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Temperature control please help

Discussion in 'Blowing Smoke Around the Smoker.' started by smokin pappy, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. smokin pappy

    smokin pappy Newbie

    I have a new 120 gal offset smoker and I am trying to get use to maitaning somewhat off a consistent temperature. In the past I have smoked on a kettle style grill with great success I am looking for some help on this. My preferred fuel source is lump or reg charcoal along with pecan. It has two doors and the bottom is lined in fire brick it also has a 5" smoke stack and two 3" dampers on the smoke box.
  2. Hello Pappy.  If I may offer my humble opinion.  This is a pre-written response for inexperienced new folks but if you don’t fall into that category, you might still find an idea or 2.  You need to do a few modifications to that smoker to help with temp control.  Without meat, get a fire going in there to create smoke.  BIG smoke!  You can even spray a little water on the coals to create BIG white smoke.  What you want to do is see where the smoke leaks are.  Mark the leaks and when the smoker cools seal every leak you can using stove rope, high temp silicone and such.  Next, if you have a thin flimsy fire grate use it as a template and build or have built a grate out of 1/2" concrete reinforcing steel ( rebar ).  That thin grate will sag with heat and will rest on the ash cutting off air flow to your coals.  No air flow no heat.  Other option is build a charcoal basket.  You can find baskets in the build section.  Leave that exhaust fully open and use the intake vent to control the heat.  Last tip is go buy a cheap garden trowel.  Knock the wooden handle off and weld a 2'-2 1/2' piece of that rebar to the shovel.  Now you can gently scoop out the ash without them blowing all over your meat and you won't burn your hands.  Let us know if you have other questions.  Have fun.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

  3. smokin pappy

    smokin pappy Newbie

    Thank you very much Danny any and all advice is welcome.
  4. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    We really should have more information before we can give you much help.

    What temperatures are you trying to achieve and maintain?

    How much lump charcoal are you using to start your fire?

    How much do you add to try to maintain your preferred cooking temp?

    I recommend that, if you are cooking with charcoal, you use only lump charcoal. Briquettes create a lot of ash in the firebox and that ash will restrict air flow making it difficult to maintain cooking temps.

    I also recommend that you start cooking with wood splits in your offset, if you have a reliable source for cooking wood, offsets do better burning all wood as opposed to charcoal, IMHO.

    Post a picture, if you can, I'd be interested to see your offset.
  5. smokin pappy

    smokin pappy Newbie

    Thanks Cliffcarter, I am trying to maintain in the 200°-250° range. I made the mistake of changing from lump back to briquettes but I will go back to my trusty lump. I have also used two medium split logs to create a valley to put about 5 lbs of charcoal then I dump a couple of pounds from chimney stater at the main chamber end of the stack of charcoal. I played around again yesterday and got closer to achieving my goal but I'm still open to suggestions. Patience is something I have to remind myself of but thanks for any suggestions.
  6. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Just throwing in a couple ideas to see how they stick......

    Pictures would help explain what the smoker looks like. Then you could get more precise assistance. Each design of smoker has its little quirks......

    General things I look at for an offset smoker running....

    Air flow will be your most important thing. There are many smokers that are very good looking and are big, but if the air does not flow correctly you will never get it running correctly.

    How tall is the stack? If it is not tall enough for the diameter and cook chamber size you will not create enough draft to pull the smoke and heat into and out of the cook chamber. If you do not draw the smoke out it will get stale and give a bitter taste. There is a pit calculator that is designed for RF smokers. I have used it as a guide for other styles as well. I do not have a quick link to it on this computer, I will look at home later.

    Fire box size..... if the fire box is too small you will not be able to build a fire big enough to to properly heat your chamber.

    Air intakes....they sound OK, but i would run them through the calculator to get an idea. Fire needs to breath and air needs to flow to carry the heat and smoke.

    I am guessing there is just a hole from the fire box into the cook chamber with no tuning plates.

    These are all details that Cliff was referring to.

    Actual fire and heating part.......

    Stack vent open 100%

    Make a nice bed of lit charcoal in fire box.

    Add the splits to the lit coals to generate smoke and heat. I do not use a lot of charcoal to run an offset. i use the wood for the heat. Produces a cleaner burn and less ash in the firebox.

    Use the vents on the fire box to control the temps. Open = more heat...... allow about 20-30 min after each adjustment to allow the changes to take place.

    Accurate way of monitoring the temps.... is the therm calibrated? Where is it in reference to where the food will be?

    DO NOT keep peeking at the food!!!!!!! If your lookin you ain't cookin!!!! also every-time you open the chamber you add a blast of O2 to the fire and will cause it to change the temps.....
  7. smokin pappy

    smokin pappy Newbie

    Thanks Jarjarchef sorry about no pics still haven't figured that out (Wife). I feel the biggest thing for me is patience, learning the proper amount of fuel to add when to add it and more patience. My biggest question for you is when using more wood for your actual fuel source how do you keep from over smoking your meat? You are correct I do not have any tunning plate but from the hole coming into the main chamber from the box is what I call a heat shield it comes over about 6" into the chamber. Again thanks for the ideas and suggestions.
  8. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member