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Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by realtorterry, Mar 6, 2011.
That's my understanding. I think if im wrong someone will correct me.
So, I have been lurking around this forum for a while now. After reading about the Trailmaster, I went out and bought one. I have made lot of mods (charcoal box, thermometers, Rutland’s, etc.). My question is this, who long will a full basket of lump coal will last? I am only getting 4.5 hours. I am only putting a 1/4 of a chimney on top of the lump. Also, will a deflector really keep my heat down? My temps are around 305. The first 1.5 I am at 250. Then it jumps up to 305, and stays there for the remainder of the time.
305 is pretty high. I usually run 225-240 at the grate with the chimney open just to touch (maybe a 1/4 inch?) and the vent to the firebox almost all the way closed. If your chimney and firebox vent are closed or almost closed and you are still getting that much heat then I am guessing air is getting into the firebox somehow. Maybe check the seals around the box? That coal drawer is not well built and sometimes gets askew and causes the fire to burn up faster. I don't use lump so i don;t know about time for lump but i get 6+ hours out of a coal basket. I guess it may also depend on the height and width of the of the basket too....
Would getting a Convection Plate help also? How much will the temp drop with a Convection Plate? What is the recommended way of pouring lit charcoal on the non-lit charcoal?
Some people like the convection plate. Personally, I just put in a baffle and added lava rock to the bottom of mine for thermal mass. I found that the lava rock helped act as a kind of "heat capacitor" for times when opening the door was necessary, and helped balance some of the spikes and sags in temperature.
I would check the seals on your unit if your temps are out of control. Check the firebox lid, the points where the flanges that hold the ash drawer mate with the firebox, and the seal between the firebox and cooking chamber. That's where most of the air gets in. Make sure the ash drawer closes tight against the box as well.
As far as loading and lighting the firebox, when I'm using pure charcoal instead of wood splits, I usually line the bottom of my charcoal basket with briquettes to "catch" the lump when it burns down. I then fill the basket with lump charcoal. Finally, I load my chimney starter with enough briquettes to fully line the bottom of it to an even level (so the briquettes are level and the grille on the bottom is completely covered), or I load it half full of lump charcoal. I actually start it sitting on top of my charcoal pile in the basket, and dump it in when the charcoal in the starter turns ash color. I run with my chimney wide open, unless I run into a problem with the firebox burning WAY too hot. I dont usually put any food past the right-hand edge of the door, since it usualy burns too hot that close to the firebox (unless I'm putting a little extra crisp on something at the end).
A stack extension is important to getting even heat across the cooking chamber. A little dryer mated into the stack on the inside and extended down to grate level helps draw the heat horizontally, rather than vertically.
Hope this helps.
I have a question. I just bought the TLE and I am going to make the mods while assembling it. My question is: What is the best way to attach the stack extension to get the best seal? Thanks in advance!
I made six or eight "V: shaped cuts with nippers about 1 or 1 1/2 in each the dryer vent (perpendicular to the end - so into the length of the hose - with the open end of the "V" toward the end I'm using). Then the "V" cut outs allow you to sort of downsize the vent hose at the end so it fits thru the hole in the smoker. Once you have the end thru bend the tabs outward on the exterior of the smoker and pull to get as snug a fit as possible. Cover the whole thing with sealant (on both sides of the tabs) and then attached the stack on the outside over the whole hole and bent out tabs thus securing the vent in place.
I don't know if that makes any sense but it is kind of hard to explain in words I think.
The seal doesn't need to be perfect for the stack extension. The natural draw of the heat rising will pull air through the extension, even if it isn't sealed perfectly. You can just cram some foil dryer hose in and it will work fine. Just make sure it doesn't obstruct it too much.
Dabeve, Piaconis, thank you for the advice. I am beginning assembly tonight and hope to get the curing done tomorrow. I will post pictures during the assembly and of the mods. I plan on doing some dry runs next week and hope to be putting out some Q next weekend! Thanks, again, for the advice and thanks to everyone on this thread for their suggestions, ideas, and pictures. I believe this site will save me from wondering what the heck I was doing wrong!
CoMoSmoker, best of luck with it! With a little practice and patience, this will be a really nice smoker for you. My family loves everything that comes out of it. Be sure to snap some Q-view and post it for all to see. Let us know how It goes.
Just bought a TMLE yesterday after quite a bit of research and reading through this forum. I've looked at what others have said and I plan to get the listed items to make the following modifications:
1. Lowering the chimney closer to the grill.
4 in. Aluminum 90-Degree Elbow
2. Baffle between firebox and main chamber
Got a 22 gauge 12x18" piece of stainless steel sheet metal
The sticker on this didn't say it was zinc coated or anything but looking on the web link there it says zinc plated. Not sure if that will work then.
3. Sealant for firebox/main chamber connection and other areas if necessary
Rutland 500°RTV High Heat Silicone - Clear
4. Charcoal Box
2 pieces of Everbilt 24 in. x 1/2 in. x 12 in. Plain Metal Expanded Sheet
To connect the peices for the box, bot some OOK 50 lbs. 9 ft. Durasteel Stainless Steel Hanging Wire
I know I need to add some thermometers at the cooking level, but I will probably wait to do those so I can order a couple off amazon. I'm not sure if I will need to use the sealant (or some other measure) on the main chamber door or firebox door. Was planning to wait and see if it was leaking during the curing to see if it is necessary.
My questions are will what I have listed work and have I missed anything? Thank you for any help/feedback.
I would not use that for a baffle. Might as well use a double walled cookie sheet
I think thats material is too thin but I have read where guys used cookie sheets
I made mine out of 1/4" plate. I have an OK Joe so its a little different but same idea
I used 22ga steel for my baffle. Heavier steel really doesn't make much of a difference for me, as the baffle really only serves to reflect back radiant heat.
I wouldn't use the wire to hold the coal basket together. I recall I tried and it was a pain. I ended up using nuts and bolts. I made 4 pieces from the expanded metal. Two were made only to secure the corners. I did not seal the door to the main chamber and don't think I need to....but of course since I have been bored all winter I purchased this....
and will add it in a few weeks here when it warms up....
Ha! In the first pic you can even see the wire uncoiled up there on the top left corner. took me about 3 mins to give up on that plan....
Here are some pics during the assembly. I think I have got this thing sealed up pretty good!! More pics to come...
More mods to my TLE...
Loaded the bottom with lava rocks...
Took 4 inch vent elbow and cut out tabs to insert into smoke stack hole. I cut some of the "V" shaped tabs too long, but I think I sealed them up pretty well. We"ll see on the dry run...
About 1/2" above cooking grate in the front, 1/8" to 1/4" in the back...
Filled all holes and sealed smoke stack flange with high heat silicone and installed smoke stack. There it is fully assembled...
Waiting my neighbor to finish the convection plates, baffle, and charcoal basket. We're supposed to get snow this weekend. Hope to get the curing and dry runs done next week. Next steps are to install thermos at grate level on both sides. In the meantime, I have 2 oven thermos I will use to set on grates to check the temp. What do you guys think? Any other suggestions? I will post Qviews as much as I can.
hey your convection plates look just like mine LOL
I think your mods look fine
Thank you for letting me use the pic. Should have asked first. I actually used it to show my neighbor what I wanted done. Hope he gets them done quick!
I think it looks great! Add those extra thermos and I am sure you will be very happy with that rig. Well done.