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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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Old 08-11-2014, 04:18 PM   #16
DaveAlvarado
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Originally Posted by SmittyJonz View Post
Y Not just spend medium $ on each and get one of each kind?
LOL, that was my original plan, but I figured out that firing up multiple smokers annoys me. More fires to tend = not as much fun for me, personally. I'd rather have one bigger smoker that cooks all the food.

Probably going with a 24x60 stick burner, or the aforementioned YS1500 which is only 24x40 or so, but both grates hold about the same temp. When I cook for friends I end up doing about a full KCBS cook, quantity-wise. Brisket, couple butts, a few racks of spares, a couple chickens, some sausage, etc.
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Old 08-11-2014, 04:20 PM   #17
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Stickburner is going to swing in temps.. you have to learn your smoker... once you get it down.. you know right around when to add a log.. or adjust your logs to allow optimum burn..
I think this is the part I need to work on--I expected swings, but I think I was letting it swing too far. I'd add a stick when I was down about 50F, but I needed to tend it when it was more like down 25-30F.

In any case it was a good learning experience. I figured out about what size of fire gave me the temperature range I wanted. I just need to do a better job of maintaining that size of fire.
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Old 08-11-2014, 04:25 PM   #18
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I think this is the part I need to work on--I expected swings, but I think I was letting it swing too far. I'd add a stick when I was down about 50F, but I needed to tend it when it was more like down 25-30F.

In any case it was a good learning experience. I figured out about what size of fire gave me the temperature range I wanted. I just need to do a better job of maintaining that size of fire.
I dont even wait for it to drop that far

10 degree droop means another stick, or a poke.

the tighter you control it the better it behaves
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Old 08-11-2014, 04:30 PM   #19
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The problem was how you built your fire. The charcoal is just fine and good idea to get you a starter bed of coals. You have to use a fire grate to get proper air flow. When you first light your fire leave the smoker door open until the fire gets going and beginning to burn clean. You can either light it with a torch or fluid and yes I said fluid. I know thats taboo but as long as you leave the door open until fire is going good you will not taste the fluid. I use it a comps to start my fire. The firebox door should remain shut and not be open. Open the vent covers fully. Like the other guys said use smaller splits at first and some small kindling. Once the fire is burning clean and door is shut you should be able to start closing the vents down some on the door and your fire should be able to burn for about 1.5 to 2 hours without adding more wood unless smoker is insulated then would burn longer. Once you cook on it a couple of times you will know how long that time is and be able to put a log on it in time for the temp not to drop. Happy Smoking!
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Old 08-12-2014, 08:50 AM   #20
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Thanks for the tips guys, I'll probably put them all to work this weekend.
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Old 08-12-2014, 09:11 AM   #21
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Along with smaller splits make sure the wood is properly seasoned. If it's just "a little" green it will be harder to ignite and won't be as clean of a fire. Try to avoid the bags of wood. I've never had luck with any of those. Always too wet. I found it better to purchase my wood in bulk and let it season for a year before using.
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Old 08-12-2014, 09:12 AM   #22
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I borrowed an Old Country Pecos to try my hand at cooking on a stick burner. I cooked up a little bone-in pork loin roast (about 4 bones long) using hickory.

It was an interesting learning experience. A few things I learned:

1. Airflow is king. Yeah we should all know this, but if you're working on a cheap-ish offset, you have to worry about how well each stick can breathe. Just laying sticks in the firebox is a bad idea, better if you can put the stick over a heat source with some airflow underneath, meaning laying against the side of the firebox or something. Once I got the first couple sticks going, I'd add a new one by leaning one edge on a lit stick so it was propped up at an angle.

2. If you wait until the temp drops 50 degrees, you might have a hard time getting the next stick going. There was one point where I thought I was going to have to re-light the fire, but it ended up being ok.

3. Charcoal briquettes are a terrible starter. They're the wrong shape and if you lay a stick on a bed of ashed-over charcoal, the stick can't breathe well enough. Wood chunks on the other hand are a fantastic starter and can be lit in a chimney just like charcoal. I had some old pecan chunks I'm not using to cook with, they worked great. A half chimney of flaming wood chunks will get a log lit in no time and they do a great job of getting the cooker heated up.

I have a question about temp control. To keep a clean fire burning, I ended up leaving the firebox door open and the smoke stack wide open. Obviously that leads to fairly big temp swings--when a new stick goes in it spikes up, then slowly comes back down as the stick burns down. Food cooked ok and I was ok with the swings, but is there a way to make it more stable? I decided I didn't want to futz with air control for risk of making a dirty fire, since even with things wide open I sometimes wasn't quite getting TBS. Any tips?
Sounds like you've got it going on! You're absolutely right, "AIRFLOW IS KING"! The best suggestion that I could make is to start with a good sized fire to create a decent bed of coals, then maintain it with a stick every 30 to 45 minutes. The coal bed is really the heat source while the raw wood is for the smoke and maintaining the coal bed.
The temp will be easier to control with less raw material needing to ignite and it will be easier to maintain the thin blue smoke that you want as well. With a healthy bed of coals you should be able to shut your firebox door and use the intake damper for temp control.
Most of us like to start with a chimney of lump, it makes a quicker coal bed and doesn't have the chemical fillers or ash production of briquettes. I usually start with a chimney of lit lump on top of a a pile of unlit lump with a couple of splits. I let it all burn down until the charcoal is all lit and the splits are ashed over. I then add another split just before the meat goes on and then begin the split every 45 minutes routine to maintain the heat and coal bed.
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Old 08-12-2014, 09:24 AM   #23
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Hmm, maybe that's another problem. I was thinking my heat source was "burning log", i.e. looks like a stick and has flames coming out. I wasn't focusing on maintaining a coal bed.

I'll give that a shot too.
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Old 08-12-2014, 09:30 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by DaveAlvarado View Post
Hmm, maybe that's another problem. I was thinking my heat source was "burning log", i.e. looks like a stick and has flames coming out. I wasn't focusing on maintaining a coal bed.

I'll give that a shot too.
Right, the radiant heat from the coal bed is really the heat that thoroughly heats the pit and that you're cooking with, while the wood splits are the fuel that will BECOME part of the heat source.
Think about the old timers that burned a secondary fire and shoveled coals over to the cooking area as they were needed. Raw wood never made it to the cooker, only lit coals.

Watch how Ms Tootsie does it at Snow's BBQ in Lexington.
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