Hey all! Newbie here with Char-griller from Lowes!

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by jax04, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. jax04

    jax04 Smoke Blower

    Hey all,  ive been baking ribs and such in the oven for a long time and finally decided to take the plunge on a smoker, i'm very new to this.

    So first thing i did was fire it up!

    Noticed alot of smoke and heat loss from the Fire box so as a temp fix i tin foiled all the way around the door.  I have not fired it back up yet.

    however, i spent 4 hours trying to moderate the temperature in this thing with no luck.  I know im new.

    So, so far, i added my water pan and foiled the door on the fire box.

    Im wanting to use apple wood chunks.  I first got the temp up too 225ish*F and added the wood.

    I cannot maintain the temperature with the wood.  Vent closed 100% and it still climbed some.

    Im kind of at an impass. 

    Im a huge forum guy and i know "search search search"!!

    Im posting this in duress, i have to start a 9.5lb shoulder at 4am on this thing and really want to do a decent job for my mother-in-law.

    Is there anything you guys can tell me to get this under control to a managable situation?  Ive got an extra bag of wood and charcoal to keep trying with.  But i feel like im getting no where.  I would add a piece of steel to even out temps but local steel yards are closed.  Anything guys???

    Thanks all in advance! 

    PS, i can deal with un-even to an extent, i can force the meat to one side to get this done, but maintaining that temp is killing me!

    thanks!

    Kyle
     
  2. thsmormonsmokes

    thsmormonsmokes Smoking Fanatic

    Here are my thoughts, in no particular order.

    1. A water pan is a phenomenal temperature regulator.  I'm also a CGSP owner.  It does wonders in helping to even out smoking temps.

    2. Minion method.  That helps keep temps relatively steady for long chunks of time.  But you need a basket of some sort to do this, and you might not be able to do that on this smoke.

    3. You're going to need to check on it every 1.5 hours in any event.  If you're looking for set it and forget it type of temp consistency, an offset is not what you're looking for.  At least not that offset.  You have to keep a close eye on them and learn how they run.

    4. This is the most helpful thread on this site for a CGSP.  There's about 6 years worth of input on modding the CGSP: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/58778/char-griller-smokin-pro-with-firebox-mods

    5. Don't rely on the thermo that comes with the smoker.  It is totally inaccurate and totally unreliable.  

    6. If you're adding a lot of apple wood chunks, it's going to burn hot, especially when the wood is in flames.  It mellows out as it shifts to low flame/coal.  It's possible you're giving it too much of that type of fuel.  Wood burns different than coal, particularly briquettes.  Fruit woods burn really hot.

    7. How hot is it running on you?  I've run mine as hot as 270 during a smoke after re-stoking the fire, and that's not a problem for pulled pork.  Pork butts are very forgiving over temperature fluctuations.  If it was a brisket, that would be a different story.

    8. Foil around the cooking chamber as well.  You're going to lose a lot more cooking heat there than you will around the SFB.

    9. If you're really worried about uneven temps across the grate, rotate the roast halfway through your smoke.

    It's a tough smoker to keep running even.  Tuning plates help a lot.  But on my last smoke, it took several hours before it started running even across the grates.  Some people report better results than I've gotten, but that's the best I've been able to do.  I've entertained the idea of modding mine to run reverse flow, but I'm not quite that motivated at this point.

    Just keep an eye on your meat's internal temps.  As long as you get your IT to about 195, your finished product will be fine.  200-205 pulls even better, but it will pull nicely at 195.  Or poke it with a kabob skewer to test.  When it's ready to be pulled, it will feel like pushing it through room temperature butter.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2013
  3. thsmormonsmokes

    thsmormonsmokes Smoking Fanatic

    And post pics of what you're working with.  You'll get better feedback if people can see what it's looking like.  You know, 1,000 words or something.
     
  4. jax04

    jax04 Smoke Blower

    Thanks man!  Much appreciated!

    I was getting up to the 250s at some points and trying to dial it back.  I was keeping my Vents open only about 1/4" or so and that doing ok.  It did flame up but would not stay going for the 1.5 hours you are talking about.

    If i want to use the apple wood, should i start the smoke on charcoal then just add wood to keep her going? 

