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View Full Version : Brinkmann Trailmaster Limited troubles!


Roco2010
12-12-2015, 02:08 PM
Wanted to ask you some questions about this smoker. I haven't had many smokes on it yet, but last smoke i did was a 7lb pork butt. I used small pecan splits about 6". I started with a chimney of lit coal and 2 sticks. Temps were about 300-340 which was ok cause i wanted to try hot and fast. After feeding 2 sticks every 30-40 minutes, the temps would go from 240-350 and never stay constant. I had the pin wheel open almost the whole way and the fire still seemed to die out quickly. Wood is cured bought from fruita woods and stored inside. I cannot keep a good swing of temps for the life of me and I'm going through wood like crazy. At the four hour mark, I gave up and went and finished it on the trusty Kettle.
Any ideas?

blazinfire
12-12-2015, 02:16 PM
You probably have more experience smoking than I do. I started out with the brinkmann trailmaster, I'm probably on my 10th smoke all together on it. But I tend to have issues towards the middle of my cooks keeping a good steady fire going. And I say its 100% has to do with proper air flow. The damper on the firebox is to small, I run mine wide open. It also helped to not burn big splits in it, at least for me anyways.

Do you have trouble keeping a good coal bed? That's another issue of mine, I can not keep a solid coal bed it all falls through the grate into the ash pan. I put a piece of expanded metal over the grate and it seemed to help a tad better. But I still cant keep a nice coal bed to where I can only add a split as little as most people do (every 30-45 minutes)

It's a good cooker for the price. I love it! And honestly If it wasn't for the fact People would think I'm crazy I would upgrade to something that had a better firebox, bigger damper, to allow better airflow.

This is just my 2cents from someone that started out with this cooker and Still learning how to use it!

Also do you have a thermometer at the grate? I just started running an oven thermometer on my grate and realized the default temp gauge is roughly 50-100 degree's higher than at the grate directly below it. Which in return also allowed me to learn better fire management because I could work with a bigger fire than I did previously. But I still have issues with keeping coals especially after half way through the cook.

ssv3
12-12-2015, 02:21 PM
Bludawg should chime in shortly. He's got the same cooker.

SmittyJonz
12-12-2015, 02:23 PM
Bigger splits every 45 minutes. You cook in a temp range on a stick burner but it should sway 25* +\- target temp so 50* swings.

Say 275* - add a split at 250* it climbs to 300* and slowly falls back to 250*- add a split it climbs to 300* and slowly falls back to 250*- repeat.

Splits should be 14-16-18" long and as thick as a Coke can up to double that thick. Trial n error.

Practice makes perfect.

SmittyJonz
12-12-2015, 02:28 PM
Buy a Face cord or 1/4 cord of Firewood. Can usually find some on Craigslist. Oak, Pecan, Hickory, Cherry, Apple - don't matter which. You may need to split the splits.
You should be able to do a full cook on 14-16 splits.

blazinfire
12-12-2015, 02:29 PM
Bigger splits every 45 minutes. You cook in a temp range on a stick burner but it should sway 25* +\- target temp so 50* swings.

Say 275* - add a split at 250* it climbs to 300* and slowly falls back to 250*- add a split it climbs to 300* and slowly falls back to 250*- repeat.

Splits should be 14-16-18" long and as thick as a Coke can up to double that thick. Trial n error.

Practice makes perfect.

I forgot to mention in my above post. My splits are normally bigger than a coke can! So I gotta cut them down a bit.

SmittyJonz
12-12-2015, 02:29 PM
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=209208

SmittyJonz
12-12-2015, 02:31 PM
I forgot to mention in my above post. My splits are normally bigger than a coke can! So I gotta cut them down a bit.

That's fine but you say 6" in length? Need to be full length. Bag wood gets way too expensive so buy a 1/4 cord or Face Cord.

I don't split my splits so mine are about double thick as a soda can but are 16-18" long.

SmittyJonz
12-12-2015, 02:33 PM
http://i1326.photobucket.com/albums/u645/bobjones79/E74F4289-0A58-4F93-A00F-DF90464716EB_zpsw8toyad3.jpg (http://s1326.photobucket.com/user/bobjones79/media/E74F4289-0A58-4F93-A00F-DF90464716EB_zpsw8toyad3.jpg.html)

Roco2010
12-12-2015, 02:35 PM
Blazinfire - I'm not experienced either, this is my first smoker, used to use kettle all the time. My splits are small like stated, about 6" long and about coke size thick. I have the same problem keeping a coal bed about 2 hours in cook. It seems once the charcoal is gone, i have nothing left but the sticks and they don't seem to burn long. I try and keep the wheel wide open as well.

blazinfire
12-12-2015, 02:37 PM
That's fine but you say 6" in length? Need to be full length. Bag wood gets way too expensive so buy a 1/4 cord or Face Cord.

