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Unread 09-08-2012, 12:04 PM   #1
DavidJ
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Default Anyone using a Good One Open Range Smoker? Need help!

I've read all the pertinent threads at Aceofhearts and tried the suggestions, but I'm still having trouble with the fire control. I'm looking for someone who has used (or is using) the Open Range to hopefully give some advice on building and controlling the temperature.

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Unread 09-08-2012, 03:35 PM   #2
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What are you currently doing? Or you can PM me I will be able to help.
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Unread 09-09-2012, 09:43 AM   #3
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Thanks Bryan,

Last weekend I did Ribs on Saturday and a butt on Monday. The smoker has the original thermometer (which I forgot to check & calibrate...) and I'm also using a Maverick ET732.

4:30am: Because it was a large butt, I wanted to use only Lump Charcoal. All I had was a bag of Good One, but the pieces were so small I had to build piece by piece the charcoal on the grate because I felt if I just dumped and spread it the fire would choke from lack of oxygen. I didn't have fire starters so I used paper towels moistened with cooking oil (works good to start a chimney) in the fire pan beneath the charcoal to start the fire. About 30 minutes later I had a good bed of coals so I closed the smoke & fire boxes, closed the lower spinners to about 2 turns, left the damper open all the way and closed the top spinner to about 2 turns. In about 30 minutes the smoker thermometer and the ET732 read about 240 with very little smoke coming out, so I put the 7.5lb butt on. I adjusted damper to the 11:00 position (as best I could, it's not holding position very well) and kept an eye on the smoker for the next 30 minutes to see what the temps would do. They seemed stable so I decided to take a nap. About 2 hours later the high temp alarm of the 732 went off at 260, and when I got outside there was smoke billowing out of the smoker and temps were racing skyward as if someone had opened up the fire box and let a rush of oxygen in.

So I spent the next 30-45 minutes lowering the temps by adjusting the spinners, as well as checking the firebox. About 90 minutes later the temps are beginning to drop below 235, so I checked the firebox and see that it needs more fuel. I wasn't sure if I wanted to put unlit charcoal on because I didn't want the smoke, so I started up the lump charcoal in chimney and threw that on (as well as with some unlit charcoal).

From this point forward I felt like I was constantly chasing temperatures, as well as having to feed the fire again later in the afternoon.

This is only my 3rd use of the Open Range. The 1st one was with KB & lump charcoal only, and was to see what could learn about the "behavior" of the smoker, as well as to re-season it after a cleaning and wiping down with vegetable oil. The 2nd one was for a lot shorter duration, with a single rack of ribs, which while there was some temp chasing there as well, it wasn't as bad as with the butt.

My thoughts / observations

1) The fire & temp control is a lot different than with a UDS or Weber kettle
2) There doesn't seem to be that much of a difference in volume (to heat) between the UDS and the Open Range, yet I went through 4 times as much fuel. That doesn't make sense...

3) The user manual and aceofhearts website both say to start the fire from the bottom, yet with the UDS it's just the opposite, and it seems the UDS burned longer with a lot less fuel

4) Waiting until all of the coals are 90-95% hot seems to be wasting fuel

5) The built in thermometer is in the top right of the smoke box, my 732 probe is above the grate on the left side. What is the maximum temp difference I should see between the two? Also need to verify / calibrate or replace the built-in thermometer

6) Need to figure out how to adjust the damper so it stays in position (other than a ball of foil between the arm and the eyebrow)


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Unread 09-09-2012, 02:36 PM   #4
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David, I am at work right now. When I get home tonight I can answer some of the questions. It not easy to do on my phone.
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Unread 09-09-2012, 04:11 PM   #5
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I checked the archived forums at good one .com and it seems to be an ongoing issue. They appear to be huge fuel hogs. Not sure how to fix it, or make it better.

Most of the posts on their forums are over 2 years old though.
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Unread 09-09-2012, 04:43 PM   #6
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I do not have an Open Range but do have a Rodeo, which is quite a bit larger but similar design. I have used it about 12 times and until my last cook with it, found myself chasing temps and playing with the fire way too much. I was trying to do it their way. Well last cook I started with much less lit charcoal, about a chimneys worth, and spread that out the length of the fire box. Damper full open. All spinners open. Once it got to temp I shut down all but one intake on the left, moved the hot charcoal to the right and poured in some unlit charcoal and wood chunks the length of the fire box beside, not on top of, the lit fuel. My thought was to have the fire burn right to left in the fire box. I let the fire burn through that fuel and then closed down the left vent, poured in more charcoal and wood chunks and opened the right vent so the fire would go left to right. Worked really well for me and this is how it will be fired in the future. I was cooking 160# of meat, 80 of pork and 80 of beef. Everything came out very nicely done and in perfect time for the lunch crowd of 130 people. Try the side to side burn and I think you will be happy with your cooker. These smokers certainly do use more fuel the a WSM or a drum though, but those cookers do not have the capacity of the Good One.
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Unread 09-09-2012, 04:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Ropo View Post

Most of the posts on their forums are over 2 years old though.