    I know i only need to smoke about half the cook time then wrap her up and cook right???

    All the help is much appreciated man!

    Ive got my water pan situated directly in front of the fire box opening and was thinking about moving it away.  Its a large pan from Kroger that i filled with distilled water.

    Thanks!
     
     
  5. thsmormonsmokes

    thsmormonsmokes Smoking Fanatic

    Here's an example of how I start my smokes.  Scroll down a few posts for pics.: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/127304/2-chickens-and-25-lbs-of-pork-butt-q-view-to-follow

    I like to get my smoke wood past the billowy white stage before the meat goes in.  So I start my fire with briquettes and my smoke wood.  It typically takes a while to heat everything up.  I'll often let it burn for close to an hour before the meat goes in.  I also often use larger chunks of smoke wood than I have pictured in that thread.

    Depending on the shape of your water pan, it might double as a baffle to move hot air to the non-SFB side.  I'd save the distilled water for your car's radiator or the iron.  I just use tap water in my water pan. I don't know why you'd need distilled.

    Yeah, smoke wood isn't really necessary after about 4-5 hours.  I will still use it if I'm having trouble keeping my temps up.  But my wife's dad runs a fruit orchard, so I have an unlimited supply of it.  If I were buying it in bags, I'd be a bit more circumspect about tossing big pieces of it in the firebox.

    Oh, this point is huge and I can't believe I didn't think of it earlier.  Figure out a way to keep your fire elevated.  Especially if you're using briquettes, the ashes that fall off can stifle your fire.  Air flow is critical, and the SFB doesn't really come with a very good grate to keep your coals out of the ashes.  Some people have used the cooking grates that come with it.  I don't like that option personally, but it might work for you in a pinch.  But this is going to require some quick thinking on your part to keep your fire above the ashes.  That could be a big part of your problem.  So find some sort of metal grate that will fit in there, and DON'T use anything galvanized or nickel plated.
     
  6. jax04

    jax04 Smoke Blower

    Good deal.  Thanks man!

    I tried the pics but tapatalk isnt working worth a crap tonight.

    I went ahead and piled up my charcoal in a circle inside the fire box and left the center open to use the minion method.  Looks like it should work ok.  Ill be checking it every hour, so if need be i'll slide the pan out and rake the ashes out to keep the fire alive.

    My water pan is large.  15" pan maybe and it takes up the hole grill slightly elevated off the main chamber charcoal grate.  the fire box hole is slightly visible but not by much. Its mostly even with it or under it.  Maybe i'll slide it up tight against the wall somehow.

    So a good question is, if all i have to work with is chunks of wood, smaller ones, how can i get them into the firebox without causing a shit load of white smoke?

    Also, when the charcoal dies down, do you add wood or charcoal to get the temp back up?  Thanks man!  this is gonna be a long ass day tomorrow.

    I figure if i can keep it rolling for about 4 to 5 hours i can move it to the oven wrapped in foil for the rest of the time.
     
     
  7. radio

    radio Smoking Fanatic

    You don't have to foil it, but you can if you want.  I've cooked them both foiled and unfoiled in the last stages and they were all good.  At the end, I do foil mine, wrap it in a towel and put it in a cooler (with no ice:) and let it rest and finish cooking due to residual heat.  One will stay hot for at least two or three hours in a cooler if it gets done before dinner time.

    Good luck, and take some pics of your upcoming success[​IMG]
     
  8. jax04

    jax04 Smoke Blower

    Thanks man!

    I'm gonna attempt this butt starting about 4am.

    I have no idea how its gonna work. Kind of hate going into something without a trial run. Oh well.

    I was reading that thread and lots of good info. Im considering flipping the grill charcoal grate over before I start on the morning. But I have no bricks to prop it up on. Anyone see an issue with this?

    I'm still going to place my water pan near the firebox entrance.

