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Temp issues on new to me smoker
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deere green
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15 14 10:39 pm    Post subject: Temp issues on new to me smoker Reply with quote

Need some help from the pros here. Bought a smoker and having issues with getting to temp.

Below are some pictures to give a visual on what i am going to attempt to describe.

Cooking chamber is 54" long and has a diameter of 24".
Fire box is about 44" long and has a diameter of 24" with the bottom 1/3 cut off.
Stack on the smoker is 3" diameter and is cut 5-1/2" down into the smoker, and is about 30" tall.
there is a damper between the smoker and the fire box.
this is a modified RF where the RF plate is bent in a really wide U shape and is about 4" short of both the front and back of the smoker. It is not like others i have seen where it is tight to the front and the back and then 6-12" short of the opposite side of the smoker from the firebox.
the rig has 2 gas burners below the firebox and the holes in the bottom of the fire box are roughly 12" in diameter for the burners.
the opening to the smoker is about 12" wide and roughly 5-6" tall.
the grate for the fire has no holes in the bottom and has 4" tube steel all the way around with opening for water and small holes drilled for steam/moisture.

Ok, so now to the issue. it is cold in my neck of the woods but we had some nice temps this weekend to try this thing out. at about 50 deg outside i was having issues getting the cooking chamber above 180 without using the gas burners. i would get the fire nice and hot and then when i shut the door to the fire box it was either starving for air or didn't have enough flow because the fire would have issues staying that hot. don't know if it was a combination of where the holes are for the burners on the bottom of the fire box or that there were no holes in the grate/box where the fire is built or if the stack will not support the needed flow. i also need to seal the door as i noticed that it is leaking like crazy all the way around! so that is my long run on sentence of an issue that i need solved like yesterday as we have a big cook this Thursday.

also the fire box feeds two smokers. sizes are the same and the damper does an ok job shutting down 1 smoker if you only want to cook on 1 or the other.












thanks in advance for all the help guys.
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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15 14 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That pit has been designed as a gas pit, with smoke flavor add on.

You will always struggle with that set up, unless you burn the gas.

1) Level the pit, front to back and side to side.

2) get yourself some expanded metal, build a charcoal / wood basket, give yourself 2 - 2.5" air flow underneath.

3) If you want to go wood and charcoal only, you could cut out the burners and the steamer, put in a new floor to the firebox, add your charcoal basket and cook away.

If it was a working pit with gas burners, then I would presume that the cooker works OK that way, in which case, start looking for a great local lpg supplier, with good prices... or look for a welder, some plate, and some rebar or expanded metal for your fire basket.

Unless you have a metal shop on hand, burn the gas and smolder the wood as it was designed! Because there's nothing you are going to do by Wednesday night, that would have it working by Thursday!
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deere green
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16 14 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SoEzzy; thanks for the quick reply! i do have the equipment to make the mods.

if i close off the burner openings where should i put the air intake on the fire pit and how big do i need to make the intake?

also do i have large enough openings to the cook chamber and is the stack sized correctly?

really do want to get to the point where we are only burning charcoal and wood.
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Cat797
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16 14 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately I do not see the requisite gas valves on your cooker, so first off, please, please, please read this:

http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=51291

Then read this to see how to do it right:

http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=43117

Personally I would scrap the propane set up and make modifications to the firebox. You should use Feldon's pit calculator to make sure you have the appropriate stack diameter and length. I'm going to guess without looking at the numbers that the Firebox to cook chamber opening is a little small as is the diameter of the stack for your size pit. I am also assuming that the only intake air getting into your fire is from the gas burner holes, so you have no way to adjust the intake. That would be where I start.

Ed
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Cat797
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16 14 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Link to the calculator:

Link to BBQ Pit Calculator
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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16 14 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

deere green wrote:
SoEzzy; thanks for the quick reply! i do have the equipment to make the mods.

if i close off the burner openings where should i put the air intake on the fire pit and how big do i need to make the intake?


Because everything on the pit is round, I'd go with pipe with screw on caps, run the numbers for the pit calculator on one side then double up.

I'd put the pipes on the end walls, 2 or 3 on each side, as appropriate, and you could section the firebox with a plate in the middle, then you wouldn't have to run both sides if you are wanting to do a smaller cook. Sectioned firebox would also allow you to run each side at a different temperature.

Quote:
also do i have large enough openings to the cook chamber and is the stack sized correctly?

really do want to get to the point where we are only burning charcoal and wood.


