Brinkmann Smoke N Pit low temps, too much charcoal

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by roypw, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. I have the Brinkmann Smoke N Pit. There seems to be more than one model with this name or just confusion over the name, so mine is horizontal with a fire box on the left and a cooking chamber 38 inches long both shaped like small oil drums.

    Right out of the box burnt 15 lbs of briquette charcoal trying to cure it. Manual says 250 f for 2 hrs then 400 f for 1 hour. No way can I get close to 400 f, 300 was next to impossible.

    Tried cooking ribs and chicken. Not enough heat, holding above 200 on the built in thermometer was almost impossible.

    Raised the charcoal grate. Now I could hit 225 to 250 but burned 20 lbs of charcoal and after 4 hrs or so put meat in the oven to finish.

    Brisket. 7 hrs over 20 lbs of charcoal. Still had to go to the oven to finish. But it was good. From what I have now learned it might take this long for brisket but something like 30 lbs of charcoal???

    Spent many hrs on this forum and others. I should have done my research FIRST!!! Bad choice of smokers, but I made the mods that seemed to be reasonable. Sealed cooking chamber door on 3 sides with stove rope, added deflector and baffels to distribute heat more evenly, build a charcoal basket out of 3/4 extended steel, added fire bricks to help hold heat.

    Tried to do cure. It was difficult to hold 250 for 2 hrs like the manual says. Air inlet and chimney both wide open. I could close the chimney some but as soon as I closed the air inlet like 1/4 or even 1/8 the temp dropped. Now the charcoal basket is full, it's 10x12x10 as big as would fit in the fire box. Getting to 400 to finish the cure, a joke. Got close to 300 maybe a little over once.

    I had 2 digital meat thermometers, one at each end of the cooking grill. By adjusting the baffels (or tuning plates as some call them) I got the temps pretty even left to right. However I burnt 20 lbs of Kingston Competition briquette . I kept the ashes from the bottom of the fire box, shook the charcoal box a couple times.

    Sorry this is so long but I am trying to answer as many questions as possible so I don't waste your time. I AM FRUSTRATED AND DISAPPOINTED.

    From what I have read I should smoke at about 225f. Is that right?

    20lbs of charcoal to do ribs? Is that reasonable?

    I started this issue on another thread and have dad some good input, like use chunk charcoal instead of briquettes. They are not at the usual stores here so I haven't been able to pick them up yet. I tried cowboy charcoal but wasn't impressed.



    I don't think it's possible.

  3. bomftdrum

    bomftdrum Smoke Blower

    You came to the right place as someone on here will be able to help you. I have the cheapest ecb and I do decent. I don't know about yours though just don't give up. It just takes sometime to learn your smoker.
  4. Thanks for the encouragement but here I sit at 160 f on the built in ,140 left side 150 right side (added 2thermomoters) after putting one chimney fully lit in 2 hours ago and the second fully lit chimney about 140 minutes ago. Also added some wood chunks in basket. Since then I added a couple hands full of wood chunks and have my third chimney fully lit ready to add. 8.8 lbs of charcoal in two hours still not decent temps for smoking below 160 need 225.



    I took some pictures of my mods that I will try to post, but it didn't work out of the Box, all my mods did was even the temps left to right. I really thought sealing the lid would help, almost no effect ​

  5. bomftdrum

    bomftdrum Smoke Blower

    Definitely put some pictures up. Also try using the search feature. Someone might have had the same issues and asked before.
  6. Thanks to clif carter on another thread I had ask build up in my charcoal basket. I guess I am dumping so much charcoal in the basket it is plugging up with ash. Fourth chimney plus wood chunks in 2hours

    I shook the basket HARD then cleaned out the bottom of the fire box and temps are now up to 200 f BUT THAT'S NOT ENOUGH TO COOK MY CHICKEN. IT'S NOW AT 146 inside after 2.5 hours!!!​


  7. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Pictures sure would help... from all angles... vents, hole from firebox to chamber... charcoal basket sitting in firebox... did ya calibrate therms ?
  8. I calibrated my thermsbyputting them in boiling water, both digital less than 2 deg f. Meat therms. The 2 I added read 210 on the dial but hard to read 1 or 2 degrees.

    I will try some pix.
    I can't do it from my iPad ,I guess. It keeps asking for the image URL???

