First smoke today, temp seems low....

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by jbraas, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. jbraas

    jbraas Fire Starter

    I'm doing my first smoke in my Brinkmann upright charcoal smoker today. It's not thebullet shap, but rectangular with doors on the fromt.

    I have a lot of smoke coming out, but the temp seems low, around 150 acording to the thermometer that came with it (i haven't purchased a separate thermometer yet). Yesterday I cured it and seemed to be able to hold a temp around 250 pretty good. I'm not sure what to do to get the temp higher. I have the vents wide open (two on top, two on bottom) and still not change. The Charcoal pan is pretty full under the water pan so I don't know if I can add more charcoal. It's a nice day today, warm but definately windy. Maybe this is my problem?

    Any thoughts are appreciated. Maybe theres nothing I can do, and I'll just need to take longer...... (oh, I'm making a rack of spare ribs)

    Thanks from a newbie!
  2. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Try setting up a makeshift wind break... wind sucks alot of heat outta the smoker. Also, maybe empty your charcoal pan...alot of ash in it? Smothers the coals...dump over a screen, put live coals back in. Start another chimney of charcoal first tho to add. Burn it 'till grey and add.
  3. jbraas

    jbraas Fire Starter

    yeah I think the wind is killing me... I'm getting some more coals ready to put in ... we'll see...
  4. husker-q

    husker-q Smoke Blower

    though I have a different smoker (Chargriller Pro w/SFB) - I had some of the same probs. Richtee is certainly correct - wind can make a huge difference.

    Also - not sure about your stock thermo - but my stock guage reads about 60 degrees low - per the recommends on this site, I purchased 2 digitals and stick one through a potato half, about 1 inch off the grate near the smoker middle. If you dont have those already - those are a must (along with keeping the door closed!!!)

    good luck
  5. desertlites

    desertlites Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    yup wind break.
  6. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You didn't have too much smoke, did you. Not billowy, thin and blue is the trick. Possibly you were suffocating the fire?
  7. jbraas

    jbraas Fire Starter

    Thanks for the advice. Especially early on I did have a lot of billowy smoke.

    I had problems throughout the day getting the temp over what appeared to be around 150ish. I was able to hit 200 a few time after addine charcoal, but it seemed to drop pretty quick.

    The charcoal pan was pretty full. In fact when I added the wood chunks, it was pretty tight to the water pan. Maybe I did suffocate it?

    This is my first attempt doing this, and I really have not used charcoal much before - typically a propane grill guy, with a smoker box if trying to smoke.

    I did have A LOT of smoke flavor in the finished product, maybe to much so a few less wood chunks next time....

    The meat seemed a little tougher than I expected as well.... no "fall of the bone" or easy tear. I was trying to use the 3-2-1 method I read about, and expected more tender ribs

    I' a little discouraged at this point. Seemed a lot of work to keep what temp I had for an end result that was so,so. I used a rib recipe for the "Smoke and Spice" book, and while I really didn't see much that would contribute a kick... it was there a bit.

    Oh well.... time for a beer... relax a little... and get back on the horse again. As my wife tried to remind me this was my first attempt...

    (sorry for the long winded post. Also if I should post this sort of thing some place else... please let me know. I new to this forum as well.....)
  8. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Sounds like it probably was a wind problem.
    You're doing great should see all of the smokes I've done that didn't quite turn out. [​IMG]
    I'm sure you will have better luck with your next one.[​IMG]
  9. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    There ya go, cowboy...back on that'll break 'im in next time! :{) Don't get bummed...we got yer back!
  10. mossymo

    mossymo Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    As you said, first time.....
    Keep smok'in and I will gaurantee you, your family will be asking when you will smoke something next.... trust me !!!
  11. smoke_chef

    smoke_chef Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member


    I would venture to guess that the smoker you are using looks exactly like the one in my avatar? I just assembled mine tonight and lit some charcoal to cure. Since a storm is coming, I moved the process into a large shed and opened both garage doors and a side door for ventilation. I was excited at first because I initially got a temp of about 220. Since the instructions say to not touch it for two hours I went back in the house. About an hour and a half later I went back to check on it and the temp was down to about 90. OUCH! Good thing I didn't have a big brisket in there huh? I thought maybe I wasn't getting enough air circulating so I have turned the smoker a quarter turn so that the bottom damper faces the wind and I have opened the non-wind side top damper. I have more charcoal in the chimney starter now. I hope these adjustments make the difference. I have read about mods to the charcoal pan in which I drill holes in the bottom and around the edges. As well as buy a small grate to left the bottom of the charcoal off the bottom of the pan. I will do all that tomorrow before I smoke. Fortunately, I'm doing a salmon and I have read on here that all I need is about 150 degrees. I hope that's right? We need to keep in touch as we are in the same boat.

