Lang/Horizon/Bellfab fuel time

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by jirod, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. jirod

    jirod Smoke Blower

    I am looking at possibly buying a smaller offset smoker.  Looking at the Lang 36" patio, or the 20" Horizon Classic.  Also been looking at the Bellfab.  I would most likely be using lump charcoal with some smaller splits/chunks of other wood (oak, apple, etc), and using a charcoal basket (my current one I have for my Char-Griller is like 11x11x8, Horizon's is 13x12x10).  

    My question would be for folks with a similar setup, once the smoker is heated up and you put a full load of charcoal/lump in the basket, how long will that hold?  Most likely be running the usual 225-250 degrees, obviously outside temps would come into play, and it gets cold here in Iowa.  But for sake of discussion lets say outside temps of 40-70 degrees or so.

    I do some over-night type smokes, and even with my MES40 I usually get up after about 4 hours to check on it, make sure my AMPS is still going, and move some stuff around depending on how I have it loaded and hot spots.  In those offsets once you have it settled in can you get 3-4 hours without having to reload coal/wood?  Or is it an every hour or two checking on it type thing?  I know an offset is never going to be a set it and forget it type thing, and don't mind tending to it when smoking during the day (heck that's half the fun and reason I'm looking to make the move to a better offset), but I know I am going to be doing over-night type stuff quite a bit.  Appreciate your guys' expertise.
  2. phatbac

    phatbac Master of the Pit

    I have a Lang 36 patio (Black Betty) and i usually put a few small chunks of wood in my charcoal basket and then put 2/3 of a chimney of lit charcoal on top of that and put in my smoker. then i put 2-3 pieces of wood about the thickness of a coke can and 12" long. then in about 20-30 minutes i put about 3 pieces on my smoker to get the fire really hot. i take my temps to 350-400 degrees and steam clean (with a garden hose) the inside of my smoker cook chamber after scrubbing down really good with a wire brush. i let the smoker cool down to the 250-275 range then start putting on meat. with the dampers i get smoker down to the 225-250 range. then add a stick of wood about every 45 minutes  to an hour. (again about as thick as a coke can and 12" long) i keep doing that until I'm done then i open up the dampers and the door and let it burn out and cool off. (take about 1.5-2 hours). then put ole Black Betty up.

    So i start with 6 sticks and 2/3 of a chimney of charcoal (and a couple handfuls of chunks) then after about 2 hours its 1 stick for about 45 minutes to an hour (depending on outside temp and wind) 

    Happy Smoking,

    phatbac (Aaron)
  3. jirod

    jirod Smoke Blower

    Now is the split every 45 minutes to an hour for more smoke (and continued heat)?  If you filled the basket with lump and a chunk or two of wood once the smoker was up to temp would that keep the temp up for 3 or so hours before needing to put more lump in?

    That is kind of the method I had read about, and for most smokes during the day wouldn't be a problem at all to do that.  But trying to figure out if one of these smaller offsets will work for the over-night type smokes, without getting up every hour or two.  Have no problem getting up every 3 or 4 hours to refill the basket with lump and a couple more chunks to maintain heat throughout the night.  Obviously wouldn't probably have as deep of a smoke flavor doing it that way compared to how you described.
  4. phatbac

    phatbac Master of the Pit

    The split is for more heat and also more smoke but usually when you settle into a good base fire you get a thin blue smoke.even when you add a split. I just use the charcoal (briquettes) to get the fire going. once i get meat on the smoke the charcoal is mostly burned up and i have a primarily wood fire. 

    You could use a burn barrel to burn down your wood and shovel the coals into the smoker but that sounds more labor intensive than you wanted.

    Also i would like to note with an all wood fire i smoke meat in about 4-8 hours. If i need to go much more than 6-8 hours i stick the meat in the oven because i have put all the smoke I'm going to want. I don't do 15 hour smokes on my smoker. i don't want 15 hours of smoke on my meat. some people wrap in foil to keep the smoke off but if I'm gonna wrap in foil just save the wood and throw in the oven. I get a great flavor and i don't over smoke.

