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Unread 07-23-2010, 03:20 AM   #1
KnucklHed BBQ
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Default Pellet pooper help!

I have a 3 year old traeger lil' tex that's had about 400lbs of mini sticks run through it.
It just has the 3 position "Smoke, Med & High" switch for controls. For those unfamiliar with this control, there is simply a timer that kicks the auger on and off at preset intervals, effectively putting the same amount of pellets each time, theoretically anyways.
The combustion fan runs at the same RPM on all 3 settings, all the time.

On smoke setting, it "used" to run right at about 180 - 195'ish in moderate temps, Medium resulted in 300'ish temps and High usually hit about 400

Lately here it's only been hitting 150 - 160'ish on smoke, 200'ish on med and 300 - 350 on high... Alright, so whats the deal?

The only change that I've made is that the first 300+ lbs of pellets were traeger silver baggers... once I learned that those pellets were 90%+ Alder and wood oils, I started looking to Bear Mountain and BBQ'rs delight.

BBQ'rs delight is 66% Oak and 33% flavor wood indicated - tried pecan & mesq so far.
Bear Mountain is 70-75% Alder and 25-30% flavor wood, depending on type of wood. tried hick, sugar maple and apple

My original thought is that higher percentage of hardwoods would yield higher temps on each of the 3 settings, since hard woods have higher BTU's per lb of wood, which I am fine with.

I have also vac'd out all the ash & crud and run a long brush through the fan blades and down the air tube to make sure that there were no cobwebs slowing down airflow.... what the heck??

The only thing that I have not tried is getting another bag of Traeger to see if it jumps back up... don't really want to have to do that... they smell like burning newspaper.

Help??!!
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Unread 07-23-2010, 03:31 AM   #2
Norcoredneck
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Verified the thermometer? Is the size of the pellets the same? The reason I ask is that controller feeds by time not rate to maintain temp.
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Unread 07-23-2010, 03:37 AM   #3
KnucklHed BBQ
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good questions... forgot to mention both of those - pellets are roughly the same size, possibly a little bit longer.

thermo was actually the first thing I checked, I hadn't checked it at all in the 3 years it's been on and it's been through 3 cold winters and 3 hot summers... it was dead on. Water boils right about 208* here and the needle just barely touched the 210 line...

Next!!!

Oh and with a thick bath towel covering it, I'll hit 165 and stay there, no higher though. (on smoke)
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Hybrid Pellet Pooper "The Meat Vault" - 3 RED Weber Kettles O, H (with Cajun Bandit Mod) & pre '79 - Black OT Platinum (DH) - SS AusPit - Rib-O-Lator - SJ UDS (DI) - CRAZY FAST Yeller Thermapen

We shall throw our bacon wrapped all beef justice upon the wooden skewers of truth to be held on high and let them know that we will not stand for this. ~Butz

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Unread 07-23-2010, 04:16 AM   #4
River City Smokehouse
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Maybe the fan is slowing down. I would consider changing fans. The bearings may be going or the brushes going bad. Less air flow in turn. Call Traeger, they are really helpful.
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Unread 07-23-2010, 07:04 AM   #5
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You were getting normal temps when you first switched to the new pellets? I'm with RCS, I would suspect a lack of air flow. If you have ignition and fuel that is all that is left. How easy is it to get to the fan?
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Unread 07-23-2010, 07:26 AM   #6
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Different pellets have different burn characteristics depending on their composition. Alder is a light, fast burning hardwood that gives little smoke flavor but high BTU's. Same with oak but to a lesser degree. If you put your 3 speed controller on ony one speed changing pellets can change temps by quite a bit since the auger on/off ratios and fan speeds stay the same. Even some of the Traeger digital contollers still function in that manner. Controllers, such a the Green Mountain Grill, adjust fan speed and pellet feed to maintain the set temp, so in those models changing pellets will not change grate temps. but it will change the pellet consumption rate to compensate for the difference in BTU's put out by the pellet. This is one reason some type of pellets will not get a pellet grill up to the advertised high end heat setting. There is also a difference in pellet density, with Traeger pellet being on the "soft" side IMO. That mey give them a boost in BTU output. Pellet size swon't matter because long or short they take up the same amount of room once in the auger.

Although all the pellets are technically "hardwoods", each type of hardwood has a different density, burn rate and BTU output, plus the pellet making process adds pellet density to the equation.
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