Help A Beginner

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Original poster
Mar 4, 2011
I have recently purchased an IGS BBQ Butler offset smoker and have tried for two days and two large bags of charcoal just to season it. Problom is no matter how i set the air vents the smoker does not reach a temperature of about 150. I live overseas with the army so getting extras for it is a real problem as is trying to mod it. Does anyone have any words of wisdom? Any help would be appreciated.
try making a charcoal basket out of expanded metal which will help with airflow around the charcoal as it burns, keep your intake vent wide open and your exhaust vent half way open.  you want to adjust your intake vent to control the temp.  if it gets to hot, close it down or vise versa.  you might want to get a new temp gage to mount into the face of your smoker also..most of the time you can't trust them as far as you can throw them.

here is the basket i made for my cheapo charbroil off set smoker.  i made it big enough to slide thru the opening plus i can slide it about 3" or so either direction which helps me with temp control
First thing to check is the thermometer.  Drop it in boiling water and make sure it is accurate. The thermo should be kept at grate level.

Most SFB's run too hot at the FB side and too cool at the exhaust side; hence the need for tuning plates, etc.  Move the thermo around to test different areas of the smoker.  Even the best, dialed-in modified smokers vary from one area of the cook surface to another. 

Also, extend the smoke stack down to about an inch or so off the grate (flexible metal dryer vent works just fine).  This simple mod retains heat and smoke for better control and should boost temps if that is truly your problem.

Last, you might just need a bigger fire.  I start mine up with a combo of coals and firewood, and it jumps to 300-350* pretty quickly, then I tune it back down to cook temps.

Keep playing with the unit, and you'll get the hang of it soon.  Cheers!
After reading a lot of the other posts and remembering what happened. I believe that I am not getting enough air flow my charcoal was not burning properly. Will try to modify the fire basket tomorrow by enlarging the holes hoping this will help the ash fall away keep the coal from smothering. As i live in Europe with the army i do not have acces to lump coal that i can find. Will also pick up a dryer vent to extend the smoke stack as low as possible. Will repost if this does not help.
First welcome to SMF and thank you for your service. As was stated getting airflow to the coal and allowing the ash to fall is very important. Make sure the air intakes on the firebox are wide open to start with and always leave the exhaust vent wide open. It's also a very good idea to check the thermometer as most of the time the stock ones are not accurate. Good luck and let us know how it works.
How are you adding the charcoal to the firebox?  Is it already lit and burning or are you just adding unlit to the box? Try putting a few pounds of unlit charcoal in youre firebox and then add some

LIT charcoal on top of that. Make sure you have good airflow through the firebox and your smoking chamber also(exhaust vent) make sure you have enough space below the charcoal for the ash to fall and still have airflow.If you can get a welding blanket you can also wrap your smoking chamber to help hold in heat.Or try placing some firebrick in the bottom of your smoking chamber to help hold heat also.And as was said before check youre thremos to make sure they are correct.
I second the thermometer comment. You need to make sure that the one you are using is accurate as you may be at totally different temps and not know it. Sounds like you have an airflow issue like you said. Once you fix that I bet you will have better results.
Thanks for the help guys. Took the smoker back and changed it for a CB Silver Smoker. The IGS was made of thicker metal and was alot more sturdy but the pass from the firebox to grill was the same size as exhuast pipe so I don't think I would ever be able to get the airflow needed to maintain temps. The silver smoker is curing right now and hope to put some meat on next weekend. Will put photos up next when cooked. Have had no problem in maintaining 225 to 250 for an hour now. Would love to smoke something now but it is early afternoon and I only have about half a bag of charcoal.
Hmmm?  Could we come together and find a way to get some hardwood charcoal over to Iraq and Afghanistan?  I am not the guy to spearhead this idea, but PM me, and I would be glad to contribute!

In Vietnam, we bought home made charcoal from Papa San in burlap bags.  I'm not sure these guys have the luxury of buying anything but camel sh...  Oh well?

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