Results of removing some mods, for stick burning.

Discussion in 'CharGriller Owners Group' started by fpmich, Aug 20, 2017.

  1. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Well, my idea about which stuff to take out of modded smoker, was right on!  IT WORKED MUCH better for stick burning.  I've still got a ways to go to learn this stuff, but I think I am on the right path now.  Thank you Cliff Carter. and others, for all your help and patience.

    See this thread to see what I removed.  BIG DIFFERENCE!

    3:00 PM -Started smoker with very full chimney of lit charcoal (mix of both lump and briquettes.)  The "empty" smoke chamber quickly rose to

    L. grate level @ 290* & R. grate level @ 310*

    L. top rack @ 330* & R. top rack @ 314*

    3:15 PM -  Added 3 split chicken breasts to top rack, 8 drumsticks to lower grate, and slab of ribs on left side of lower grate. 15 minutes later, temps changed.

    much lower on bottom grate for a few minutes, even reached 100* lower on bottom vs. top, for a few minutes.

    But it leveled out at about 35* to 55* difference between top and bottom.  Top being the hotter.

    15 min. after that L. bottom grate was 230* & R. top rack @ 280* and I added a warmed small split let burn off for about 8 min. before closing firebox lid. 

    Temps climbed to L. grate @ 291*, and R. top rack to 300*

    Two larger breast were done  (172*) at the 1 hr & 15 min. mark.   Smaller breast, not yet. 

    I added the large split and let burn off for 15 min, and then It took another 30 minutes for small breast to reach 163*

    Legs were on the lower grate, so they were cooking more slowly and not ready yet.

    I moved legs to upper (hotter) rack near the sfb side to finish.

    At 5:00 PM I pulled the small breast and the legs off smoker.  1 hour & 45 min. for legs, and the small breast.

    I did crisp up the legs inside the sfb as that was going to be our dinner.  They were great!  VERY juicy and tender.  I did not brine at all.

    Now here is a bunch of photo's in order of the cook.   You may have to read comments again to put photo's with results.  LOL

    One split inside, and this one outside warming.

    1 chimney of coals.

    1st split burning off

    Ready to close lid.

    TBS.... Yes it is there.  Only time I saw solid smoke was when I picked up a dry Maple branch size of my finger, and broke it up and tossed it in.

    2nd small split burning off

    Some were done.

    Large 3 X 4 X 7 split burning off

    Ready to close on it.

    I'm a happy camper with how this cook went today.  NO fowl smoke at all, but a great smoke flavor in food.

    Now that I know I can actually burn wood and not just smolder it, I need to learn how to do it with less coals.  I used 2 or maybe 2 1/2 chimneys total.

    Ribs weren't done until the 5 3/4 hour mark, or I would have used even less coals.

    Overall I'm ecstatic with my first success burning wood in smoker.  Actually I have been giggling!  LOL

    Last edited: Aug 20, 2017
    cliffcarter likes this.
  2. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Looks like you're getting zeroed in[​IMG]
  3. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks Cliff. 

    I was really happy with the 30* to 60* diff between upper rack and lower grates.  That way my ribs came out great at lower temp mostly between 230* and 275*,  and my chicken great at higher temps of 275 to 325*.

    Also my side to side temps didn't vary all that much on either upper or lower levels.  Not entirely even across, but my two 1/2 sheet cake pans, used to catch grease, still helped maintain that side to side somewhat.

    Any more tips for me?

    I know I still used too much charcoal.  Old habits die hard, ya know? <grin>

    Is it possible to use wood only in CG, once you use charcoal first to start, for say a 5-8 hour smoke?

    I'm also thinking of adding an upper vent of some kind to the fire box. 

    Probably just a 3" circle opening, with a sliding disc damper, or whatever it called, to adjust air.

    I've read on SWF, that the lower vent will supply air for fire, and the upper vent well help direct heat into the cooking chamber better.  Is that true?

    Thanks for you input Cliff!

    Looking forward to your pics, and notes, on your Sunday smoke.
  4. xray

    xray Smoking Fanatic

    Great post guys. I look forward to seeing what works for everyone. I did my second smoke in my OKJ highland and the results were not as good as my maiden it's brought me here and back to the drawing board.

    My biggest issue is airflow, my fire only seems to burn with the side door open completely. Once I close the side door or the lid, the fire smothers very quickly, even though my splits are burning good.

    I have the exhaust down to grate level with a 3" aluminum dryer vent. I'm thinking of removing it.

    Your dryer duct hose on the external exhaust stack has got my attention. Do you still use that mod? How's it work?
  5. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    These are the pics from Sunday's cook showing my setup for stick burning.

