Stick burnin' Newbie looking for help! PLEASE

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by txaggie, Sep 3, 2014.

  1. ****DISCLAIMER**** I want to take this time to apologize to everyone because you're about to hear some idiotic questions.

    Hello all,

    I've got multiple questions and hopefully the attached pictures will make this somewhat less painful. So first off I've seen different articles on this topic but am still a little confused. My question is, should my fire box grate and coking grate be the same height? Currently, the cooking surface is about 12" higher than the firebox grate surface. I use a older New Braunfels Red River smoker that has never been modded. Secondly, how far off the bottom of the fire box should the grate be that my fire sits on? Currently it sits about 2" off the bottom of the firebox. The reason I ask is after about 6-7 hrs it is almost impossible to keep the fire lit. Could it be that the grate sits so low that I have to much ash clogging the airflow underneath? Lastly, I've always used the wood chunks from Home Depot. They average about fist sized and have always been great. However, I burn through a 18lb bag of that stuff in about 5-6hrs. Is that normal? Can I use bigger sized wood? The dimensions of the fire box is 16x16x16.
    Once again, any help would be greatly appreciated and thanks for taking the time to read my post


  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    TX, evening...... One problem may be air leaks.... It is best to seal everything so there is no air infiltration.... air will cool the cook chamber so you need to burn more wood..... Any hardwood can be used to fuel it.... You should have alder in Ilwaco.... or maple..... be sure it is cured, aged, dried really well .... about a year....
    You have a good idea about raising the fire grate.... cut rebar to fit across the Fire Box (FB)... set the grate on them.. about 4-5" should do nicely.....
    As far as sealing the lids and doors, Very high temp silicone works.... place saran on one surface, lay a bead of silicone on the other... close the door/lid and let it cure.... Make sure the FB is sealed to the Cook Chamber too...

    The fire grate.....

    Last edited: Sep 4, 2014
  3. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    Basically I'm just reiterating what Dave said. Raise the grate in the fire box, seal the leaks, and buy some local wood. You should be able to find wood on Craigslist by the truckload. Split it down to about 12"L X 3"W, 18lbs. of wood isn't that much, unless you're buying it from HomeDepot.

    Use enough wood to maintain your desired temp. It doesn't have to be a big fire.

    This fire is keeping the smoker at about 275 degrees.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2014
  4. I had that same smoker for years and had problems with ash build up under the fire grate.  If you do not raise it up the ashes must be kept raked out from under the fire on long cooks.
  5. Thanks everyone all for the comments. I never thought about the leaks just because they were never visible.  However, after doing some looking around I found and corrected a few trouble spots. Also, I have since raised the fire box  grate and am hoping for better results. Thanks again, and I'll post pics soon. 
  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Let us know how it works out for you.... A door that light can get through is an air leak... check it at night with a light inside the smoker.... That will let you know for sure....

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