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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 07-07-2013, 04:31 PM   #1
schlickenmeyer
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Default Help needed, trouble keeping pit temps up

About 4 hours in, I started having issues. Plenty of fuel, been doing the stir every hour or so to keep the ash down and allow air in.
Started with KBB, no issues, as it ran down I have been adding RO lump (red bag) and a few chunks of hickory.

Any ideas what I am doing wrong? All the usual mods to the char griller, btw.
Thanks in advance.
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Unread 07-07-2013, 04:34 PM   #2
cliffcarter
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Dump the ashes in the ash pan into a big bucket of water, sounds like the ash build up is restricting air flow to the fire.
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Unread 07-07-2013, 04:41 PM   #3
schlickenmeyer
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Been dumping at least Once An Hour. Too Much Half Burned Fuel?
Is A Certain Amount Of New Required?
Sorry About The Caps, My Droid Sucks
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Unread 07-07-2013, 05:34 PM   #4
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It would help to know what your cooking on
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Unread 07-07-2013, 06:30 PM   #5
schlickenmeyer
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Thought I Mentioned Char Griller In The Earlier Post.
Offset.
Seems To Be An Airflow Issue.ODd TheFirst FoUr Hours Were Fine.
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Unread 07-07-2013, 06:40 PM   #6
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Your exhaust should be wide open.

While the kingsford briquettes do burn at a uniform rate, different brands also burn differently in regards to time and temperature..

I do not use briquettes, only lump. I would say stay consistent using only one type of charcoal. Maybe run an experiment using lump, but only if you have control on your airflow. Lump tends to burn hotter and will give less ash in the end.
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Unread 07-07-2013, 06:48 PM   #7
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You can smother the fire by adding too much lump or briquettes. You need to keep the airflow going. If you add something, try splits of wood. I just finished a pair of St. Louis style ribs, a 4.5 hour cook, and only used 4 lbs lump charcoal. The rest was splits of white oak. It never got above 290F and was in the 250-275 range for most of the cook
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Unread 07-07-2013, 07:42 PM   #8
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If you have a basket in that firebox yank it out and toss it over the hill. The Fb is just barely big enough for the size of the pit. A basket will clog up the flow. WRAP A TOWEL AROUND YOUR FACE AND RUN 3 LAPS AROUND YOUR HOUSE, it's the same thing the pit needs to breath freely. Raise the fire rack up so there is 3-4 " between it and the bottom of the pit switch to Lump and Splits keep a small hot fire. Your temp issues will disappear. I run all wood in mine. These pits are not meant to do a minion burn if you want set & forget build a UDS.
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Unread 07-07-2013, 07:47 PM   #9
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try putting a fan near your firebox opening on low and see what happens it should bring your temps up, maybe there is just not enough air flow....
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Unread 07-08-2013, 01:32 AM   #10
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Well, being mid-cook I had nothing left to try. Had been pulling coals, putting them in a chimney starter to get em hot and putting them back when everything else failed. Even tried shoveling out the basket and starting over.
So I gave PBJ's advice a try, and lo, it likes sticks. Will try a run without the basket and the original fire grates and use mostly wood.
Was interesting to play with based on the size of stick (had some maple and cherry in the firepit pile that was over a year old), so I see I go back to square one when it comes to my knowledge level of smoking. I managed to keep it more or less controlled, which for in the dark, raining, and stuck mid-smoke with a need to finish I guess is ok.
:)
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Unread 07-08-2013, 07:23 AM   #11
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Those work best with a fire, I use a chimney of lump poured on top about the same amount of unlit with a few chunks of wood. Let that fire up to 300 and settle down to 275 then throw some chunks on every 45 min to hour and that keeps me rolling.
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Unread 07-08-2013, 07:28 AM   #12
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Also, I noticed you said something like the "usual mods". Does that include something where you extend the exhaust intake down to the surface (or close)? I highly suggest NOT making that mod. Heat rises. As your smoker gets hotter, the heat will try that much harder to stay up top. That creates a back-log on air flow. Your exhaust shoot should be at the highest point on your smoker; allowing the air to flow freely; almost sucking it out.
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Unread 07-08-2013, 07:37 AM   #13
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So how'd it turn out?
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Unread 07-09-2013, 02:30 AM   #14
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Lake Dogs, yeah, I had wondered about that one. I did do it, but it seemed odd to me the first few hours were fine, but as the chamber heated the airflow became a problem. The closer the fire and the chamber got, the more issues I had. I think I will run a test batch of butts to try this idea. And to have an excuse to smoke more :)

LMAJ - Turned out ok, took a while longer than planned with the temp drop, but all in all was darn tasty. :)
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Unread 07-09-2013, 03:17 AM   #15
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I was going to start a new thread about this, but a lot of it seems very relevant, so...

How often should I be emptying the ash collector?
Also, my BBQ is somewhat of a cheap Weber kettle imitation - not bad but it doesn't have the arms at the base to help push ash into the collector. Is there an easier way to get the ash down the holes than taking off both food grate and coal grate and pushing the ash down manually?

Thanks.
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