trouble with minion method

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by jjw, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. jjw

    jjw Smoke Blower

    ive been having trouble using the minion method. whenever i try to use it the smoker ends up running much too hot, and then i have to scoop out some charcoal and revert back to the add 5 or so briquettes every once in a while method.

    ive tried starting with just 6 lit briquettes but the temp still kept rising all the way to 280 when i finally removed some briquettes to settle it down. i closed both bottom vents at 200, but the temp, while it did slow down, still kept rising.

    any tips on how to actually use the minion method to maintain a good temp without having to add charcoal?

    this is the smoker: [​IMG]


  2. flbobecu

    flbobecu Smoking Fanatic

    If you are closing the vents @ 200, and trying to cook 225, it won't happen. Try like 175 or so. It's always easier to increase temps then it is to decrease them. 
  3. cricky101

    cricky101 Smoke Blower

    Is there a water pan or anything you're using between the charcoal pan and the cooking racks? It kind of looks like one off to the side in one of the pics ....
  4. jjw

    jjw Smoke Blower

    it would be very much appreciated if you could answer these 3 q's

    1. how would i increase the temps if needed? add more charoal?

    2. how much lit charcoal do you start with?

    3. how do you arrange the coals?
  5. jjw

    jjw Smoke Blower

    yes its got a water pan which you can see in the second picture
  6. flbobecu

    flbobecu Smoking Fanatic

    1. Open the vents - just slightly. 

    2. I cook with a small grill. My fire box only holds 2lbs of lump. I don't light any, I use starter cubes for now, but plan on getting a propane torch. 

    3. I use lump, so if I have a few large pieces on top, I will try and get them on the bottom. If I'm using briquette's on the CG (usually Stubbs) I do arrange them like a pyramid, however I enjoy having a little fun. Most people don't do this though. 
  7. jjw

    jjw Smoke Blower

    in the process of a test burn today, no meat on. but i lit just 6 briquettes to start with, closed the vents completely at 175, and the temo still has gone way up to 350
  8. jaxgatorz

    jaxgatorz Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If the vents are closed and it keeps going that high, my guess is an air leak of some sort..JMO
  9. I know nothing about your particular cooker, but it would seem you are starting with too much charcoal, or maybe the placement of the charcoal could be an issue ~~ With a full pan, 6 will light 6 more...those 12 will light 12 more...those 24 will light 24 more...pretty soon they are all lit and your temperature is too high ~~~~~ Think about a 2 foot long, straight line of charcoal...2 wide, and 2 deep....Now light two briquettes on one end...The charcoal will burn from one end to the other like a fuse....Now take that 2 foot long line and wrap it around the outside of your fire pan, but don't let the two ends meet...Perhaps you could come half way around, then go straight across, then go half way around in the opposite direction...In other words in the shape of an S....with practice you should be able to learn how deep and how wide to stack the charcoal to give you the temperature level/burn rate you want....I hope this helps!

    Luck and Fun!!!
  10. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I would double check the therm, most of the factory ones are way off.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2010
  11. jjw

    jjw Smoke Blower

    there certainly is air leaking through the charcoal door thing, even some though the middle chamber. i dont know if thats the porblem, but if it is, is there a way to remedy it?
  12. jjw

    jjw Smoke Blower

    im actually using a candy thermometer which ive tested and its accurate. although it doesnt go down far enough and i now theorize that it reads 20 or so degrees higher that the temp at the grate. however, i plan on getting an oven thermometer to sit on the grate so i can know the difference between the two and be able to gauge the temp at the grate without opening the lid.
  13. jjw

    jjw Smoke Blower

    i saw smething like that on the internet, and was thinking it was a really good idea. id just seen tutorials on the minion method where they just throw some lit charcoal on a big ole pile, and thought that it would work that way, but ill try it the way youve suggested next
  14. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    If your positive your therms are accurate, the there lies the problem. If you have a air leak on the charcoal door, you need to seal that up. If you have any air leaks anywhere else, you need to seal them up. Get some newspaper, crumple it up, light it and when it goes out, look for any smoke escaping. Those are  the areas that you need to seal up. Get yourself some high temp silicone and make a bead gasket around the charcoal door. Charcoal, like any fire need air to burn. If you back you vents down, its going to get the air it needs and yours is getting it thru the charcoal door, but you can't regulate like that. Control the air flow on that door and any other areas will ensure the only air flow is thru the vent and you will control the temps. Also, consider purchasing a good dual probe therm like the Maverick ET- 73.
  15. jjw

    jjw Smoke Blower

    but how much is too much? i mean, how much will really affect my cook? mine is not defective in that it doesmnt appear that it is different from how they are supposed to be made, i believe these are just the way these cookers are made. ive seen many people on here with this cooker, but none have complained about air escaping being a problem for them
  16. jjw

    jjw Smoke Blower

    sorry i take that back, ive now seen a forum where a double chef had the door sealed. with this done do you think it would be enough to keep the charcoal in check?
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2010
  17. placebo

    placebo Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    More air = more fire. Less air = less fire. If you can't control temps with your vents then you definitely have an air leak or two.
  18. jjw

    jjw Smoke Blower

    well i pretty much fixed the door leaking problem, tightened up with some pliers and burnt some newspaper in it and couldnt see any smoking escaping. hopefully this will solve the issue
  19. flbobecu

    flbobecu Smoking Fanatic

    Good luck jjw! Let us know how it goes. :)
  20. jjw

    jjw Smoke Blower

    well i did two things.

    1. used the pliers to fix the charcoal door leak

    2. coated the inside with oil and reseasoned the grill

    and today the smoker has worked a million times better than before. its maintained a range 220 to 240 the whole day, and the vents actually do something now. before i had to check every 20 minutes, today ive been leaving it for an hour between checks and it keeps being exactly the same. i think it was the door, but its working great now

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