Brazos Maiden Voyage

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Smoke Blower
Original poster
Nov 25, 2023
Today was the day! I decided to jump tall for the first use of the Brazos and smoke a couple racks of ribs. I have an extended stack and I removed the baffle. Here are a couple things that baffled me:

1. I placed two Thermpro probes on the grate to see what the grate level temperature was near the stack where the smoke exists and then another about 3/4 of the way toward the firebox. The two probes were maybe 18"-20" apart. For most of the cook the probes read 100-140 degrees differently. The one closest to the firebox would be 375+/- and the other by the stack would read 175+/-. I tried everything possible and nothing seemed to shorten the gap. However, the internal temperature of the two racks of ribs stayed pretty close to each other. I swapped them back and forth as well.

2. No matter what I tried, temperatures spiked all over the place. Every time I turned a piece of wood over, big pieces, small pieces, thin pieces, firebox door open, firebox door slightly closed, damper open or closed, stack extension on and off, stack damper open and various degrees of being closed - nothing seemed to work. I did keep the fire as close to the firebox door as possible to help reduce flames from lapping into the cooking chamber.

3. The wood was kiln dried and definitely was not wet.

Any and all thoughts and tips will be greatly appreciated!
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I'm of no help when it comes to stick burners but was curious as to how the ribs came out?
They are wrapped and finishing in the oven. Oven might be sacrilegious to some, but man, did it free up a bit of time to get some other things done. I will keep you posted.
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There's a lot to unpack there. I owned a Brazos, but I never took the baffle out.

You won't get even temps end-to-end, especially with the baffle removed. The reason for the baffle is to make the firebox end of the grate usable.

Putting an extension on the stack will increase the cooker's draw. But what I found when I did that, is I had to cut down the air intake using the damper on the firebox door. Too much draw would pull heat/air to the stack end. So why increase the draw, if I had to cut down the air intake ?

The goal for me, was to allow just enough air into the firebox to burn a clean fire. That was generally with the firebox damper 1/2 open. And the heat/air would rise immediately in the cook chamber, after it passed under the baffle.

My final conclusion on my Brazos, was that it was a low air flow cooker. Trying to increase the air flow just screwed it up. But it got plenty of air flow to put good bark on pork butt and brisket. I made good barbecue with the Brazos.

As far as temp swings, an offset is not gonna provide a steady temp. If I can run mine within 25* swings, I figure I'm doing great. Not unusual to run between 50* swings, because of the variability of splits. How fast do they catch, how hot do they burn, how long will they burn.

Kiln dried wood is not good. It doesn't have enough moisture. It burns hot and fast. Its better to have wood in the 15% to 20% moisture range. Kiln dried wood will be more like 5 to 10%.

Once meats have been wrapped, there's no barbecue sin in taking them to the oven. I always do that. They're not gonna get any more smoke, no need to manage the offset fire.
And I'll add ....... that the problem with the baffle is that the exhaust is at grate level.

Increasing the air flow pulls air/heat under the meats and out the exhaust.

The benefit to removing the baffle, is it allows heat to rise in the cook chamber and then get pulled down around the meats by the exhaust.

It was my thinking on the Brazos, that if I removed the baffle, I also needed to open up the stack end. I needed a collector. As the stock Brazos has a 6 " stack, but the actual exhaust port is 4.5" . Its a bottleneck.
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Excellent information Smokin Okie - thank you!

And as far as the mods go - great advice, but I just cannot help myself at times!
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Another issue here, is immediately doing mods to a cooker before you've learned the cooker.

My advise from the get-go, would've been to cook with the Brazos in factory stock condition for at least 6 months. Learn the cooker.

Then make changes one thing at a time. And you could tell the difference. You've got a whole bunch of changes going on and you really don't know the smoker.
Now that the ribs are in the oven, should I open up the foil and let the heat seat up the BBQ sauce a bit?
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