6 hour "soft" fire problem

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Gizmo
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6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by Gizmo » May 14th, 2014, 7:05 am

So I'm guessing this is the place to get opinions on fire management (moderators please move me if not - we could start a fire management department?) ….

After about 6 hours of burn (long after the choke for ribs and chicken) I've noticed Egor wants to be stubborn and not stay up at temp. Not major - just annoying.

An inspection of the fire basket shows less cherry-red coals and more partially lit briquettes.

I have a theory that one of my habits has decided to bite me in a soft place…..

I BOUNCE the fire basket each time just before I add fuel.

This is from my charcoal experimenting days when ash build-up would try to choke off an otherwise healthy fire. A simple bounce would drop most of that ash and it could breathe better.

Maybe I'm dropping ash AND coals gradually so after 6 hours I've lost some of my bed of coals to the ash pan?
Are my openings in the 3/4-9-flat expanded steel too large? I've already done an overlay of 1/2-13-flat in the bottom and slightly up the sides that seemed to help.

Has anyone done any serious trial/error on basket material to determine best one for good ole blue bag?

As always - thanks for your input fellas ….. :D


And on the eighth day God created barbecue …. because he DOES love us and he wants us to be happy. :D
Current smokers: Egor (trailered RF) and Easybake (tabletop pellet drive)

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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by SoloQue » May 14th, 2014, 8:19 am

I too did the bounce thing on long cooks and found the same thing. Many times I needed to almost rebuild my coal base which forced me to overfeed and fight high temps in the process. No more basket bouncing for me when using wood as I ended up with just what you said small "bits that had to life to them since i had bounced the embers off I'm assuming.


If it can't be smoked .... try frying it. It that don't work, it's probably best just left alone

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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by DUAYNE B » May 14th, 2014, 9:04 am

wow, good stuff, as i am going to build a basket for this smoker i,m doing now. So would just simple stoking be better for basket fire, kind of stir the pot for say? i use strictly wood after smoker is up to temp, has anyone had ill affect from just wood in basket versus grate with no walls ?



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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by Gizmo » May 14th, 2014, 12:38 pm

I'm guessing that maybe a solid floor in the basket might be a starting place. I would think that breathable sidewalls in the fire basket would still be a good idea maybe since the hottest part of the core will always end up at the very bottom and air still has to get to it? maybe? :-B

As far as wood goes - I would think because of the nature and shape of wood splits - they would probably not have this problem hardly at all…. but my all-wood experience is limited to campfires - not exactly a good comparison….. :D


And on the eighth day God created barbecue …. because he DOES love us and he wants us to be happy. :D
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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by Puff » May 14th, 2014, 8:53 pm

In my area for the last 3 years there has been a big increase in restaurants that have wood burning ovens for bread and pizza. In watching them cook in these ovens they just stack wood in the back end, directly on the firebrick and the ash just gets brushed aside to burn down . Maybe there is something to learn from these systems. It would appear at first look that we are just using the heat and smoke a bit more and in a different way then they are. Your solid floor idea is not much different


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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by Gizmo » May 14th, 2014, 8:59 pm

Good point puff! :-B


And on the eighth day God created barbecue …. because he DOES love us and he wants us to be happy. :D
Current smokers: Egor (trailered RF) and Easybake (tabletop pellet drive)

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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by Rodcrafter » May 15th, 2014, 10:40 am

I have a floor made of 3/4" solid square stock spaced 1/2" apart. I really only use charcoal in the beginning to get up to temp then wood only after that, and have not had the same experiences you are describing. On long cooks I have had to empty some ash from my ash pan and throw 1/2 chimney of lit coals back in to get back on track.

jm2cw


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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by Gizmo » May 15th, 2014, 9:04 pm

Thanks RC!
I've been thinking about that…. :D


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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by Puff » May 16th, 2014, 8:53 pm

Maybe silly thought ...could you partition off the floor of the basket with solid material for something like 60% of the open area that is already there? Maybe even another thought is to create a deeper "V" in the fire basket with solid material that funnels ash to the center even more than the sloped sides and then obstructing that flow in the center with a piece of 1 1/2" angle turned with the angle up?


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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by Gizmo » May 17th, 2014, 5:22 am

Interesting you mention that Puff. I've toyed with the idea of turning the entire floor of the basket into several shallow charcoal chimneys then use bar stock like RC or similar to create the floor…… :D


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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by Puff » May 17th, 2014, 10:36 pm

Tomorrow I'm going to cut some 1/4 plates to add to the long sides of the basket sloping in towards the center in the center I'll toss in a hunk of angle iron and fire it up. I've burned the thing 8 times already and kept a temp log. While I won't know what I'm looking for, I'll gladly post the temps over a few hours. My problem is that after the first time with charcoal, I've used only wood from start to finish but have not yet put any foods in it.

