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anthropas
08-20-2014, 01:44 PM
Hi All,


I've had a PBC for a couple months now and am having problems with low temperatures and even keeping it lit and am hoping the more experienced PBC users might share their wisdom with me.

1. I use the Kingsford classic briquets and the fridge magnet method to snuff out the coals at the end of a cook and generally have enough coals left after shaking the ash off to cover the bottom of the basket for the next cook.

2. I clean the ashes out of the PBC before each cook and add 1 whole chimney's worth of fully lit coals to the old coals.

3. I'm at about 1800 feet above seal level, but keep my air vent wide open. At the recommended setting, the temp drops down to the 200 range and starts to go out.

Using this method, my cook temperatures are often as low as 225 and the cooks take as long as a traditional smoker. I'm also had the fire go out twice on me and I regularly have to crack the lid to get the temperature to rise back into the 250 - 275 range. This is causing me to babysit the PBC more than I want to and more than I feel like I should for the way it's advertised and the cook times that are advertised. Can someone school me on what I'm doing wrong? It feels like it's chocking itself out and simply needs more air. Any suggestions before I start drilling in extra holes in the lid that I can cover with a fridge magnet as necessary to get more heat?

Thanks in advance!

Anthropas

Carbon
08-20-2014, 01:50 PM
Have you tried fresh, new briquettes?

anthropas
08-20-2014, 01:57 PM
Hi Carbon,


Yes. I've experimented with adding fresh ones on the bottom by themselves as well as fresh ones on the bottom with the old ones and it hasn't made a measurable difference other than using us a ton of charcoal.

I typically put a whole chimney of fully lit fresh briquettes in with the old ones. I haven't done any really long cooks yet like for pork butts or a turkey. Most of my meals on the PBC are chicken, tri-tip or baby backs. I haven't had the need, even at these lower temperatures than I'd like there are still coals left when I'm done and fridge magnets snuff the PBC out very fast due to how well it seals up. My old coals re-light from the new ones without issue.

Thanks,

Anthropas

peeps
08-20-2014, 01:57 PM
I have never used a PBC, but it seems that you might not have enough heat capacity in the partially used charcoal to maintain the temps, so you probably need to add a layer of unused on top of the partially used stuff...

The partially used stuff won't give you the quality burn/heat of unused.

bbqbull
08-20-2014, 02:00 PM
Quick ? for you. Did you leave the PBC cover off for 20 minutes after dumping your lit charcoal into the basket.
That is what I do and have lots of heat after the 20 minutes pre-burn. That is when I add my meat.

Mike Twangzer
08-20-2014, 02:08 PM
Not sure but I think that the "1 whole chimney's worth of fully lit coals to the old coals" may be the issue. Ok to save the coals but the instructions to lite the coals do not recommend the method you are using. If you re-visit the PBC website try their method of lighting coals. I would also put the old coals on top. Also it seems that with the wide open air vent you are burning fast and furious and exhausting the coals too early .. thus not lasting long. Recommended air vent opening 1/4 for sea level. If all else fails give Noah a call. His number is on the drum.

Decoy205
08-20-2014, 02:12 PM
I don't own one but from what I understand the PBC is supposed to operate at 1 temp usually optimized for your elevation level.

Once you dial in the intake for your area it should hit that temp and stay there. From all ive read about it it's optimal somewhere between 275 and 300 and the cooking times should be close to the suggested times on the site. I don't think it was designed to change temp range.
I'm sure some PBC owners can chime in.

anthropas
08-20-2014, 02:18 PM
Hi Guys,


Thanks for the ideas and suggestions. I have tried using only fresh briquettes on the bottom and in the chimney and it hasn't made a difference. As soon as I put the lid on my temps drop rapidly down into the low 200's rather than the 250 to 275 that I have been expecting in order to reduce my cook times.

I'll give Noah a call, but wanted to spare him the hassle if someone was able to say, "I had the same thing happen to me and here's your problem..."

