Charcoal grill/smoker questions

Discussion in 'The Smokehouse' started by Dpopps, May 28, 2021.

  1. Dpopps

    Dpopps

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    I've only used a pellet smoker and decided to get a cheap charcoal setup but I'm having problems.

    1. When using the offset box it seems not enough heat makes it in the actual grill side.

    2. Seems to really eat through the charcoal and using well over a bag, even on a quicker smoke.

    3. The offset side seems to fill up with to much ash on longer smokes.

    4. Is there a big difference in lump vs biscuit charcoal ?

    5. Is it me or the smoker? Is there any potential for this to be decent or am I wasting my time?

    20210527_164951.jpg
     
  2. The Wood Wolverine

    The Wood Wolverine

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    How are you venting the offset side? Try keeping that vent wide open and control heat with the firebox inlet vent.

    When using that as offset, you’re only looking for 200-275ish degrees for smokin’.

    Looks like a decent unit. Just get some advice here and see where it takes ya.
     
  3. CoachSchaller

    CoachSchaller

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    several things:
    that type will EAT through the charcoal. Briquettes will last longer than lump. I like the type with hickory incorporated. Lump lights quicker and burns out quicker, but leaves fewer ashes.
    It would take 11-15 pounds or charcoal for 1 pork butt, and I would have to reload every 2-4 hours.
    Some of my best smoked butts came from my offset. They do not hold in the heat but can be used effectively - just more hands on with tinkering with the air intake.
    I also used big chunks of hickory in the offset throughout the cooking, both for flavor and for heat. Sometimes you just need to use actual wood to get the temp up.
    It is mostly the smoker... but it can be done.
     
  4. Dpopps

    Dpopps

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    Well I guess it sounds about right. Flat cut brisket took almost 2 bags and I needed to reload every 90 minutes, but it was a really windy day. Didn't realize it took so much charcoal.
    I'm venting using the top chimney and only using the fire box vent. Just seems the heat has a hard time getting in. The grill will hardly be above 200 and the fire box is extremely hot.
     
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  5. The Wood Wolverine

    The Wood Wolverine

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    I use smaller hardwood splits so I’ve not noticed how mine acts with charcoal. I don’t have much issue with getting heat in and it’s larger than yours. Just a suggestion, maybe try and keep the coals close as possible to the passage hole, without blocking of course.
     
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  6. Eric VW

    Eric VW Moderator

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    I bought a cheapy Walmart brand (Backyard Grill is the brand I believe) offset some year ago and one of the biggest issues out of the gate was the gappage at the interface between the side box and the main unit. Made some tinfoil gaskets and that licked the excess air problem.
    If the side box sheet metal is a really light gauge, you could add a piece of welding blanket to insulate it- cooler temps can allow much of the heat to radiate from the side box sheet metal.
    On briquettes, not much for me to say- I’ve only ever used lump w/ some chunks of cherry from the stacks and generally don’t need to reload until about 3 hours in @ 225°F main grill area. I start my next batch of lump about 25 minutes before the actual reload.

    You might look up the minion or snake methods w/ charcoal, but I’m not sure how well it would work in the side box. A coworker of mine loves using these methods on his Weber kettle.
     
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  7. Eckie

    Eckie

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    Minion can work in a side box, but usually involves a basket device that has separated "alleys" for the charcoal so they can burn minion style. Room for such a device in that burn box may be a slight issue.

    I believe someone here has posted a pic before of a minion basket. Probably SKEETER McCLUSKEY since all he does is smoke/grill/cookout... :D
     
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  8. WeldrDave

    WeldrDave Military Outpost Moderator

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    :yes: exactly. I do the same thing and add coal as needed. I start my coals outside in a chimney for re-load and dump when the majority of smoke has burn't off.
     
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  9. The Wood Wolverine

    The Wood Wolverine

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    +1. When I use any kind of charcoal, I fire it off separate from my meats, and I too use a charcoal chimney lighter, then dump them in the firebox for the smoker.
     
  10. The Wood Wolverine

    The Wood Wolverine

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    Used a couple briquettes of charcoal to get the splits going, then it was all cherry to smoke the goods. I can get up to 300 and beyond no problem, not that I’d want to.
     

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  11. Dpopps

    Dpopps

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    Thanks for all the replies. After some YouTube it looks like most use charcoal to get things going then primarily use wood for the smoking and heat. I was using charcoal and wood soaked in water. Next time I'll try starting things with charcoal and using wood After that. I also use a chimney to get things going, it works great.
     
  12. woody5506

    woody5506

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    Don't be scared of hot and fast smoking for certain stuff. Heck there's people who only do it that way and swear by it. Lots of thought and controversy on that subject!
     
  13. The Wood Wolverine

    The Wood Wolverine

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    Slow and low is my tempo... works for me.
     
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  14. woody5506

    woody5506

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    Me too typically, although with chicken or turkey I'm more likely to go hot and fast
     
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  15. FatBoy85

    FatBoy85

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    Windy days can really make your bbqing for things like that tough. Unless there's an insulated part of your grill, you'll fight it all day. I mainly use a mix of charcoal and plain wood. Often it's apple or plum. Of course it will burn with more open flame but still smokes the meat just the same. This kind of grill you have is similar to tube stoves or barrel. They are horrendous with heat displacement and leaks it often due to not so tight seals. You CAN modify yours with stove door seals that you replace every once in awhile when the door doesn't shut as tight. Finding these leaks are easy as a smoking fire can show them, mark with soapstone and fix later.

    I tend to build my fire not in the offset but on the side away from the exit stack and place food on the stack side. Smoke and heat travel that way naturally usually. Other Ways to keep heat in is some will put foil and line the top of their grill shiny side facing in. Mixed results here but it really depends on the food you got on the heat. Another thing to try is aluminum trays that can hold food to more consistent Temps usually AFTER food has reached a safe temp. Then you cook more or keep it warm. I do my ribs this way, cook slightly over a nice fire and then cut and store in a cake tray and cover with foil. Slow and Low for the next few hours.

    Wood, briquettes and lump charcoal all have their place. Temperature and heat placement with meat placement will play a huge part in it. Your meat starts looking "done" when the meat shows the bone by shrinking if there is one.... play around with your grill a lot if you can, it helps you learn the nuances of it.
     
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  16. woody5506

    woody5506

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    2 bags of coal does seem like a ton for one brisket. For the sake of comparison the last long smoke I did on my Weber smokey mountain was 20 hours and I went through about 3/4 of a bag of Kingsford original. Completely different smoker design though.
     
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  17. FatBoy85

    FatBoy85

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    If you put the grill in the sun, this can help quite a bit if you are cooking something that requires more steady heat and the fire is just picking up the slack. Smaller fires are nice then it's a matter of dropping in a wood chunk or two.
     
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  18. Dpopps

    Dpopps

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    Thanks for all the tips, I've never tried hot and fast. If it's poultry I cook hotter though. Hopefully will have some time soon and try things out using primarily wood.
     
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