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greetings! Question(s) about building fire

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by roccoman, Sep 23, 2010.

  1. roccoman

    roccoman Newbie

    hello everyone, i have been a BBQ enthusiast for some time now and recently bought this smoker.

    the "before you use" section says to:

    1) coat all the interior with vegetable oil

    2) build a small fire in the firebox

    3) cook for 2 hours

    4) add more fuel, raise temp 50-75 degrees

    5) you're now ready to cook!

    questions i have for the pros here is:

    is there any technique to building the fire within the smokebox?  any specific placement (closer to the vent or further away?)

    i plan to do some smoking this weekend and want to be prepared to maintain my temp.  i did have some issue while prepping the unit with getting above 200 degrees - it simply did not happen.  now i didnt use any wood, just charcoal briquettes and i had a hot orange bed, and even after placing 12 or so new briquettes on there i still had temp issues.  i tried closing / opening the side vent / chimney with little result.

    i know i can work with 200 degrees but at some point i will need to learn how to get the temp higher and control it better.

    any tips / advice for a new (but dedicated) meat smoker?

    btw - sorry if this is in the wrong section, i looked around the forums before posting and could not find a better area to post.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2010
  2. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the forum.

    First off we need to know exactly what brand/model you got (the link is dead). I assume it is an offset charcoal/wood smoker - big barrel with another smaller barrel attached to it. Do a search for Char-Griller or Char-Broil mod's, there are some simple modifications you can make to your smoker to make it work a whole lot better.

    One of the main ones is making a charcoal basket for the firebox, that will allow you to use the minion method - fill charcoal basket with unlit charcoal then dump about 1/2 a chimney of lit charcoal ontop of that, burns for a couple of hours at a steady temp. Also lowerin the intake for your exhaust vent down to grate level is another super helper, and last but not least - BUY NEW THERMOMETERS! The stock therms are usually off by 50-75+ degrees!

    I would read up on the mods, make the mods, and run at least one practice 6 hr. burn to learn how your smoker runs. [​IMG]
  3. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member


    Welcome to SMF, Glad to have you with us.

    This is the place to learn, lots of good info and helpful friendly Members.

    For those of you new to Smoking, be sure to check out Jeff's 5 Day Smoking Basics eCourse.

    Click Here it's "FREE" ... 5 Day eCourseE
  4. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    ^^^^ What he said... very important to know so you can be pointed in the right direction and so we can ask the right questions to try to help you.
  5. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    First off Welcome Rocco to SMF.  You'll like it here for there are alot of really good folks here that would just love to help you with just about anything to do with smoking. Sorry I can't help you with your fire thing for I'm a gasser and my units are easy to light and maintain temp too. Now there are allot of proven recipes for some amazing things here too. So if you need sign up for the E-Course it's free and it will give you the basics of smoking and some good methods to use also. So the next big thing for you to do is go out and get you something to smoke and if you happen to have any questions just post it here and we will be happy to answer them for you.

    Welcome To Your New Addiction
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2010
  6. roccoman

    roccoman Newbie

    thanks for the warm welcome everyone!

    JIRodriguez  - you're correct: its a offset charcoal/wood smoker.  the model is "BBQ Pro Barrel Smoker with Offset Firebox" - just about every link leads back to the original link i posted (Sears website).  the reviews i have read on it are mixed, but the way i see it is i gotta start somewhere and learn.

    i plan to do a 3 lb pork loin this weekend (perhaps Sunday) as my test meat

    i'll lookup those mods and see about incorporating them this weekend, and check out the eCourse too when i get a chance, thanks again everyone for the recommendations!

    i'll report back after modding and smoking the loin this weekend - have a groovy weekend everyone & its great to be here!
  7. roccoman

    roccoman Newbie

    weird - i posted a huge response and it got lost.

    thanks all for the warm welcome!

    its a "BBQ Pro Barrel Smoker with Offset Firebox" - the Sears website is about the only place i have seen it.  JIRod you're correct: its an offset charcoal/wood smoke.  the reviews i have read on it are mostly positive and i needed to start somewhere to begin learning.

    thanks for the mods / ecourse info everyone - gonna look into that and see what i can get done this weekend.  i plan to do a small pork loin sunday so i'll report back with how that goes!

    i can already tell this place rocks [​IMG]

    have a groovy weekend everyone!
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2010
  8. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Comments on your lack of temp-

    Briquettes create a lot of ash, ash build up by the air intake will make it difficult to keep your temps up over time. Consider using a good hardwood lump charcoal such as Royal Oak or Frontier. You will find this site helpful in researching lump charcoal-


    Wind direction- check to make sure that the wind is blowing the smoke from the exhaust vent away from and NOT towards the side fire box. If it is blowing toard the SFB turn the smoker 180° so the air is blowing into the air intake on the SFB and not into the exhaust vent. A good breeze with the smoker turned the wrong way can cut your temps by 50°+, I know this from experience.

    Factory thermometers on these type units are notorious for being off by a good bit, you should consider buying a probe thermometer that can do double duty checking cook chamber temps and meat temps.

    Hope you find this helpful, Good Luck[​IMG]
  9. richoso1

    richoso1 Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the SMF. I moved your thread to roll cal so that veryone has the chance to greet you. It's all good my friend.
  10. roccoman

    roccoman Newbie


    i have spent the last hour reading about the Minion Method  and checking out this guys mods - simple ideas but to the inexperienced this is pure gold!  he talks a bit about ash build-up in the firebox as well.

    i considered wind as i ran my test last night, it was a mild night (70* and very little breeze to speak of).  how i have the unit setup the firebox is on the left, the vent on the right and the wind comes thru my yard in such a way that it blows directly toward the front of the unit... 

    here is a ghetto diagram:
                 ||ventfireboxCOOKINGBOX^          ^|          ||          |wind comes from here
    i hope that makes sense!

    after analyzing what i found on that minion method site, i think that the main things i need to do is:

    1) get a charcoal basket

    2) elevate the basket, and place further away from the vent

    3) replace factory thermometers

    thanks again all for the insight!
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2010
  11. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    If the wind was blowing from left to right on your diagram you would have problems maintaining temps. My personal preference would be to have that breeze moving left to right(per your diagram)this would allow the air to draw thru the intake into the main chamber and out the vent, this would be the best configuration to maintain temps IMHO.

    Your other 3 mods will also make a big difference, most with this type smoker do them.
  12. roccoman

    roccoman Newbie


    in my diagram the breeze (what little there was last night) blew from bottom to top

    in hindsight & reading all i can in these forums, i think my main issue was the factory thermometer being a POS.

    i have grabbed a things at Lowes to help tweak my smoker:

     - some fired brick pavers to raise my firebox grate (until i can find / make a good charcoal basket)

     - large pavers to support my tuning plate 

    i think i need to get a good digital thermometer too, but didnt see it at the store... with it being the end of summer alot of that stuff is no longer on the shelves