    Smoke Chef
    a.k.a. Franklin
  12. smoke_chef

    smoke_chef Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Quick update for those who may see this and have additional advice.

    The rain is really coming down now. I guess I’m glad I have an indoor option.

    First, after reading “wind kills†I decided I did the wrong thing by turning the bottom damper in to the wind. I’ve pulled a 180 on that plan and closed the garage door on that side of the shop. I still think there is plenty of ventilation with the side door and other garage door open and this way the smoker is completely out of the wind. Also, I followed Richtee’s advice and emptied my first pan of charcoal over a screen. I was amazed that after only an hour and half about 2/3 of my coals had already been reduced to ash. WOW! The manual that came with the smoker said “one pan of charcoal should last 5 to 6 hours depending on weatherâ€. I guess maybe the wind cooked them down fast? Any way… now I have a brand new pan of coals, no wind, all four dampers wide open. I’m looking for max temp. It climbed from 90 to just over 200 and has stalled there. I guess I can live with that for now. Especially if Husker-Q is right about the stock temp gauge. That would really be 260. I’m disappointed about the stock gauge not being better though. I was really excited to have something other than “Cool, Ideal, Hot†like my old ECB had. I never really had a lot of success with that one. But then… I didn’t have this site then either. Any one have any thoughts on which temp gauge to buy. Brand names, Stores, ect…

    Last, I’ve read about people “giving pointsâ€. I don’t know what that means but if I had any to give I sure would. It’s awesome to be able to get advice DURING a smoke. Or in this case, a cure.

    I have a question about my salmon but I’ll post that under fish.

  13. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    MAny are happy with the Maverick brand, I have the wired one, and they make wireless ones too, with dual probes even... ET=73 I think. Home depot, or alot of kitchen supply stores or online availability.
    Points are explained here. You can give them by clicking on the little "scales" in the top right corner of a post that helped you, or you like.
  14. gt2003

    gt2003 Meat Mopper

    Hang in there brotha! I smoked Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend. All 3 days were really, really windy. I used double the charcoal that I normally do in my horizontal smoker. I had to in order to keep it up to temp. You'll figure it out soon and when you do, you'll be hooked for good. Take care, Greg
  15. jbraas

    jbraas Fire Starter

    Thanks for all the word of encouragement and advice. I will definatley be smoking again soon. I may go with a recipe I am familiar with from smoking on the grill. I have one for chicken and have a chicken just waiting....

    Maybe I was tired last night, but where is the best section to find recipes here? I had understood that the Smoke and Psice book was supposed to be pretty good, but have had 2 recipes not come out to my liking now (the other was a pulled prok that was WAY to spicy - I like some spice, but this was a little more than expected, and I have friends who do not like spice..... flavor but not hot).

    My thoughts so far -- keep trying! I may start off with a little less charcoal. The pan was really full and like I mentioned was pretty much touching the water pan when I put the wood chunks in. I will also use a little less wood next time, and maybe look into the "pre-burn" a little more.

    Smoke Chef --Yep, that looks like mine. I had actually thought that when I saw one of your other posts last night. I agree on the manual, and was thinkning the same thing about what it said regardin ammount of charcoal / temp / time. I never could get mine over 200 yesterday, and only at 200 for a short period.

    Thanks again everyone!
  16. chevrofreak

    chevrofreak Newbie

    I have the same smoker (I think) and I also had a hard time getting the temp above 150. My charcoal just wasn't burning right.

    After reading a few posts on this board, I bought a Wok basket at Walmart to use as my charcoal basket, and it fits like the smoker was made for it. The handles sit right on the rails for the bowl rack. It's porcelain coated and matches the grill perfectly.

    I also don't use water in my water bowl anymore, it sapped too much heat. I now line it with foil and put my wood chunks in it. When they're done smoking and have turned into charcoal I just toss them into the wok basket with the rest of the charcoal to get more use out of the wood. I occasionally stir the charcoal, then tap the basket to knock the ashes out into the charcoal bowl that I have sitting on the floor of the smoker.

    I also sealed the door with a rope gasket meant for the glass windows on stoves. The smoke leaking out the door seemed like both a waste of smoke and heat to me.

    I've also switched from briquet's to lump charcoal and it burns great.
  17. chevrofreak

    chevrofreak Newbie

    Oh, and I put a meat thermometer in my smoker to check the temperature, and it was within just a few degrees of what the thermometer on the door said. Maybe they're more accurate now?

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