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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 10-21-2013, 11:33 AM   #1
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Default Ran out of fuel in middle of cook! Grrrr....

This is mostly a thread so someone can convince me that it is just a me problem so that I stop lusting after my buddy's Pitmaker Vault and continue to be happy with my UDS. ...

I've been getting my mojo back with my UDS. I've done an empty test burn, couple of chickens, and some babyback ribs. I've been getting it to consistently settle in between 250* and 270* at the center. I've been happy.

This weekend I picked up a couple 14# briskets on sale. I filled up my basket with the full 18# bag of Royal Oak briquettes. At the time, I thought this was overkill, but I wanted to be safe with the cooler temps expected. I lit the smoke at 7:00 pm and was locking it in around 7:45. The temps held a steady 260* until I put the meat on at 8:30 pm. Ignoring the Maverick probe at the middle, because it is too close to the meat, and looking at the thermo on the side, temps dropped only a little and were holding steady. When I went to bed around 11:00, the temp was back up within a few degrees.

I was expecting a 12 hour cook with the meat done ~8:30 am. Unfortunately at 5:40 am, the Maverick alarm went off because the pit dropped 20*. I went outside and opened a vent and the lid for a bit to try and raise the temps... nothing. I tried to throw a fan on it to raise the temp, not much go. I fought with that dang smoker for an hour and a half before I gave up. Briskets went into foil and an oven.

After the brisket was in the oven, I pulled the diffuser and took a look at my fire. Almost all ash and little coals. I was out of fuel! I couldn't believe it. I swear I've gone longer than this in the past....

Grrrr... I know Kingsford will give me longer burns. I just think that the Royal Oak briquettes (not lump) smell better and are much cheaper this time of year when Kingsford is not on sale. The outside temp did drop down to ~35* last night, but Really?? I guess I put my welding blanket back on or switch back to Kingsford or buy one of those sexy insulated vertical smokers. Just sort of annoyed, because I think I'm mis-remembering the good 'ole days when everything went perfect.

But, the good news is the briskets came out wonderful and very tasty. Possibly some of my best...
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Unread 10-21-2013, 11:37 AM   #2
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Fighting the cold and wind will increase fuel use significantly. The wind was pretty strong here last night so that is probably the biggest culprit.

But you can still buy a sexy vertical if it makes you feel better
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Unread 10-21-2013, 11:45 AM   #3
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Most likely a combination of things ...fuel and outside temps. LOL, set your mav alarm to something like 200 degrees and not 20*

With our Midwest weather i'd consider a ATC like a IQ because it makes the burn more efficient and you'll get more mileage out of a basket. You know how it is temps drop down 30 degrees at night so a auto pit stoker is just what the doctor ordered.
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Unread 10-21-2013, 11:49 AM   #4
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I too notice the shorter burn times (although still quite long IMHO) with Royal Oak Briquettes and other "ridged" briquettes. Honestly with the 30 gallon drum as opposed to 55 anything I cook seems to get cooked.

I would encourage you to try Kingsford Competition. Smells good and burns good. It's just hard to find.
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Unread 10-21-2013, 11:54 AM   #5
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I fought my UDS yesterday with the variable winds here over 25mph. I had swings of 30-50* in both directions from my target.

Usually I settle in around 270-280 with little effort and an occasional +20 when I open the lid. I was using RO lump.
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Unread 10-21-2013, 11:58 AM   #6
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if you have a Trader Joes near you their natural briqs are very good. Made by Rancher

Also Stubbs briqs are another good option available at Lowes.
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Unread 10-21-2013, 11:58 AM   #7
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I agree that the temps probably killed your cook. But I also find it funny that some of our best cooks happened under less than ideal conditions.

Of course, another smoker could help you recover from the shock of the fire going out....
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Unread 10-21-2013, 01:27 PM   #8
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Water heater insulation blanket!
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Unread 10-21-2013, 01:33 PM   #9
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How big was your diffuser, when using a large drip pan I will have 450 degrees below the diffuser to get 275 to 300 near the top. That's a pretty hefty burn going and will eat up your basket of coals quicker.
Or just do what your did, smoke for 4 or 5 hrs and finish wrapped and in the oven. It does work quite well that way.
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Unread 10-21-2013, 01:51 PM   #10
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I noticed when I use my difuser I get about 4-5 hour less burn time on my uds.
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Unread 10-21-2013, 01:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron_L View Post
Fighting the cold and wind will increase fuel use significantly. The wind was pretty strong here last night so that is probably the biggest culprit.