My burns are typically something you see in a fireplace with a grate. The logs burn until they get too small to support the internal draft and eventually I have 1-2 little charcoal lumps of wood left. So as long as I need heat, I just keep adding sticks. Gee, that sounds dumb doesn't it?


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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by SoloQue » May 18th, 2014, 4:57 am

That really sounds like you are not feeding the fire often enough. As a rule I am usually seeing half burnt sticks when I am tossing in the next round of wood. You might need to back off on the intake of air and increase fuel frequency. That should allow for a bigger fire base without going crazy on overall heat.
Hope that helps


If it can't be smoked .... try frying it. It that don't work, it's probably best just left alone

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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by Gizmo » May 18th, 2014, 6:54 am

I also like to see a little "barely lit" fuel in the basket when I'm adding fuel.

WARNING: THE REST OF THIS POST IS BORING TO ALL EXCEPT THE MOST ADDICTED SMOKERBUILDER! :-B

Theoretically if I could plot heat output of specific pieces of fuel against time - in an ideal situation I could see heat output from new fuel on it's way up while the previous fuel's heat output was on it's way down …. it moves the heat output (convective) "peaks" closer together so all that hot steel (radiant) has a better chance of carrying the overall temp across the "valleys". Ideally the CC temp won't have any idea it even happened …..

I got in the habit of using a #10 can as a fuel measurement/adding scoop type device. I even put a handle on one. I haven't changed in years - just to reduce one of the variables. On an RF cooker I always add a lit chimney of briquettes (1.75 of the #10 cans worth) to an unlit basket full of briquettes with the draft/stack wide open. I let the heat build until I get to where I want the CC temp then set the draft/stack back to where I "think" they should be (sweet spot). Once I have 20 or 30 minutes of stable heat I open the FB and look things over. Usually there's some unlit fuel at the bottom of the basket. If it looks like a #10 can worth or less then I check the clock on the wall. I know - I'm anal. But there is nothing worse than forgetting to add fuel properly during an otherwise good cook. I like to add fuel on the hour or half hour if at all possible - I seem to remember better.

After about 3 of these refueling trips (usually 30 minute intervals) I can tell if I'm building up unlit fuel (too often) or I'm losing unlit fuel (not often enough).

I guess on how much briquettes to add (1-1/2 cans?) and try to push it out to an hour … but every fire I've built in the last few years has landed between 30 and 60 minutes for an ideal refueling cycle. On our last big cook with Egor and Orvis at full meat capacity we ended up with about a 45 minute cycle - I used my phone's timer to get it done.

THERE IS NOTHING HANDY ABOUT A 41 MINUTE FUELING CYCLE!

Just too many refreshments in between to keep it all straight.

…. I guess that's the art of tending a fire :D


And on the eighth day God created barbecue …. because he DOES love us and he wants us to be happy. :D
Current smokers: Egor (trailered RF) and Easybake (tabletop pellet drive)

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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by SoloQue » May 18th, 2014, 10:18 am

Rick, I have never successfully gone 1.5 hrs without having a coal base too low to work with but those have all been by accident, 30 & 45 minutes are my best cycles depending on outside temp and type of wood. Even though the CC seems to hold temp over that 1.5 with maybe a slight drop taking place, the next fuel load never quite takes in time and I see the dreaded heavy white smoke with the creep of the temp falling or worse yet I didn't stick around and came back an hour later to find everything at a standstill and ole Pops just pumping white smoke. The dogs usually eat well shortly after this as they don't seem to mind the extremely bitter Q that I just created.


If it can't be smoked .... try frying it. It that don't work, it's probably best just left alone

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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by Rodcrafter » May 18th, 2014, 10:38 am

I use a timer, because well you know I can get distracted. My BY cooker gets fed on the hour, my big boy gets feed every 45 minutes. And the amount of sticks is not always the same because some wood even from the same tree burns faster than other pieces. So depending on what I see in the FB determines what I put in it. But the time intervals are very important.

jm2cw


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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by Gizmo » May 18th, 2014, 12:46 pm

It would appear that we are all singing from the same hymnal - maybe just on slightly different pages…..

That's why they call it a hobby instead of a science …..

Thanks for the input fellas :D


And on the eighth day God created barbecue …. because he DOES love us and he wants us to be happy. :D
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Re: 6 hour "soft" fire problem

Post by Puff » May 18th, 2014, 6:43 pm

Whew ! I might have been better off finding a nice restaurant instead of trying to cook it myself !

On the other hand. This all makes great sense and despite my novice cooking... I KNOW my cooker is up to the job. At about 45 minutes, I add more splits, temperatures remain stable and it will stay that way as long as I keep adding fuel.

What I think I meant above is that ...if I do let it go for about 1 1/2 hours, that is what I would wind up with...just a few thin sticks of charcoal and a rather complete burn of the basket that was 2/3 full.


Make no mistake, there ain't no powder in this Puff ! And... I'm not really a crazy person but I play one in real life

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