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BriGreentea 09-28-2013 03:49 PM

maintaining the fire and heat in a offset
Hello, I'd like to run by this question. I currently have a vertical offset (Old Country bought from Academy Sports). It was very inefficient "as is" for 300$ so did mods such as high heat felt tape around the vertical chamber door and firebox on top and made a basket out of a weber crate and expanded steel (similar to my old uds). I used to have a uds and there are times I wish I still had it as it's "set it and leave it" with the minion method.

I've tried going to lump on my offset and works great as getting temps easily 300+ if I wanted if I left the intakes fully open. I was using charcoal and lump with 1 split, wait a half hour until I got clear smoke and would last about 2-3 hours until the temp would die down under 200, just small amounts of lit charcoal left and would add a split again. Would leave the door open to get rid of some of the cloud of smoke and get the wood going, close the door and close the intakes about half and at this point would only get 200-225 and would last 45 min to an hour and have to do it again until the wood would become charcoal. I like mesquite the best but have used also pecan, oak and hickory. The only place I could find logs/splits at a good rate is my local Academy. They also have apple but charge 30 for it and I'm not as much of a fan of it like others.

I personally found there is just too much smoke flavor in my meat period. The other attempts were to ditch logs/splits completely and just use a couple chunks of wood like I did with my uds and do the minion method with lump and I could still get good temps.

The thing even still is after about the 2-3 hour mark after having nice, blue smoke. I tried refilling the basket with some lump and then start getting the clouds of smoke which I do not want in my meat. I'm trying to figure out what is the best way of refilling without getting a bunch of the bitter smoke.

The best thing I have found is when it comes to refilling it is to foil the meat which I have seem some do in comps as they just want to get some color on the meat with the smoke then not get any afterwards plus it will cook a little faster.

Diesel Dave 09-28-2013 03:54 PM

You can wrap, but also have you thought about using a chimney to pre-burn your lump?

SmittyJonz 09-28-2013 03:55 PM

Make sure your exhaust stays full open and guys say to preheat your splits by laying them on top of fire box for a bit before tossing them in -- I'd get another UDS personally.

I've seen some fellows have a seperate fire then shovel hot coals only into firebox but that all seems like too much work to me .

SmittyJonz 09-28-2013 03:58 PM

Mesquite can get strong even bitter in a hurry -- a lot of ppl won't use it -- I prefer Hickory n Oak

BriGreentea 09-28-2013 04:09 PM

Yes, I have a weber chimney I use to start up the lump if that is what you are referring to and after 15 minutes will dump it on the unlit lump if that is what you are referring to.

As for the exhaust I never touch it. I never understood what is the point of not keeping it all the way open the entire time. I have two of them and they are both 100% open.

But if your both talking about refilling it with lit fuel forget that! Not to mention weather complications here that come from nowhere sometimes. Offsets are for the tentative ones and it was fun when I had it now it's a whip and not to mention it gets expensive buying more fuel then I would have used with a uds.

I'd consider building a UDS if I can find a drum with a bunghole for cheap. If you can direct me to a site or something that would be great. I looked on ebay and craigslist in my area and found nothing. With the ridiculous prices on Craigslist for junky bbq grills that people is trying to sell, I bet someone could by mine more then I paid for it!

Diesel Dave 09-28-2013 04:13 PM

Yeah I was thinking to dump in lit fuel. Sorry I can't help you more than that.

Bludawg 09-28-2013 04:45 PM

Mesquite is the reason you getting strong flavor I like it too but I limit the use I'll burn 1 or two splits at the start then switch to all post oak. JM2C but a basket of charcoal in an Offset is counter productive. You get more bang for the buck with Splits. I typically use about 2 - 3 lbs of lump & 2 oak splits to get my pit to temp then 1 split every 45 min to maintain my Zone. I like to cook at 300 and maintain temp between 275 -325. You need to learn fire management. Your waiting to long between splits. It is also helpful to preheat them so the light quickly this cuts down on the thick white smoke. I wouldn't sell it but a UDS is a good supplement for the days when life gets in the way and you don't have the time to dedicate to baby sitting.
Here is a source for drums and good prices too

BriGreentea 09-28-2013 05:41 PM

Thank you for the tips. I was probably better off before and I did do preheating on top of my firebox and it did light up fairly quickly also.

Thank you even more for that website. Those prices are very cheap!

MeatCandy 09-30-2013 09:58 AM

Based on the OP...Your start-up fire is too big and you are adding to much fuel on top of your dying fire...Try a smaller fire to start and add less fuel on top more often...

oldbill 09-30-2013 10:56 AM


Originally Posted by MeatCandy (Post 2642212)
Based on the OP...Your start-up fire is too big and you are adding to much fuel on top of your dying fire...Try a smaller fire to start and add less fuel on top more often...

Exactly! Add Bludawg's post to this one and you have your answer. Start with charcoal and splits, then go with splits from there on out. You are adding a split as often as is needed to maintain a good bed of coals and it should combust as soon as you add it to your fire. Keep the exhaust wide open and your intake should be 1/3 to 1/2 open. If you have to close the intake any more than 1/3, your fire is too big and choking down on the intake is what is causing your "over-smoking" problem. White puffy smoke leads to creosote and bitter tasting food. You can over smoke with any kind of wood if it is smoldering and giving you dirty smoke but some woods such as mesquite leave less room for error, some of the worst Q I ever ate was done with hickory but it wasn't the wood's fault, it was the pitmaster's, "mine"! All cookers are different and I can't tell you exactly how big a fire to start with but if I were you I'd start with a fire that is intentionally too small, then build from there to achieve the temps that you want. With a little practice you'll get dialed in pretty close to where you need to be on both the fire's size and how often you'll need to feed it. Finally, your cooker is a stick burner and because of it's design it eats wood much more efficiently than charcoal. Charcoal combusts too quickly and leads to spiking temps which then causes you to choke down, any wood in your fire will then smolder and the smoke gets dirty. Wood in a well drafted offset will give you consistent temps and clean blue smoke.:wink:

STCL01 09-30-2013 11:00 AM

May just be your pit. Those pits are lighter gauge steel and just don't hold the heat. I start my fire with lump mesquite that I purchase at Sams in 40# bags. Usually pretty large pieces. Let the fire burn for about 45 minutes to an hour to get the pit to temp. During that time I will throw on a couple of splits, usually mesquite because that is what I like as well.

After that it's a matter of regulating the draft to get the temp I want. Usually 300 - 325. I then add lump as needed. You can't wait until the fire gets too low to do that. I will also throw on another split as needed, say every hour. I will do this until I foil at which point I just use the lump or throw on other wood such as oak, which I don't like as well. I do not find that I get excess smoke, but my splits are well seasoned and stored in a dry place.

On another note you are in the heart of mesquite country in Ft. Worth. It shouldn't be too hard to find mesquite for purchase. Once it is dry you can split it easily with an axe or maul. Or if you know someone with a hunting lease you might see if they would cut some for you. I bring back a trailer load a couple of times a year from the hunting lease. The ranchers hate mesquite and usually don't care if you cut them.

DownHomeQue 09-30-2013 02:52 PM

My Advice is to start fire with just charcoal then switch to straight wood.. (Choice of wood is subjective) since you don't like really strong smoke flavor misquite is giving off.. try a pecan, Or Fruit Wood, or even hickory wood. Its less of a harsh smoke flavor. Doesn't overpower your meat as bad..

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