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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, equipment and outdoor cookin' . ** Other cooking techniques are welcomed for when your cookin' in the kitchen. Post your hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures, but stay on topic and watch for that hijacking.


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Old 05-26-2010, 04:56 PM   #1
monty3777
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Join Date: 07-13-08
Location: Happytown, IA
Default FEC 100 for beginners (long)

I have been reading a ton of posts on using the FEC 100 since I got mine a short while back. I have been cutting and pasting all the interesting tidbits I have gleaned. I thought this could be useful to others as well. I have basically given each "section" (I use the term loosely) a heading. Then I attribute the advice, the piece of wisdom comes next, followed by a link to the actual thread where I found the info in case context helps clarify the person's position. This is a work in progress so forgive me if I missed something important!

Misc. info that’s good to know

SmokinOkie:
The IQ4 was a big change and it actually controls the fans so that it doesn't blow all the time. This has lead to an increase smoke flavor unlike the old Traeger controllers that blew air all the time.

If you add a draw fan, it will tend to pull air/smoke out and that will change the flavor, you'll have to decide if you like that.

If it pulls too much it will also create more of a convection effect and thus change the cooking times.

Smoke rises, so it will work it's way out.

You'll get more smoke in the trailer when you open the door anyway.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...hlight=fec+100

You're going to be tight trying to cook on it at a contest right after you get it.

IMMEDIATELY after receiving, plug it in, fill with pellets, set a time/temp. As it does have electronics, you want to make sure nothing happened in shipping. Call CS immeidately if you have issues.

As they said put a handfull of pellets in the firepot. The idea is that the ignitor turns on, but it takes a few minutes for pellets to fill the pot. Handful allows it to start immediately.

Gel is for a backup. IF the ignitor ever fails to start, then the gel is one backup to get the fire started. I use the little wood blocks. In 5 years, 4 FE's I've had to do it once.

The only other recommendations.

Wait about 1 min before trying to set any times/temps, the system is just starting up.

Don't use the preset buttons, you'll want your own temps/times.

Don't leave the unit until you see smoke coming out the stack.

Don't forget to put the grease try under the smoker.

Foil the bottom of the unit, it makes it easier to clean.

NEVER let water get into the pellet hopper. If it does you'll have "pelletcrete" and you don't want that.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...hlight=fec+100

As of a few years back, the IQ4 does NOT have a restart feature. You have to turn the system completely off, then back on for the ignitor to work again.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...hlight=fec+100

Plowboy:
Get a big package of sausages and do an initial cook. All the fat will help season the pit initially.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...hlight=fec+100

Smokin Mike:
get abunch of the cheap biscuits in a can, and cook all them at once, on each shelf, and you will see where your hot spots are, it's the easiest way to map out your FEC
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...hlight=fec+100

SmokinOkie
The left side (away from the airflow) tends to run hotter -- on average
The right side (nearest the airflow) runs below the indicated temp
The 3rd and 4th shelves show the lowest fluctuation of temps -- on average
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...hlight=fec+100

Capacity and timing:

ThomEmery
Contest cooks two briskets on their own shelves
Two butts above that a full size pan catching the drippings and
starting out with a inch of water
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...hlight=fec+100

Scottie
I would try and get all those big cuts off, before you start on ribs. Way easier as well. Gives you plenty of room for the ribs if you just start big cuts earlier and foil them earlier and hold them in a Cambro.

I do 2 butts over 2 shelves of briskets.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...hlight=fec+100

Ford:
I do 16 on a regular basis. 120 lbs average. Don't rotate. Bottom shelf is usually ready first. But small butts cook faster obviously. Cook at 250 or even 275. Make sure it's up to temp first.

Ribs - I use rib racks. Did 36 (4 cases) of full spares at one time. But the trick is the outside ones cook faster and the bottom shelf a lot faster. For large cooking I usually do ribs on top 2 shelves and butts on the bottom 2 and use 2 FE's. Makes a big difference in rib quality. Ribs can take up to 9 hours at 250 but some will be done after 7 or so. Takes a little work for large cooks.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...hlight=fec+100

Powering the FEC at Comps.

