Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

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cjbarnwell
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Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by cjbarnwell » August 27th, 2012, 11:42 am

Hey Guys,
Fired up the smoker for the first time this weekend. It is a 250 gallon Rf smoker. I noticed the temperature shot up very fast when we built the fire, about 350 in 15-20 mins. We had all the dampers open. Started closing them off and it settled in around 250. I found myself constantly adjusting the dampers on the fire box to maintain 250. It would go up past 250 or drop down below 250 with slight adjustments. Can you guys tell me how to get a more stable temp to hold for over an hour or so?
Also, the left side is about 15-20 degrees cooler than the right. I understand the fire is on the hotter side, but is this normal? Can my adjustable baffle help me with this?

Thanks



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Re: Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by Frank_Cox » August 27th, 2012, 11:48 am

First watch this video I did about how to build a fire in a reverse flow smoker and double the amount of wood I am using.
second adjust your plate to about 1" open and run the smoker for 2 hours at that setting.
third remember that every change you make takes 30 minutes to an hour to take full effect. you are cooking low and slow, so you hafta go slow also :beer:


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Re: Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by SoloQue » August 27th, 2012, 12:00 pm

cjbarnwell wrote:Can you guys tell me how to get a more stable temp to hold for over an hour or so?
Best single piece of advice to date came from TWSS. He said to start with a small fire and keep a small fire and feed it on a regular basis (I have since partitioned off part of my basket). Once I quit jamming the charcoal basket to the rim my temps quit spiking quite as much. I had such a huge flame, my firebox was glowing sometimes. Once I eased back and let the unit initially come up slowly (warm up takes me 1 - 1.5 hours now) then my adjustments were easier to make since my fire wasn't like a yo-yo burning so hot it was impossible to keep fuel for a steady burn. TWSS (and a whole bunch of the regulars) emphasized the need for a good base of hot coals, once you have that you just drop in 2 or 3 splits every 45 minutes or so. BTW, if I haven't said it enough ... thanks guys for sharing the knowledge, the 250 RF was a huge learning curve over my Webers but its been a fun ride once I started listening. Someone also noted positioning the charcoal basket, that helped me a bunch to pull it back from the smoker body as far as that side getting so much hotter. JMTCW hope it helps :kewl:


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Re: Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by alleyrat58 » August 28th, 2012, 11:20 am

SoloQue wrote:Best single piece of advice to date came from TWSS. He said to start with a small fire and keep a small fire and feed it on a regular basis
:yth:

Thanks, Solo! That was exactly what I was going to say. Give that puppy room to BREATHE!! You don't need a huge fire, just need to take your time, like Frank said, slow and low. Once you get your dampers on the firebox set, you shouldn't need to adjust them much, unless the weather changes drastically. One more time - I can't emphasize enough to feed it regularly to keep a consistent fire. For a while I had my whole team counting the number of charcoal briquettes we put in every time. Seems obsessive, but after a couple of cooks like that we all developed a feel for how much was needed and how often to feed it. I also do not add unlit charcoal - ever. Takes too much energy to ignite it, better to light it, then add, then throw in a split or two.

15 - 20 degrees from end to end is not necessarily bad. I know Solo got his dialed in even closer than that, it's all about learning to cook on it. Hot spots can be used for many things - if you are running behind on particular item and need to bring temp up, cooking items that require a little more temp like Chicken or Ribs, etc. Knowing is half the battle! Temp swings are normal within reason also. If your cooker rises or falls a few degrees it's not the end of the world, you just need to monitor those swings and adjust. Again, echoing what Frank said, over-adjustment of the dampers will just wear you out and your temps will continue to swing. Your electric / gas oven in your kitchen will swing up to 25 degrees in either direction from the set temp - your smoker will swing some also, but proper fire management will control those temp swings. Honestly, I bet I adjust dampers on my cooker less than 5 times once I reach temp.

Like all things, it just takes practice.


