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2002sheds
05-21-2018, 02:13 PM
Hi All,
About 6 months ago I picked up a Chargriller Outlaw offset smoker from a friend. I mainly wanted to try it because its cast iron grates and larger surface area seemed like a big upgrade over my Charbroiler offset smoker which had served me well for 3 years.
The Chargriller had seen better days. The ash drawer for the firebox was gone and so was the charcoal grate in the main cooking compartment, as well as the cooking grate for the firebox.
What is stumping me is why I cannot get this smoker up to temperature. I have been using hardwood (mesquite) and I am monitoring the temperature with an iVation remote temperature gauge with the probe at the far end of the smoker. I installed metal at the end where the drawer went, added a vent assembly (from an old barbecue), and drilled more holes when that seemed to be too little air... So far, I have maxed out at 200 degrees.
I never had any such issue with the Charbroiler smoker -- in fact, I usually had to shut down the airflow to just a crack, in order to keep the temperature from getting too high. If I still had it, I would be tempted to go back to using it instead of the Chargriller
The only thing I can think of (and this could be way off) is that I am not building a big enough fire in the firebox. Of course, I am not versed in the different fuels, either, but I had heard/read that mesquite burns pretty hot.
I would like to get this smoker dialed in. Any help will be greatly appreciated !!!!


Thanks,
David

SmittyJonz
05-21-2018, 02:30 PM
Lets see some pics. How big a fire did you run? What size wood? Charcoal Coal Base?

Does the firebox have a door on end or just the top? If has end door have you tried running it with end door partially open.?

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=209208
.
Best fix would be to get an Oklahoma Joes Highland or Longhorn from Walmart or Lowe’s......
But some pics of your setup and we’ll try to Help Ya.

2002sheds
05-22-2018, 09:46 AM
Hi Smitty,
Thanks for the response! I will take a few pics, but the answer to your question is that this firebox has a lid that swings up (like the smoking chamber), not a door.

As you will see in the pictures that I post shortly, I have drilled a lot of holes in the end of the firebox opposite the chimney in an attempt to get airflow happening.

I should be able to post pictures within the next 2 hours.


Thanks,
David

2002sheds
05-22-2018, 12:31 PM
Hi Smitty, All,
Here are a couple of pics. The homemade end piece replaces the original drawer, which was gone when I got the smoker.

The photo of the fire box is slightly misleading. The grate for the fuel is actually only 1-1/2 to 2 inches from the lip of the door opening. I did notice that there is a lot of ash in there. Maybe I was cutting off airflow... although I do not have an obvious solution, since that original drawer is gone.

I was thinking that maybe a basket made of metal mesh might help in the fire box, in terms of a bigger fire...


Thanks
David

Czarbecue
05-22-2018, 12:44 PM
Hi Smitty, All,

Here are a couple of pics. The homemade end piece replaces the original drawer, which was gone when I got the smoker.



The photo of the fire box is slightly misleading. The grate for the fuel is actually only 1-1/2 to 2 inches from the lip of the door opening. I did notice that there is a lot of ash in there. Maybe I was cutting off airflow... although I do not have an obvious solution, since that original drawer is gone.



I was thinking that maybe a basket made of metal mesh might help in the fire box, in terms of a bigger fire...





Thanks

David



I had the Outlaw ten years ago... cut my teeth on stick burning so itís doable. First thing would be to clear out the ash and maybe get more airflow into the firebox by getting a larger pinwheel damper or welding something yourself.

SmoothBoarBBQ
05-22-2018, 12:46 PM
As long as you have fire you will have heat. Do you have fire or is the wood smoldering?
What do you mean by "installed a vent assembly?"

Can you take a pic of the whole unit with the smoking chamber door open? Make sure to get the exhaust vent you're talking about in the pic... were you running the exhaust damper open or closed?

Czarbecue
05-22-2018, 01:22 PM
This is from 2006... I remember how proud I was back then when I finally saved enough for the Outlaw. To be 25 again....

The basket was made from stuff at Home Depot. The rods through the basket kept it at the height I wanted. I mainly burned Western mini logs back then.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180522/6220f9273191bdd688048ca0b60eeecc.jpg

I didnít know any better and thought gaskets were all the same and installed the stuff for doors. Yikes. At least I bought the right silicone stuff. I was using foil to help seal in the smoke. What kind of logic is that?

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180522/35799fc8da00fafffba26f692abcf91c.jpg

SmittyJonz
05-22-2018, 03:14 PM
Is that a pinwheel and then a bunch of holes drilled.? Need to keep firevabove the Ash. Raise grate so you have 3-4” below it. Start with no ash in firebox. Holes are Probally too low once ash starts building up - blocks airflow. If you have an exhaust extension in cook chamber take it out- can hinder airflow.

OklaDustDevil
05-22-2018, 03:42 PM
Looks to me like the firebox grate is too low and the drilled air holes are too low, so ash buildup is cutting your airflow.

IMHO I think you could buy or make a fire grate that would sit up higher in the firebox to keep space for air flow between the ash and the fire. The pinwheel then might provide enough air; if not, drill more holes, add another pinwheel, or come up with some other method to introduce airflow. But keep any further air vents high enough to clear the ash but below the firebox centerline.

Just my pov, good luck!

SmittyJonz
05-22-2018, 03:50 PM
Also, are you starting with a chimney of lit charcoal then adding wood. Keeping a Coal Bash. Ash will choke the coals. If your wood is too dry it’ll burn up to ash and not produce much coals so you may need to add more lit charcoal during a cook.

2002sheds
05-22-2018, 08:02 PM
Hi Guys,
I thought I had responded hours ago, but can find no sign... so here goes again:

First, thanks very much for the responses. I love this forum!

To answer some of the questions asked...