Butcher BBQ
We have taken a standard battery charger from Napa and hooked it to a deep cycle marine battery, from there we use a Tripp Lite 1000 watt inverter and have it hooked to the battery also and run the FEC's thru it. We can run electric from the cookoff site or thru my generator but if we loose electric the inverter doesn't know this and keeps on working. But on the other side the battery stays completely charged thru the cook cycle with the battery charger just incase I have to go on straight battery to finish the cook. We run 2 FEC's with this one system.

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=84117

Using the FEC to hold meat:

Ford
I prefer a Carlisle but if you use the FE I'd gp with about 160. 140 is the legal holding temp (135 now according to FDA but not Servsafe) but it's a little low. With the IQ4 it will hold for 3 hours but watch the ash buildup in the firebox. Temp could drop. Can't really hold with old FE's.

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=83964

Basic maintenance and operation:

Haltech
B) Learn where the reset button is. If you noticed the switch unit inside the pellet hopper, this is a safety switch to keep the auger from moving while you have your hand in there. What you need is a philips screwdriver and staring at the side of the hopper, you will note the 4 small sheet metal screws. When you remove those, the panel slides right out and you will see the guts of the machine. Note, you will have a small relay switch to your mid way right side. 2 wires will hang off the backside of the switch. If you reach your hand in front of it ( towards the innards of the actual control panel ) you will feel or even see this green reset switch. Get familiar with it because one day, you will need to hit this to get your machine back up. Mine went at 3:40am on the day of my daughters bday party with 80 lbs of pork shoulder in it. Believe me, had i known about this beforehand, it would of saved me an hour of screwing around.

C) When you shut off the unit, make sure to sweep the remaining pellets from the auger -> pellet shoot before it goes down the slide into the firepot. I use a large flat blade screw driver for this. It doesnt happen often but you can create a backfire where the pellet reservoir exist. Dont ask me how i know this... Better to get in the habit of this before a problem exist.

D) Get the cover, Get The Cover, GET THE COVER

E) Foil the inside of the unit.. The angle pan that forces the drippings, the top where the firepot is and the bottom. It makes cleanup a hell of a lot easier. Also, keep the racks clean.

F) Vacuum the firepot, pellet slide and interior auger port before each use. This will keep things easier and less problematic for you. Also, start the unit with a handful of pellets in the firepot, this allows the unit to get up to temp quicker.

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=84864

The Kapn
buy a pair of drive pins ($5 each) for the auger.
HINT--ask them to USPS them, not UPS
Those are a safety device and if you shear one, you are out of business till you replace. Easy to do, but ya gotta have a pin.

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=84864

Transporting the FEC 100

Ford
Mine are installed in the trailer with venting. 1 is bolted to the floor, and 2 are still on wheels and are held down by ratchet straps to d rings. Get yourself 1200 lb d rings (cheap and small) and weld 4 to the 4 corners of the lower frame. Add 4 d rings to the floor of the trailer with just enough room to get a ratchet strap up to the first dring then over and then down to the floor. Won't ever go anywhere and it doesn't have to be against the wall with etrack.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...&highlight=fec

Buster Dog:
Same as Scottie. In my big trailer I have e-track on top and something similar on floor. It locks in good. On my 6x12 I have e-track on wall at top and D rings about leg level.

Nate, think about some small jacks under your ramp an you won't have to wheel it far or keep in toward the back if weight allows then vent out back with little movement.

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...&highlight=fec

Ron L:
When I had my trailer built I sent the mfg. the dimensions of the FEC and they put in D-rings in the floor over the axle for me. I put the FEC in the middle of the trailer over the axle ans use two heavy duty tie down straps in an X over the top of the FEC. You could also put e-track on the wall and put it against one wall and use tie downs into the E-track.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...&highlight=fec
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Old 05-26-2010, 06:24 PM   #2
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nice post very informative
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Old 05-27-2010, 08:56 AM   #3
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Thank you for this. Really informative.

I just picked up a new to me FEC100. I haven't had much time to play with it yet, I've only done some BBs and a couple of pork bellies for bacon.

Have you come across any cooking recommendations at all? I've seen a few posts on the cookshack forums saying that foiling isn't necessary on the FECs.
Is this true?

