smoker runs hot?

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mr squatch

Original poster
Mar 25, 2014
Good morning.  I had a pit build for me by a friend and I've been learning on it but can't seem to get it to run at lower temperatures.  The pit is made from a 150 gallon propane tank.  The cook chamber is 24in x 56in long and the firebox is 24 x 20.  The opening between firebox and CC is around 72 or 73 sq in if I am remembering correctly.  We used 4 inch square tubing for the smoke stack and placed it a couple inches above the grates and made it about 36 inches tall.  

My problem is that I can't get it to run steadily at that magic 225.  It wants to run hotter in the 275 + range at the stack end and occasionally I can get it to hold at about 250 for a while.  If I try to have the firebox vent partially closed to bring it down it chokes off the fire and I get more dirty smoke.  Its like it drafts better if the fire is much hotter.  I am wondering if the stack is too small and if I should increase it to a 6 inch.  

Anyone have any opinions?

Thanks for the reply.  I have tried that.  The wood I'm using is pecan and most of the splits are pretty small and dry.  I picked up the pecan from a mill and most of the wood is odd cuts that were split so a lot of them are fairly thin as well.  This may also be part of my problem.  I typically try to start my fires with charcoal and then switch to just wood for the rest of the cook.
It could be inexperience as well since im coming from a brinkman tmle. SO far the pit is great. Just wodering what to do about the temp issues i seem to have
Take a pic of the firebox/cooking chamber opening.   Judging by the pics so far everything looks in proportion.

What wood are you using?   Try running just a small  hot fire.
Pecan maybe some of the problem. I always mix it as it wants to burn hot.  I like the flavor but have problems trying to hold a steady temp with it.

Try using some oak      Where are your temp gauges and how are you measuring the temp?
I've had the same problem with my smoker I just finished. What was the ambient temp when you were smoking? I noticed mine runs a prefect 235 at 4am when it's cold outside. Once the sun comes up and adds more heat to tje steel, I have trouble keeping it below 260. I've adjusted my fire management and been able to keep it down. Keep experimenting with it you'll figure out what it needs to run at a lower temp.

Im just using a maveric et732 right now for my thermo. I typically place it near the stack end about where the point of a brisket will be.

Ambient temp was probably low 80s the last time i cooked. Ill keep playing with it. I have a lot of live oak that i can experiment with but i dont usually like the flavor
IMHO you do not have a problem, 275° is a perfectly appropriate BBQ cooking temp.
The obvious advantage to cooking at higher temps is that the food gets done faster, but I also think that the quality of the finished product is better when cooked at higher temps. In addition the cooks are more predictable.
Give those 275° temps a try before you change anything on your pit, I think you'll like the results.
Only problem I see is your firebox is on the "wrong side"  j/k

For me (and a lot of others) there is nothing magic about 225 degrees- not holy, not sacred, not the one true way to BBQ nirvana.

That being said- it's your heat, your meat- you want 225?  Go for it.

I'd suggest going with smaller splits, and run a smaller, hotter fire.  You will have to feed it more often  and you may find it tuff to hit and maintain a steady 225 degrees the entire cook.  I cook in a vertical with 3 shelves- and I've all but given up trying to hold one temp- I  try to ride a curve of 250 to 280-ish.  Feeding mine a hunk of the "wood of the day" about the size of a tallboy beer can every 30 minutes (or so).  Temp drops below- 250 put a chunk on the coal bed and let it rock on.   Your mileage may vary- your cooker will have its own sweet spot and needs.

Good luck, sir.
You may also want to try using a smaller fire with something that burns with a more controlled heat. Have you tried using splits on top of a bed of briquettes?
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Thanks Ranjer. Thats kind of how i have been running it. Just let it go at the temperature it seems most efficient. So far the food has turned out fine. The cheap brisket i had didnt seem to mind the higher temperature.

Wade, i have been starting a chimney or 2 of briquettes to get the pit going and adding splits of pecan. I have aome oak that i will try for the next cook.
This may sound odd and may not be correct but I am wondering if the pit builds up back pressure and is not allowing an adequate draft through the 4 inch stack.  I made some tuning plates to help even it out across the pit and did another cook on thanksgiving.  Cook went well but I felt like it was struggling.  I started with 2 chimneys of lit charcoal and then used a mix of oak and pecan splits for the cook.  seemed more heat wanted to exit the firebox door than pull through the CC.  The firebox faces the north and we had a south breeze that day which could contribute some, however I fired it up the day before after adding the tuning plates and it did the same thing with a north wind.  

In the end, do you think it would hurt to move up to a 6 inch stack from the 4 inch square that is on it? is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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