Temp prob, not sure how to deal with it

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by rikil, May 23, 2008.

  1. rikil

    rikil Newbie

    I have a Char-Broil Silver Smoker, BBQ, and Grill and am smoking for the first time. I have some pork baby back ribs.

    I have a temp probe in the smoker, right next to the meat. I found the obvious: the temp is high near the side box where the charcoal is. The problem I am seeing is that if I move the meat just a few inches it is MUCh cooler, too cool almost.

    I am not sure what I can do about this. I searched the forum for mods to this unit but wasn't able to really find anything.

    I've read posts in this forum that say the meat should be in the middle of the rack, but that will be way too cool.

    not sure how to correct this. any ideas? In the small box on the left where the charcoal is, there are two grates. I have the charcoal on the upper grate, is that wrong? I can't imagine why but I am a newbie at this.

  2. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    How cool is "too cool"? If you can give us temp readings and gradients (if possible) maybe we can help.

    Hang in there!
  3. capt dan

    capt dan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Charcoal goes on the lower grate, the upper grate is to grill food over the charcoal. There are alot of mods listed on the"charcoal smokers" forum!. I have a charbroils silver and its very hard to smoke anything properly without at least 3 of the 5 mods for the silvers. without the baffle and the chimney extension, you will burn alot of meat.
    Do some research in the forums I mentioned and you'll be alot happier next time.
  4. rikil

    rikil Newbie

    while I was waiting for the more experienced people to reply [​IMG] I did some searching. First, I think I am using way too little charcoal. At lest, that is what I think from seeing the size of the charcoal baskets being made. I can make one, that's easy.

    The ribs (still cooking as I type) are actually good. The meat is cooked and really smokey in flavor. It's just been hard to keep the temp high enough. http://img156.imageshack.us/my.php?i...scn2094yc2.jpg

    I then (finally) got a good pic of the baffle I was reading about. I can do that too. As for dispersing the heat (tuning plates someone called them), yup, can do that too.

    It's a good unit, I had been using it as a BBQ for a long while, I modified it so I could star the charcoal with propane (someone asked: if you have propane in there now, why not cook with it? I just about slapped them).

    So I have three mods I can do that I really think will make a diff.

    As for the temp. difference...on the left side of the box where the meat sits, it is ~250F. all the way to the right, I am not sure it gets to 100F.

    So today I started smoking the ribs as my first (experimental) project. I have a long weekend and I just stocked up on meat, gotta do MORE [​IMG]
  5. capt dan

    capt dan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Rikil, glad to see you are able to do the mods. You will love the difference. Those ribs in your pic looked very good. A lil practice and you'll be telling others how to do them on an offset like yours.

    here is a pic of my baffle mod to my silver

    I don't like those plates in that pic, and these are the ones I settled with after 3 different attempts.

    The stack extension is as easy as getting some aluminum flashing, rolling it up into a tube, and sticking it into the stack from inside the smoker, and letting it expand, then pull down to within a 1/2 inch or so of the cooking grate..

    Go with Lump charcoal when ever possible, and make a charcoal basket, and thats about all you can do, and really all you need to do.

    Keep workin on it!
  6. if you have to smoke this weekend, and don't have time, you can do a temp baffle with tin foil. Just angle it down, and 1/2 length of the smoker. This works for mine ... temp stays at 225 at the center and far right.
  7. doctor phreak

    doctor phreak Smoking Fanatic

    is your grill grate made out of rebar.....if it is..that is to cool....i need to make one of those for my smoker....
  8. rikil

    rikil Newbie

    Capt Dan - those were the pics I found that helped me udnerstand, glad I connected with you.

    Diesel Fanatic - nope, too much of a perfectionist. I will get the new charcoal basket, the baffle, tumimg plates and modified stack all done in about 2 hours. I already have all the metal I need from left over projects.

    doctor phreak - it 'tis. Rebar is a bit hard to weld with, especially if you are using gas like I did. Rebar is reinforced with carbon (usually) and is hard to weld because of the carbonm, the carbon is an impurity. But it holds the heat well, as you can imagine.

    Thanks to everyone. I can guarantee I will be a hero at work with left overs (if there are any). After I make the mods I am either going to do a brisket or a pork shoulder, maybe some fish if I can catch any this weekend. Trout is great smoked.
  9. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Dude, where's your probe???

  10. rikil

    rikil Newbie

    it's the silver wire you see there. It's just a meat thermometer that I set near the meat to get the temp of the area where the meat is sitting.
  11. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    My point is if it's sitting under the food or ON the grate, your temp is not accurate!!
  12. rikil

    rikil Newbie

    should it be on top of the food or in the air?

    I am bowing to your experience but I want to understand why so I will ask: how so?

    If the coal has been going long enough to heat the grate or the outside of the food, what does it matter? The grate will hold as much heat as it can get from the coal, that may be 200F. It won't be warmer than that and I wouldn't expect the temp of the grate where the meat is to be drastically less than if I put the probe on top of the meat or had it suspended in the air.

    Educate this newbie please

    I just moved the probe to the top of the meat and didn't seem to change that much, I think I lost more heat after opening the lid than anything else.
  13. rikil

    rikil Newbie


    Just removed the ribs, the are smokey and I was able to get the temp high enough for long enough to break down the collagen, the meat doesn't fall off the bone but sure is tender and flavorful.
  14. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The probe should be suspended on the grate for an accurate reading. Stick it thru a piece of potato or a block of wood with a hole in it.
    Sure it will make a difference...the last 1/4" of the probe is where it reads, if thats touching anything, it's gonna give a false reading of your actual grate temp.
    Trying to figure out how your grate temp can be 150 degree diff. in a couple inches??
  15. rikil

    rikil Newbie

    Makes sense, I will use a piece of wood next time.

    However, when I would open the lid and not move the probe, I would see an immediate drop in the probe's reading because of the heat I let out when opening the lid. The rebar grate I have has a MUCH higher specific heat coefficient than the air surrounding it so you would think the probe would stay the same temp as the grate if, in fact, the probe was reading the grate temp.

    I certainly see your point and it is good practice and I can see how I could easily be reading the grate temp. It just didn't seem like that to me.

    Thanks for the advice.
  16. rikil

    rikil Newbie

    Here's my baffle, tuning plate and charcoal basket. All were relatively easy to make, just took a couple of hours.


    I also made a stand to set my thermometer prob in (thanks bbq bubba) so it doesn't touch the meat or grate and the modification to the stack. I think I am ready to go.

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