    Maybe I don't understand how to do it but will try from my computer later
  9. People that have temp probs must live somewhere cold. Brinkmanns have very thin bodies making them hard to hold temps. They also have alot of gaps where heat easily escapes.  Remember heat rises and oxygen makes fires hotter.  Minimize heat loss and aim for good air flow through the smoker. You might need more holes to draw air into your firebox. Make sure your ash doesn't smother your coals, lump coal burns alot slower then briquettes. Also lower your vent down to your cooking surface to retain more heat. 
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012

  10. Here are some pix. The 2 temp gages on the front I added.  The pix of the charcoal box was just before I started a cook.  I tried stacking a little charcoal and wood chunks around the edges then dumped the chimney of hot coal in the middle.  The deflector and baffles are 1/4 steel plate.  Still working on the right spacing for the baffles.  This arrangement made the right side a little hotter than the left by 20 deg or less stable but maybe 50 deg during reheat after opening the lid. I didn't get a good picture of the stove rope that I used to seal the door but you can see it in the last pix on the left edge of the cooking area. Did back and both sides.  Tried high temp silicon on the fire box door but made a mess, hard to work with, but sealed pretty good.  In the second pix the thing under the last baffle to the right is a fire brick.  Still experimenting with them also.

    Did get some GOOD ribs today and a decent chicken but it took right around 15lbs of charcoal and I had to put the chicken in the oven for 30 min or so to get the internal temp up from 170 to the 180 recommended poultry temp.

  11. I submitted 4 pix but they didn't show up in the forum.  This is a test to try to find out what went wrong.

  12. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Here's what I recommend-

    I have thought of something else, is there an adjustable vent between the firebox and the cooking chamber or is there a large opening? IMHO you should remove the fire brick if you haven't already.

    I have just seen your pics, I think you may have too many tuning plates or the gaps between them are too small. Try spreading them out a bit more evenly, if that doesn't help try removing one and then spreading them out. 1/4 inch steel will also retain a lot of heat. I also think you should add more charcoal to the basket before you add the chimney of lit. If what I have just suggested does not work then take out the deflector and baffles. Next light 2 chimneys of charcoal, when all the charcoal is fully lit pour it into your charcoal basket and close the door, leave the air intake and exhaust vent wide open and close the lid on the cooking chamber. Do not touch anything for 1 hour and see how hot the pit temp gets.Lets see if this gets you higher temps.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012
  13. Yea I think you need more air going into your fire box. I read some ppl had success with drilling a few holes in the bottom.
  14. Cliff

    Nothing between the fire box and cooking chamber, just a big hole. You are right about the gaps between the bakkles. I mentioned this in the post with the pictures, I think. I am still experimenting with them but as they are in the picture got pretty even heat left to right. I have already moved them all to the right creating more gaps toward the left and center.

    I only have 2 fire bricks one vertical at the right end wall and one flat just below the stack. My idea was to deflect the hot air some instead of coming out from under the baffle and straight up the stack.

    My extension for the smoke stack didn't work out. I can't get the 3 inch dryer hose into the stack far enough for it to stay in. I am going to try thin sheet steel rolled into a tube and stuck in the stack.

    I didn't get to try the 2 chimney and let it alone you suggest. I think you are trying to establish a base line of what it will do in an unmodified state then put some stuff back in and see how it compares? Am I correct?

    Yesterday when I did ribs and a chicken (boy is it good) I found that if I raised the charcoal basket so that the bottom was up in the middle of the air inlet the temps went up. Prior to the basket I couldn't get decent temps but after raising the grate level with the top of the air inlet I got decent temps. I modified my basket today and the bottom is now at the top of the air inlet. I would like to try a cook before I do your trial run with the raised basket and the chimney extended to the cooking grate. Maybe tomorrow or Wed.

    Like your idea of more charcoal in the basket before I add the lit coals. I think I need something like a coffee can to sit in the middle of the basket, stack the charcoal and wood around it put in the lit then pull the can out. Then the charcoal can burn out from the center instead of on top of the charcoal that falls into the center of basket.

    Thanks a lot for your help. We seem to be making some progress.

  15. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Good to hear that things are working out.[​IMG].

    I really don't think you need the fire bricks and I never have thought much of the dryer vent mod.

    You are correct about establishing a baseline of how it works unmodded, it sounds like you are on the right track, you will not need to do it. I remember a couple years ago on another site there was a guy who was cooking on a CharGriller who was having similar problems, his gaps between baffles were almost nonexistent, he ended up with one on each end and that worked fine for him.

    Keep working on it, I'm sure you'll succeed.
  16. speedway73

    speedway73 Fire Starter

    Good gawd....!!

    And I thought I was the only 1 with serious issues with this POS Brinkmann Smoke N Pit. I'm in the exact same boat as you are. The main cooking chamber lid is a joke. Huge gap at the back tappering down to a tighter fit at the front yet it has big overhang on each side. The cheezy paper thin side access door on the firebox is crap.

    I too could never get the temps up even close to where Brinkmann wanted them for a proper cure. I've yet to build a charcoal basket....or modify the cooking chamber lid for a proper seal. I had bought the real nice Brinkmann cover for it and it's sitting covered up on the back deck ever since.

    Here's a thought. Could this thing be converted into a reverese flow?? Has it been done??

    What about covering the unit in welding blanket material...cut to fit the chambers and doors...and secured with fire caulk adhesive?? I'd think it's got to help with heat retention.

