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h2oTom
12-22-2015, 12:53 AM
I'm in the middle of my first big cook on the new smoker. I seasoned it and ran it empty last week and everything ran fine. Now I've got a BBQ Guru and I'm attempting a load of food. Tonight's cook includes 4 8lb butts, 3 venison shoulders, 6 chickens, 2 4lb chuck roasts, and 9 racks of ribs.

Tonight I did things a little different than last time. 1st off, I got a weed torch and pre heated the interior of the cabinet. Then I set up my BBQ Guru. I've got the 25cfm Pit Bull fan and the Guru is set to 225. I filled the basket with a 20lb bag of lump charcoal and some chunks of wood. I then lit the coals in the very corner with the torch. I closed up the fire box and let the Guru do its thing. By 8:30 pm it was up to temp. It only took like 25-30 minutes. Much quicker than before.

Now it's 12:45am, the smoker is holding 225 degrees without any real drift. :thumb: I decided to peek at the coals and it looks like about 2/3 of the coals are already burning / burnt! :noidea: I don't get it. When I did the first run on the cooker, I got about 1 hr per pound. My only thoughts are that I used kingsford competition briquettes last time and lump this time. When I loaded the lump I made sure to pack it in as tight as I could. Would this work better if I had a charcoal maze?

If I do run out of coals before I'm done cooking, can I just dump a bag into the coal pan and light some in my starter chimney to get it going again???

Fillmore Farmer
12-22-2015, 01:25 AM
I'll take a shot at helping ya....I cook on a Pitmaster Vault, about 925 pounds of steel mass and 5 large racks, been at it for several months now, love it!

The thing I recently learned, while cooking 6 large turkeys, is that when you put a LOT of meat mass into the smoker, it'll draw more heat. Think about it, you inserted about 150+ pounds of dense meat that was probably at 60-degrees...it's going to absorb heat and so the interior temp will drop but the guru will inject more air to burn the fuel to keep-up with this...that's where your charcoal went, no mystery there.

Think of it like a huge ocean liner, it takes a butt-load of power to get all that hulking mass up to speed but once up to speed it'll only require a bit to keep it in motion. That's what I've found with my smoker: big heat & energy to get it up to 250F but once it's there it cruises nicely with a fraction the energy it took to get up to speed. Now, add to that all that mass of room-temperature meat and you can bet you'll eat through some fuel.

The one thing I can tell you is that cooking 1 big turkey was completely different from cooking 6....and you're running a whole bunch of different meats...you just went from learning how to walk to doing a marathon. There's a definite learning to any new smoker, I hope everything comes out good.

If you think you're going to run out of fuel then just toss some more charcoal into the firebox, no biggy. Heck, if the temp drops and you need to cover the spread rapidly, open that firebox and use that weed torch directly at the top of the firebox to bring the temp about 10-15 degrees above where you want it. If you're shooting for 225F then pump it up till it hits 240F and after you stop the torch it'll settle down around 225F. If you threw some more charcoal in you can go ahead and put a few blast onto the charcoal as well, that'll help get them up to speed. Ain't nothing you can't finesse!

One other thing to mention, I've found that you really want a smaller fire burning HOT as opposed to a large mound of charcoal burning slowly. Why? Because smoldering wood isn't giving you that great wood flavor...you want the wood to enter what is called secondary combustion (Thank you Aaron Franklin) to achieve that great smoke aroma....this is why a lot of being a pitmaster is about being a fire-builder...knowing your heat requirements, anticipating the need for fuel and heat management. it's both a beautiful and confounding thing all at once. And heck, if it were easy then women could do it! :becky:

Lastly, given that you're not doing a 15-hour brisket (long burn) it sounds like you're looking for about 3-5 hours of cook time at a relatively low temperature. No 'snake' required, I'd think a wide band of charcoal down the center with a bit more width towards the front to help with the initial start-up...after that just toss more charcoal and wood as needed. I'd also recommend you operate under a blood-alcohol level of about .04 hardly drunk but a tranquil buzz of complacency. :)

cheez59
12-22-2015, 01:45 AM
I'm no expert on an insulated cabinet (yet) but let me give it a shot. You said you got about a one pound per hour burn time when you were cooking air. You are now cooking about what? My guess is around 70 or so pounds of cold meat. There will be a big difference in the burn time efficiency of most any cooker with that much meat in it. You said that the lump is 2/3 burning/burnt. Has the pile of lump gotten 2/3 smaller? I know that sounds like a crazy question but lump will fool you sometimes. I have seen 2/3 of my coal ring glowing when I ran lump but it stayed that way for several hours. In other words it took a long time for the fuel to actually be consumed completely after it got ignited.
I would keep an eye on the temp without opening the doors. If you see the temp dropping then add more fuel. Other wise just let it ride. You are more than 4 hours into the cook. Your chickens should be about done if they are not already. The ribs should be getting close. Depending on the size of the deer shoulders they should also be about done.

Leftwngr
12-22-2015, 01:52 AM
Strong post right there.

I recently ran my vault with 134 lbs of meat in it. About half brisket half pork butt. Noticed the same thing. Lots of coal burning to get to temp, but steady once it got there. About 12 lbs of charcoal and 5 wood chunks for the entire cook of 11 hrs.

Preheated with weed burner then let it run all valves open to 325. Closed up the valves and loaded the cooker up. Temp dropped as low as 210 but worked up to 275 and held for hours on end. No adjustment of valves, and no guru.

No alcohol in system either so everything turned out great.

I ran a Humphreys snake though. Worked beautifully.

Demosthenes9
12-22-2015, 02:33 AM
I'll take a shot at helping ya....I cook on a Pitmaster Vault, about 925 pounds of steel mass and 5 large racks, been at it for several months now, love it!

The thing I recently learned, while cooking 6 large turkeys, is that when you put a LOT of meat mass into the smoker, it'll draw more heat. Think about it, you inserted about 150+ pounds of dense meat that was probably at 60-degrees...it's going to absorb heat and so the interior temp will drop but the guru will inject more air to burn the fuel to keep-up with this...that's where your charcoal went, no mystery there.

Think of it like a huge ocean liner, it takes a butt-load of power to get all that hulking mass up to speed but once up to speed it'll only require a bit to keep it in motion. That's what I've found with my smoker: big heat & energy to get it up to 250F but once it's there it cruises nicely with a fraction the energy it took to get up to speed. Now, add to that all that mass of room-temperature meat and you can bet you'll eat through some fuel.

The one thing I can tell you is that cooking 1 big turkey was completely different from cooking 6....and you're running a whole bunch of different meats...you just went from learning how to walk to doing a marathon. There's a definite learning to any new smoker, I hope everything comes out good.

If you think you're going to run out of fuel then just toss some more charcoal into the firebox, no biggy. Heck, if the temp drops and you need to cover the spread rapidly, open that firebox and use that weed torch directly at the top of the firebox to bring the temp about 10-15 degrees above where you want it. If you're shooting for 225F then pump it up till it hits 240F and after you stop the torch it'll settle down around 225F. If you threw some more charcoal in you can go ahead and put a few blast onto the charcoal as well, that'll help get them up to speed. Ain't nothing you can't finesse!

One other thing to mention, I've found that you really want a smaller fire burning HOT as opposed to a large mound of charcoal burning slowly. Why? Because smoldering wood isn't giving you that great wood flavor...you want the wood to enter what is called secondary combustion (Thank you Aaron Franklin) to achieve that great smoke aroma....this is why a lot of being a pitmaster is about being a fire-builder...knowing your heat requirements, anticipating the need for fuel and heat management. it's both a beautiful and confounding thing all at once. And heck, if it were easy then women could do it! :becky:

Lastly, given that you're not doing a 15-hour brisket (long burn) it sounds like you're looking for about 3-5 hours of cook time at a relatively low temperature. No 'snake' required, I'd think a wide band of charcoal down the center with a bit more width towards the front to help with the initial start-up...after that just toss more charcoal and wood as needed. I'd also recommend you operate under a blood-alcohol level of about .04 hardly drunk but a tranquil buzz of complacency. :)


^^^^^ This.