I don't split my splits so mine are about double thick as a soda can but are 16-18" long.

Don't think this was exactly ment for me. My splits are about 12inchs long. I cut my wood. Think you might of confused my message to the OP (Original poster)

Roco2010
12-12-2015, 02:37 PM
SmittyJonz - I will have to try and use bigger splits, thanks for the advice. And I understand the temp swings but mine jump more like 100 degrees and only last 30 minutes. Again, hoping the bigger splits help with this.

Roco2010
12-12-2015, 02:39 PM
Blazinfire - I also use an oven thermometer plus I have an IGrill with the grate clip. I set one before and one after the meat.

SmittyJonz
12-12-2015, 02:39 PM
Some guys say splitting the splits so they are thinner but still 16-18" Long helps. I'm too lazy for that.

blazinfire
12-12-2015, 02:39 PM
Blazinfire - I'm not experienced either, this is my first smoker, used to use kettle all the time. My splits are small like stated, about 6" long and about coke size thick. I have the same problem keeping a coal bed about 2 hours in cook. It seems once the charcoal is gone, i have nothing left but the sticks and they don't seem to burn long. I try and keep the wheel wide open as well.

This is exactly what causes my problems! Once the coals are gone My fire is done! Which in return makes it hard to burn big splits because you can't keep the coal bed! this is my problem Every cook, Some times its not bad, and I keep a decent fire going still.

Roco2010
12-12-2015, 02:43 PM
This is exactly what causes my problems! Once the coals are gone My fire is done! Which in return makes it hard to burn big splits because you can't keep the coal bed! this is my problem Every cook, Some times its not bad, and I keep a decent fire going still.

Yes it is a pain. Do you also have the problem of the ash catcher becoming too full halfway through cook? I have to dump mine as that also kills my fire.

blazinfire
12-12-2015, 02:49 PM
Yes it is a pain. Do you also have the problem of the ash catcher becoming too full halfway through cook? I have to dump mine as that also kills my fire.

I dumped my ash pan 3 times during a 8 hour cook yesterday. I have trouble with my fire when the ash pan gets more than half way full

SmittyJonz
12-12-2015, 03:06 PM
Y'all sing a raised grate 4" off bottom? Should be.

smoke ninja
12-12-2015, 03:37 PM
Focus on the coal bed. Add one split as soon as the temp starts to dip. Add wood before bed dies out. If your still having trouble try adding a little lump sometime when you add splits.

BBQ Freak
12-12-2015, 03:50 PM
I used to have the same smoker and did fine , is your stack vent wide open ? you might want to crack your ash pan door open a little to make it draft a little more might help too and turn your smoker so the wind can hit your fire box but you will haft to build a bit smaller fire .

blazinfire
12-12-2015, 04:48 PM
I used to have the same smoker and did fine , is your stack vent wide open ? you might want to crack your ash pan door open a little to make it draft a little more might help too and turn your smoker so the wind can hit your fire box but you will haft to build a bit smaller fire .

I'm guilty of this one! On most day's the wind hits us going up the hill/road. Well If I turn the cooker to where the firebox is getting hit by the wind, I have to sit my smoker facing away from the house. Which leaves me not being able to check the cooker from the house, or standing on the porch. If only the firebox was on the other side of the cooker!

blazinfire
12-12-2015, 04:52 PM
Focus on the coal bed. Add one split as soon as the temp starts to dip. Add wood before bed dies out. If your still having trouble try adding a little lump sometime when you add splits.

I've had to add lumps during the cook and it worked well. I haven't been doing it tho, Because it gets rather expensive if you think about it. I shouldn't have to add charcoal through the cook.

It's a difficult thing with these cookers keeping a bed of coals. I guarantee if I could keep a bed of coals on the grate All my troubles would go away. This is a constant thing on all cooks. I've tried adding more splits, It helps somewhat but still half way through the cook I'm left with nothing. Probably would save on wood as well.