    Just what i do if you want to smoke with a lang for 12-15 hours you will have to put wood ( or charcoal) on it every hour or two.

    Happy Smoking,

    phatbac (Aaron)
  5. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Aaron runs his Lang about the same as I run my Bell. I fill my basket about 2/3 full of RO lump and light 2/3 chimney of RO briqs. When the chimney is ready, I put it on top of the lump and add a couple of splits. I always want to keep a good hot bed of coals. When the lump is fully involved, I will add a couple more splits and let the CC warm up to cooking temp. I usually cook at 250-275*. When the CC is up to temp, I will put on my meat, add a couple more splits and throw in my flavor chunks. I always pre-heat my splits on top of the FB and keep a good bed of coals. Pre-heating splits ensures that they ignite quickly and don't smolder. That keeps the smoke at a TBS and doesn't allow too much downward temp swing. To keep everything where I want it, I'm adding about 2-3 splits, depending on size every hour. I think most offsets need split additions about like this.

    Yes, it's an every hour deal, but I wouldn't trade my offset for any of the set and forget smokers. I enjoy the time spent tending the fire and my infrequent all-nighters are a real smoking experience. The fire, aroma, tending the cooker, and the whole deal is a great and restful time.

    Good luck with your decision. I can't begin to recommend the Bell too much. It is a wonderful smoker and Craig Bell is a great guy to work with. His material and fabrication is first class and the quality of my smoker has been awesome.

    Contact Craig at: [email protected]
  6. jirod

    jirod Smoke Blower

    Appreciate the responses.

    Joe, I have talked to Craig and emailed him some, seems like a great guy.  Very easy to work with it sounds like and willing to do a lot of different things, and do them for not a lot of money.  That is really the way I'm leaning right now.

    I get how you guys run your pits, seems the most common way, and honestly the way I would plan on running it the vast majority of the time.  Have either of you tried, after the smoker is hot and up to temp, to fill a charcoal basket full of briquettes or lump, and how long it will hold temp like that?  Just a thought I had, wasn't sure if I was crazy even thinking something like that might work or if a pit that size will just need too much fuel and burn through it where you won't get more than an hour or so without having to add more.  I really do like the idea of tending to the smoker and that type of experience, and if for overnight type stuff I have to use my MES, that's not the end of the world either.  Just trying to get the fullest picture I can before spending a decent chunk of change.

    Again do truly appreciate all the expertise and advice from you guys.
  7. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The absolute best and fairest answer that I can give you is, "I don't know". Since I have had my Bell (a little over a year), I haven't done a cook over about 8 hours. I have a butt in the freezer and the next good weather weekend that we have, I will cook it. It should be in the area of 10-12 hours. I promise, I will try a couple of different loadings and try to give you some answers that you should be able to live with.
  8. jirod

    jirod Smoke Blower

    Joe, thanks for the reply.  Have been kind of hoping that a full basket full of charcoal may last for like 3-4 hours, if not oh well.  Just use a different smoker when I know I HAVE to do an overnight type thing, and use the offset when I would have time to tend it.  Again very thankful for the years of experience folks are willing to share on here.
  9. lancep

    lancep Master of the Pit

    Been following this since I've had some of the same curiosities. I don't know much about sticks, other then what I've read here, but I have been able to cook on a cheap offset using the minion method for a steady 5 1/2 hour burn. I imagine with a Lang/ Bellfab/ Horizon etc, you should be able to dial in a hybrid approach once you get to know it.
  10. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That's the key, Lance. Knowing your smoker and how it likes different mixes of fuels. It's just practice, practice, practice. But, practice is a lot of fun and practice means good food to eat. And always remember, we can always eat our mistakes.

    Keep up the good smokin', guys, Joe

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