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  9. jax04

    jax04 Smoke Blower

    4:30 start

    [​IMG]

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  10. jax04

    jax04 Smoke Blower

    Its about 60* ambient right now and wide open with the grate turned open it was slow to rise after 190* up to 224 on grate now. Dialing back the vent to maintain now. Wish me luck name

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  11. jax04

    jax04 Smoke Blower

    Doing good now. Keeping her around 215-225 grate temp

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  12. jax04

    jax04 Smoke Blower

    Full 2 hours in. The damn coating on the sfb is bubbling off. Doesn't smell to good. Hope it doesn't ruin my cook. That would be terrible.

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  13. jax04

    jax04 Smoke Blower

    [​IMG]

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  14. jax04

    jax04 Smoke Blower

    3 hours

    Still worried that coating burning off on smoker box is gonna ruin my Cook. It does not smell so pretty.

    [​IMG]

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  15. jax04

    jax04 Smoke Blower

    You can the crap burning off right now. This is worry sum

    [​IMG]

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  16. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    My chargrilled did the same thing but not inside the smoke box, it was inside the drum. I didn't notice it until I was gonna fire it up one day. Boy was I shocked! It was pealing like a old school battle ship! I used my grill grate scrapper and knocked it all off. Had to do it a few more times as well.

    It didn't hurt the food at all. Then again it never fell onto, or cooked into the food.

    Did you season your griller? If not this could be a lot of the issue.


    Hope this helps.

    Scott
     
  17. jax04

    jax04 Smoke Blower

    I seasoned it sort if. I guess not like I shiuldve. The stuff burning off today is on the outside of the fire box

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  18. thsmormonsmokes

    thsmormonsmokes Smoking Fanatic

    Re: lots of white smoke. That's going to happen when you add cold wood. Once the fuel itself is got enough, it burns cleaner. A little of it isn't a huge problem, as long as you have your smoke stack wide open. One solution would be to get it started in your chimney before throwing it in the SFB.

    Re: paint on the SFB. Dont sweat it. It does that. I think they pretty much all do that. They used really cheap paint. It's on the outside of the smoker, and shouldn't change your finished product.
     
  19. jax04

    jax04 Smoke Blower

    I decided to wrap it up and finish her in the oven. I think it'll be ok. I'll taste it. Its weird I'll go grab some from the local barbecue joint.



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  20. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I know I am a little late to the party..........but here is my $0.02.............

    Why the water pan? When I ran my CG and would put a liquid pan to catch drippings during my brisket cooks I would have all kinds of issues with controlling the temp. Personally I would not have one..........

    Make a charcoal basket. As pointed out you need to move the coals out of the ash. This will help control the temp and use less fuel..... There are a few threads on no weld charcoal baskets. Just do a quick search, if you have any questions I will be happy to help talk you through it.

    If you don't have a garage or covered area to keep it in, get a cover or two for it. Worth the money, trust me I had one last 6+ years with one and another not last 2 years without one.........

    The paint will come off....crappy paint.......either brush some vegetable oil on it after the cook as it cools down or keep a can of grill paint and hit it each time........

    The joint where the fire box and cook chamber conect is the weakest point for rust. Get some of the 3M Fire Barrier Sealant from Lowes or Home Depot. Run A bead on the outside of the joint. This will help keep the water out. It is red so paint it with the high heat paint after it dries.

    I know some of the mods say to run the fire cord or silicone to seal the cook chamber. It takes a lot to get them ready IMO. I did as you already did and sealed with foil.....works great.

    Pick up a couple thermometers you can mount on the door at either side. Make sure to calibrate them. I know you have some oven thermometers on the grate, but you have to open the lid to see them. Every time you open the lid you give the fire a blast of O2 and it will change how it is burning. Besides the saying is true....If your Lookin You Ain't Cookin!

    I saw you flipped your charcoal pan. That works better than people think. I did it for years before I found this site and other mods online. I did make tuning plates for my last one. They work very well. If you want to know more about the tuning plates just ask. I will do my best to explain what I did.

    Air flow is critical for this smoker. Top vent 100% open at all times and control the heat with the air intake vent.

    So cooking temps.......this is a very sticky subject for some........traditional is 225.......I prefer a bit hotter 250-275.......... I will do pork and beef at that and do chicken at 300-325 (I like crispy skin)......... Ok I use the traditional time guides for planning, but I always cook to temps.......... If you inject I would advise you to use the 40-140 in
     

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