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Heat control in an offset smoker

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Post Mon Jul 26, 2004 4:36 pm
scorched_porch User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 434
Location: Redwood City, California

So I finaly broke down and bought a small inexpensive horizontal smoker/BBQ with an offset firebox. Results were mixed, the ribs were fine but controlling the heat was not a lazy day job. I realize the 'Q looses 50 - 100 degrees per hour, but when I replenish with fuel the heat rockets back past 300 and I have to constantly play with the air vents to stay constant. What's the secret to consistent 225 degree heat? Should you add earlier when you start to notice a drop in temp? Should you light the replenishing fuel elsewhere and only add after it burns down? Overall, fun was had by all and I really enjoy the performance of the thing, just need to get some more experience.

Post Mon Jul 26, 2004 4:54 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
Howdy scorched_porch, welcome to the board.

Sounds like you may have to add less fuel at a time. Or you may want to close off the firebox vents a little so the fuel doesn’t burn so quickly. A problem with heat retention could be in the smoker’s design or material composition. Thinner metals lose heat faster and gaps between parts will cause a lot of heat loss. Adding pre-lit fuel will recover the temperatures much quicker than adding unlit charcoal (which can cause a temperature drop until it lights).

There is a technique called the “Minion Method” which may alleviate some of the high maintenance of tending the fire. You may want to try a cheap meat like chicken on the first run if you decide to use it until you get the hang of it. The Minion Method can get burns over twelve hours long depending on the amount of fuel and smoker used. Take a look at it here to see what you think: http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/fireup2.html

You’re right it is fun. That’s one of the things I love about this hobby/sport/obsession, controlling the fire.
What brand/model offset do you have?
Image

Post Mon Jul 26, 2004 5:05 pm
scorched_porch User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 434
Location: Redwood City, California

Got a cheap Char-Broil (American Gourmet - Bit of an Oxymoron :wink: ). It's my 3rd Barbecue - I also have a DCS 27 gas, and a run of the mill Webber Kettle that I used to use for all my indirect stuff. I think you are right about the cheap meats, I just need to get some more quality scorch time in. I'll have a look at that method. I think half the battle is learning how the vents on this model affect the temp.

Post Mon Jul 26, 2004 5:22 pm
scorched_porch User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 434
Location: Redwood City, California

Thanks for the tips on the "Minion Method". Since I don't use briquettes, I'm not too worried about adverse flavors durring the fuel ignition. I really like that coffee can idea! Think I'll try that. Cheers.
36" Argentine Grill
WSM 22.5, Pit Barrel Cooker
Weber Performer
http://thequinchoproject.wordpress.com/

Post Tue Jul 27, 2004 7:16 am
DarkRubiTJ medium-well
medium-well

Posts: 221
Location: Livingston, TX.
I beleive that you answered most of your questions, when you said that you need more experience with the smoker. It takes a bit of time to get to know how a particular grill is going to cook.

Unless I'm going to away from the smoker I always add prelit charcoal. I used to just add unlit and be done with it. If you ever watch a chiminey full of charcoal light, you'll see very black and sooty smoke for the first few minutes of the lighting cycle. I use the pressed sawdust lighter cubes, which by themselves put off very little smoke, so it stands to reason that the black smoke is from the charcoal lighting. This effect is true with either briquettes or lump. If it looks like that when you are lighting it, it's going to impart some of those residues to your food, as it lights itself from the on going coals. I've found that with lighting the charcoal outside and adding it already lit, I end up with more consistent tempratures and I don't have to keep tending the pit every minute, and my "Q" does taste better. I also use much less fuel this way. You don't end up chasing your tail all day. Instead of 50 to 75 degree swings in tempratures, it's more like a 15 to 20 degree spike and then it settles right back where I want it.
Image
Weber "Q", Weber Performer, Weber 22.5" Bar-B-Kettle

Post Tue Jul 27, 2004 9:07 am
RichD medium-well
medium-well

Posts: 280
Location: New Jersey
I have a Charbroil Silver Smoker which sounds like what you have. I use the Minion method all the time and as Bob-BQN said I get relativley long burns at a consistent temperature. I have never had a problem with lump charcoal giving the food an off flavoer this way. I have found since I swithced to lump that briquettes will. I believe the back smoke you see when starting a chimney is from the newsapaper used to start it. I have never seen black smoke from my smoke. Only a small amount of hazy white smoke.
I have made some modifications to mine that you may want to make. Check out this link and read the BBQ FAQ V2.

http://www.eaglequest.com/~bbq/

Enjoy!

RichD


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