Thanks guys,

Anthropas

BreakingBBQ
08-20-2014, 02:20 PM
My problem with my PBS is that it runs too hot. My cooking time for brisket and ribs has been cut in almost half before I take it off the hooks and wrap it.

16Adams
08-20-2014, 02:24 PM
I shake/reuse/add lump but have never re-used briquettes. Ever. I start over every time with new fresh briquettes. Never-not one time has there been an issue. As there isn't really anything mechanical/electrical etc to go wrong, I'm guessing your bricks are spent or are absorbing moisture during the cool down. Neither good for maintaining heat.

SmittyJonz
08-20-2014, 02:38 PM
Try it like this:


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCH_sTO1hoY

MartinM
08-20-2014, 02:40 PM
I have a little different setup..

I am currently using Kinsford.. I have a fire basket that will hold more than 20lds... I use maybe 3 or 4 for a 6 hour cook.
I have only added the new coals that are lit when re lighting.
I cant seem to use up all this fuel.

No issues with re lighting so far three fires on one set of coals totaling 20 hours. Still have LOTS left.

I clean the burned ashes off and stir them up.

RustyGrill
08-20-2014, 03:06 PM
Just to rule out a problem with the PBC itself, have you tried lighting it exactly as per the directions (i.e. intake set per recommendations, full basket of fresh charcoal, lit with lighter-fluid, let burn for 20 minutes, etc) ? If that works, the problem lies elsewhere.

Thought I read somewhere that when using a chimney for lighting, you only light about 40 briquettes and add those to the full (minus your 40 briquettes) basket.

DanB
08-20-2014, 03:15 PM
Hi Great vedio, great brisket. Where did you get the ash tool from?
DanB

SmittyJonz
08-20-2014, 03:36 PM
Hi Great vedio, great brisket. Where did you get the ash tool from?
DanB

:shock: :loco:

tortaboy
08-20-2014, 11:46 PM
Crack the top open just a bit. It will heat up as hot as you want.

Cibelo
08-21-2014, 11:24 AM
Let us know what Noah says. I leave the lid off for 15-20 minutes after putting on about 40-50 lit briquettes. My temp starts out at 300 to 340 and settles in around 280-290 for the first hour and then drops to 245-250 for up to several hours. I am at sea level and I'm using the recommended vent opening. I have opened it up to about a half with no noticeable difference. Due to the above my cooks take quite a bit longer than Noah's videos tell me that they will.

BBQDaddio
08-21-2014, 12:36 PM
To the original poster and cibelo,

I've had the PBC for about a year now and what I typically do is fill with charcoal to basket level, fire up about 10-15 briquettes (dont really count) in the chimney until its about ashed over and dump it evenly over unlit briquettes that is in the pbc basket.

Leave the lid uncovered for 10-15 mins depending on where I want the temp to be. My last cook I was holding 300 degrees for well over 6 hours without a problem.

If cooking chicken I would use more lit briquettes as I want the heat to be in the 350-375 range for crispy skin.

I also keep the vent at 1/4 open.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Will work for bbq
08-21-2014, 01:54 PM
It sounds like you are trying to do a Minion type burn in your PBC and it's not really designed to work that way. I suspect that the air coming through the wide open inlet is mostly bypassing the coals via venturi effect since the hot air from the lit coals are rising.

I believe in PBC or Barrel cooking in general that when all the coals are lit the way PBC recommends and ashed over the temp at the grate is really high >500* but once the food is placed and the lid closed that the temp actually drops thru out the cook yes it probably settles it at the 300 range for a long time until the coals begin to deplete.

My BIL and his BIL have been doing barrel cooking for years and they don't even have an intake on their drums, the intake and exhaust comes from a gap in the lid and it cooks just like a PBC. They have to light all the coals the same way, let them ash over then put food on grate and cover with lid. Below is a pic of their setups, I don't think a minion burn would work in their drums either.

