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Havig trouble getting up to temp

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by sammy d, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. Okay guys, here's the deal. I bought a large smoker at a church auction (See photo below). I got'er all seasoned up and decided to throw on some chicken wings. They turned out fantastic however, it took a little over 5 hours. From the information I get on the forums I figured about 2.5 hrs at 200 or so. The problem is that I couldn't get this unit much over 150-175. It did spike at 200 for a short period of time but when I opened it to spritz the wings (Very quickly) the temp fell and would not come back up.  I used a full bag of hardwood charcoal and 5 or 6 chunks of Applewood. The damper on the stack was left wide open and so was the one on the fire box.. Now, I don't mind smoking for long periods of time but if it takes 5 hours to do about 50 wings, I can imagine how long it will take to do a brisket or port butt. Any ideas?

    Also, How do I post a new tread on an area other than "Roll Call?"

    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  2.  Hello Sammy and welcome to the fun.  Many good folk here with a load of experience that they are more than willing to share.  If you have specific questions just start a thread and someone with experience will be along soon to offer advice.  All info you can provide us with such as smoker type, location and so on will help us answer any questions you may have.  Spend some time doing some research on the forums, tons of advice and recipes already available there.  As to your questions: Without meat, get a fire going in there to create smoke.  BIG smoke!  You can even spray a little water on the coals to create BIG white smoke.  What you want to do is see where the smoke leaks are.  Mark the leaks and when the smoker cools seal every leak you can using stove rope, high temp silicone and such.  Next, if you have a thin flimsy fire grate use it as a template and build or have built a grate out of 1/2" concrete reinforcing steel ( rebar ).  That thin grate will sag with heat and will rest on the ash cutting off air flow to your coals.  No air flow no heat.  Other option is build a charcoal basket.  You can find baskets in the build section.  Leave that exhaust fully open and use the intake vent to control the heat.  Last tip is go buy a cheap garden trowel.  Knock the wooden handle off and weld a 2-2 1/2' piece of that rebar to the shovel.  Now you can gently scoop out the ash without them blowing all over your meat and you won't burn your hands.  I can'y tell from the pict, but your intake needs to be below your fire grate.  Look right above your thread title.  You will see Forum Nav:  and a drop down menu with Roll Call in it.  Use the drop down to select the forum you want to post in and Go.  Each forum has Start a New Thread above all the posts there.  Hope this helps.  We look forward to your contributions.  Have fun.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

  3. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    How much charcoal did you use at the beginning to start the fire? It is possible that you did not use enough fuel at the beginning of the cook.

    Your pit looks like it is more suited to being used as a stickburner rather than using charcoal for fuel.

    Two observations- the firebox looks a bit undersized given the size of the cook chamber and the exhaust stack looks to be too tall and the pipe itself may be a bit undersized, both of which maybe inhibiting your airflow.
  4. gary s

    gary s SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Also check your temp gauge to make sure it is reading correctly.  Does the Fire box to cook chamber opening have a damper or is it just an opening?

  5. The opening from the fire box to the cook chamber is fixed (Not adjustable). The builder welded a small sheet of metal at an angle. The opening is about 5 or 6 inches long with about a 1.5 inch opening. The opening itself isn't square so it tapers down to a little over an inch on one side.
  6. I started off using about half the bag with a few chunks of Apple Wood. I ended up placing the bag in the fire box along with what was left of the charcoal and a couple more chunks of wood.
  7. gary s

    gary s SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Check Feldon's Pit Calculator    You can put your cook chamber size and firebox size and it will calculate the recommended FB to CC opening size. Then you can see if your smoker is close.  Sometimes (not saying your builder) does not pay attention or calculate the opening sizes correctly. This can cause the problems you are experiencing. This would be a good place to start. (Process of elimination)

  8. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    This may be most, if not all, of the problem, the opening from the firebox needs to be bigger for sure.