Yeah, it is very unfortunate that the forum is so poorly supported by the company. It gets hacked and hijacked by spammers so regularly that it has become useless. The company has a facebook presence, but that is also very unsatisfactory. Like my cooker though.
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Unread 09-09-2012, 05:44 PM   #8
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I have a Rodeo, too, but haven't used it in a while. When I did, I used hardwood briquettes instead of lump. I used a modified Minion burn. O loaded the firebox with charcoal, leaving a gap in the middle. The Rodeo has 4 spinners on the fire box. I had the two inner one open a little and the two outer ones open more. I would leave the exhaust spinners open fully and adjust the damper to control the temp.

To start it I would light a full chimney and dump it in the gap in the middle of the fire box. The way I set the dampers would draw the fire out towards the ends of the firebox. When the fire had burned almost to the outer ends I would fill the middle of the firebox with fresh charcoal and reverse the settings of the firebox spinners, having the outer ones open a little and the inner ones open more. This would now draw the fire back towards the middle. I would just repeat this process until the cook was done. I would get about 6 hours at 250 - 270 out of one load of charcoal.
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Unread 09-09-2012, 07:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyle's BBQ View Post
David, I am at work right now. When I get home tonight I can answer some of the questions. It not easy to do on my phone.
No rush... Phones only have so many practical and useful use's, after that they're a pain... :-)

Thanks!
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Unread 09-09-2012, 08:01 PM   #10
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Thanks for all of the responses, I appreciate the feedback!

I guess I could of / could of done a little more homework before taking the plunge on the Good One, but I'm sure I can make it work for me. The side to side burn sounds very promising and will definitely give it a try, it also might be the fix for the huge amount of fuel required.

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Unread 09-09-2012, 08:22 PM   #11
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I just looked at a pic of the Open Range and it looks like you have two spinners. I would load the box, leaving an opening at one end, and then put the lit charcoal in there. You probably only need 1/2 a chimney. Then set the spinner closest to the fire open a little and the one farther from the fire open more and it should burn across. then, when it's time to reload shove any lit fuel towards the one side and refuel and readjust the vents.
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Unread 09-09-2012, 08:51 PM   #12
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Thanks Ron,

Another issue that's been discussed at the other forums, is that the ash pan doesn't have a good tight seal, so the left spinner is generally closed a bit more than the right one is. I had that in mind as I played with the fire last week, and I'm not sure that I could notice that much of a difference

BTW... I expect I'll get a hotspot with a side to side burn, but would you expect huge temperature differences in the smoke box? In a relatively small cooking area that the Open Range has I'd say no, but my ET732 on the lower left was quite frequently 40 degrees cooler than the dial thermometer at the upper right.

David....
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Unread 09-11-2012, 12:51 AM   #13
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How much fuel are you using? As you can see I have a Trail Boss. That is the biggest smoker Good-One makes. I use the side to side method also. I load my fire box with 3 bags of RO lump and yes, I just dump the whole thing in. If you are worried about losing charcoal, get some smaller expanded metal and put that on top of the current grates. I did that and it really helps. I break off about 1/3 of a


, light it and set it in one corner of the firebox. I cover the lit stick with large pieces of charcoal and let it go. I can get about 9-10 hours of cooking time from this setup.

Yes, this smoker is not very sealed. I need to work on mine, but it is almost 10 years old. I am working on some modifications to make this more efficient. Your temps will be different from top to bottom. Does your model have the convection tubes? Mine has tubes in the bottom that allow the cooler air from the cooking chamber to recirculate to the fire box, creating a convection current. I think that the temp difference my be placement of the Maverick probe. Have you tried to move it more to middle of the cooker or place it higher to see if it comes close to the smoker thermometer.

I was thinking about your temp spike. The only thing I could come up with, is that the carefully stacked charcoal some how fell and was lit.

Let us know how it goes. I use my Good-One 3-4 days a week and have been have great success cooking on it.
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Unread 09-11-2012, 07:54 PM   #14
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Hi Bryan

I went through 16#, about 10# bag of Good One lump and nearly a full *3 bag of RO in a 12 hour burn, which compared to 6-8#'s in a UDS, seems like a lot! I wasn't concerned about coals falling through the grate, just that all of the small pieces of lump would fill in the gaps and smother the fire, so that's why I arranged the charcoal. So I think on my next burn, I'll do the side to side method, and also possibly build a basket to keep the coals more contained. I also agree with you're analysis of the sudden spike, the fire collapsing is the only thing that really makes any sense.

The Open Range doesn't have any convection tubes, just a damper running the entire length of the smoke box, which as I understand it, is designed to create the circulation of air around the meat. Because of this, that's why I decided to place the 732 probe where I did, I expected to see very little variance +/- 10 degrees, and wanted to verify that. Maybe next time I'll place the air probe under the meat, which should then show a significantly hotter temp than the built in thermometer.

I've been looking at fiberglass rope or gasket material to help seal the opening for the ash pan, and it might be worth it to run a bead along the doors as well. I've also been thinking of drilling a small hole in the side so I can run the probe leads out of the smoker and not worry about crushing them in the lid, but not sure if that would really accomplish anything.

David...
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