I've been doing a TON of research on this site to make sure I had everything just right.....8 1/2 hours later, the flavor was there but the doneness was not. This was my first ever go at it....and although nobody complained about the racks that were completed for the party, I was extremely disappointed after the amount of work and time that was put into the process for a finished product I would have a hard time giving myself a C- on. I will give a fully detailed description of my day, if it's too much info I apologize....I figure the more you people have the better. Saturday @ Noon Meat - Two full racks of baby back pork ribs purchased Saturday morning from BJ's Wholesale Club for $3.49 lb. totalling 6.5 lbs. My buddy laid down a layer of French's mustard and then our favorite rub mixture on them. Now, I will point out some possible key mistakes along the way that could have made a big difference but I would appreciate some feedback on them as well to see if I am right in my thinking. So, I was tending to the firebox and getting the charcoal ready in the chimney starter for his Char-Broil smoker with chimney stack when the mustard/rub was being applied by him. Apparently, the membranes weren't removed when this process was done and I had forgotten to tell him to do so. (Mistake #1?) We place ribs back into fridge for about two hours and crack a few beers to enjoy the afternoon 90 degree sunshine with. Smoker used Saturday @ 2:30 PM The first firebox gets the temperature in the smoker up to about 250 F and finally settles in around 220 F. I had gotten the racks out of the fridge about a half hour earlier to get them to room temp. I first put the racks in at about 230 F and tend to the fire for the first three hours, not opening the main compartment where the ribs go....just the firebox on the side for stirring the charcoals and adding the wet hickory wood. About two and a half hours in, we notice temp is down below 200....like 180 or so. I go to start another chimney of charcoal but this normally takes 20-30 minutes to get ready, so ribs in first 3 hour step are at 180 F for the final half hour. (Mistake #2?) Oh yah, one more question on the first step.....I thought early about whether or not to flip them in this step. I decided not to because I didn't want to lose warmth and smoke in the main compartment of the smoker. (Mistake #3?) Saturday @ 5:30 PM At the end of step #1, I take racks out....begin wrapping them in heavy duty foil and spray them down with apple juice. I didn't make a "tent" with the foil (Mistake #3?) Firebox gets us back up over 230 and we maintain a good fire for the foil step, eventually ending around 200 F. Saturday @ 7:30 PM After the two hours in foil and one opening of the foil packet after the first hour in the process to spritz with apple juice....I decide to probe the ribs. They are only sitting at 126 F after FIVE HOURS?? I got really worried at this point but just get the temp. back up to 230 F in the firebox and thought to myself, "Ok, this 6 hour method isn't an exact science, maybe this will turn into the 3-2-2 method." I spritz them with the apple juice, close the box for about 45 minutes more. After 45 minutes I decided it was time to begin the sauce basting. I use my homemade tomato based sauce and begin to lather them up. Now, remember when I had said early on that I didn't want to flip them? Well....at this point I'm panicking because of the low temp so I decide to flip them. I maintain temp around 225 F for the next 1 hr. 15 min, opening once to flip yet again and baste the other side with sauce. Saturday at 9:30 PM I'm up over 7 hours and it's really getting dark outside. Ok, are they done??? Stick the probe in and it reaches 138 F! Crap, where did *I* go wrong?!? I decide to just continue on with the process.....get it up to 250 F again and continue on until they reach the proper temp, my goal was 165 F. Another hour later, just 148 F or so. At this point, I give up and decide to take them into the oven inside to finish up. At 11:30 PM (they were supposed to be done around 8:30 PM), I get the temp up to 170 F from the oven and let them rest. I bite into them first and of course the flavor is AMAZING, but there is just no pulling from the bone. *huge sigh* Sunday around Midnight (are you serious!?!) We all eat while watching the Chuck Liddell UFC match on Pay-per-view. Bone still firmly attached to pork, however. Yes, I was a smoking ribs virgin and understand they won't come out perfectly every time since they are one of the most difficult pieces of meat to master. However, I was expecting the 3-2-1 method to be fool proof and made a huge misstep somewhere along the way. I couldn't believe that even after 8 1/2 hours in the smoker, they didn't get to temp. My apologies that no pics included in this post but my digital camera is on the shelf right now with a torn ACL (ok, it's broken somehow . You guys are the best, so what key mistake was costly? - How important is the membrane removal? - What do you consider the "perfect" temp throughout? - How important is control of the chimney stack? - What temps. should ribs be at the end of each step?