Got my doors for my smoker this week-end to finish my smoker. I fired it up today. It came up to temp fairly quickly. Temp was good and even all the way up....until I put 2 pork butts in. I was only using one shelf so it was as important as it will be if I ever load it to capacity.
I started with a full chimney of charcoal and added wood or ashes from fireplace as needed. By feeding it with wood ( split about 1- 11/2in. ) you pretty much had to stay with it. If you let it get to far down you come close to losing your fire. By feeding it charcoal (about 10 lumps at a time) you could get away for about an hour. I ended up using about 10 lumps of charcoal and a couple sticks of wood. It would hold for about 1 1/2 hours. If the temp starts getting away from you, just open the firebox door to cool it down. If temp gets low on you just open both firebox vents and it will recover in about 2 min. Recovery from opening a door was about the same.
My question was answered. My firebox vents were enough to keep it going. If I were doing it again, I would have a vent made or find something that is a little tighter. The ash dump vents work good but don't seal when closed. You can put your hand over them when closed and still feel the air being sucked into them. I may take them apart and see if I can put something between the outside and inside piece to seal it when closed. They are far enough away from the heat that nothing would catch fire.
Doors sealed well. My brother built them with zero clearance so no problems there. I used a 13x13 flue. No problems with drawing air up the stack.
Smoked 2 8lb. pork butts. 10 1/2 hours I had a temp of 205. I covered them at 160 and uncovered them when I guessed an hour to go. I was shooting for 200 degrees. Water pan in the bottom . Took 10 1/2 hrs. Needless to say they were totally awesome. I let it rest for 2 hours. When I set it on the cutting board it just fell apart.
Now I have a couple questions for ya'll. I cleaned my shelves by spraying them with water and put them back in to dry. Once cooled I sprayed them with veg. oil. Question. At what point do I need to clean the inside of the smoker? You can't spray it when its hot or you'll pop the brick like popcorn. Any ideas? Also. When you put mass on the shelves whats the best way to get temp even all the way up?
My honest opinion of my build. It works great. Rain doesn't effect the temp. (Rained today). Only problem was the fact that the firebox vents wouldn't seal tight. I'm pretty sure I can take care of that.
Time to eat. Bone fell out when I set it down.
Firebox is 21 deep
20 in. wide.
If your interested in a brick smoker, be glad to help anyway I can.