    Scroll down to post #4 to use the pit calculator to find the correct size for the opening-

  9. gary s

    gary s SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I must have skimmed over the 5" or 6" x 1.5" opening  looking at the picture of your smoker I would say that probably is the cause. Run the dimensions of your smoker in the Feldon's and you can see how much you need to increase the opening size

  10. metaldoctor21

    metaldoctor21 Fire Starter

    I agree with everyone. I had a similar problem with my first smoker build that I just finished up. One of my problems was my firebox to cooking chamber opening started out to small. Opening that up to the proper size improved my draft and increased the temp in the cooking chamber. I would definetly start their.

  11. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Can't tell for sure from the pic?

    That looks like a big smoker with a big firebox?

    I would agree to question how temps were measured?

    But mostly?  1.5 inch opening from such a big firebox into such a big smoker?  Doesn't seem like that is going to work?

    Even with everything optimized?  That smoker is going to consume some fuel.

    Good luck and good smoking.
  12. gary s

    gary s SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Sammy,  Gary here    again measure your smoker and put all your dimensions in the Feldon's pit calculator and you can compare everything.  That would be the first thing I would do. Then you can start the process of correction from there.

    Looks like you have a nice smoker, probably just need a few tweaks. and you will be pumping out thin blue smoke and higher cooking temps in no time.

  13. I've seen a couple of references on "Feldon's Pit Calculator." Where can I find it and where do I measure?
  14. gary s

    gary s SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

  15. gary s

    gary s SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    CC size    CC Cook Chamber    length and diameter     FB  Fire Box   Length , height  width    Smoke stack    diameter and length   Also should have some type of damper opening in the fire box  round, square ?   measure those

  16. Thanx Gary. Took some measurements and entered them. I'm going to do it again to see if I can get a more accurate. My stack is 40" tall and that falls at the maximum height. It is 4"square making it16" all the way around.
  17. gary s

    gary s SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    When you run your CC and FB size it will show you how big the opening should be, than you can make your mod's from there. Also be sure and check the vents/damper size in the firebox.  If you can snap a few pictures of your FB door and inside the fire box as well,

  18. Okay, This morning about 30 min. ago I loaded up the firebox with hardwood charcoal and two sticks of mesquite. I then went in to prepare my chicken wings for the cooker. When I came out to put them in, the temp was 175. I thought "Well that's okay for now, the last batch hovered around 150 or so." I put the wings on and added a few chunks of Apple wood and went inside. About 15 min. later I went out to check it. The temp was about 210. In fact, I had to restrict the air flow a little to get it down to 200. It's now running around 210. You may be right about the stick burner thing.  Problem is that the smoke is still white and my wings are in there. I'm kinda used to that because in the past, I never knew about "Clear blue smoke." How long does it normally take for the clear stuff to happen?

    I guess I need to be more patient and wait awhile before I put my meat in?

    I guess I need to load her up and use more wood then watch her. Anyway, things are looking good right now except for the white smoke. I'll check back later and let you know how things are going.

    Thanx all for your help.
  19. gary s

    gary s SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Did you ever check your FB to CC opening   I really think it is to small  If you loaded it up with charcoal and wood in an hours time you should have been up over 300 degrees. I am jus saying that if all your getting is 210 with all that you have a problem. I am quite sure there will be things you will want to cook the will need more than 210. You look like you have a nice smoker and you want to get the most out of it without working yourself to death. Take some pictures of the firebox, firebox door, air adjustments and open your door and get a shot of the FB to CC opening. We are standing by and ready to help.

  20. Hi Gary, I think I may have gone to 300 if I hadn't slowed down the air flow. The temp is holding around 215 and I'm getting clear blue smoke. I did have to stir  the coals a little about 20 min ago. I have a pic of the FB to CC opening but I still need to download it. After this cook, I will shoot the rest of the stuff. I plan to keep my temps below 250 unless I need to get up there for a specific reason like multiple briskets or turkeys or other large hunk of meats.  So far, so good. I'll keep you posted.