COS
12-12-2015, 05:21 PM
OP, I have a Oklahoma joe highlander pretty much same pit as yours. I did the same thing you did with the fruitawood. They are to small and expensive. I used them purely on one cook. Towards the end I was putting two in at a time. Since then I changed to mini logs, splits, from cabelas. I got good burn time with them but they were to big. I ended up getting black residue on my meat. I cut those down to smaller size. I cook with my intake door wide open. Since then everything seems to be good, no black residue on the meat, decent times between splits. Adding a split about every 30min isn't bad.

smoke ninja
12-12-2015, 08:16 PM
I've had to add lumps during the cook and it worked well. I haven't been doing it tho, Because it gets rather expensive if you think about it. I shouldn't have to add charcoal through the cook.

It's a difficult thing with these cookers keeping a bed of coals. I guarantee if I could keep a bed of coals on the grate All my troubles would go away. This is a constant thing on all cooks. I've tried adding more splits, It helps somewhat but still half way through the cook I'm left with nothing. Probably would save on wood as well.


Yes keeping the bed is the biggest challenge with these lower end pits. I too use small splits, i add one every 20-30 about.

It may be easier to get a larger fire with the meat closer to the stack than to keep the meat on the hot side. Try running with the firebox door open. The airflow will help burn down the wood to embers. Start with some lump or kindling to get a base. If you dont get a good base started youll be chasing that coal bed and itll catch up with you after a few hours.

Control temp with the size of the fire or by moving the meat in the cook chamber.

The designer wood may be the issue try some regular firewood and go from there but in the end a little lump now and then may be a solution

viking72
12-13-2015, 06:50 AM
Chainsaw and a splitting maul, You need real wood not foo foo wood.

Later,
Doug

blazinfire
12-13-2015, 01:03 PM
So I fired up the brinkmann today! Cooking two whole chickens and a Pork Picnic roast. Trying some of these suggestions on this forum! I built a large fire, got a large coal bed, that filled the entire grate before I even put the food on. Well I'm on hour number 2 or little over. I have no coal bed, this is after adding wood kinda quickly to manage the coal bed! I'm trying to get sticks to burn with nothing to help it burn! Wood just smolders out. Had to empty the ash pan because it was keeping air from circulating.
This is every cook! So after this thread started, I've realized this is getting annoying! I'm producing good Q but my fire management sucks and its aggravating the hell out of me!

BBQ Freak
12-13-2015, 01:13 PM
when you add your splits you might add a few small chunks . take a axe and cut chunks into small pieces to kind of use like kindling to start a fire .

blazinfire
12-13-2015, 01:19 PM
when you add your splits you might add a few small chunks . take a axe and cut chunks into small pieces to kind of use like kindling to start a fire .

Been doing this as well! I throw on a pop can size split with a few extra little pieces. Now that I dumped my ash pan I put some small sticks on top of everything got it burning good without the ash pan in the cooker. Got a good solid fire going again!

This happens every cook, and its always after the first 3 hours! Then I try not to get aggravated and do what I have to do in order to get a good fire going again! I'm using dried, seasoned wood, it was standing dead and its been split and dried since the beginning of the year!

BBQ Freak
12-13-2015, 01:37 PM
could try a fire basket to and elevate it a bit , you can make one from expanded metal from Home Depot for $20 . the mesh is smaller than the grate in the Brinkmann and helps hold the ash a bit better , I only ever had to empty my ash try only once when I was done .

blazinfire
12-13-2015, 01:44 PM
could try a fire basket to and elevate it a bit , you can make one from expanded metal from Home Depot for $20 . the mesh is smaller than the grate in the Brinkmann and helps hold the ash a bit better , I only ever had to empty my ash try only once when I was done .

i've got the same expanded metal ontop of my grate just didn't build it into a basket

blazinfire
12-13-2015, 01:58 PM
Just a crazy idea! A buddy of mine came up with, What if I put a plate under the grate so the coals fall through ontop of this plate? And it should still give proper air flow to the fire, and the coals on the plate will get airflow as well

Because even if my coals drop into the ash pan it seems that without the proper airflow coming through the ashpan my coals just go out in the ashpan so the coals in the ash pan isn't helping any.

As of right now, All the coals are burnt out in the ash pan, and there's nothing there keeping my fire going except the sticks I have on fire right now.

Edit: Maaaaybe! My splits are to small length wise? I put a couple splits that's about the length of the firebox is wide. And it seems to me I might have a better fire going? I hope this isn't the problem because I've already split my wood lol

smoke ninja
12-13-2015, 02:10 PM
Your coal bed should be on a grate not an ash pan.

