Newbie with fuel issues

Discussion in 'CharGriller Owners Group' started by bryan omahony, Jan 16, 2015.

  1. bryan omahony

    bryan omahony Newbie

    Hello everyone!  My wife got me this char griller smokin pro and a SFB for Christmas this year and so far I absolutely love it.  The only modification I've done so far is extending the stack height down to the grate level.  I also went to the local welding shop and had them make me up a expanded metal charcoal basket.  So far I've done a whole 20 pound turkey and some spare ribs and both have turned out fantastic.

    What I have questions about though is temperature control and fuel usage.   I've read about people being able to fill the charcoal basket and using the minion method, get 6-8 hours of burn time out of a basket of lump.  How?   I was only able to get about 3.5 hours at 235 or so degrees.  How can I control my temperature well enough to get that nice long slow burn?  Would sealing up the Chargriller a little better help?   It does leak smoke out of every nook and cranny,  But I can't seem to get the temp high enough in the chamber without burning through fuel really fast.

    Any Ideas?
  2. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    There is only so much you can do with that thin steel, but sealing the leaks would help dramatically. Air temp makes a difference too. There are lots of mods you can do to seal it up, and I would suggest doing them all. I have a similar smoker that didn't really leak too bad, but after sealing the gaps and lid, I was much better able to manage the temp and prolong the fuel usage.
  3. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Welcome to the CG group Bryan!

    Here is what I've done to mine Bryan.

    Hope it helps a bit.  Just skip the post off track and continue reading.

    I would love a 1/4" steel smoker, but just can't afford it.  The Char-Griller does work, but takes more tending too.

    I love/hate mine.  It depends on the day.  LOL
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2015
  4. bryan omahony

    bryan omahony Newbie

    Thanks for the help!

    I smoked two 7 pound boston butts the other day in the CG and it took right about 13 hours to get them to the right temp.  And about 25 pounds of lump to do it.   Does that sound normal?  
  5. lemans

    lemans Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have a chargriller 5050 with SFB I have sealed off must of the leaks. And I gotta say that getting it to 250 and staying there for 10-12 hours requires a lot of fuel
    Also has to do with the ambient temp and the wind direction . If the wind blows down the stack then the amount of fuel is going to increase..
  6. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    Concur; positioning the smoker where the wind blows into the firebox (within reason, not too strong) helps a lot. Especially with maintaining temp and thin blue smoke (TBS).
  7. bryan omahony

    bryan omahony Newbie

    A lot of people that I talk to locally recommend not using charcoal at all and to just use wood only to make a hotter fire.   Would that work?
  8. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yes, but you have to be willing to tend the fire. I cook with wood 90% percent of the time with my CG, but I almost never cook longer than 5 hours on it, especially in winter.
  9. I have a Char Griller Pro and use it often. I use charcoal only to get a fire going and from then on use just hickory to cook/smoke. There is a handle factory here and they sell 2x2 cutoffs from 4" to 12" long. Its, like they were made for this smoker. On most days it will hold 225 for about an hour with the dampers open 1/4. Wish I could afford something that would hold the heat better but this serves my purpose.
  10. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Once you have sealed any leaks you can also insulate the cooking chamber using a couple of fire blankets. A lot of heat is lost through the thin metal and these will help to keep it in and you will burn less fuel.
  11. lemans

    lemans Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have a thermometer mounted in my SFB
    I find that what every the temp in the box is about 1/3 the temp in the cooking chamber
    So if I use wood in the SFB and others to 700 degrees in the cooking chamber I measire 235 more or less
    Wood burns hot but you r always tending it
  12. soup

    soup Newbie

    i am a little late to this conversation, but I try to only use regular charcoal when starting the fire, and maybe in a pinch I add a 1/2 chimney of prelit coals while cooking (only if I don't have anything better left, or I am almost done.  I prefer lump charcoal for more heat, and pretty much use it exclusively after the first 3-4 hours.  I tried a few experiments, and have not found that burning wood helps any more after that (IMO), and on some occasions has ruined the taste.  It was probably too much smoke at one time  rather than too long but I don't know for sure.  If I plan on wrapping I will wrap several layers of foil and use oak for fuel.  I don't like the flavor that oak gives, but it is all over my property, and burns hot.
  13. bryan omahony

    bryan omahony Newbie

    I think in order to figure out my fuel/temperature issues,  I needed to accurately figure out how hot my smoker was getting.   I looked through all the mods that people have done to their Char-grillers and installed two BBQ thermometers into the lid just above grate level.   I was amazed to find that there was a 75 degree difference between the pre-installed factory thermometer and the two that I installed.  When the factory Therm was at 225 I was probably closer to 300.  I also went and picked up a Maverick ET-733 wireless monitor so that I can keep an eye on things more closely. 

    For fuel, I'm thinking I never had a fuel issue,  I had a thermometer issue.  I've stuck with plain old Kingsford briquettes for now.  I seem to get a consistent burn that I can maintain at 225-250 degrees and a full charcoal basket with about 10 pounds of charcoal in it will last about 6 hours.   Not sure if that is good or bad,  but it's better than what I was getting with the lump charcoal I originally started using.  But I probably was just burning way too hot and burning through the fuel fast.  Maybe now that I can monitor temperature better,  I can look at different fuel sources.

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