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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 08-12-2011, 12:24 AM   #1
Pa_BBQ
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Default Stick Burners, Need Your Help.

First off let me say I love my BGE, and even my WSM's have their place but I also love smoke flavored food and these seem to come up a little short.

On the TS120 I am having a little bit of trouble getting it just right. I seem to be getting a little too much smoke so asking how you keep that from happening.

I have been using hickory and cherry wood, and have a lot of this along with white oak on hand.

I know there are guys who have mastered this so asking your advice.

All my wood is split but they are pretty large pieces. I was thinking it would give me some longer burn times.

Do you like the wood split small or left big?

Any advice you want to share that you learned along the journey would be appreciated.

I have even considered starting the food on the TS120, then moving to the egg for the long cook.
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Unread 08-12-2011, 12:53 AM   #2
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First thing I would try next smoke is preheat the wood. The wood takes time to get to its combustion point and the whole time, three log is just smoldering away stealing heat from the pit.

So if you preheat, its closer to ignition, less smoldering smoke (which isn't sweet blue) And less heat loss..(a lil more effeciency to boot too maybe) to preheat simply throw log on top of fire box, or close as possible half hour before ya their it in fire, oh dont...DO NOT forget your gloves...

Also its my belief, the the exhaust is ALWAYS wide open, if you cHoke out the fire@ the exhaust ya do just that, choke the fire, which gets back to smoldering smoke...not good when it can't get out.

So open that puppy up (if its closed) preheat yer wood, and enjoy beautifully smokey BBQ goodness

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Unread 08-12-2011, 05:37 AM   #3
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Yeah agree with all that. I always run the start of my burn with exhaust wide open, only close it down a little after it gets going if I need to but never more than half way. And yes, if you can, keep the next stick on top of the firebox to pre-heat. When you drop it in the fire, should take seconds to combust. I'll usually keep the firebox lid open about 30 seconds to really get it going, then close it. Takes some practice but you'll get the hang of it!
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Unread 08-12-2011, 05:46 AM   #4
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Split it small. 2 inch diameter type small. Build small hot clean burning fires. You need to babysit that pit and feed it the size wood that it needs to make the food the way that you want it. Your long burn times with large pieces of wood are not creating clean burning fires. Stickburning is not convenient, I have to feed mine every 45 minutes- 1 hr. I have been able to get longer burn times using Mojobricks. They burn longer and cleaner.
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Unread 08-12-2011, 05:56 AM   #5
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+ 1 with ^^^^^
I split it small, maybe not 2 inches but 3-5 inch splits with more wood than bark showing. I also preheat and get the pit up to temp before putting the meat on which takes about an hour on my pit. Once I have a good hot fire with coals and the pit temp is right I put the meat on. I then have to add a split or sometimes two about every 30 minutes.
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Unread 08-12-2011, 06:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NRA4Life View Post
Build small hot clean burning fires... Stickburning is not convenient, I have to feed mine every 45 minutes- 1 hr.

Yup, that's the way I do 'er.
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Unread 08-12-2011, 06:27 AM   #7
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Pre heat and small splits seem to work for me. Try to keep the temp level, at the risk of repeating what everyone says you have to stay with your fire you cant leave it unattended
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Unread 08-12-2011, 06:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NRA4Life View Post
Split it small. 2 inch diameter type small. Build small hot clean burning fires. You need to babysit that pit and feed it the size wood that it needs to make the food the way that you want it. Your long burn times with large pieces of wood are not creating clean burning fires. Stickburning is not convenient, I have to feed mine every 45 minutes- 1 hr. I have been able to get longer burn times using Mojobricks. They burn longer and cleaner.
+1 I cook with oak (for heat), cherry, hickory, and maple. Plenty of hardwoods in GA and my nephew works for a tree removal company.

I don't own a splitter so what I do is cut my logs into 6" - 8" wheels. I let the wheels season and then quarter them as needed. This gives me a nice size split which I preheat on top of the firebox.

Also, I use hardwood charcoal briquettes to start my fire; usually a healthy chimney full. This gives me a great coal bed. I'll add 2 or 3 splits initially and once the smoke settles, put the food on. From that point forward, only preheated splits go in 2 - 3 at a time. I don't wait for my temps to drop; I know when to feed the beast!

As my daddy always said, practice makes perfect. Spend a day with your cooker and you'll learn quickly what is required to achieve sweet blue.

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Unread 08-12-2011, 06:33 AM   #9
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Air flow is important like the previous posters have said. Even with a clean burning fire and everything working well a shift in wind direction or speed can change the dynamics. If things change you have to be ready to adapt. A stoker or guru is the answer sometimes.
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Unread 08-12-2011, 06:34 AM   #10
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+1 on all above. Our splits are more like 3-5" rather than 2". I'll mix in charcoal (heaven forbid) too.
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Unread 08-12-2011, 07:08 AM   #11
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Pre-heat your wood is perhaps the biggest idea. I too had problems with an abundance of smoke upon adding wood and then I started to preheat it by putting it on top of my firebox. Not sure who gave me that information, but it was of great help. I don't have a splitter either and most of my fruit woods if not pre-split were in the form of smallish pieces of branches. I'd frequently use up to maybe 3" diameter pieces about 8" long.
My pit was a Brinkman which I greatly modified after many cooks. I would start the fire with a combination of lump and KF. I would also (like many have suggested) keep a small fire that needed more attention than other cookers. One major benefit of a frequently monitored fire would be sitting next to the smoker having a beer and relaxing.
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Unread 08-12-2011, 07:33 AM   #12
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Thanks everyone this is some great advice.
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Unread 08-12-2011, 10:10 AM   #13
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^^^you pretty much got it all in the previous posts & I'll restate what FireChief mentioned about leaving the firebox door open for a bit. I'll throw a preheated log on and leave the door open until I see that the log is going good - if it's preheated enough, it'll combust pretty much immediately and then really get going inside of a couple minutes. Spend some time looking at the smoke coming out your exhaust (which IMO should always be wide open) and notice the things that happen to that smoke when you add logs, open/close the firebox door, use different size splits, etc. You'll know what you're looking for and how to get it before too long.
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Unread 08-12-2011, 10:59 AM   #14
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just a few cents more:

1) temp spikes happen, thats OK as long as they arent extreme; resist the urge to constantly tweak the intake if you get a spike right after adding sticks or coals. it takes a while for a fire to "settle in"
2) if you have the place / space; burn some sticks so that you have coals ready to add. it is a lot easier adding stick coals and keeping temps level
3) "if youre looking youre not cooking" - this has special meaning for offsets because they are usually bigger than other types of rigs, and the temp drop takes longer to recover. mastering the urge to look is a big factor in maintaining temps and getting great smoke flavor

good luck...hope i added something worthwhile to the string
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