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timomart
05-24-2010, 09:09 PM
I recently purchased a new reverse-flow stickburner. I am having some issues maintaining the temperature in the main cooking chamber. I have run a couple of seasonings and finally got it up to proper smoking temps (225-240) and maintained it there for around 3 hours with this method...

I filled the charcoal basket with about 10 lbs of lump charcoal and 5 hickory logs and lit it with the propane starter for about 10 minutes with the firebox door open. It took about an hour to get it to 225 and with the adjustment of the butterfly vent on the firebox, I was able to maintain the temps in the 225-240 range for 3 hours.


When the temp dropped to about 215, I removed the basket and filled it with a chimney full of lit coals, several more hickory logs, and topped it off with unlit coals. When I did this, the temp dropped to about 170 and it took about an hour to get it back up to 205 with all of the vents fully open. I wasn't able to get it back up to the 225 mark where I needed it to be.

FYI - The chimney vent was fully open the entire time (I was told to only close that when I want to reduce the temp). The butterfly vent between the firebox and the rib box was only 1/4 open.


I am wondering if anyone has any advice on a better method to maintain temps and add more fuel. Obviously, there is room for improvement. I have pondered adding a BBQ Guru, due to the possibility that I may have an airflow issue. However, I have also thought that maybe I should use wood only and no charcoal. I would love to get it to a point where I can get it up to temps, and not touch it again for 4 hours or so, add more fuel, then have it go another 4 hours or so. Due to my inexperience, I'm not sure that is even possible with this type of smoker.

Here are the measurements of the firebox
20" depth
20" height
24" width


Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
Tim M

Here are some pictures...

http://i963.photobucket.com/albums/ae114/timomart/DSC01753-small.jpg

http://i963.photobucket.com/albums/ae114/timomart/DSC01777-small.jpg

http://i963.photobucket.com/albums/ae114/timomart/DSC01772-small.jpg

http://i963.photobucket.com/albums/ae114/timomart/DSC01758-small.jpg

http://i963.photobucket.com/albums/ae114/timomart/DSC01754-small.jpg

PigCicles
05-24-2010, 10:04 PM
I don't have anything that nice. You have a nice smoker buster.

First I would expect to have to drop a split or two on the fire about once an hour on that - maybe a little longer. I would think that you would want to loose the firebasket and use straight splits (wood). Get a nice bed of coals started and then add wood as your temp starts to drop. How much depends on what you need it to do.

If you don't need to go thru the upper box I wouldn't set the damper to open to it at all .. but again I don't know your cooker.

Capt Dan has a nice reverse flow and might offer up some of his expertise on it.

SmokyOkie
05-24-2010, 10:31 PM
It looks to me like it is designed to burn with a charcoal basket more than with a log fire. The air intake on the firebox is definitely too small to sustain a good wood fire in a box no larger than that.

Have you tried burning it by lighting one end of a full charcoal basket?

Opening the damper to the upright might help your temp prollems by improving air flow, but ultimately, it can only draw as much air as the intake will allow.

jerry516planes
05-25-2010, 04:25 AM
It looks to me like it is designed to burn with a charcoal basket more than with a log fire. The air intake on the firebox is definitely too small to sustain a good wood fire in a box no larger than that.

Have you tried burning it by lighting one end of a full charcoal basket?

Opening the damper to the upright might help your temp prollems by improving air flow, but ultimately, it can only draw as much air as the intake will allow.

I agree. I experimented with the basket as well. What kind of charcoal are you using? The lump burns hotter and a little longer. The brikettes will self smother and need stiring from time to time.

How far does the chimney extend down into the smoke chamber. Please post a picture of this with the grates removed if you can.

Can you get some advice from the builder?

Tell us a little more about where you purchased this unit. I am not familiar with this brand.



Thanks

timomart
05-25-2010, 10:51 AM
I have used both lump charcoal and Kingsford. The lump definitely has worked better for me. I will stick with that. I am thinking that more sticks = more heat. Maybe I can figure out the perfect combination of both. I have found that pulling out that charcoal basket in the middle of cooking is NO fun. Even with welder's gloves on, it is way too hot to mess with. I need to find a better method of removing it, maybe with some type of handled tool or something. Or maybe try just putting coals and wood on the grate in the firebox, avoiding the use of the basket altogether. It is all just trial and error I guess.

I am still trying to find out who built the smoker. I believe I have located the builder, and I will let you know who it is as soon as I verify it. I actually bought this smoker from an individual. He has also given me some advice, and all of it seems to be pointing towards airflow issues. I keep asking myself, "should I try a BBQ Guru?"

timomart
05-25-2010, 11:16 AM
I agree. I experimented with the basket as well. What kind of charcoal are you using? The lump burns hotter and a little longer. The brikettes will self smother and need stiring from time to time.