But you can still buy a sexy vertical if it makes you feel better
Ron,

Thanks for reminding me about the wind. You're probably right. Back when I first joined the Brethren, you would always read about wind and people building wind blocks. I haven't seen much discussion of wind blocks recently. Occasionally, I do move my grill around to try and shield my drum, but didn't this time. That probably contributed.

I've been debating for a while suggesting a meet up so you could show me your Backwoods. I got it bad....


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fwismoker View Post
Most likely a combination of things ...fuel and outside temps. LOL, set your mav alarm to something like 200 degrees and not 20*

With our Midwest weather i'd consider a ATC like a IQ because it makes the burn more efficient and you'll get more mileage out of a basket. You know how it is temps drop down 30 degrees at night so a auto pit stoker is just what the doctor ordered.
I understand where you're coming from and sort-of agree. But, I got a 14" cast iron diffuser in there. If it moves more than 20*, something has changed. I think 20*+- is good at this point to start monitoring it. If it keeps going then do something. If it has dropped 50*, it is, imho, too late for minor adjustments and more drastic measure are usually required.

I do have a iQ110 ATC. It has worked for me, but it has also caused me problems (bad probe placement with full loads). I think you're right that when the temps are dropping is an ideal application. But, when the weather is constant, you should be able to run a drum steady without one. AND, more importantly, I feel more like a real man when I don't use it. So, these days, I'm avoiding it when I can.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ButtBurner View Post
if you have a Trader Joes near you their natural briqs are very good.
Walking distance.
I've heard that before. I'll have to try a bag once I use up my current stock pile. Thanks.

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Originally Posted by Bludawg View Post
Water heater insulation blanket!
My drum has it's own welding blanket. I guess it is going to have to come out of storage. I didn't think we were there yet with the weather.



Thanks all for the suggestions. It's funny, I do recall having this exact problem a few years back when I did a butt for my wife's December birthday, which led to me starting to use the blanket. But, my memory swears I've done plenty more without this problem. And I think of all those posts I see of people smoking with 3' of snow without blankets and such. I just don't cook enough and my memory lies to me.

I got another overnight cook scheduled for next week. We'll see how
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Unread 10-21-2013, 02:06 PM   #12
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If your running a diffuser it will significantly shorten your burn time.

Is your basket skinny and tall or fat and short? Also makes a diff.
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Unread 10-21-2013, 02:08 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebijack View Post
How big was your diffuser, when using a large drip pan I will have 450 degrees below the diffuser to get 275 to 300 near the top. That's a pretty hefty burn going and will eat up your basket of coals quicker.
I hear you. I recently swtiched to one of these: http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Pro-Logi...ast+iron+pizza

I think it works well. I actually preheated it in the oven (since it was hot from some brownies) this time. That seemed to make it easier to get up to temp quicker and level out better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Novass View Post
I noticed when I use my difuser I get about 4-5 hour less burn time on my uds.
Oh definitely. The diffuser requires more fuel. No arguments there. I just swear I've cooked longer than this before. Just frustration, because I swear something is different. I know for a fact that I once went 17 hours - but it was warmer weather and Kingsford and probable some other differences. I'm having difficulty accepting the 50* -> ~35* and RO briquettes was responsible. I want to blame myself for doing something else wrong, just can't figure out what.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bbq Bubba View Post
If your running a diffuser it will significantly shorten your burn time.

Is your basket skinny and tall or fat and short? Also makes a diff.
Standard 13" diameter. The basket is ~14" tall, because that is how they cut the steel mesh when I bought it, but I probably only filled it 10" tall. I think a wider shorter basket might work better due to less ash buildup, but haven't ever tested it. Can you share what differences you think it makes?
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Unread 10-21-2013, 03:19 PM   #14
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if you want to try the Traders Joes briqs, better get it now. they dont carry it in the winter, at least not around me
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Unread 10-21-2013, 03:50 PM   #15
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I keep a stack of green pine next to my smoker, just in case my fire gets low and needs stoked.
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