    First the SFB with a charcoal basket-

    Another view that shows the added vent above the standard one in the end of the ash drawer.

    I added it because I often had to open the ash drawer 3-4 inches to get enough oxygen to the fire.

    This pic shows the amount of unlit briquettes I used, this along with one chimney of lump supplied the heat for 

    the first part of the cook and then became the coal base for my splits.

    Gratuitous pic of the chimney full of lump that gets added to the basket when fully lit.

    The interior of the cook chamber, note the complete lack of any mods to this part of the pit.

    Red maple splits for the fire, six in the pic but I think I used seven.

    Lump on and it begins. Just after I added the lump I opened the top vent, the bottom was already open.

    After about 20 minutes the pit was at 295°, I put the turkey breast in the center of the pit on a roasting rack

    and added a chunk of maple for smoke and closed the vents. The charcoal maintained a steady 300° 

    for about forty minutes.

    This is my not so factory installed temp gauge, located mid way of the cook chamber and an inch or so above the cooking grate.

    Temps, for the most, part stayed in the 300°-325° range with a couple of spikes(340° and 350°) that were brought under control  

    by closing the top vent

    Pic taken of the fire as seen thru the top vent.

    The turkey breast just before coming off, along with sweet potatoes wrapped in foil.

    Total time to cook the turkey breast 2.5 hours, sweet potatoes about an hour and a half, give or take.

    Other notes-

    1. I heat my splits on top of the fire box, although in the past I placed them inside the firebox away from the fire. However

    using the charcoal basket limits the room in the SFB to do this.

    2.The first split I added smoldered after I shut the lid of the fire box, even though I had made sure that it was burning well

    before I shut the lid. This split may have been not quite dry enough or hot enough before I added it to the fire. When this happens

    I take an 8 inch fan and force air to the fire, this usually works to produce a steady flame. The rest of the splits burned with out smoldering at all.

    3. I had swirling winds again, but they were fairly light so I didn't notice any great negative effect. Stick burning is certainly easier with no wind

    to contend with.

    I think I'll start logging my cooks on the CG, maybe I can pick up on something to make this a little better.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
    fpmich likes this.
  6. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    IMHO you should remove the dryer vent, it is restricting air flow therefore your pit is not drafting properly and your fire is choking out.
  7. ososmokeshack

    ososmokeshack Smoke Blower

    This is a good thread! Thanks for the tips and pictures as I've been having a hell of a time keeping temps consistent in my CG.
  8. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Xray, yes, I still use it.  It help pull draft through on still days.  I take it off if my temps are running higher than I need.

    As I have neither roofed shelter, nor a chimney cap for rain, I just bend the top 4 inches of flex over enough to keep rain out, and face it away from the breeze.

    When I am ready to cover the smoker, I store it inside the cook chamber.

    Cliff, I have to laugh us.  You always warmer your wood inside, and I was laying mine on top.  Now you are warming on top and I am warming mine inside.

     I start the warming on top until I use the ones from inside., then the one on top goes inside.  I made my basket a little smaller than most people, and I'm glad I did.  It leaves me a little more room inside.
  9. xray

    xray Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks guys. I will remove the elbow and see how that goes. It's only wedged in, actually I knocked it off while cleaning the grates after my smoke...a sign from above?

    As for extending the exhaust stack via dryer hose, i'll keep that in mind as I tinker around more.
  10. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Well, it has been exactly one month since I smoked last. Too many things got in the way of smoking. Getting the house painted, toilet replacement, and flange replacement. Tomato canning time, and etc. You know the drill. LOL

    Anyway... I finally got to try stick burning again yesterday afternoon. It went quite well, I'm happy to say! No bad black smoke, and no terrible spikes or dips in temps. Some yes, but minor.

    This time I used only lump charcoal and wood.

    Smoked 3 chuckies, 1 top round roast (aka "London Broil") All the roast were about 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 inches thick to start. All were between 34 & 37* IT from fridge.
    I also did 4 brats and 2 potatoes for dinner. No pics of brats, but they were wonderful! No pic of Top Round either, as I decided to toss that one on during the cook, and it came off quicker than I expected. Anyway, here we go...

    1:15 PM - I started smoker with just one chimney of lit lump.
    2:00 PM - it hit 300* in cook chamber, I brushed & wiped the grates, and tossed in the 3 Chuck Roasts.
    2:30 - temps dropped to 250*, I added 3 dry Maple branches the dia. of your thumb, for flame to bring, or maintain, heat.

    3:00 PM - temps were at 240* and I added large hickory split and let burn a bit.

