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Old 07-10-2012, 10:29 AM   #92
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Join Date: 03-31-11
Location: Oregon

Dear Brethren/Sistren, please help me with my fire control in my bandera.

I've had my Bandera for a little over a year now, and lots of successful cooks in it, but it seems like my fire control is a bit out of whack with what most people say, so I'm looking for tips on what I can do differently, mostly looking for longer burn times.

I don't have a charcoal basket (yet), so I have a grate up on the lowest rack setting in the firebox to hold my charcoal. Lump charcoal is dang near impossible to find around here, and when I can find it, it's very expensive, so I use good ole kingsford blue, haven't had any problems with off flavors or bad smoke, though the excessive ash kind of sucks.

My typical routine is to fire up about 3/4 of a chimney (off brand, slightly smaller than a webber chimney) with KB. Line the bottom of the firebox with about 1/2 a chimney of unlit briquettes and when the chimney is ready dump those on one side of the firebox. It takes about half an hour to get up to temp, with the top damper fully open and the intake about 1/4 closed. By this time most of the charcoal is fully lit and going strong. Food goes in, temp drops, comes back up to temp. About this time I start dumping in 1/2 to 3/4 chimney loads of unlit briquettes, alternating sides, about every half hour. The intake damper needs to be about 1/2 closed or sometimes even 3/4 closed to maintain temps in the 225-235 range. Smoke is always thin blue, except for about 5 minutes after I add the briquettes it gets a little heavier but then settles down to thin blue again. Sometimes I can get it to go 45 minutes to an hour before I need to add more coal, but that's usually if I've thrown in a stick of maple for smoke.

I would like to be able to extend the time between adding more coals if possible, but it seems like if I add more briquettes then I just get a bigger fire and temps spike out of control, even with the intake fully closed. I tried a minion method attempt once, where I loaded about 2 chimneys full of unlit in the fire basket and added a couple lit briquettes (maybe 8 or 10) on top, and that worked for a little bit, but after a while all the briquettes were going and temps were way out of control.

Any ideas for me?
Char-Broil Bandera | A-Maze-n smoker | Weber 18.5" OTS
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