Distance from heat sink to grate? Convection.

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by meat hunter, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Ok, heres the deal. This summer I built my reverse flow. Some of you may remember it. It was done solely to see if I could build one for under a 100 bucks. Came out to like 50 bucks. Anyhow, I have a question on the convection process of it. Whenever I smoke anything, say a brisket, it seems to get done sooner than others who smoke similar items. Rarely does my smoker ever go over 230 degress, most of the time its rides at 220-225. There is approx 7 inches from the grate to the heat sink. Is the close proximity of these the reason things seem to get done sooner? What would you consider to be a good distance between the two? I thought about junking this one out and starting over, but then I seen some posts on stump clones, thanks to Carpetride and Davenh. That will be my next project, pic will be coming soon.

    Anyhow, if the heat sink on what I just described is a problem, do you think I could get by with a false heat sink right above the original, say an inch or so, to act like a buffer for any radiant heat? Bad idea? Have any thoughts on this, let me know.
  2. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Aside from getting done sooner, how does the finished product rate? If it is just as tender and good why worry about the shorter time...
  3. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Oh the finished product tastes great, especially brisket. But what I'm wondering, is maybe I'm missing out, maybe it could be better. Seems like when others do a brisket, it takes allot longer for theirs. Even though everything I have done so far came out really good, I want to make sure I am maximizing the "low and slow" process, and let that process do what its supposed to do the meat without rushing it. I want the meat to cook with the ambient temperature only, and I think maybe its getting rushed by radiant heat from the heat sink. Does it work now? Yeah, but its just one of those things where I want it to work the way it is supposed to work, if that makes sense [​IMG].
  4. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    From the explaination you gave, it seems to me as it does an excellent job,ie.-temps. in low 200's,getting done sooner,I would think the finished product was eatable; so what's the prob? That's Low-n-Slow to me. If you want higher temps. use a different cooker or you should be able to up the heat with a hotter fire.I trim my splits down to slivers(about 8"X 2"X2") for quicker starting in the firebox. This rids the bad gasses and the quicker catching pieces heat up the chamber good for me.Using the intake and adjusting for a desired heat, my smoker will perform for me very well.Time of ingition is almost instant,the pieces catch and blaze and the smoke gets a little white for maybe 5 min. then goes back to thin and blue.
    I spend a lot of time tending my smoker,but that's what it's about isn't it?
    Out in the fresh air, enjoying your company,laughing/joking and having fun.I'm at the firebox about every 30-45min.,good timing for another cup o Joe,another Beer/Drink,or a potty run.Not constant work, a little exercize for us FOGs (Fat Old Guys).
    Yeah, I know a lot of you like the set n'go style of cooking,and that's good in itself if you need to buget time. I on the otherhand, am retired/Disabled and have time to waste,so I do it Old School.As Cousin Homer Page use to say,"there's no need to go and get in a fizz over yer 'Q'. Anticipation makes the sweetest smoke -sweeter."
    Even if I'm doing something for someone else, I'll be out there,telling stories,and babysitting my pit. It's what I do,and with the results I get,will be the way I continue.
    But I am wandering away from the question;in essence, a small hot bed of coals/embers is the secret(IMHO). Watch for 10* to 20* changes in your grate temp. and adjust or add as needed.Oh, and not getting Sloshed helps.I do only water,Coffee(drinks),and an pccasional Cola. Therefore I am aware of the things my Smoker is doing.I did all my drinking of alcohol earlier in life.Now I set back and chuckle at other's antics.And cook!Why? Because I love to see my grub enjoyed,and the comradery of friendship.
    I.E., I am now the DC-(Designated Cook).
    Sorry,I got carried away, the word limit thingy[​IMG];I can't get caugh-up!!!!!
    But , later Tater and
    Stan aka Old School
  5. bbq engineer

    bbq engineer Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey Todd,

    I was thinking about your question, and I even went back to take another look at your build http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/for...ad.php?t=75075

    I was just wondering if you have ever filled the baffle plate with water. This would really even out the temperatures, minimizing the radiant heat off the bottom plate (at least cap it at 212°). Maybe give a try at smoking something and compare the results.