The only fuel used was Mesquite lump charcoal. I started with small pieces in the chimney to get it lit.

All vents, including exhaust flap were wide open. There was no extension on the exhaust/chimney.

Below is a wider picture of the whole smoker. The daylight at the far left of the smoking compartment lid is the chimney/exhaust.

I totally agree with the comments about airflow/ash. If you guys have a way to remove some of the ash while the fire is burning (the firebox started out empty) I would love to hear it. Currently, I have no access underneath the coals while burning...

Thanks again -- I am confident with your help I will figure this out!


David

bryonlr
05-22-2018, 08:28 PM
Just pop off the bottom half with the pinwheel and reattach with a hinge either folding down or sideways, and attach a simple latch to keep it closed. Easy access to shovel out the ashes.

SmittyJonz
05-22-2018, 09:47 PM
Ya I would redo the end bottom half with a door and raise the fire grate up more.

SmittyJonz
05-22-2018, 09:48 PM
if you are going to run it on charcoal I'd build a Basket.......but I'd run it on splits.......

bryonlr
05-22-2018, 10:57 PM
yep like smitty said, basket, charcoal for a bed, then splits, once you add the door to the bottom end of your firebox.

2002sheds
05-23-2018, 02:03 AM
I will try it, guys, and report back!


Thanks,
David

OklaDustDevil
05-23-2018, 02:22 AM
Sorry, when you said mesquite in your initial post I assumed you meant mesquite splits, not mesquite charcoal. In my experience, offset smokers don't work well with charcoal (other than to lay down an initial coal bed for firing up the splits). I'm not sayin it can't be done, it's just a lot of work, will consume a crap-ton of charcoal, and most likely won't burn well or cleanly. Most offset smokers, likely including yours, are designed to burn wood.

So in addition to raising the fire grate and perhaps providing more airflow, you should burn splits next time and see whether it works better.

2002sheds
05-23-2018, 10:08 AM
Hi Okla,
Great info! Is there a place where you typically buy such a thing? Home Depot or Lowe's?



Thanks,
David

OklaDustDevil
05-23-2018, 10:24 AM
I often buy wood at Barbecues Galore.

2002sheds
05-23-2018, 11:09 AM
Hi Okla,
I will check to see if we have those here, or what might be an equivalent.

It sounds like hardwood splits get hotter than charcoal, by a ways....

SmittyJonz
05-23-2018, 12:22 PM
Many find firewood on Craigslist.

SmoothBoarBBQ
05-23-2018, 01:20 PM
Hi Okla,
I will check to see if we have those here, or what might be an equivalent.

It sounds like hardwood splits get hotter than charcoal, by a ways....

Yeah, when you said Mesquite we're all thinking you're using mesquite wood, not charcoal. Put some wood in there and you'll get a fire and you'll have plenty of heat. You can buy bags of wood at Home Depot, Lowes, or even Wal-Mart. Usually you'll find the Western brand and those chunks will work just fine. Make sure you light off a solid chimney of charcoal first, let it white over, and then add wood as needed to keep your temps up.

You'll want to control your temps with the amount of wood in the firebox, so don't go closing the vents down. If your temps are a bit high don't worry about it... in a short time they will start to come down and next time you can add a smaller chunk of wood. On a good offset you can generally shoot for + / - 20į but on something like yours I think +/- 50į would be pretty reasonable.

Good luck!

2002sheds
05-23-2018, 02:53 PM
Hi Smooth, All,
Great tips! I am dismantling the end cap of the firebox and turning it into a door, so I can rake out the ash, if necessary. I will also raise the fire grate.

Per the advice of many of you, I am going to use charcoal to get the hardwood lit and then switch to just the hardwood.

Smooth, I have never gotten this smoker to 300 degrees, so I am looking forward to the first opportunity to move one of the dampers (they are all wide open now) :-) 50 degrees +/- would be a huge improvement from where I have been.

Thanks again for the great advice! I will post a picture of the re-fabbed end/door.


Thanks,
David

2002sheds
05-23-2018, 07:50 PM
Hi All,
Here is Phase 1... I did not think this smoker could get uglier, but...

Any chance that the pinwheel and holes are too low?

Phase 2 (higher fire grate) will happen tomorrow.


Thanks,
David

Czarbecue
05-23-2018, 07:54 PM
That was quick.. was it just riveted on there? You may need a kick stand for that doggie door and leave it open during the cook.

2002sheds
05-23-2018, 10:54 PM
Hi Czar,
It was attached with 3,479 sheet metal screws ;-) I actually broke 2 drill driver Philips bits while removing them. You can see the screw holes most easily in the second pic. The hinges for the dog door are installed badly enough that the door "stands" in the position. I will add a hook or something, though...

And I just got back from the Orange Box, where I picked up a large bag of pieces of mesquite and a large bag of hickory chunks. I am hoping to test the new setup this weekend.


Thanks,
David

SmittyJonz
05-23-2018, 11:12 PM
you need to put expanded meatal over that fire grate- all your coals will fall thru without.....

2002sheds
05-23-2018, 11:55 PM
Hi Smit,
I was going to make a coal basket. Will that address what you are talking about?

SmittyJonz
05-23-2018, 11:57 PM
Hi Smit,
I was going to make a coal basket. Will that address what you are talking about?

Yup, if you use expanded metal......

2002sheds
06-05-2018, 05:42 PM
Hi All,
To close the loop...it worked ! I made a basket from expanded metal and set it about 1.5 inches below the "door" of the firebox. That improved the performance dramatically. What pushed it over the he top and allowed me to achieve a temperature of 250 and higher was using sticks, as several of you recommended.

Thanks again -- this is a great site!

David

SmittyJonz
06-05-2018, 06:07 PM
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