Had a few issues... suggestions please.

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by jenks, May 3, 2011.

  1. jenks

    jenks Newbie

    Well this past weekend I attempted to smoke some ribs on my new Brinkmann Vertical Split Door Smoker. I went ahead after reading all the threads about the pan not having enough circulation and built a basket out of expanded metal. I found some Royal Oak lump at the local Walmart and try the minion method first. I fill the basket about 3/4 full with some hickory chucks buried throughout and fired up a chimney. After they got nice an warm I added them on top spread the coals out nicely placed a Hickory chunk on top and placed the basket on top of the orignal pan as a catch pan. Had some water in the water pan. The bottom vents I close 90% and the tops wide open. Then placed a digital Therm through a potato and watched my temps slowly climb. After about 10 min went back and checked and it was up to about 350* opened the door and the whole basket was lit. 

    I was pissed, so I figured I would try again and dumped the basket out into my grill, and refilled about 1/2 way this time and only added maybe 3 big coals to one corner. Once again it climbed up and the whole basket was lit. After this I dumped about half and regulated with the door because I had to start cooking. I would add some coals from the grill when it started to drop until it I was out of lit Lump and then switched to some Kingsford I had lying around adding 3 or 4 briq at a time.

    Here is the part that annoys me the most. No matter what I did, it never wanted to cool down. If I closed all the vents it still climbed in temp. I eventually got the hang of it by cracking the door every 30 min and every hour or so adding some charcoal. But I feel like I am doing something wrong because the temps would climb way high then drop way low. 

    What should I do? Any suggestion would be great since I have to cook 3 shoulders in 2 weeks for my sons Bday party.

  2. smokinal

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

    I'm not familiar with your smoker, but I'm sure someone who is will be along shortly.
  3. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Verticals can be a bit more challenging to figure out and master the quirks of a particular unit.  Experimentation and practice are key.  Eventually, you will be able to set it up and just maintain it at regular intervals without a lot of fuss or worry.

    My first thought is vent management.  I usually open the bottom vents wide and manage air flow (and therefore temp) using the top vent only.  High cook temps are either too much fuel or too much oxygen (or both).  A pic of your basket & coal/chunk prep may reveal a design flaw that's giving you trouble.  "Managing" temps by opening & closing your door is what gives you your wild temp swings and can also lead to a fair amount of white billowing smoke.  Opening your door cools thing initially, but draws a lot of oxygen in and gives things a big burn boost as well.

    My next thought is thermometer accuracy; make sure you test them in boiling water before relying on them.  The cheap ones that come with these units are notoriously wildly inaccurate.

    You may also have too much wood chunk in the mix that is full-on burning rather than smoldering.  Once that stuff is lit, it will burn hot and quickly light the rest of your coals.  A buddy of mine had that problem when he started this hobby.  Couldn't keep temps down.  You don't need much hardwood to get the Thin Blue Smoke we all desire.

    Let us know how things develop.  Practice, practice, practice.  It does get easier!!!
  4. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    From what information you provided I believe part of the problem is highlighted in red in your original post, 3/4 full of wood chunks.

    Try a half full chimney unlit in the basket then add 1/2 chimney lit coals on top with 1 hickory chunk on top of that. then work up from there .

    You can also the snaking the lump... place a few firebricks in the center and have the lump burn from one und to the other around the brick., thats if you have room.

    Lump will burn hotter than charcoal

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