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Re: Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by SoloQue » August 28th, 2012, 1:29 pm

alleyrat58 wrote:Your electric / gas oven in your kitchen will swing up to 25 degrees in either direction from the set temp
That is something a whole bunch of folks dont realize when they think of going from a pristine perfect modern oven with electric fans and thermostats to cooking with charcoal. I work in an ISO9001 certified lab and we are all about documenting everything. Our $12K dollar ovens have up to 5 different temp zones of +- 10 degrees inside of them and they are only 2.5 ft cubes inside and even then they idle with a swing of +- 5 degrees once they hit set point. When folks are looking for flatline equal temps on a cooking surface like 30x70 it really needs to be considered in averages of over say 15 - 30 minute periods. When BBQ'ers utilize the electronic therms that are available it can drive folks crazy watching temps change. I had to just force myself to not touch things and see if temp changes were just bounces or rises or if they were actually falling or climbing off of set point. What I found was that I was getting real (short term) spikes shortly after feeding fuel (and huge spikes if I over fed) and I was getting slow continuous drops after about 45 minutes which to my amazement was just about time to add a few more splits. Pardon the sarcasm but I about drove myself nuts with too high expectations. It wasn't until a lab co-worker heard me griping and reminded me just how much our own hightech stuff drifts that I stepped back and took a chill pill so to speak. OK, once again I rambled into a paragragh but the content is in here somewhere. I almost took the incredible fun out of owning my own trailer cooker (once again thanks TQ) until I came to this understanding so I hope it has some usefulleness to your own situation.


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Re: Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by Frank_Cox » August 29th, 2012, 7:45 pm

Both solo and alley rat are both dead on with their explanations. Thanks guys for those posts! I think this thread is sticky worthy!
Moral of the story, do not over and just do not over fuel, take your time and have fun. Be consistent! And practice!

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Re: Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by Gizmo » September 1st, 2012, 5:47 am

Smokers are like women - you've GOT to learn what they like and STICK TO IT!

... otherwise they just stare at you with that wtf look and you won't get invited back to that party any time soon... :D


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Re: Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by Frank_Cox » September 1st, 2012, 4:27 pm

=)) :yth:


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Re: Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by Smokeone » September 1st, 2012, 9:28 pm

=))

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Re: Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by cjbarnwell » September 18th, 2012, 6:16 pm

Thanks for all the tips here guys. I got to fire up the smoker this weekend and use all the advice. The temp came up slow and just hovered around 250 on both ends. Thanks to you Frank for the baffle opening suggestion. It made my fire burn extremely slow. I burned 5 sticks of wood for about 3.5 hrs, which I thought was amazing.



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Re: Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by The Czar » September 18th, 2012, 8:04 pm

alleyrat and solo right at the same time? Is this even possible? Is something wrong with the quadratic formula?


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Re: Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by Frank_Cox » September 18th, 2012, 8:16 pm

you mean the quadratic formula is broken?


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Re: Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by Puff » August 12th, 2013, 8:48 pm

I think it's male human nature to start a fire and watch it roar. The bigger the fire the more chemical brain stimulant we get from it. Yup, know its wrong to overheat the smoker but that glow in a firebox is just a natural testosterone boost


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Re: Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by Rodcrafter » August 13th, 2013, 1:12 pm

dcman (The Czar) wrote:alleyrat and solo right at the same time? Is this even possible? Is something wrong with the quadratic formula?

Only you DC, :beer:


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Re: Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by The Czar » August 13th, 2013, 1:48 pm

;)

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Re: Temperature Variation in RF Smoker

Post by John T » December 14th, 2017, 9:54 am

Morning , First my RF runs within a couple degrees end to end . It's a 250 gal air tank with a 1/4 " plate and 3/8 brick lined box .When building a fire it does cut my time to tempture down to use slivers and small pices of wood till 200 or so . Puff get a chimina build a hot fire in it on the other side of your chair .Thanks again for helping me build a sweet smoker Merry christmas .



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