Epic Fail and Answer My Own Question?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by gjeffb, May 11, 2014.

  1. Hi All. I had the "Epic Fail" first smoke, and I *think* I know why. Here's the story:

    Brand new Brinkmann Split-Door Vertical Smoker, my first, an, er ... entry-level (read: cheap) smoker. I seasoned it according to instructions a couple of weeks ago, and added an oven thermometer. Yesterday I fired it up for a brisket. Royal Oak lump charcoal, Kingsford briquettes, and apple wood chunks. Bottom vents anywhere from completely open to ½ closed, top vents completely open. Sadly I could never get it up to temperature. It never got past 170* on either the door thermometer or the oven thermometer. I saw that when the wood started smoking, smoke was coming out of every side of the top door, as well as the vent.

    So I'm guessing the doors are so loose all the heat is just pouring out faster than it can cook. Does that sound like an accurate analysis?

    If so, I went to the Search function and found out about "stove rope" and "high temp red RTV gasket maker." My plan is to try to seal all the way around the top and bottom doors & test for temperature. Is that the pretty obvious fix for the problem? Any other/preferred fixes I should try along with, or instead of the door seals?

    Ribs are on the menu for tonight's Mothers Day dinner, but they'll be oven-cooked, then moved to the gas grill. Not taking any chances with momma's meal :-0

    Thanks for all suggestions

  2. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi and welcome aboard! Before you do anything, go to Wal Mart, Target or some other store that carries BBQ and grill accessories and find something called a "Grill wok". It's a square basket for grilling vegetables, but it also just happens to fit perfectly in the slots for the frame that holds the Brinkmann charcoal pan. The problem isn't heat escaping, it's just that the way the pan is designed it can't get enough air to the coals to generate the required heat. Plus, Kingsford generates a good bit of ash, so it chokes the fire. You might also try lump or a good all natural briquette.

    Here is the one I found at Target. By the way, my experimental method of fast charcoal lighting didn't work out so well, so I can't recommend it. (I was just using the propane bottle as a spacer to leave a well in the middle of the coals so I could pour in a few lit briquettes after removing it.)

    You'll also notice in the second picture I just took the original coal pan and put it under the basket as an ash pan, Made clean up a lot easier.


    And here's how it fits in the smoker:

  3. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    And here is is a little while later. Managed to hold temp for several hours between refueling.

  4. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    there ya go.. how quick and easy was that... he's got ya on the right track.... Thumbs Up
  5. "How quick" is right! Nothing like having my own personal educator!  Thanks a bunch. I did notice a lot of ash kind of blanketing the glow, and it was a pita to clean afterwards.

    I'll be back in a couple of days to let you know how it uh, woked out ... [​IMG]

  6. I'm baaaack

    OK, I actually did both. The grill wok cost me $10 at the local hardware store, and did exactly as described. The lump charcoal burned a lot cleaner and hotter (I used the Minion method - more on that later).

    The stove rope came in a kit, and I got a sort of flat style that I glued in with a fold. Worked perfectly.

    Ribs at 5-ish hours came out with both bark and smoke ring. Ta-daaa! The rubbed/bark side was pretty salty, so I need to adjust there.

    Now, the charcoal: Royal Oak lump. Fire built in the wok, with a large ring around a pile of chimney-started red coals. Temp built up to right at 220-230 and held nicely. Thank you smoke gurus. As the coal burned down, the temp went down and I added more raw lumps. The temp never did get back to optimum.

    So, question: when adding more charcoal lumps to reheat, should I chimney start them, or just toss into the still glowing embers?

    BTW, I'm digging the experimentation. I need to find a t-shirt with a mad scientist wearing a chef's hat. [​IMG]

  7. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Start the coals in a chimney before adding them, Use about the same amount as you did to start the process, that way you'll have a burst of heat that'll get it up to temp much more quickly. Otherwise, it will struggle to ignite the raw lumps, as you experienced. What I've also done is to shake out the contents of the grill wok into another container, refill the wok with raw coals and use the remaining coals from the other container to restart the Minion method all over again. Does that make sense? Not sure how to explain it more clearly, but if it doesn't make sense just let me know.
  8. Makes perfect sense. Thank you very much


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