Maybe im confused by this ash pan setup

blazinfire
12-13-2015, 02:23 PM
Your coal bed should be on a grate not an ash pan.

Maybe im confused by this ash pan setup

The ash pan Slides out about 3-5 inches under the grate. I Have a tiny coal bed on the grate now. but I just threw a few splits that are much longer than What I've been burning, Considering I might have to go to longer splits?

I dunno! Ether way After 2-3 hrs of cook time. Adding wood 20-30 minutes I still have no coal bed, No matter the size of the coal bed I start with!

smoke ninja
12-13-2015, 02:31 PM
Sounds like you've tried most suggestions.

Like i said, i run into the same issue from time to time.

Going forward try some different wood. Ive heard too dry and you wont get alot of coals, too green and it wont burn completely.

Until you get the hang of things a bit of lump when the coal bed diminishes may be your best solution.

blazinfire
12-13-2015, 02:36 PM
Sounds like you've tried most suggestions.

Like i said, i run into the same issue from time to time.

Going forward try some different wood. Ive heard too dry and you wont get alot of coals, too green and it wont burn completely.

Until you get the hang of things a bit of lump when the coal bed diminishes may be your best solution.

It's looking like the longer splits are helping the fire burn better. Still losing most of my coals but I'm getting a better fire out of it! burning way to hot right now tho! haha OH well. I'll figure out the sweet spot eventually. but its annoying ether or!

smoke ninja
12-13-2015, 02:46 PM
Oh one more thing. I didn't catch what temp you were shooting for but in mine low and slow.is next to impossible for me to maintain a clean fire and a bed of coals much under 275

Bludawg
12-13-2015, 02:54 PM
When I got my trailmaster I spent a whole day with it after seasoning to map out the main and find the hot spots and experimenting with splits of various sizes. I came to the conclusion that the optimum size was 12-14" and beer can in Dia.
Other observations the intake is to small get a good draft. to over come this crack the ash pan open about 1/2". There is a huge hot spot that is about 1/2 the length of the main and the stack side is extremely cold. I over came this by making a Horizon style heat plate and the temps are even.
I have not had a problem keeping a coal bed I use about 1 1/2 chimneys of charcoal and 2 splits at the start and let the pit preheat for 1 hr. Then I add one split about every 30-40 min when my temp dips 25 deg. Once the pit is hot it takes very little to maintain temp. Mine cruises like a 68 El Dorado on new blacktop.

Doog
12-13-2015, 03:09 PM
Well it looks like you are learning the joy and pain of fire management. :-D
You will get it figured out...
I had a OJ Longhorn not a Brinkman but right here is what I had for a grate.

http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o144/doog519/Mobile%20Uploads/image_17.jpg (http://s119.photobucket.com/user/doog519/media/Mobile%20Uploads/image_17.jpg.html)

And it seemed to work good, I never had problems keeping a fire going.
It was 3 1/2" off the bottom.
That's a nice smoker you got! Sure you will get it figured out.

blazinfire
12-13-2015, 03:11 PM
Oh one more thing. I didn't catch what temp you were shooting for but in mine low and slow.is next to impossible for me to maintain a clean fire and a bed of coals much under 275

Been shooting for 300-325 on most cooks. low and slow always caused me to have problems with my fire as you said with our cooker.

Bludawg
12-13-2015, 03:19 PM
Thats my cook range too. Don't be to quick to dump the ash pan just because it aint on the grate those little pieces of ember give off lots of heat and are part of the coal bed.

Calibbq
12-13-2015, 04:03 PM
I have the OJ Highland, did most of the mods out there from lowering the exhaust to grate level and raising the fire box grate. I agree with most, just takes time. I have no issue holding temps within a 25 degree spread. I usually like 250-275. I always start with a chimney of lump to get it started. Keep with it.

Roco2010
12-21-2015, 09:52 PM
I've been away for awhile but wanted to say thanks for all the replies and help from everyone that posted. Thanks

mschwirian
12-22-2015, 07:09 AM
Don't know if this will help but I started with a New Brunfuels which I think is similar. I burned mostly lump charcoal with small splits just to add a little smoke. Every hour or so adding a hand full of lump and a small chunk of hickory so the fire was always mostly coals.
On my small cooker it was just to hard to run an all wood fire at the temps I wanted to cook at.