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Hello from a Char-Griller Pro newbie

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by burntfingers, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. burntfingers

    burntfingers Newbie


    First of all, let me say thank you for this site.  I've been lurking here for a little while and have learned a lot by reading various threads.

    I got my first smoker this spring, and have been having a blast.  It's a Char-Griller Pro w/ SFB, and I've done about seven smokes in it, and talk about tasty.

    This is a little long, but there's a question after all the background.

    I've added a fire basket built out of expanded steel as big as I could make it and still fit it through the door.  I've added two CharBroiler thermometers to the lid, one on each end. I've added the chimney extension down to the front left of the grates.  I've also added a baffle in the firebox to limit the amount of air that can flow past the bottom of the fire basket and into the smoking chamber without either passing through or over the fire basket, and a baffle in the smoking chamber to eliminate "line-of-sight" to the fire.  The smoking chamber baffle is 8" wide and long enough to extend from front to back of the chamber just above the firebox opening.

    I have not built baffles through the entire chamber, nor have I added any gasket along the lid, or any other insulation.

    I have tried using the main chamber charcoal tray as a baffle, but haven't done it that way the last few times I used the smoker.

    I'm having a temperature issue I hope someone can help with.  As I stated, I have two CharBroiler therms that I've added to the lid, one on each end, about 5" from each end.  It still has the factory therm in the lid.  I also have a Maverick ET-73, and a Taylor (don't recall which model) that I picked up from Lowe's.  All have been tested in ice water and boiling water, and all (including the factory therm) read within 5 degrees of each other.  Actually the ET-73 is the least accurate of the bunch.  The food probe reads boiling water at 215.  All the rest read boiling water at around 210 which is more accurate for my altitude.

    OK.  After all that background, here's the issue:  The last smoke I did before I had the ET-73, was an 11.5# brisket.  This only took 4 hours to get to an internal temp of 190 at a chamber temp of 225-240.  This seemed way too fast, but there it is.  After I got the ET-73, I lit it up again and had the Taylor probe stuck in a potato right next to the smoker probe for the ET-73, in the middle of the chamber.  The two therms in the middle of the chamber were consistently reading about 100 degrees (no, that's not a typo, one hundred degrees) higher than the other therms.

    Does that make a bit of sense?  Can I really have that big a difference between the center and the edges? (Remember, I've tested all the therms.)

    Since I have only had the ET-73 for the most recent smoke, I've been relying on the other therms for chamber temp, and the Taylor for food temp.  I've struggled with keeping the temp up and in several cases the highest I could get was 200.  I had initially chalked this up to choking the fire by adding too much charcoal, but now I'm not so sure.  Even with the temp readings as low as they were, things have cooked successfully.

    This would indicate that when I did the brisket, the temp at the center was really closer to 325 than 225.  That would account for the short cook time.

    As an aside, even cooking that fast, it was really tender with a very nice smoke ring.  (Sorry, no Q-View, so I guess I didn't really do it. [​IMG] )

  2. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Welcome BurntFingers,

    Glad you joined. Someone with a Char-Griller should be here before too long. I can't help with that part, but I would say if all therms were within 5˚, that's pretty good.

  3. deannc

    deannc Master of the Pit

    I too would like to at least welcome you aboard, but sorry, I can't help with the Char-Griller.  As bear said, someone will be along who has firsthand experience with your smoker that can help you out.
  4. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to SMF glad you decided to join us. I don't have that smoker either but with the mods you've made I'd say yes it is possible to have that much temp variation if the plate is allowing the heat to rise in the center of the smoker. Maybe try some tuning plates check out post number 3 in this thread


    You can also find more information on tuning plates just by doing a search using that phrase
  5. richoso1

    richoso1 Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the SMF, most of us were lurkers in the beginning. It's all good my friend.
  6. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Welcome to SMF - glad to have you join us. I also don't know that smoker but the link you got should help. Good luck  
  7. Welcome to the SMF. Great place. You can learn a lot in a short time here. I have a Char-Griller Pro and have never seen temp variances like that even before the mods. I would double check the thermometers again. With a few mods I have my temps within 5 degrees side to side and the top thermometer read about 10-15 higher. Which makes sense. Tuning plates of some sort would be a good idea. I did mine out of scrap metal, tin foil and my water tray. Moved them around a little until my temps evened out. Sealed the edges of the smoke chamber with tin foil too. I'm sure there are folks with more experience than me on these. I'm sure they will pipe in eventually.



