Cant get smoker hot enough

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by cdspace, Feb 20, 2016.

  1. cdspace

    cdspace Newbie

    This is my first post, and my first time smoking. I have a Kingsford Water Smoker ( Model # SC 2032408-KF, if it matters). It has a thermometer on the top, and I've never been able to get it over 200 F (smoking today, and curing it when I bought it). Am I doing something wrong? I keep it supplied with charcoal. The charcoal seems to burn fast, I add about a handful every 30-40 minutes. But the temp just doesn't seem to get any higher.

    I'm happy to answer any questions. I'm just trying to figure out how to get this thing hotter.
  2. thesmokist

    thesmokist Meat Mopper

    Do you have a charcoal basket?
  3. cdspace

    cdspace Newbie

    Last edited: Feb 20, 2016
  4. cdspace

    cdspace Newbie

    I guess I should also add, I've been smoking with hickory chips, soaked in water all day, and mesquite chunks (3-4" wood chunks). I've been adding the chips and chunks, shaking off as much water as I can, about every 1.5 hours, along with more charcoal. Adding charcoal about every hour.

    I've got a meat thermometer in the roast. The rump roast is 3 lbs, and after 6 hours the thermometer is reading below 130F, about 125 probably, the lowest marking on the thermometer is 130F.

    I'm all for slow cooking this roast, but I would like to figure out how to get the temp up for future meals.

    I'll also add, I've read that the built-in thermometer is usually way off, but looking at the IT of the roast, I'm concerned this is taking way too long.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2016
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I can tell you that style of smoker is hard to maintain temps. I started smoking on a meco smoker which is similar many years ago and it was a PITA to maintain temps. I assume your water pan has water in it. Next time don't use water. Just foil the pan for easy clean up. That will help you a bit.

    Also no need to soak your wood. Switch to chunks. The chunks should be 2"-3". Place them on top of your charcoal.

    Research the minion method. It works well in this type of smoker.

    Also a rump roast is a lean cut of meat ment for slicing. You should take it off the smoker when it is at a doneness you like your steak. For medium rare 130-135, rare 125, well done 145. Wrap in foil and rest prior to slicing. If you want pulled beef a chuck roast or seven bone is what you need.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2016
  6. hawtsauc3

    hawtsauc3 Fire Starter

    Add less water to the pan like only half full and make sure it was boiling close to being dumped in that should help.
  7. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Sounds like you just didn't build a large enough fire to begin with. With a smoker with that thin metal your going to get a lot of heat loss through the sides. You didn't say what part of the country you are at or what the outside temp is. You may be able to wrap the smoker with a welding blanket to try to hold in the heat.

  8. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm not familiar with your particular type of smoker, but Case and Al have given you some good tips. No water in the pan, no soaking of the chunks, good hot fire to start. The only thing that I would suggest would be to use lump charcoal. It burns much hotter and leaves much less ash.

    Good luck, Joe
  9. bbqwillie

    bbqwillie Smoking Fanatic

    Does the charcoal pan have any vents/holes in it? It sounds to me like the fire is starved for air. Are there any vents on the bottom section?
  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  11. cdspace

    cdspace Newbie

    The only vent is on the top. The charcoal pan sits in the bottom with about a 2 or 3 inch gap between the pan and the sides of the smoker. The top edge of the water pan is about 8 inches above that, with a food grate right on top of the water pan, and another food grate about another 10 inches above that. The charcoal pan holds just about one full chimney of lit coals. If you want to know anything more, just ask.

    The minion method was mentioned earlier. From what I gather (and google), that is basically letting some lit charcoal light some more unlit charcoal, to maintain temperatures for longer, with a chance of getting higher temps. I experimented with that on the normal grill the other day, and got the temps up to 450F. Previously, I could only get the normal grill up to about 350F with two lit chimneys worth of coals. Though I'm not sure how to implement this method in such a small charcoal pan (18 inches diameter). Maybe light half a chimney, stack it in the center and surround with unlit charcoal and wood chunks? More experiments are called for.
  12. I started with a similar smoker, a master chef vertical smoker. The minion method worked the best and if something couldn't be cooked in 5 hours or less you would frustrate yourself. For the minion method I would fill the chimney and shake it to make sure as much charcoal was in it. The charcoal basket in the smoker would be filled with a space left in the center for the lit chimney coals. For wood chips I soaked them and set them in a smoking box which was laid on the charcoal to the back of the smoker, I found if I just mixed them in the charcoal they burnt quickly. You could put chunks of wood in to bring the temps up. At advice of people on this forum I filled the water bowl with lava rock (play sand is an option but I had lava rock paid for) and foiled the top to keep it clean (not required). We have since purchased an Akorn kamado grill which we have to fight to get the temps down.

    This is a pic of the one I retired in favour of the Akorn. It had the charcoal pan in the bottom, water bowl above it and then 2 grills. I may keep it for cold smoking.


    I also found using water the smoke flavour was overpowering.

    Edit also don't trust the thermometer in the lid.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
  13. Oh cold and or windy days you will have issues getting the temp up as well
  14. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    Keep it if you have the space, Lisa!
    I just got a new offset unit and my wife wants me to get rid of the MB gasser (patio space!). Problem is, with the mailbox & a hotplate it's perfect for sausage & cheese! When you have something that works it's tough to get rid of it!

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