    I wouldn't be to worried about smokes being shorter then some people say theirs are...I have to question 4 lb pieces of meat taking 14 hours or something absurd like that...It just doesn't make sense.
  6. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Hey there bbqfans, how goes it? Oh don't get me wrong, I like tending the fire, thats why I went with a all wood unit. I think I need to rephrase what I mean. Some time ago, I read a post on the forum about the need to have the grates high, away from the heat sink, for the reason of avoiding cooking too fast thru the close proximity of the radiant heat generated by the heat sink. I have been looking for that post all day and can't find it. Heck, I may even read it on the net somewhere, thats why I posted it here. I just want to make sure that the meat in the cook chamber is cooking with the ambient heat thru-out the main chamber and not getting too hot from underneath by being too close to the heat sink.
    I think I should have asked in the first post what the desired distance is between grate and heat sink. I was thinking it in my head, but it didn't transfer over to my fingers when I was typing it. LOL

    I split my wood as well, but I also give them a dose from the propane torch. Just enought to where they catch on fire. I then let them burn for a few minutes, then extinguish them. Then I stack about 3-4 at a time inside the firebox, about a foot away from the flame. Heats them up nice and when its time to add one, it lights up instantly. Works really well, for me anyhow. Took me a while to get that fire thing down, but once I got it, its so easy to maintain a nice small fire. Yeah I think tending to the firebox is very relaxing and I'm glad I went the route I did. When I first joined this site, I would never have imagined at that time, I would be going the all wood route. Glad I stuck it out, and read all the posts and asked all the questions. But I do get the other ways too, proplane and electric, set it and sorta forget. If you don't have the time, they are the way to go. In fact, I am now in the process of building my latest. An old all enamel interior fridge that I am going to build around the stumps smoker idea. Its a set it and forget it setup, but some days, I just don't have the time to spend all day tending a fire but still want great tasting bbq.[​IMG]
    Ok, I think I went past my alloted time for this post LOL. Thanks for the input so far.[​IMG]
  7. raceyb

    raceyb Smoking Fanatic

    I believe in keeping it simple. If you can cook a brisket that comes out great in less time then average man, why worry about it? Maybe you have advanced to that stage of a perfect fire and controlling it. Maybe the heat sink's proximity to the grill rack has something to do with it as well. Personally, you should be proud that you built something that far exceeded your expetations.[​IMG]
  8. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Hey there Dana. You know, I have thought about that. That would be allot of water in there, I'd say about 3 gallons. And yes, that would even out the temps, but eventually, the water is going to boil right? What effect would that have on the meats inside? I know people at water pans to their smokers, but the water pans are not sitting directly on the heat source, or are they? I would think that filling that drip tray I have on mine, that eventually it would boil and create steam.
  9. raceyb

    raceyb Smoking Fanatic

    Vertical smokers have water pans that fit directly over the charcoal pan. Boiling the water is kind of the goal. It releases moisture into the cooking chamber and as any BBQ lover knows, moisture is our friend. It also helps with smoke ring penetration...
  10. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Raceyb, thanks for the compliment. You know I think you said it. It a matter of tweaking it, finding any room for improvement. It's a habit of mine, or maybe it's obsessive/compulsive. Keep improving something. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it just ends up costing me more money LOL.
  11. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    So boiling the water and adding steam would not be a bad thing? I was under the impression that you just wanted some humidity in the chamber. See, you always learn something new, now matter how much you think you know already.[​IMG] Thanks.
  12. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    From what I have read you have created the perfect offset whether by design or by accident... [​IMG]

    Also if you decide to scrape that one and start over keep me in mind as I would by your old one... [​IMG]

    You are only 409 mi – about 6 hours 40 minutesaway from KCMO... Nice Road Trip...[​IMG]

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