I think the firebox to cooking chamber openings are probably about 1/2 the size you need, run the numbers as above for one side on the pit calculator for actual sizing.

I think that the 4" exhaust is probably shorter than it should be, if you have spare pipe I'd go up to 6"... just because!

Run the numbers then come back with more questions! Wink
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deere green
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16 14 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cat797 wrote:
Unfortunately I do not see the requisite gas valves on your cooker, so first off, please, please, please read this:

http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=51291

Then read this to see how to do it right:

http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=43117

Personally I would scrap the propane set up and make modifications to the firebox. You should use Feldon's pit calculator to make sure you have the appropriate stack diameter and length. I'm going to guess without looking at the numbers that the Firebox to cook chamber opening is a little small as is the diameter of the stack for your size pit. I am also assuming that the only intake air getting into your fire is from the gas burner holes, so you have no way to adjust the intake. That would be where I start.

Ed


they are on the other side of the cooker but there is a valve to control each burner separately.
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Cat797
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16 14 1:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deere,

I'm talking about valves that sense a flameout and shut off gas supply to the burners. In the event you are using gas and wood at the same time, and you have a flameout, you could potentially fill your cooker with propane. With the presence of open flame of the wood burning, could result in big explosion = BAD. The two threads I posted illustrate this danger and how to avoid it. If yours isn't set up that way, you are flirting with disaster IMHO............Not being critical, just don't want to see a fellow Ringer go boom.

Ed
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deere green
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16 14 2:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cat797 wrote:
Deere,

I'm talking about valves that sense a flameout and shut off gas supply to the burners. In the event you are using gas and wood at the same time, and you have a flameout, you could potentially fill your cooker with propane. With the presence of open flame of the wood burning, could result in big explosion = BAD. The two threads I posted illustrate this danger and how to avoid it. If yours isn't set up that way, you are flirting with disaster IMHO............Not being critical, just don't want to see a fellow Ringer go boom.

Ed


follow you now! now i really want to get to charcoal and wood only!
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deere green
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16 14 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ran the numbers on the pit calculator and have 2 final questions.

1. how far down do i mount the stack on the side of the smoker?

2. if i am going to charcoal/wood full time do i need to close the gap on the RF plate between the front and back of the cook chamber and leave a gap opposite the fire box sized per the pit calculator? or am i good with current setup?

gap is same front and back see below. i can remove grate tonight and get a better picture if needed on this one.




Again thanks for all the help guys, ya'll are a stand up bunch.
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k.a.m.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16 14 3:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my opinion you have a lot going wrong with the cooker.
1.) The so called modified R/F plate is killing you for getting heat to the side opposite the firebox, Is the front portion of the cooker where the exhausts are being fed by the horizontal chamber?

2.) The exhaust needs to be increased to at least 6" ID.

3.) The current firebox/propane burner assist needs to be scrapped and a new firebox built to proper proportions.
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deere green
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16 14 5:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

k.a.m. wrote:
In my opinion you have a lot going wrong with the cooker.
1.) The so called modified R/F plate is killing you for getting heat to the side opposite the firebox, Is the front portion of the cooker where the exhausts are being fed by the horizontal chamber?

2.) The exhaust needs to be increased to at least 6" ID.

3.) The current firebox/propane burner assist needs to be scrapped and a new firebox built to proper proportions.


well that sucks Crying or Very sad

1. not following you. please elaborate. I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed sometimes. the stack/exhaust is mounted on the right side if i'm standing in front of the smoker. the u shaped plate runs full length currently from the right side to the left side of the cook chamber (again if i am standing in front of the cooker in the pictures above). see below for the best quick drawing i can put together




3. you think the firebox is salvageable if i split it in half with some plate?


thanks!
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Cat797
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16 14 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When you had issues the other day, were you running 1 chamber or two?

The stack definitely needs to be bigger. If I put your numbers into the calculator, a 3" stack would need to be almost 8 feet in length. I don't think you want to do that. Move to a 5 or 6 inch exhaust. The firebox is plenty big for one cook chamber, but not 2. Ideally you would want to cut it off and rebuild at an appropriate size for what you want to do. If you are on a tight time line, I would think you could cobble something together to get it working. What I would do would be to cut the bottom off and weld 2 plates at a 90 degree angle creating a V. Create a fire grate that gives you air underneath. Then put intakes in the sides to allow adjustment.