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=447&pictureid=8401

anthropas
08-21-2014, 02:13 PM
Thanks everyone for their posts and responses to my original questions. For those of you who shared your experiences of using smaller amounts of lit coals or leaving your lids open to get more heat going up front and then closing the lid, I have tried that as well. The PBC can get amazingly hot with the lid off. If it maintained a 300 degree cook temp once I put my lid back on, I'd be happy as a clam and that was what I was expecting when I bought it as I've seen people put up their i-grill data temp screenshots on the web with those type of 275-300 consistent temps. My experience has been that once my lid goes back on, my temps will eventually drop down to 200-225 and occasionally go out if I don't babysit it. So I must be doing it wrong. I'll talk to Noah and try his recommendations and then post the results. Hopefully others can learn from my mistakes.

Thanks,

Anthropas

highergr0und
08-21-2014, 04:18 PM
What's your exact process? I put just less than one chimney of unlit into the basket, then fill another chimney just about full and light it. Wait 15-20 minutes until the ash creeps up to about the top of the chimney then dump them in. Then I hang meat, cover, and walk away. Mine sits around 275. I do just let it burn itself out though, so it's always fresh charcoal.

I had a meatloaf I put right on the grate put out a section of the fire once with too much juice falling. I also had one cook where my pit thermometer cozied right up to one of the chickens. I was fighting the temp, leaving the lid off trying to get it hot and ended up cooking stuff too fast. I knew I was in trouble when I moved the display unit and it yanked on the wire and I saw my temp go from 250 to 360 instantly.....

ssv3
08-21-2014, 07:42 PM
I'm in a neighboring city and our elevation is just about the same and this is what I do:

Set your intake at 1/2

Fill the basket tight with fresh briqs or lump or combo (No skimping or reusing old briqs)

Light it up and let it ash over or until there is no dirty smoke

Hang meat

Close lid


Has worked for me everytime.

fsefred
08-21-2014, 09:50 PM
I spoke to Noah about a week ago and he said to use the 40 briquettes in the chimney. After 10 min or so dump them over the remaining coals wait abput 5 min more then you are ready to cook

Hope this helps

bs617
09-20-2014, 06:07 PM
Thanks everyone for their posts and responses to my original questions. For those of you who shared your experiences of using smaller amounts of lit coals or leaving your lids open to get more heat going up front and then closing the lid, I have tried that as well. The PBC can get amazingly hot with the lid off. If it maintained a 300 degree cook temp once I put my lid back on, I'd be happy as a clam and that was what I was expecting when I bought it as I've seen people put up their i-grill data temp screenshots on the web with those type of 275-300 consistent temps. My experience has been that once my lid goes back on, my temps will eventually drop down to 200-225 and occasionally go out if I don't babysit it. So I must be doing it wrong. I'll talk to Noah and try his recommendations and then post the results. Hopefully others can learn from my mistakes.

Thanks,

Anthropas

So today was my first cook with the PBC and I had a similar problem as you. Have you found a solution?

I'm in Ohio at about 900ft and had my vent set to a 1/4. I light the charcoal with lighter fluid per the video in hopes of setting a baseline exactly per the instructions. After 15min I put on the lid and it was around 360F and a few minutes later I hung a rack of ribs and for the entire cook I was fighting dropping temps. I opened the vent more and more and that didn't stave of the falling temps. I did have to crack the lid a few times to get the temps up but as soon as I put the lid back on they alway fell and never held consistent getting as low as 210F. It acted like the setting of the vent didn't do anything. Anything you learned would be appreciated.

Bob C Cue
09-20-2014, 07:38 PM
So how did the food turn out? I find that it is best not to worry about pit temps. Just follow the pbc videos and check the meat temp periodically throughout the cook. When it's done food will be fantastic. Good luck. And feel free to call Noah at anytime.

