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New to smoking and the forums need some guidance

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by whitepony99, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. Hello all nice to be here talking about smoking with all of you. I have a few questions about the results of my first smoke I did this weekend. First off let me say my pulled pork was very tasty and my homemade rub was not too spicy according to the wife, all in all very happy.

           My problems occur during the smoke, I use a brinkmann smoke and pit (the one in my avatar) with the chimney extended down to the grill surface and a charcoal basket (i built) in my firebox the exact dimensions are 11" by 11" and is 7 inches deep with 2 inch legs so the basket sits 4 to 5 inches off the bottom of the firebox. I burn natural hardwood lump charcoal with hickory chunks for flavor. So I wake up at 3 am and take my pork shoulders out of the fridge, then i go outside and light my weber charcoal chimney and another charcoal chimney thats about half the size. I dump the chimneys and adjust temp accordingly so its about 3:40 am by now I go and put the meat on the initial temp of the meat was 48 degrees. Alot of adjusting the first 1 or 2 to get the temp stable but i remain between 240 and 200 and finally stabilize at 215. 1 hour in meat temp is up to 80 degrees and climbing, hour 2 meat is 110 and by hour 3 meat temp falls into 130 to 140 range. I had to add 1 chimney full the first 5 and half hours and i'm happy with how its going. So I go into the house around 8:00 as the temp is holding at 215, meat temp was 150ish and as i just added a chimney full. That would be number 2 6 hours in almost not bad. So I am watching tv and fall asleep thank God for kids as they woke me just before 9 am, so I go out to check my smoker and I noticed it was very breezy. I look at my smoker temp and its 150 I look at the firebox and notice my coals had burned down quite a bit. So I start 2 chimneys and dump them, weird my temp goes to 180 and stops. So I light another chimney and dump it still nothing 180 and temp starts to fall again full basket but it appears the coals are suffocating and not burning hot at all. By this time its 10 or 10:30 and I make a hasty decision to take my basket out and put in my original grate I then dump the coals from the basket onto the grate and change direction of my smoker. My temp is back up to 210 and appears stable but within 30 minutes it is dropping and I'm adding more coals from this point on i'm adding coals every 30 to 40 minutes and the temp is anywhere from 150 to 210, on average id say I kept it around 180 to 210 for the most part. The funny thing was the temp on the side furthest from the box was hotter then by the box. The coals on the left side of the firebox were orange and hot but the coals to the right were white and not real hot at all. Now I will say this the ash build up underneath was to the grate so I was thinking they werent getting the air that the ones on the left were. But why did my charcoal basket stop burning hot as no ash build up was underneath. Was the ash being held in the basket suffocating the coals?  The dome thermometer said ideal for what good thats worth. Why did I have so little problems the first 6 hours but the remaining six I had a heck of a time and burned through almost 40 lbs. of lump charcoal. Does this seem right if not what did I do wrong?  If it wasnt me what can I do to improve my results for next time? 

    Sorry about the length but wanted to give all the information any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

    PS I love the taste and am hooked on this, It is alot of work but well worth it
  2. smoke_chef

    smoke_chef Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Hi Whitepony,

       Welcome to the site! I don't have much input on your problem above. However, you are at the right place! There will be some folks come along that will know what was going wrong and what you can do to fix it I'm sure. But in the mean time, since you're new here. It would be a good idea to pop over to the roll call section and sort of introduce yourself.

    I'll be looking for your q-view,

  3. mossymo

    mossymo Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Glad you joined us and welcome.

    In my opinion from what you describe is ash was held up between the coals, I'm thinking a simple metal rod with a angle bent at the end attempting to imitate a hook, so you could give the basket a quick shake or two will allow you more hours of rest.

    Another thought is to get a remote thermometer that will alarm you when you smoker or product in the smoker falls below a preset temperature. They are not too expensive and will pay for themselves by gaining rest and not foiling a meal.
  4. Thanks Mossy for the input, I did try to give the basket a shake but the basket is rather heavy and doesnt shake out very well. I also worry about scratching the bottom of my firebox because the weight of it. I'm really at a lose and am ready to scrap the basket completely. If I can get a picture of the basket up today I will so you can see what i'm dealing with. I like the grate but using the lump charcoal i lose alot of coals through the grate.
  5. [​IMG]
  6. [​IMG]
  7. my basket in the firebox and my basket out of the firebox.
  8. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    I also think that ash build up in the basket is the problem. Dont worry about scratching the inside of the fire box. After a few good long smokes it is going to rust anyway.
  9. what is a realistic burn that you guys think I can get out of a basket full of lump charcoal? Is there anything I can do to modify my current setup as far as charcoal basket goes?
  10. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I think your set up is fine. Like Mossy said, just try to either shake or knock the ash out of your basket occasionaly, heck use a fireplace shovel and gently stir the charcoal from side to side. Another thing to watch out for is the ash blocking off your air intake vent. If it gets high enough it can really start cutting down your air flow. I have seen several people add extra air intake vents to their fireboxes for that very reason, other than that glad to hear it went well and the family liked the pork.
  11. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

    I noticed your intake vent is wide open, was it like that while you were smoking? If so just crack it open a little and keep your exhaust wide open and you will notice a big improvement. Also check out the minion method of burning fuel in the wiki section. You will find your fuel conpsumtion will fall alot. I will only use maybe 5 pounds to smoke two large butts. Hope this helps. [​IMG]

  12. Yes most of the cook the intake was open because i couldnt get my heat up, I also had my chimney open also. 
  13. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    WOW! Awesome data saving! It's nice to see another numbers geek like me!! :) Yay!!

    I second the thought on firebox scratches as quoted below.  :)

    My remote alarm has saved my bacon (quite literally) more than once.


    Here's my concern (and my inital question has nothing to do with your question, so feel free to ignore me!!):  If the meat had been in your fridge, and you only had it out for 40 minutes, how did the core temp of the meat get all the way up to 48 degrees?   I only worry that your fridge might not be cold enough -OR- your thermometer is bupkiss.

    Which leads me to ask: What kind of thermometer? Did you calibrate your thermometer? It might answer some of your questions if the data you so carefully collected is not 100% okay...



  14. Well Princess IDK I have put all kinds of things in my fridge before and never got sick, so it could be the thermometer. I got the taylor weekend warrior which I am not real happy with I believe that it was taking some of the grill temp and measuring it as well. What I mean is that the temp of the thermometer fluctuated with the temp inside the grill that is why half way through I took it out and just probed it at the end of the cook to see my internal. I want a dual probe one that measures inside grill temp and meat temp, but funds are limited right now so I will just have to wait.
  15. i discovered the thermometer mounted in my lid is WAY, WAY, off.  it's possible yours is too.  i've been told this is pretty common.

    mine is totally worthless.  sometimes it reads 70 degrees hotter than grill level, sometimes 40 or 50 degrees hotter.  it's very inconsistent.

    if you can't spring for a dual probe, you can get use a little freestanding oven thermomter.   they usually cost abour 5 or 6 bucks.

    not ideal, because you have to lift the lid to check them, but it's better than smoking blind like i was with my bogus lid thermometer!
  16. I bought 2 thermometers and put them in at grill level to give me more accruate readings