    What about a layer of play sand along the cooking chamber bottom to help retain/reflect heat??
  17. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

     So tell us, what have you done? Have you made any modifications? Can you post pictures of the pit? How much charcoal and what kind/brand did you use? What method did you use to start the fire?
  18. Thanks, Speedway for confirming my experience. I just can't understand how a brand name like BRINKMANN can put a product on the market and as far as i can determine it just simply doesn't work!!! Home Depot did say they would take mine back

    Just been reading a little about food safety, and this scares me, with these low cooking temps it looks like it could be real easy to get some bad food, i not sure the 40/140/4 rule could be achieved in an unmodified Smoke N Pit?.

    Reverse flow. My deflector and baffles attempt to do the same thing. I think I need to move the smoke stack to the left but right now I don't want to take on drilling a 3 in hole and patching the other one. If I have some luck with the raised fire basket and extended smoke stack I may try it.

    The welding blanket I think is my next mod. I thought just covering the top with cut outs for stack and temps just layed across the top would be sufficient. You might have to remove it when you opened the door all the way. I had fire brick in the bottom under the baffles and the outside bottom stayed pretty cool but I think they restricted air flow a little. I think your sand idea is worth lookin into. Could be shaped better to not restrict air flow


  19. speedway73

    speedway73 Fire Starter

     As of right now...nothing. Haven't cooked a single thing with it. I've done many many hours of research on mods and it's pretty clear what the major issues are. I'ts a big giant air leak...and NOT the type that will increase temps. The Brinkmann Smoke N Pit is a cheaper knock off of the Char Broil Silver Smoker....which had a far superior cooking chamber lid and firebox access door. It was also made out of heavier gauge steel.

    But that's not gonna help us here. I'm thinking of remounting the cooking chamber lid at the rear so the lid sits parallel to the bottom of the chamber. The overhang could be remedied by bolting small angle iron around both the top and bottom of the chambers and then attaching fireplace rope gasket to either the top or bottom of said angle iron...creating (hopefully) an airtight seal. Next would be reproducing the firebox side access door out of heavier steel and a stronger hinge system...again using the fireplace rope gasket as a seal.

    Once that's done...I can concentrate on heat control. First steps are to get it airtight. Other wise...all the tunning bricks/sand/deflectors are moot point....too many variables overlapping each other on a leaky unit.

    I do think the expanded steel basket is the way to go. Forget that cheesy little tin grate that came with it. Ditch the warming wire rack in the cooking chamber too....along with the adjustable charcoal pan/ash pan.

    I'm off to the Atlanta NASCAR race this weekend so I wont have much time to mess with it until next weekend.

    Oh yeah...I'm a big fan of blue bag Kingsford charcoal and lump charcoal. I usually did a 50/50 mix of the 2 with good results on a previous (now retired....god rest her soul) Brinkmann 2 door verticle. I can get really good deals on the big 20lb bags of Cowboy Lump (ducks the thrown stones...LOL). I know alot of guys poo poo it but I've had good luck with it. Not much else available around my area.
  20. I have my cooking chamber sealed pretty good.  Did both sides by pop riveting a small aluminum (wanted steel but HD didn't have) angle just under the lid overhang and cementing stove rope to it.  On the back I cemented the stove rope right to the lid.  With the lid fully open the stove rope comes right up against the bottom half of the pit and is squeezed between the lid and the pit.  (This tends to break the cement and the rope comes off).  This is the stop for the open lid - when it hits the the bottom half of the pit.  I added a small chain to the side of the lid attached to the side of the pit bottom to be the stop so the lid does not travel to where it squeezes the stove rope.

    The front of the lid seals pretty good with just the bare metal but I am thinking of adding stove rope either on the ridge just inside the bottom half of the pit or on the outside front of the bottom of the pit.

    My charcoal basket is working out pretty good, however its bottom needs to be at least to the middle of the air inlet door.  If it sits down where the charcoal grate sits then I don't get enough heat in the cooking chamber.  I have raised my charcoal box so that its bottom is about half way up the air inlet door and got pretty good temps yesterday but I think either the basket needs raised more or as some have done drill holes in the bottom of the fire chamber or cut an air inlet with a damper right on the bottom of the fire chamber.  (There is a video on YouTube of this mod)

    I did a chicken yesterday.  Beer can style, it took 6 1/2 hours and a full 18 lb bag of Kingston Competition plus maybe 3 lbs from another bag.  I used a meat therm and it took this to get the recommended 180 internal temp.  I probably could have got the 180 deg an hour or so sooner if I would have really added the charcoal to get a roaring fire.  I had both vents open all the time and at times I opened the fire box door completely.  I did have my new chimney extension installed down to the cooking grate.  I actually couldn't tell if it made much difference.

    Anyway the chicken was really good, a little dry in the breast but not that bad. I did use a water pan in the cooking chamber.  Don't mind the time so much but I think thats way too much charcoal.


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