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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, equipment and outdoor cookin' . ** Other cooking techniques are welcomed for when your cookin' in the kitchen. Post your hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures, but stay on topic and watch for that hijacking.


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Old 01-20-2020, 09:27 PM   #31
Hoss
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Your wood may be "overseasoned",too dry.I had a stash of wood that I was running my Shirley on and fed wood spits to it like a hungry teenager.I bought a new load of " fresher" wood and the first time I ran that,same as I been running it,that baby SPIKED.I use about half as much of this new wood to maintain same temps as I did with the older dried out wood.It is all Hickory,Oak and pecan.
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Old 01-21-2020, 12:01 AM   #32
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Just my .02, Wind and higher humidity to the wood could be the culprits. Try an inexpensive Welder's Blanket over it.


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Old 01-21-2020, 12:55 AM   #33
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It's cursed. That's all I got.
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Old 01-21-2020, 09:12 AM   #34
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Thanks for all the responses - I appreciate the help. I'll try running it with just lump and see how that goes and will also try something other than cherry for the splits.
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Old 01-21-2020, 11:06 AM   #35
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If you've got cold winds coming into the firebox that's going to draft cold wind straight into the cook chamber. I had this issue with my Yoder Cheyenne because the drafting was so poor that the only way to keep a fire burning was to keep the firebox door all the way open. I noticed on cold and windy days that my temps would always be in the 200-225 range, so I would rotate the cooker 90° to stop the wind from blowing directly into the firebox. This fixed the issue immediately and I'll bet this is what's giving you problems.

Good luck moving forward.
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Old 01-21-2020, 09:18 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by SmoothBoarBBQ View Post
If you've got cold winds coming into the firebox that's going to draft cold wind straight into the cook chamber. I had this issue with my Yoder Cheyenne because the drafting was so poor that the only way to keep a fire burning was to keep the firebox door all the way open. I noticed on cold and windy days that my temps would always be in the 200-225 range, so I would rotate the cooker 90° to stop the wind from blowing directly into the firebox. This fixed the issue immediately and I'll bet this is what's giving you problems.

Good luck moving forward.
I thought so too but I turned the smoker in such a way that the firebox was facing the side of the house and not taking wind directly. This didn't help at all unfortunately.
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Old 01-21-2020, 09:42 PM   #37
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I thought so too but I turned the smoker in such a way that the firebox was facing the side of the house and not taking wind directly. This didn't help at all unfortunately.
Wow, that's surprising, but I'm glad that you're being very proactive in trying to figure out the issue. I saw that you already cleaned everything and ensured that your exhaust stack was nice and free of debris. If all of that is the case then the culprit has to be your wood and coal bed. Just for ****s and giggles pick up a bag of kiln-dried wood from Academy Sports or Walmart...grab hickory if you can. Split those down to a soda-can size, and then run your fire like normal and see if that has any change.

I usually start my fire with 4 or 5 small splits which I've cut down to very thin, and I'll use propane and a torch to light it. You can just as easily burn off some charcoal in a chimney. I open everything up when I'm starting the fire so that I don't get a draft of nasty smoke into the smoke chamber. So the smoke chamber door, exhaust, and firebox door are wide open until all the wood has burned mostly down to coals. From here I will close the smoke chamber door, and start with adding 2 or 3 small splits every 30 minutes or so. As long as I've got a solid coal bed I'm usually up to about 250° in less than 30 minutes.

Good luck moving forward and if you're still having problems pull out your phone and record a few minutes of video. Record the firebox, the smoke chamber, and the exhaust stack. This way we can all see how it's drafting and maybe try and narrow things down. Cheers buddy!

Note : I'm down in North Carolina where it doesn't get too cold, but I sold my buddy my Johnson Smokers offset and he lives just outside of Milwaukee. He had issues cooking in the winter and ended up using an old welding blanket on top of the smoke chamber to help keep it warm. He said after adding the blanket that he has no issues cooking in sub-zero temps and everything works just fine. That might be an option for you if you're experiencing some seriously cold temps.
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Old 01-26-2020, 08:12 PM   #38
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Here's the latest on my fire management mystery. I went out today and fired up two full baskets of lump. I then dumped one lit basket in the OKJ Highland (no grate/basket/etc.) and one in the Weber Kettle. Weber Kettle lid temp, which is obviously not accurate reads 550F pretty quickly and I grilled a bunch of stuff with great searing. Over on the Joe, the Smoke thermometer is 150F and lid thermometers are 200 but always +50 degrees so they match the Smoke. Smoke out of the stack is mostly blue and firebox door is wide open. Fire looks good and feels extremely hot. I watched it closely for an hour and it never breaks 175F according to the Smoke, which by the way was recently tested for accuracy. I never added any meat so that's not a factor and weather is 50F and 10MPH winds so also not a factor. I then add another whole chimney of coals, monitor for an hour and it still hovers around 150F does not get passed 175F.