Mike Twangzer
09-20-2014, 08:20 PM
I don't try to monitor temps in my pbc. Fill up a weber mini chimney with kb and light. When ashes form on the top add to the basket which is a little more than 3/4 full. Distribute lite coals ... hang the ribs, chicken, tri-tip and close the lid.... and forget it. I check the tri-tip at about 90 min and test the ribs for doneness at 2hrs ... let the chicken set ... take everything off when I feel it's done. Never moinitored the temp as when I tried it was always low .. but things got cooked rather quickly. I am at sea level and crack the vent at 1/4 +/- . There is enough heat for longer cooks.

alecksjaycubs
09-20-2014, 08:55 PM
I use the lighter fluid method he shows on the website. Easy and I've NEVER had a lighter fluid taste or smell in the food. Just let it burn for the correct amount of time. 15 or 20 minutes depending on elevation.

bs617
09-20-2014, 11:36 PM
So how did the food turn out? I find that it is best not to worry about pit temps. Just follow the pbc videos and check the meat temp periodically throughout the cook. When it's done food will be fantastic. Good luck. And feel free to call Noah at anytime.
The results were ok but I'm not sure the chicken was done (pulled at 2 hers per direction) and thigh temp ok, however after rest breast meat seemed border line not fully cooked. Ribs pulled at 3:30 and contrary to most peoples results the tip closest to the coals was over done and then as you moved up the rib it transitioned to not quite done.

Maybe I should avoid monitoring temp, however based on this cook I'm concerned because the temp kept dropping to 200 range unless I cracked the lid and this is with the vent at over half open.

I think I'm going to do a empty run tomorrow (have too much Q already if that's possible) to try to see if letting it go a little longer at the start with the lid off and starting with the vent at 1/2 will stabilize the temps.

Bob C Cue
09-21-2014, 12:23 AM
If you open the vent to half open at your elevation I believe it will run hot for awhile but then start to die out. I remember amazingribs.com talking about that in their review of the PBC. Again, I would call Noah at pit barrel to troubleshoot your issues. He really does like to hear from customers. Best of luck dialing in your temps. I really think you will love it once you get the hang of it.

bs617
09-21-2014, 09:38 PM
...
I think I'm going to do a empty run tomorrow (have too much Q already if that's possible) to try to see if letting it go a little longer at the start with the lid off and starting with the vent at 1/2 will stabilize the temps.

So today I did a dry run. This time I used the 40 briquettes in a chimney per the instructions instead of the lighter fluid. At 15 min I added them to the basket capped it and then proceeded to monitor the temps and overall I think it did well. Here's the summary:

elapsed time (hr:min)/temp (center of grate)
0:00 - light charcoal chimney
0:17 - added coals to basket, added bars and put lid on
0:21 - 333 F
0:26 - 325 F
0:39 - 304 F
0:50 - 311 F
1:17 - 324 F
1:46 - 325 F
1:52 - 325 F Closed vent slightly (closer recommended setting)
2:34 - 313 F
3:32 - 306 F
3:42 - 302 F (then added a strip of rib flap meat left over from yesterday)
4:10 - 297 F (pulled meat)
4:19 - 295 F
7:37 - 253 F

Based on this the only thing that makes sense to me with my experience yesterday is that the drippings were significant enough throughout the cook that the coals couldn't keep up, if that make sense. Has anyone else experienced continually falling temps requiring cracking the lid multiple times when cooking with a medium to large meat load?

Danado
09-22-2014, 08:31 PM
I've had my PBC for about a month and had a lot of trouble with the chimney method. I followed the instructions on the website for the lighter fluid method and haven't had a problem. I make sure that my food is on with the lid closed at 15 minutes (i'm at sea level). After 15 minutes the PBC is around 335-340 and eventually settles at around 275. This weekend I cooked chicken and one rack of ribs. The PBC started to dip around 255 and I cracked the lid until it hit 275, put the lid back on and was at the low 300's for the rest of the cook. I am going to try to attach pictures of my PBC burning off the fluid and the coals several minutes in. I have not smelled the lighter fluid on my food or PBC after it has initially burned off.

Durham Smoker
09-06-2015, 02:06 PM
Thanks for pics. Does anyone else have a pic or two on what they would consider an ideal looking bed of coals prior to hanging meat?