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New to Smokin, NEED HELP!

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by Jonathan Carlson, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. Jonathan Carlson

    Jonathan Carlson Fire Starter

    Hey All, I'm new to smoking. Have to start out simple, so my first two smokes was chicken leg/thighs, and turkey legs. I bought me an Oklahoma Joe offset smoke/propane combo. Instant success. However... my temps right out the gate jumped to 250-280 range. I couldn't get it to drop and my overall cooking time got about chopped in half. Again, still a success. But for the future I want to try ribs/brisket out. How do I get it down to the 225-250 range? Here are the facts:
    -Two good handfuls of lump charcoal, positioned up against the smoker side.
    -Pecan wood chips. It would burn off fast, every 15 minutes I had to add more chips to keep the smoke coming. Temp would rise from 250 to 280. Freaking out, I opened the smoking chamber to get the heat back down(and smoke escape, bad I know..)Once the temp got down to 250, smoke would stop coming and would have to add more chips.. Vicious circle..
    -Firebox damper, 100% open during preheat. 50% open when initially adding chips. About 20% open when I'm "trying" to get the temp down which is the whole time..
    -Smokestack damper open 100% initially. Closed 50% the entire rest of the time..
    -Meat placed in the middle of the smoker with a water/drip plan placed underneath..
    -Outside temp, 88 degrees in the shade, no wind..
    How do I get it to hit 225-250 and stay there? Please any help would be great. Thanks!!
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  2. Rings Я Us

    Rings Я Us Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    What kind of temp gauge you using? Where in the smoker is the temp gauge located?
     
  3. I'm not as much of an expert as others on here but you might change how open you have your damper vents initially. Also, might try to change to chunks as opposed to chips so that you are not opening the firebox as much and letting more airflow through.
     
  4. Jonathan Carlson

    Jonathan Carlson Fire Starter

    Its the gauge that came with the grill located middle, top of smoking chamber. You can sort of get a look at it in my profile pic.
     
  5. Jonathan Carlson

    Jonathan Carlson Fire Starter

    Do you recommend I close my firebox damper? Or would that have a bad effect and put out my fire altogether? I have hickory chunks I'll try out on ribs next weekend.
     
  6. RiversideSm0ker

    RiversideSm0ker Master of the Pit

    I have the OKJ Highland. Which only burns wood or charcoal. There is no propane option. I find that I can hold most any temp relatively consistent as long as I keep the stack wide open and control the airflow with the firebox vent. If you are using actual wood chips then you are probably fighting a losing battle for the firebox side. You want to use chunks or actual splits. I only use charcoal as my heat source and wood chunks for my smoke. A couple decent chunks of wood will generally provide smoke for about 45 minutes before I need to add more. Remember when you add wood chips or chunks that it burns. That creates extra heat. If you are using chips I suspect that the extra heat that you are talking about is coming from the burning wood chips. They will burn quickly and hot. My OKJ does not need much air form the vent to keep a good 250 range. My vent is usually about 3/8" open. When it is hot outside, anything above say 85, it doesn't take a lot of fuel to make it happen. Perhaps you are using too much coal. Are you continuing to add lump charcoal as you go or are you just using the chips for your heat source?

    George
     
  7. Jonathan Carlson

    Jonathan Carlson Fire Starter

    Thanks for the advice George. I will try hickory chunks this weekend for my rack of ribs. No I didn't add any more charcoal lumps. Only was adding the chips(Presoaked) throughout. I know there's no such thing as a dumb question, but this one is pretty up there.. do you think placement of my charcoal in the FB makes any difference, near the damper as opposed to closer to the smoking chamber?
     
  8. RiversideSm0ker

    RiversideSm0ker Master of the Pit

    First off let me suggest that your charcoal become the primary source of heat. That will help you to find the right rhythm for you firebox. Use only enough wood chunks to produce the smoke that you desire. Also, don't soak the wood at all. You don't want it to smolder your want it to burn clean. If you use lump coal then it tends to burn hotter than briquette type charcoal. The benefit, in most cases, is that it creates way less ash. I recall starting out with Royal Oak Lump when I first bought my OKJ. May a whole bag would barely leave a trace of ash. It burns really clean. It's just more expensive. That was why I switched to briquettes. Also, Ray here at SMF had a great thread about different brands of charcoal. His findings showed that the Royal Oak Ridge was superior to the more popular Kingsford brand. Even better is that there are generic store brands of the ROR and my personal favorite has become the Home Depot Embers brand. For less than $5 a bag it is the best all around deal I have found on fuel. Burns hot and long. It's very consistent from bag to bag. I would use that as your heat source. Put a half to three quarter chimney of unlit charcoal in your firebox. Light an equal amount and let it get those ashed over white edges and then put it on top of the unlit coals. After 20 or 30 minutes your pit should have found some kind of equilibrium. From that point on it's just about adjusting the air intake vent to either choke it to cool it or open it up to let it get hotter. You don't want to keep adjusting that vent very often though. In general my unit only requires a small opening. I'm certain that is because of all of the other gaps creating airflow. In any event, try just using that vent to control your temp while you watch the temperature cruise. Once you drop about 10 degrees below your target temp then add in 6 to 12 unlit coals. Just watch your unit for the next 20 minutes or so and you will see that the temps will start to come back up. You will basically be riding waves of low and high while shooting for that average target temp. It will generally go 10 degrees or so above and then when you get that 10 degrees below you just add more fuel. Try to keep the amount that you add each time the same. I started with 6 coals and worked my way up. It generally requires about 10 coals for my smoker to keep the same temp. If it's really hot out you won't need to add fuel as often. If it's colder then you will almost certainly need to add fuel more often. Just try to add the same each time. It's the same concept as people who burn only wood. If you add the same size split each time then you should have pretty much the same results. I'm sure this is more than you bargained for so I will leave it there but I am sure with just a bit of practice you will find the right combo for your smoker. Enjoy the process.

    George
     
    Jonathan Carlson likes this.
  9. Jonathan Carlson

    Jonathan Carlson Fire Starter

    Ok thanks George again for the advice. Going to smoke up some ribs for Fathers Day, but the true test happens when I got extended family coming into town in a few weeks. Brisket for the 4th or July festivities.Still new to this all and I don'[t have a charcoal starter/chimney.. Looking at all the advice out there. It seems I need to go out and get me one and make things easier on myself.
     
  10. No, don't close it completely but just try it at less than what you have it open either when heating or adding chips. Hopefully then you won't have to work as hard to bring the temp down later in the cook.
     
    Jonathan Carlson likes this.
  11. Jonathan Carlson

    Jonathan Carlson Fire Starter

    For my turkey legs two days ago, what was supposed to be a 3 hour cook at 250 degrees. Ended up being a 1hr 45mns cook at 250degrees mostly 275 degrees. All because I didn't know how to get the temp down and was scared about letting smoke out, but did it anyways.. lol I know, I'm sad.. newbie, but sad..