So I then light up one more full chimney to test out my Bandera, which rarely gets any use. Much larger chamber, larger firebox, etc. I dump the chimney of lit, hook up the Smoke, firebox door wide open and it hit 250F in about 10 minutes! Mind=blown. I throw on a whole chicken, add a split every 30 mins or so and it pretty much hums along at 250-280F. Zero issues.

So is my Highland f'ing cursed or haunted? Should I call a bbq exorcist to come check it out? In all seriousness, the only cause I can come up with is I'm losing major heat from the firebox and that heat is therefore never reaching the chamber. But, I don't see any noticeable leaks anywhere on the unit. This is 4 cooks in a row that it has preformed this way and I really didn't have any problems before this period.
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Old 01-26-2020, 08:56 PM   #39
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No grate, no basket, nothing will not do it. The fire needs airflow from below at least the grate is necessary. Your pictures in the first few posts show a pan under the logs. This cuts off air also. The picture also shows your burning logs. What you have there for a fire will not produce the heat you are looking for. I really don't know how you get the logs to catch at all with nothing but that for embers. But, if it all worked before with all the above than you must have sprung a leak in the cook chamber. Have you checked the belly of the cook chamber? Is your smoke stack sealed? Is your lid sealed?
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Old 01-27-2020, 10:59 AM   #40
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I mentioned earlier in the thread that I have always used a basket/grate and didn't have issues with that setup until a few weeks ago. Then I ditched it in hopes that a naked fire might work. I used Aaron Franklin's process to a T, which he demonstrated on a similar sized cooker and my Joe was still struggling.

In terms of leaks, I checked all around the chamber and firebox and am not seeing any leaks at all. I don't use any gaskets or door locks at all but do have a convection plate and a second track so extra metal to heat.
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Old 01-27-2020, 12:18 PM   #41
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I went back and looked at the pics you posted earlier and noticed some uneven coloration on the mating edges of the fb top door. That would typically indicate uneven heating along door opening. It is possible your fb is either loosing heat along the edges of the top door or allowing cold air to be sucked into the top end of the fb which is cooling the air flowing into the cc. Fb leakage also offers a logical explanation as to why you are having suddenly problems when ambient temps are cooler. Just for giggles, sometime when the wind is calm, light another fire (doesn’t really matter what kind of fuel). Let it stabilize, then pass a smoldering stick of wood along the 4 sides of the top door where it meets the firebox. The sticks smoke will quickly indicate any leakage (either in or out). If you find leaks, you can try sealing them with aluminum foil or tossing a welding blanket over the fb to see if that cures what is ailing your smoker.
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Old 01-27-2020, 01:13 PM   #42
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Where are you guys seeing pictures of the OP fires? I can see Zippy's pics but not 93's.
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Old 01-27-2020, 01:49 PM   #43
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Attachment 177957
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Where are you guys seeing pictures of the OP fires? I can see Zippy's pics but not 93's.

Right. Those aren't my photos.
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Old 01-27-2020, 04:10 PM   #44
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Wait, did you say the firebox door is wide open? as in, the flip up door on top of the firebox is open?


Smoke out of the stack is mostly blue and firebox door is wide open

I would think if that door was open you're letting all the heat go straight out the top of the fb? I must be reading this wrong. If I am not, what happens when you close that door? I do agree that you need to keep your fire up off the bottom of the firebox, but that shouldn't make this kind of an issue until you are a couple hours into cooking and ash starts to restrict your airflow.


Maybe some pictures of the smoker and of how you're running it will help.
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Old 01-27-2020, 06:54 PM   #45
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Wait, did you say the firebox door is wide open? as in, the flip up door on top of the firebox is open?

Smoke out of the stack is mostly blue and firebox door is wide open

I would think if that door was open you're letting all the heat go straight out the top of the fb? I must be reading this wrong. If I am not, what happens when you close that door? I do agree that you need to keep your fire up off the bottom of the firebox, but that shouldn't make this kind of an issue until you are a couple hours into cooking and ash starts to restrict your airflow.

Maybe some pictures of the smoker and of how you're running it will help.

The firebox door is open, not the lid. Do you really think I'd leave that open and wonder where the heat is going?? I've tried running the firebox multiple ways and doesn't matter.
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