  8. burntfingers

    burntfingers Newbie

    Thanks for the help.  I'll try to get some baffles built for this in the next couple of days.

    It amazes me that I can have temp variances like this.  It would also amaze me if all three hardware thermometers went bad at once.  I've only had the smoker since June, so they aren't very old.  The smoker does sit outside all the time, but is usually covered.  There have been a couple of cases where I didn't get the cover on before it rained, so it has been wet, but I didn't notice any moisture in the thermometer faces.

    I'll pull them and test again anyway, just in case.

    When I first got the Char-Griller, I used the "poor man's baffle" mod (turned the main chamber charcoal tray upside down) and the temps stayed within 25 degrees between the edges and the center.  At that time, I was using the Taylor electronic therm in the center, since I didn't have the ET-73 at that time.
  9. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I found (back when I had my char-griller) that if you made to many changes you actually started to run into problems. One I ran into was not enough airflow for my large charcoal basket, I had to constantly open my fire door to let some air in. I read a post where somebody added an extra  air vent on the side of their firebox for that very same reason.
  10. burntfingers

    burntfingers Newbie

    When I first started playing with this thing, I was having the same problem.  I couldn't get the temps to come up much above 200.  Now, I'm not so sure that I was really having a problem at all.  One of the reasons I'm thinking that is that nothing I've smoked has seemed to take an excessively long time.  In fact, a few things (most notably a brisket) have gotten done faster than I expected.  This could be due to the temps being higher than I thought they were, or to me simply not having realistic expectations.

    Based on the last smoke I did, I may well have been over-hot in the center, but since the therms are all on the edges, I may have been getting falsely low readings.

    I'm also thinking that I may have originally been choking the fire with too much charcoal.  After I started lowering the amount of charcoal I put in the firebox at any one time, the temps (as indicated by the same therms in the same places) started holding at higher levels.  So, did decreasing the amount of charcoal improve airflow and increase temps?  It seems likely, but I can't really prove it, since I also changed fire baskets and added a firebox baffle at the same time.

    There are so many variables involved that even though I'm trying to keep detailed notes as I go, I'm still kind of guessing at where the problems are, and what to do about them.  I'm slowly isolating each on variable, and hopefully getting close to an understanding of what's really happening.

    I'll learn more about this this weekend, as I play with it again.
  11. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    First off Welcome Burnt Fingers 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. Now there are alot 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
  12. toxie

    toxie Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to SMF!! Lots of good folks and information here... [​IMG]
  13. burntfingers

    burntfingers Newbie

    I added some tuning plates to this before Saturday's smoke, and it did make a big difference.  The temp difference between the center and the edges averaged about 35-40 degrees.  The end nearest the SFB was typically running about 50 degrees higher than the far end, but I had some really big ribs on the far end, so that temp difference isn't too surprising.  A little more playing with the position of the plates, and I should be good.

    I had no problem keeping the temps up.  I'm still working on getting great control, but it help pretty well.
  14. etcher1

    etcher1 Master of the Pit

    Welcome [​IMG]to the [b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b]SMF[/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b] forum, You came to the right place. Good people and good info.
  15. pit 4 brains

    pit 4 brains Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hmmm.. I've been using a Char-Grilller for years, unmodded (except for the two roofing tiles I have in the cooking chamber). Even though I have a digital on the grate while cooking, I still put my hand over the stack and just feel the heat and draft coming out. I did learn that adding lit coals vs cold will help keep temps on an even keel. I just did a stick burn for the first time the other night in the rain and I was able to turn in the People's Choice brisket.

    Maybe you're just trying to oversteer a running horse.. Ease up in the saddle and give her some reigns...