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purplestarrider 05-25-2011 09:15 PM

Need help starting Fire
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So I just bought a "new" used wood smoker. Up until this point i have been using my MES 30 and have loved that I thought that i would like to try a Wood smoker. So i found one on craigslist and picked it up for $60. So now i need to learn how to use this. I have looked through the history on the forum to find out what would be best and I seem to be at a loss as to what would be the best way to start the fire up and get the heat going. I was trying to get it heated up today to clean it out and then get the idea how the best to regulate the heat.

So all I used was some wood chunks a few chips and firestarter. That really didn't seem to work that great. So what I am wondering is......

1) what i did was perfect just need to use more firestarter and wood to get.
2) I should use charcoal and get it going until it is started to be coals and ashing then add the wood chucks.
3) or.......

This is a New Braunfels Smoker Black Diamond used smoker

ksace 05-25-2011 09:22 PM

I have a similar Oklahoma Joe's offset. I use a full chimney of lump charcoal to get it warmed up then add wood chunks and more lump as necessary. Works for me, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are other methods used also.

Almost forgot, sweet score!

El Ropo 05-25-2011 09:30 PM

That's a stick burner. I always had the best luck getting a good chimney's worth of charcoal fully lit in a chimney and dumping it in the firebox, then after a bit, start adding one split of your favorite wood (I had the best luck with pecan for a base) every 20-30 minutes. Don't forget to pre-heat the next split by laying it on top of the firebox. That type of smoker takes a while to get up to temp, so be patient, it might be an hour or more, before it's ready for food.

It's the reason why I bought a brinkmann gourmet, then made a UDS, I don't care for the constant attention required to keep stick burners going. I have to say that you scored on that one, if my intel is right, that's got some pretty thick metal, along with good design, so it should be less painful to operate than my el cheapo offset was.

Mo-Dave 05-25-2011 09:38 PM

First thing is make sure the fire grate is sitting up high enough so air can get under it. Place something like a couple bricks under it but make sure you will be able to clean some of the ask out during the cook, so don't place the bricks in such a way as to restrict removing the ash I had one of these and you really don't need the charcoal chimney starter, just wad up about three fist size sheets of news paper and place them under the fuel such as lump or charcoal and drizzle some cooking oil on the paper. Open all the vents and leave both fire box doors open, light it up and go from there. I don't care for a chimney starter, I think they are dangerous and are a pain but others will disagree I am sure. Using the method I have described I have never had to relight a fire. Good luck.

purplestarrider 05-25-2011 09:42 PM

Thanks. I am excited about the score. (like you can't tell) So let mw ask this. (sorry if it's a stupid ?) is charcoal and lump charcoal the same??

Mo-Dave 05-25-2011 10:06 PM

No, lump is actual wood burnt down to charcoal and will burn hotter and cleaner, Charcoal is a mix of several materials but may burn more even than lump and may have more ash after its burnt. I prefer lump but will mix it up sometimes, it is said that charcoal may give you a better smoke ring. One mod I would do is lower the chimney to grate level by rolling up some metal flashing or make a long tube out of something like a couple tin cans. Reason being the vast majority of heat will go up and over the meat, as it is set up now. You could have as much as 50 degrees hotter on your gauge then at the grate level and put a gauge at grate level when you can.

Ag76 05-25-2011 10:07 PM

They are not the same. Lump is 100% hardwood. Charcoal briquettes have some additives, and are therefore not as pure. Lump produces much less ash.

HB-BBQ 05-25-2011 10:13 PM

A few logs and/or chunks of oak, hickory etc and one of these...also go buy yourself a rattle can or two of hi-temp black as the firebox paint will bake off. Congrats on the new smoker..

purplestarrider 05-25-2011 10:20 PM

Mo-Dave thanks for the info. Now :confused::confused::confused: Im sorry i didn't understand most of what you said after the info about the charcoal. And i did already buy a guage for the rack level. would you mind explaining a little more. This is all so new to me. I have a couple of books i have been reading and jsut researchign things online is about it. my MES is so freaking easy so far, but then again I have only done 3 different types of meat and a few veggies.

bigabyte 05-25-2011 10:22 PM

I had a cooker a lot like that (still do actually but just don't use it). I got best results using lump charcoal for heat, and a few chunks of smoking wood for flavor. I usually used between 3 and 5 fist sized chunks depending on what I was cooking and what kind of wood I was using.

purplestarrider 05-25-2011 10:27 PM

HB-BBQ I would love it. But for some reason the husband doesn't like me having flame/torch devices. Not sure why. Somethign about being a pyro. I have yet to catch anything on fire that wasn't supposed to be like a car or my kitchen(unlike him) go figure.

Harbormaster 05-25-2011 10:40 PM

Hey PSR,
I have a little offset a lot like yours.
You've got some good advice on the fire so far. Start with lit charcoal (lump or natural briquettes like Rancher or Royal Oak Chefs Select) then add sticks or charcoal as needed. Keep a small HOT fire going. This will provide the kind of smoke (sweet blue) that you want.
I have found that a charcoal basket in mine works well.
Also, I closed off the upper air intake in the firebox access door. This forces the air to come in under the fire and makes temp control a little easier IMO.
Once you get the fire situation cyphered, you're gonna find you have a really hot cooking spot where the firebox meets the cook chamber. I added some tuning plates to mine to help even out cooking temps end to end.
Hope you're able to get everything figured out, and tell us all about it when you do.

Smoothsmoke 05-25-2011 10:41 PM


Originally Posted by ksace (Post 1653646)
I have a similar Oklahoma Joe's offset. I use a full chimney of lump charcoal to get it warmed up then add wood chunks and more lump as necessary. Works for me, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are other methods used also.

Almost forgot, sweet score!

This is exactly what I used to do when I had my offset. Nice score!

Pyle's BBQ 05-25-2011 10:43 PM

Mo-Dave was talking about lowering the exhaust stack down to the grate level so you won't lose heat as fast.

Here is a link that will be useful for you.

In the 11th post shows you what to do.

purplestarrider 05-25-2011 10:50 PM

Harbormaster do you have any pics of your set up?? I would love to see how you have got yours set up

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