    At this photo point, I closed lid,
    and pulled ash drawer (not shown) a couple of inches for air flow.

    3:30 - temp was 320*. Closed ash drawer. IT of roast was 130*.

    4:00 - temp @ 235* Added a split of hickory. Put in Top Round roast on top rack, sfb side (not shown).

    4:30- temps @ 290 Top Round IT @ 120*
    4:45 - temps @ 270* Top Round at 125*.
    Pulled the round and quick seared inside firebox on a grill. Took inside house to cool. Nice medium rare.
    Will slice this one thin for french dip sammy's, or Philly's, down the line.

    5:30- temp at 270* Chucky IT 152* Added Brats to top rack, sfb side, and 2 potatoes to lower grate sfb side as well.
    6:30 - temp 225* Chucky's IT 141* & 154*. Added split. Brats and spuds done.
    Brats IT @ 185*-190* Crispy bite and dinner for me. Yum!

    7:00 - temp 250* Added very small split.
    7:30 - temp 220* Added 1/2 chimney of coals and 1 split.
    8:00 - temp holding @ 225* Chuck IT 150* -169*. Added 1/2 chimney of coals.
    8:15 @ 300*
    8:45 @ 280* Chucks IT's 169*, 186*, & 200*. I pulled the 200* one off.

    Two left to go...

    9:00 @ 240* Added 1/4 chimney of UN-LIT Charcoal on the side of the lit coals in box. Kind of a minion thing, I guess. Lights gradually.
    9:30 @ 300*

    10:00 @ 270* Chucks IT @ 195* and other at 198*. Pulled them off.

    These chuckies will be pot roasts this winter. As long as you don't let it get submerged in the veggies and broth, it will still have a wonderful, full smoky flavor in your dinner.

    Used much less lump than I thought. Used about 5 or 6 splits, plus the few small branches,I mentioned. I'm starting to like this method Cliff!

    London Broil roast 45 Minutes @ 290* and a quick sear in sfb.
    Brats almost an hour @ 270*.
    Chucky's done between 6 3/4 and 8 hours.

    I think the baffle over the opening, which works really well with straight charcoal, was the main culprit in my stick burning problems. I kept the baffle in case I decide, or need to, go all charcoal again sometime.

    Yesterday was a good day! No more tending to it, than it is with just charcoal.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
    cliffcarter likes this.
  11. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit

    Good to see you are getting things figured out. Makes smoking more enjoyable.
    Food has good color!
  12. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Today. OK. Yesterday now. I did the same thing I did with the chucky's two days ago. Temps outside, wind speed, and humidity was almost exactly the same as 2 days ago.

    Dumped in a full chimney of lit lump, and went into house to prepare the ribs. Smoker hit 300* while I was prepping.
    Good so far. But that was the last I saw of 300*, or even 275* all day long. Mostly it ran 190* to 225*. Only time It got higher temps were just for a few minutes after adding a split. I took out the inside stack, CLIFF! LOL Didn't make a difference.

    At first I blamed it on the wood. But after awhile, I noticed that the GFS Lump took forever to light.
    Wood lit and burned fine, but the charcoal was just burning cold. It would burn down quick, but never produce much heat. I ended using a full bag of GFS lump on a 6 or 7 hour cook. Never again will I buy that stuff. I know it's made by Royal Oak, but it is seconds in quality. Two days ago I used 2 1/4 chimney of Royal Oak. Today I used complete bad of GFS and never had any heat.

    Only temp increase I got was brief from adding splits. But the coals were burning so cold it wouldn't the flame going.
    I even took a fan out on a bucket, set it to high and aimed it at the sfb. Didn't make a difference.

    I'm pizzed. Can you tell? LOL Two days ago was so great, and today was so much mork work.

    But regardless, I got'er done!

    4 racks of ribs, and 16 brats, and 3 small spuds.

    4 of the brats and the 2 potatoes were out dinner. Will freeze the rest for wintertime.

    After I pulled the ribs, I took a pic without flash to show the coals.
    Almost a full basket and you can see it is not very hot. And that was with a fan on it!
    Never again GFS! Boo, Hissss! LOL

    Cliff, I know today was not a good test on your theory of the inside stack. So I left it out and will run some test later to try and see a difference.

    But... even with my troubles, ... Today was a Good Day!
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017
    cliffcarter likes this.
  13. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Further update on that last cook. The next day I went to portion and vac seal the ribs, and discovered that to edges were extremely dry.

    Here I was operating on the assumption that it was my air flow, which it wasn't. It was the fuel source. I had so much air running through the smoker that it, along with the wildly fluctuating temps between 190* and 275*, that dried them out.

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