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Smoking Advice for a First Timer

 
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Robertson850



Joined: 06 Feb 2017
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Feb 06 2017    Post subject: Smoking Advice for a First Timer Reply with quote

New to the forum and new to smoking. Just looking for a little advice. Recently completed our 250 gallon reverse flow smoker project/build. Tried it out for the first time yesterday with a rack of ribs and a pork shoulder. Ribs turned out great, but the pork shoulder wasn't a complete success. Had to stick it in the oven for about an hour. Biggest issue was that the thermometers we purchased clearly aren't the best, so we had to rig something up. This made regulating and maintaining temp a little difficult. Any suggestions for brand and style thermometers? Thinking about a digital, because I've read they're the most accurate and easy to use. Also, any advice on maintaining temp?
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k.a.m.
BBQ Mega Star


Joined: 12 Dec 2007
Posts: 26019
Location: Southeast Texas.

PostPosted: Feb 06 2017    Post subject: Reply with quote

For digital therms I use Maverick ET-73's they are dual probe therms one for grate temp and one for your meat.
For door therms I buy only Tel-Tru with a 4" stem and 1/2" NPT threads to screw into my coupling.
In order to maintain temps you first need to learn the cooker and fire management. In order for me to help you here I first need to know:
1. How do you start the fire? Do you use some charcoal with some splits or just wood to start the coal base?
2. How hot do you run the cooker and at what temp were you adding fuel?
3. How much fuel were you adding and were you cooking with just fire or a coal base?
4. Are you running with the exhaust wide open and regulating temps with the intake air?
5. I need specks on your cooker:
A. Firebox size.
B. Intake opening.
C. Exhaust size.
D. Firebox to cooking chamber opening.
E Reverse flow or tuning plate.
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Robertson850



Joined: 06 Feb 2017
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Feb 06 2017    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks! I'll look into both. Here's the info:

1. I pulled the basket, made a bed of briquettes, and set it on the propane burner. Once it got going, I returned it to the FB and threw on two pieces of split wood.

2. I tried to maintain a temp of 250°F. Though it varied some. Hit 270° a few times, and at one point dropped to 200.°
The idea was to add about a log an hour, or if the temp started dropping around 220-225.

3. Answered this sort of in #2, but I was using a mix of split oak and occasional split of pecan. Has been under cover for the past year, so I'm assuming it was seasoned well.

4. Exhaust was wide open for the most part. I adjusted it a few times, but achieved a clearer smoke (which I've heard is what you want to see) if I ran it wide open and the FB intake about half open.

5. Cooker Specks:

A - 19,683in³
B - 3.5" x 14" - So 49in². It's a rectangular opening, with a sliding plate to regulate intake
C - It's a rectangular stack. 6"x6"x2.5" - 1080in³ - slightly over the reccomended 5% FB volume
D - FB to Chamber is around 740in². Matching the area of the smoke turn around at the far end.
E - And of course, reverse flow.
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Canadian Bacon
BBQ Super All Star


Joined: 06 Sep 2007
Posts: 13550
Location: Mississauga ON Canada

PostPosted: Feb 07 2017    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find when I run my stickburner cooking big cuts of meat like brisket and butts you can never keep those temps exact.
I always aim for 250 degrees but 20 degrees up or down is not a problem....that is not a big swing in temp when you are cooking for 10-16 hrs.
I run my stick burner with the exhaust wide open and use my intake to adjust temp.....I also have a sliding tuning plate on mine.
Once you use your cooker a few times you will find its sweet spot and it will be much easier to manage temps.

Preheat your wood on or in your firebox so you get quick combustion...
you may get a little white smoke for a minute....then comes the thin blue....I always try to keep a small hot clean fire.
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k.a.m.
BBQ Mega Star


Joined: 12 Dec 2007
Posts: 26019
Location: Southeast Texas.

PostPosted: Feb 07 2017    Post subject: Reply with quote

You will find it nearly impossible to maintain a "Constant temp" in a sick burner. What you need is to find where the cooker likes to run with the lowest temp to maintain a constant coal base and the upper limits. For example my 250 gall cooker "Bahama Mama" likes to run between 250° and 275° this means that depending on the weather and type of wood I am using I am adding fuel about every 30 to 45 minutes. When my digital grate therms read 260° to 265° I am adding a split and in that time the cooker will continue to fall to around 250° and once the split catches the cooker will start to climb back up to around 275° this process takes about 30 to 45 minutes.
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Robertson850



Joined: 06 Feb 2017
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Feb 07 2017    Post subject: Reply with quote

I appreciate all the advice! Giving it another run this weekend. Will update and let y'all know how it turns out.
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Brutalgrandpa
BBQ Fan


Joined: 27 Dec 2007
Posts: 140

PostPosted: Feb 08 2017    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with the others. My stick burner runs all over the place but I found that it usually likes to settle in around 250. Also, once my charcoal is a full bed of coals, the logs flame right up when I reload it. That tends to spike it up some. I found that if I let it get fully settled, usually about an hour, I can maintain better temps without fussing too much with it. Unfortunately, each smoker is totally different and only you can figure out the best method, by trial and error.

I use a maverick et-72. I made a bracket that I mounted to my grate that the probe slides into. I then watch my temps from inside and walk out and adjust as necessary. The et-72 has two ports so also lets you plug into food if you want.

I recently bought a pellet smoker as well because I wanted a little more no fuss no muss but will still use the offset when I feel the need for a more smokey flavor. Enjoy!
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GreenSmoker
BBQ Pro


Joined: 15 Jun 2010
Posts: 605
Location: Green Mountain State of Vermont

PostPosted: Feb 12 2017    Post subject: Reply with quote

k.a.m. and CB cover it well....my 130 tuner runs at 285 with my eyes closed...fighting it to 275 isn't worth the fight...exhaust wide open and the intakes mebe 1/2 an inch...wood every 35 min or so..


P.S. Kevin...."Constant temp" in a sick burner....nice touch....
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jeepdad
BBQ All Star


Joined: 21 Sep 2008
Posts: 5569
Location: Stafford, Virginia (Transplanted Tarheel)

PostPosted: Feb 14 2017    Post subject: Reply with quote

Robertson, welcome to the wonderful world of smoking brother.

You will get sound advice here as you've already found out. My two cents is simply "learn your pit". It's what my coonass brother kam is telling you as is CB. Both long time experienced Pitmasters.

Learn your pit; where she likes to run and go from there. Never be afraid to jump in with both feet. It is experience that will teach you more than we ever will.

To become really good at smoking just takes time in your pit and lessons learned from your friends here.

Like in long range sniper shooting always be aware of environmentals. Wind, temperature, humidity, moisture all play a part. Some pieces of meat are way more forgiving than others. Enjoy.

--Dan
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