Like this:


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k.a.m.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16 14 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

deere green wrote:
k.a.m. wrote:
In my opinion you have a lot going wrong with the cooker.
1.) The so called modified R/F plate is killing you for getting heat to the side opposite the firebox, Is the front portion of the cooker where the exhausts are being fed by the horizontal chamber?

2.) The exhaust needs to be increased to at least 6" ID.

3.) The current firebox/propane burner assist needs to be scrapped and a new firebox built to proper proportions.


well that sucks Crying or Very sad


1. not following you. please elaborate. I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed sometimes. the stack/exhaust is mounted on the right side if i'm standing in front of the smoker. the u shaped plate runs full length currently from the right side to the left side of the cook chamber (again if i am standing in front of the cooker in the pictures above). see below for the best quick drawing i can put together
Once the cooker starts to draw what it can with the small exhaust most of the heat/smoke enters the chamber and goes straight up because the plate is open on the edge by the firebox, it will following the course of least resistance. If the plates were welded shut on the sides and open the opposite end of the firebox the plate could evenly heat up and the heat/smoke would be carried the length of the chamber.




3. you think the firebox is salvageable if i split it in half with some plate?
You could cut out the bottom and extend it as Ed has shown. I would however make the firebox large enough to wall off the two. I would want two independent fireboxes, one for each chamber.


thanks!

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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16 14 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wood grate / charcoal basket... potatos / potatoes some where to burn the fuel! Wink
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Last edited by SoEzzy on Wed Dec 17 14 3:43 am; edited 2 times in total
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k.a.m.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17 14 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use a basket in Bahama Mama my comp cooker. I do not have an air flow problem in fact she sucks like a Hoover vacuum cleaner. I think the word "Charcoal basket" is confusing to some folks, it does not mean we are cooking with charcoal. Most stick burners now days utilize a basket, it helps contain the coal base allowing you to run a smaller hotter more efficient fire rather than a raging hot fire with a large coal base.
I start Bahama Mama with about two chimneys of charcoal and two wood splits, after that it is all wood that goes into my basket.
In the end it really depends on what works best for you and your cooker.
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Cat797
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17 14 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I primarily burn sticks in my offset, if my coal base needs rebuilt, I happily throw some charcoal into my coal basket during a cook, which also happens to be where I chuck my sticks during a cook......so, I will respectfully disagree that a coal basket blocks airflow through my cooker. It does not, because I have adequate airflow underneath my fire, and I do not have my firebox crammed full. I have also built my cooker within the recommendations of the pit calculator, so I have the right sized stack and openings to achieve the correct draw. I try to maintain a small hot fire, or more appropriately, a right-sized fire for the temperature I'm trying to achieve.


Also, I agree with k.a.m.'s advice Deere......if you are going to keep both smoke chambers on your trailer, you will ultimately need an appropriate sized firebox, which I would partition in the middle to support them. My advice to you was geared towards your comment that you have a large cook coming up shortly, so was trying to limp you along until you can overhaul the firebox. JMTCW, and it's worth exactly what you paid for it. Cool

Good Luck!
Ed
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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17 14 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd love to see you out here in the Northern climes, where there is no cheap wood for running a pit, charcoal as a fuel source with smoking wood for the flavor, has mostly worked for those who want to BBQ. Oh how much easier it would be, to restrict "real" BBQ only to those states with Post Oak, Hickory, Pecan or Mesquite coming out its a$$!

All the rest are just grilling with added some smoke flavor.
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Greasyfingers
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17 14 7:15 am    Post subject: cooker Reply with quote

An easy/lazy/smart way to fix the reverse flow plate is lay some strip plate in the gap each side and weld it solid. Then cut out a correct size hole in the end opposite the firebox.

Conflicting info here.

Do you want to fix it to limp through the upcoming cook? Or the general consensus here is scrap that pile of doom you have now as a firebox and consruct something decent.

Charcoal baskets are for cooking marsh mellows at girl scouts pinics.
I prefer to make my firebox grate super heavy out of 1" rebar or something similar laying around.
This way you can throw trunks in there and they don't rust out in 6 months.
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Wreckless
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17 14 8:42 am    Post subject: Re: cooker Reply with quote

Greasyfingers wrote:


Charcoal baskets are for cooking marsh mellows at girl scouts pinics.
I prefer to make my firebox grate super heavy out of 1" rebar or something similar laying around.
This way you can throw trunks in there and they don't rust out in 6 months.

Having built a cooker or two, I have used both grates and baskets in my cookers. I prefer a basket. It contains the coal base much better. This basket is not going anywhere anytime soon. GS cookies rock BTW.

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