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Char-Griller Smoking Pro Fire Problems

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the help with this, I'm sure everyone will give me some great advice.

I've purchased a CGSP this summer and need help keeping my fire in the 220-250 range. I've made some modifications (and I'm stealing images from caiguar to help show these). Basic info:

1. The football shaped piece has been removed.
2. I've installed the pipe to the grill grates like this

3. I'm using this for my charcoal basket, but have installed two bolts through the side of the firebox to brace it, with the bottom bolt in the foootball shaped hole to also brace the basket.

4. I've take the main chamber charcoal basket and flipped it as the baffle. Additionally, 6 inches from the fire box, I've drilled 4 1/2" holes every 4 inches to allow hot air up towards the grill and increase airflow.

This weekend I smoked a pork shoulder, a slab of ribs and some ABT's. I used a mix of Lump and Briquettes. First fire was a lit chimney of briquettes on top of lump. I had the smoke stack open wide and the air vent on the fire box all the way open (and was all day).

Fire got the smoker into the 210-220 range, added some unlit briquettes on top, smoking wood, and put the pork shoulder on the grill. I ran an errand and came back to 230 an hour later.

Throughout the day I added 1/2 a chimney to a full chimney of lit briquette or lump, plus wood as necessary. This was approximately every hour, but the fire would not get back into the 230's. I stayed low 200's, with the last 1 1/2 - 2 hours in the 190's. The briquettes & lump would never seem to want to burn, it was more of a slow smoulder (even the wood wouldn't fully burn).

That's the basics. Any thoughts? I'm sure there are questions, so I'll work to answer them, as I'd love some suggestions.
post #2 of 11
I am sure you probably already though of this but could it have been a thermometer problem instead of a heat problem? If the thermo was reading 20-30 degrees off then you had the temps you wanted. Did you try more than one thermometer?
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
I've got a digital at grate level. I'm not counting on the lid based thermo to provide me the rights temps.
post #4 of 11
With my smoker I have to clear ash out of the bottom of the sfb every few hours because the ash buildup restricts air flow to the coals-but I do not use a charcoal basket so I don't know if that would affect your fire. Hopefully someone else will come along with some more ideas.
post #5 of 11
I have the same exact setup as you. I had that problem a few weeks ago.

Try this:::
*one chimney of cool lump (to the left side of the basket by the football hole),
*one chimney of hot lump to the right side of the basket, near the vent.

Cool left, hot right. Add wood chunks every half hour or so.
After about an hour, shake the ash out and move the hot coals to the right again.
Add cool lump on the left. Add wood chunks every half hour or so.
Rinse and repeat.

It is a modified minion method. I had trouble 'stacking' hot/cold, hot/cold like you did there, it seemed like the fire was not getting good air like that. Even with like 3 chimneys burning and all kinds of lump in there it wouldn't take right. So I feel your pain.
With the left/right method, I was able to sustain good temps above 225 for over 4 hours (ribs on the grate) and prolly all night if I needed to... It was actually running kinda hot there but that is a good problem to have rather than no heat at all lol.
Only about half a bag of lump burned.

3:00 105 drop coals
4:00 239 good
5:00 231 add coals @530p
6:00 265
7:00 225 add coals 7:15p
8:00 196 add sauce (cool down)
9:00 195 remove / add finishing sauce

I also added a couple bricks in my chamber which might have helped, but the jury is out on that (but I think it worked PDT_Armataz_01_06.gif )
Kinda like this (rest inverted charcoal pan on top of grates/bricks):::


So yeah. Hope it helps!
post #6 of 11
I'd skip the charcoal and go with straight lump. You'll get more heat from lump versus charcoal. I don't use a basket for my coals, just a 17" grill rack from home depot. It fits in the firebox perfectly and gives more surface room for my coals. I tried the basket approach to find that when my coals were in a pile rather than more spread out they didn't seem to hit those higher temps in the body.
post #7 of 11
I agree with Dan, you will get better heat with lump, but I do use a basket and would swear by it now. Every once in a while I have the same problem. I may leave the door open to feed the fire a little extra O2, or pull the ash tray out about 4 to 6 inches to feed more O2 from the bottom. Eventually the char coal will catch and I can go back to just using the SFB baffle to adjust the heat. Just be careful because if too much char coal starts to burn, you can have trouble with high heat. So once you see the temp rise, go make some adjustments. This works for me, hopefully it will work for you.
post #8 of 11
Crd...for your charcoal basket try this

u can move the nuts and bolts up or down to raise or lower the basket.Trial and error.
post #9 of 11
This makes me think that maybe you're not getting enough airflow into your firebox. You need unrestricted airflow all around the basket, and it should sit just above the air vent.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
If you look at the pic of the basket I included, it isn't resting on the bottom. I drilled 1/4" holes approximatley where the basket rests in that picture, then used 2" bolts to rest the basket on. I'm able to take the ash tray out without disturbing the charcoal basket to dump ashes. Not sure how to increase the airflow with the vents running wide open. Would it be to try and raise the level of the basket? I'd be afraid of it getting too high in the chamber and bypassing most of the basket.
post #11 of 11
i think it looks fine; i would just be wary of overloading the basket with too much fuel. it might take a long time to get going if it is packed in there too much.
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