Last edited by FattyMac; 05-27-2010 at 08:57 AM.. Reason: Spelling
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Old 05-27-2010, 09:44 AM   #4
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Great compilation, I'll think us owners can add to this.

One I'll add (don't ask why):

Make sure the unit is level. Grease has to go out to of the drip tray and not collect in it, chance of fire increases if you're unit isn't level.
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Old 05-27-2010, 11:45 AM   #5
monty3777
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FattyMac View Post
Thank you for this. Really informative.

I just picked up a new to me FEC100. I haven't had much time to play with it yet, I've only done some BBs and a couple of pork bellies for bacon.

Have you come across any cooking recommendations at all? I've seen a few posts on the cookshack forums saying that foiling isn't necessary on the FECs.
Is this true?
I ran across a ton of cooking info here but I didn't include any of it because I figured most of those issues would be based on opinion. If you want my opinion on foiling - we have done 24 butts so far on the FEC and from what I can gather there is not a lot of need to foil. The butts we didn't foil has a beautiful red color and they were juicy. The bark wasn't tough either. I'm cooking up some briskets tomorrow to practice timing and I plan to leave one unfoiled. I suspect I will be happier with the color and the bark of the unfoiled brisket better.
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Old 05-27-2010, 03:14 PM   #6
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Just curious how you settled on the FEC 100?

I am currently looking at the FEC 100 along with some other units from Backwoods and Stumps. Tough decision.

Thanks for your input
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Old 05-27-2010, 06:10 PM   #7
monty3777
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badgerbacker View Post
Just curious how you settled on the FEC 100?

I am currently looking at the FEC 100 along with some other units from Backwoods and Stumps. Tough decision.

Thanks for your input
I suppose it came down to several reasons.

1. A lot of people I respect in the Iowa BBQ Society use them and indicated that they are really happy with them. I also took Scottie's class and seeing one used firsthand showed me that these are serious cookers.

2. The price. I was able to get an FEC for less than a Backwoods Competitor with the Guru. Also, the FEC was available withing 10 days as opposed to a longer wait time for the Backwoods.

3. Maintenance. Easy to clean and transport an FEC. A little more work with something like a Backwoods (from what I understand).

4. Kids. This thing let's me hang out with my kids without worrying about fuel etc.

5. Now that I have it I should also add that cooking with pellets is really cool. All wood - not of that crap you get from charcoal. And as opposed to my stickburner - the wood doesn't take up space and attract my kids who love to throw small logs at each other! However, finding pellets is almost impossible and I'll be out of mine after tonight's cook - so I'm relying on a bulk order to set me up for a while.
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Old 05-27-2010, 06:25 PM   #8
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I have one to add - be prepared for the igniter switch to go bad. My went bad after two uses. After spending several hours on and off the phone with Cookshack (Bill seems like a real nice guy!) I finally had to get it started manually. I don't have any sterno gel around so I used a paper towel and put some pellets around it. Works fine and they are shipping a new switch out now. At least I've gotten to check out the innerds of this thing!!!
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Old 05-27-2010, 06:40 PM   #9
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We disconnected the ignitor
months ago and use gel hand soap
all the time now
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Old 05-27-2010, 06:53 PM   #10
monty3777
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThomEmery View Post
We disconnected the ignitor
months ago and use gel hand soap
all the time now
Are you talking about hand sanitizer - the alcohol based stuff? How do you use it? I suppose just squirt some on the pellets and light...
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Old 05-27-2010, 11:00 PM   #11
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Excellent synopsis Monty! I cant believe your ignitier bit the dust already? I have officially burned 700 pounds of pellets in mine since mid april as of 38 minutes ago.

385 pounds of chicken
232 pounds of ribs
416 pounds of shoulder
122 pounds of brisket
219 pounds of fatties
136 pounds of tri tip
102 pounds of rib roast
31 pounds of sausage

Yeah, i think that about covers it for now :)
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Old 05-27-2010, 11:16 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monty3777 View Post
Are you talking about hand sanitizer - the alcohol based stuff? How do you use it? I suppose just squirt some on the pellets and light...
12 pellets 3 squirts and a match
In a few ya gots a starter bed good ta go
and oh yea your hands are cleaner also
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