having trouble maintaining temp!???!!

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Smoke Blower
Original poster
Jul 3, 2005
Cleveland TN
I currently have the inexpensive brinkmann verticle smoker. I am having trouble maintaining constant temp. I have to "reload" the charcoal approx every 1 1/2 hours. I'm using lump charcoal. When I open the door to reload the coal the temp drops down to 150 degrees or so and takes 30-45 mins to regain the 220 temp! well then I only have 45 min or so of constant temp before I have to reload again. I feel this is why I have a hard time getting larger cuts of meat over 155 degrees. Is there anything I can do to alter the smoker to help with this problem or will I just have to deal until I can afford a better unit??

Thanks for the help!!


If only I could find a way to get paid more for doing less, I beleive everything else would work itself out.
There is a way of maintaining constant temps with charcoal using what is called the "Minion Method" invented by Jim Minion a competition smoker.

You basically fill your charcoal pan up with unlit charcoal and place lit charcoal on top of that.

The lit coal on top slowly ignites the coal beneath it, burning downward to maintain a steady temp throughout the smoke.

I hear this works well in the smaller vertical smokers and makes sense from a logical point of view but I have never done it myself so I am cannot speak from personal experience.

Perhaps someone here has tried it and can further elaborate on the matter.
I have an offset smoker, but adding some foil-wrapped fireplace bricks to the cooking chamber made a tremendous difference in temperature maintenance. You can find them at specialty fireplace stores or over the internet. Just add a few to your rig and that should take care of the problem.
I have an ECB also and until I used the minion method I had the same problem. I use kingsford briquettes and put a little depression in the pile of charcoal then place the lit charcoal in the depression. I light more if its cold less if its warm outside but it keeps a steady temp.
I've been meaning to post here for awhile now so here I go. . .
I have an ECB that my little sister gave me several years ago. I made some of modifications to it (vents top and bottom of the unit; holes drilled into the bottom of fire pan and placed a charcoal rack in the fire pan)

I too had problems during long smoking sessions having to add more charcoal to the fire pan. I decided to fill the fire pan with 2 charcoal chimneys full of briquettes, then I filled the chimney again and set it over a lit burner on my propane stove. Once the briquettes started to ash over I dumped them on top of the unlit briquettes. Now just recently, I found out that a guy by the name of Jim Minion came up with this very same method!!! Well all I got to say is “Donâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]t ya just love it when GREAT MINDS think alike?†:)

My El Cheapo came with an outter bottom pan that the fire pan sits in. I made a modification to my unit that I haven'y seen nor read about so I'll share it with you.

You will need:
Power drill
3/8 in. drill bit
1/4 in. drill bit
Drimel with cutting disc
1/4 in. X 4 in. bolt
lock washer and nut for the 1/4 bolt.
small wire nut that will fit the end of the bolt (optional)

(1) Measure down 1 1/2 - 2 inches from the top of the bottom unit and and mark this location with a marker, Measure your first mark then using the same measurement, measure down from the top and 2 inches from your first mark and make another mark. You should now have two marks that are 2 inches apart and on the same level.

(2) Drill a 3/8 inch hole at each of these markes. Make a 3/8 inch slot between these two holes (drill a series of over-lapping holes then file the points down or use a drimel with the cutting disc). File the slot smooth.

(3) Put the fire pan in place in the bottom unit and with an awl or nail inserted into the 3/8 inch slot make a mark on the fire pan. Remove the fire pan and where the mark is drill a 1/4 hole. From the inside of the fire pan insert the 1/4 bolt, put the lock washer and nut on the bolt and tighten. With the fire pan sitting on a level surface, check the angle of the bolt. Chances are it will have a slight down ward angle. Apply upward pressure on the bolt until it is parallel to your level surface.

(4) Place the fire pan in the bottom unit making sure that the 1/4 bolt passes through the 3/8 inch slot. Place the wire nut on the end of the bolt. You now have a shaker handle so you can shake down the ashes. One mod that I made to this handle was to cut down my bolt so that there was enough of the threaded bolt coming through the slot to add the wire nut and now the wire nut sits very close to the wall of the bottom unit and I don't have to worry about the handle reaching out and "biting" my ankle whenever I walk past it. :shock: :cry:

(NOTE: This mod works best if you have installed a charcoal rack in the fire pan.)

I'll try to post pictures of this mod. My son has even suggested adding a vertical slot at the end of the horizontal slot so that you can "rock" the fire pan. So far the "shaking" seems to work well for me.
I have a similar problem with this smoker. I'm assuming it's the three rack water smoker. I took out the third rack and moved the water pan up. This gave me a little more room for my charcoal to breathe and seems to have helped today. I've been between 200-300+ all day.

I hope my ribs turn out today. I've been successful at getting great smoke flavor, but so far have had to finish them off in the oven because I couldn't get my smoker to the proper temp!

I do notice though that I've used about 10 lbs of charcoal and almost a dozen chunks of wood. This doesn't seem normal, does it?

I too was having trouble maintaining temp with my ECB vertical smoker, but I made the nessary mods with the acess to the fire pan and the improved the air flow to the fire pan, by adding a rack to place the charcoal on. Let me tell you that helped alot. Some little improvements to the ECB made a world of differance!!!!
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