of 19
I love that. "cook at "ideal" for 2 hours" Who thought that up? Sheesh. Well, I guess ya can't say its not accurate..exactly... heh
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
I have a Brinkmann Gourmet Charcoal smoker. I just got it as a gift. I'll put up a post in the Roll Call thread shortly.

I'm just worried about regulating the temperature here. Unfortunately, I keep opening the thing up to mess with the charcoal.

I'm sticking the digital thermo in the gap between the top and side and getting a reading of 240 F now. Should I consider that accurate?
post #13 of 19
if it's a digital thermo & yer getting 240 close to the grate - i'd consider that accurate. btw- don't let the metal probe touch any metal or the grate- it could short it out. pics would help us to help you too.
post #14 of 19
Probably close enough. No top vent on that is there? I run my cables thru the top vent on my similar smoker...Hmm can't recall. Anyway... are you gonna do a 3*2*1? <roughly>
post #15 of 19
there is one of the variables of stability....the water pan. Besides your charcoal burning out, as the water evaporates, temps flucuate. You will find that Playbox Sand (a damp sand) will keep your temps higher and more stabil than water will.
there is no set rule that states if you temps drop or vary alittle that you dinner is ruined. It may take alittle longer to complete, but even 180* will eventually cook your food.
Adding water to your pan, especially cold, will drop the temps too. Go with Playbox sand, it really does work.
post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
There is no top vent on this thing. Here's the link to what I have:


Unless the 3*2*1 method is

1. Taste ribs
2. Throw out ribs
3. Call Dominos

Then probably not. Sorry, I don't know what that is. The funny thing is I thought I did enough research before trying this but since I came here I've learned I know nothing yet.
post #17 of 19
3-2-1 isa method for doing pork ribs
3 hrs or until you have 1/2"-1" of meat pulling back from the end of the bone
2 hrs wrapped in foil-to tender them up
then 1 hr unwrapped to firm them back up some
it's just a loose guideline.
post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 
Oh...gotcha. I'm going to have to try that next time. I'm worried that I've screwed with the temp gauge too much.

All in all, it's been fun day despite my worries. I'll eventually get the hang of this.
post #19 of 19
Hang in there Skipper...I'm a newbie myself so I can't help you much except to to say you've got some of the more experienced members helping you out. Yup..those stock thermometers that come with the smokers are usually off by a bunch. Get the Maverick ET-73. (or an equivalent) That Accurite thermometer should hold you over until the Maverick ET-73 arrives.
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