Help with temperature control

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by txblackjack21, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. Hi all,

    I can grill like crazy, but I am still pretty green when it comes to smoking -- I think I've smoked about three briskets, three links of sausage, one Boston butt and two racks of ribs. Some of that smoking was done on a smoker that a friend had in storage and wanted me to use until his son moved into a new house.

    Anyway, last week I bought an Old Country Pecos smoker, Thermoworks tw8060 and five 60 lb bags of post oak. On Monday, I smoked my Boston butt before my Tw8060 got here, and it turned out really good, even with my built-in thermometer being 20 degrees off. Last night, I did a 12 lb brisket, and it's tender as hell, but it's bitter.

    In Austin last night, the winds kicked up to around 20 to 40 mph and it was hard as heck keeping the fire consistent. Hell, it's hard enough for me to do this without the wind blowing like that. I start with a charcoal chimney full of coals and then add like four chunks of post oak to the firebox. For the brisket last night, I ended up using a whole bag of charcoal and a 60 lb bag of post oak. 

    I've wrapped my briskets before, but last night I did not. It was on the smoker for around 11 hours, and when I got tired of fighting the winds at 6am, I put it in the oven for a little over an hour. I didn't wrap in the oven, either. I pulled it at 205, finally wrapped in foil, and let it rest for over 2 hours this morning. 

    I guess this is kind of a multi question post... Why am I having to tend to the fire 95% of the time? Why am I burning so much wood? What am I doing wrong? What other advice do you have for me? 

    In advance, thanks so much for your help.

    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
  2. Well from my experience wind is an enemy even in warm days of summer.  I always think of it like doing three things:

    1.  It will rob your heat.

    2.  It will use up more of your fuel (think of blowing on the hot coals to get an old flame going)

    3.  It will may produce more smoke than you intend, you want a trace blue smoke not the white billowing smoke (gives a bad bitter taste)

    again this is just my two cents, some of the others on here may have a better suggestions.

    Good luck and stick with it.

    txblackjack21 likes this.
  3. maple sticks

    maple sticks Smoking Fanatic

    Hi TxBlackjack21, Wood fires need tending especially when the wind blows. I usually add wood every 30-45 mins to my smoker.

    As to the "bitter' most likely thats from a large cold fire. Which should have given you lots of white smoke coming from the chimney. Think small and hot next time using smaller pieces of wood.

    Eleven hours for cook time is good. I have done as long as 22 hours when I don't wrap and cook at 225. I don't cook at that temp anymore but that is a learning curve thing.

    Also smaller the smoker the harder it is to maintain a wood fire. Might do better using mostly charcoal with a few chunks of wood for smoke flavor.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
    txblackjack21 likes this.
  4. Ok, so when I add new wood, it takes my transparent heat/smoke to the billowing white smoke for a bit. This is seasoned post oak. So, how do you burn a clean fire when you add new wood? Like I said, my Boston butt was good, and not bitter at all. Maybe it was the wind last night that caused a problem with my fire.

    I did the Boston butt at 275 (255, really, but it's what I thought at the time) for over 8 hours. I tried to do the brisket at 250, but I was around 220 to 265 -- it was just so hard to control the temps. A big gust would hit and my 8060 would show an almost instant 10 degree drop. It was all over the place, but I think I did a good job keeping it within an allowable range. I was out there moving the damper back and forth, adding new wood, etc. 
  5. bigwheel

    bigwheel Smoking Fanatic

    Dittos on what the other folks say. Wind is a meanie for bbq cooks. Now not quite as bad as freezing rain..but sorta similar. Inclement conditions increase fuel consumption is the moral of the tale I guess. Now I have good tips for rain...tornadoes etc..but wind has to be blocked off some way or another. Hard to short circuit that old law of physics. Kindly dont make be do math here. Thanks. Hey maybe that is why the Lord give us insulated fireboxes..hmmm.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
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  6. maple sticks

    maple sticks Smoking Fanatic

    Hi, I got confused when you wrote "I did a 12 lb brisket, and it's tender as hell, but it's bitter."  that is usually from smoldering wood fires. The smaller the wood the easier it starts burning. It even helps to warm the wood sometimes.

    Yes I sure the wind is your major problem along with any air leaks you have. Just try to keep it out of the wind and close up any door gaps you have in the cook chamber and fire box.
    txblackjack21 likes this.
  7. One last thing. There were times last night when I would close the damper on the smoke stack, so I could help control the temps. Does this choke off flow and also lead to more bitterness? Sorry for all of the questions. 
  8. I am so full of questions from all of you masters, forgive me. So, lets say you were smoking at 250... At what temperature drop would you add a new log? Do you go off just time or a certain drop? 
  9. maple sticks

    maple sticks Smoking Fanatic

    CLOSE THE to the wood shed.

    Anyway you should always try to control temp with air intake and size of the fire. Yes closing the exhaust damper makes the meat bitter.

    When I cook I have a range that I shoot for say 160-175 so if I'm out of that range fire needs tending. Keep in mind when you add wood CC temp is going to drop till wood starts burning. You will get the hang of it with a little practice.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
  10. I am so thankful for all of the help. 

    You hear people talk all the time about putting in the coals, wood, etc. and just going to sleep. I guess they are talking about a ceramic smoker or something different than an offset. I wasn't looking to just set it and forget, but I was looking for some breaks in between. Maybe it will come after I learn more. 
  11. 2010ultra

    2010ultra Smoke Blower

    hey there im from south dakota and have learned that cold temps and the wind are evil when it comes to smoking, i currently am going to insulate my firebox and am going to put a diffuser in my cc. my homemade smoker eats fuel like its going out of style. im honestly thinking of using a wood stove for my firebox, which i just recieved for FREE. i love that word.

    txblackjack21 likes this.
  12. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

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  13. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

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