How far does the chimney extend down into the smoke chamber. Please post a picture of this with the grates removed if you can.

Can you get some advice from the builder?

Tell us a little more about where you purchased this unit. I am not familiar with this brand.



Thanks
I believe that the chimney starts at the top of the main chamber. I will post some pics of the inside as soon as I can.

SmokyOkie
05-25-2010, 12:27 PM
If it is at the top of the oven chamber, you could improve your grate temps by extending it down nearer to the grate level.

I think Jerry has some more precise measurements.

What happens is that all the heat makes the first pass and then flows to the top of the chamber and exits. With the stack extended down, the heat is forced down to grate level.

Primo
05-25-2010, 01:04 PM
Nice smoker '
It looks like a lang to me !! Without the pig door.

Capt Dan
05-25-2010, 01:22 PM
Its not a lang, but looks mighty close. The intakes are too small and exhaust is too small IMO.:shrug:

SmokyOkie
05-25-2010, 03:16 PM
Doors and racks too low, upright too large.

Primo
05-25-2010, 03:22 PM
okay brother of the lang :roflmaoha0:

SmokyOkie
05-25-2010, 03:29 PM
:roflmaoha0::roflmaoha0:

Umpa
05-25-2010, 03:43 PM
I got a stickburner that i used to have trouble with. My trick...

I dont' have a charcoal box.. so i dump one full chimney on the grate, lite another full one and let it go. dump that in the smoker ontop of the unlite stuff. then i add another chimney on the edge. then go the logs. i start with 2-3 non preheated sticks that are 16-18 inches and 3-4" on the bark side (good sized sticks). Let it go for 45 minutes or so with the firebox door wide open. and i also keep the cooking door open too. shut the FB door and then 15 minutes later close the cooking chamber. so you've killed an hour, but you got great coals now. in another 30 minutes max i'm up to 275/300. then, if your not using the upright, crack the inlet a little, and put the next load of wood in there, preheated wood starts faster and cleaner. in case it drops too quick on ya, it recovers quick with hot wood.

also it looks like there are 2 other small issues, literally. the intake on the FB is too small. i'd drill some more holes near the bottom. 2nd is the exhaust stack looks small too. can't do much about that. run all your adjustment valves wide open. my opening from the FB to the chamber is kinda small like yours and too low. yours is prolly fine, but with the basket and wood on top of that, thats a lot of heat up high in there and not by the inlet to the chamber. I add wood ever 45 minutes, temp be dammed. joy of a stickburner. loose the basket and see what happens. its called a stickburner for a reason. ha. don't let these UDS fellas tease you with there voodoo heating methods... good luck!!

SmokyOkie
05-25-2010, 03:54 PM
It looks like the stack is 4" and straight. Is that correct?

It looks like the oven is about 6'x 30". Is that correct?

If so, I used to have a 6'x30" bottom fed stickburner that used a 4" stack with a 90 elbow on it. It was plenty of stack.

In fact, my present one uses a 7" stack, and it is large enough so as to casue prollems.

It was not a reverse flow, and that may require more stack diameter. I don't know about that, but I bet someone here does.

timomart
05-25-2010, 04:56 PM
I believe it is about a 4" diameter stack. I think Spence might be onto something with the charcoal basket. I am gonna burn some sticks on the rack and keep those going instead of using the charcoal basket. The basket could be causing the heat to not properly flow through the main chamber opening. I emailed the builder of the smoker to see if they could give me any advice, and their reply was..

"These are wood fire smokers and try leaving the door cracked on the firebox . I will take some tweaky to get used to the smoker. It is a 250 degree slow cooker."

That is a direct quote BTW, copied and pasted from the email.

Soooo.....I will try a wood-only run (with charcoal helping to get the initial fire going) and see how that goes. I think i just need some "tweaky".

Thanks for your input everyone.

cabinetmaker
05-25-2010, 05:53 PM
I've had a few cooks on a reverse flow half that size, and I don't think charcoal could possibly create enough heat to run a reverse flow that big. You would constantly be adding fuel. That's why its called a "stick burner".

SmokyOkie
05-25-2010, 06:39 PM
I guess I misread the initial post. I thought you had had prollems burning sticks.

I don;t know who builds the unit, but for my money 250 is the absolute lowest you should ever run a stick burner. I like to cook between 275 and 300.

Joneser
05-25-2010, 08:00 PM
I could use some "Tweaky" too...
Let us know how things turn out using straight sticks.
You might even want to think about adding in another intake on the firebox.

SmokyOkie
05-25-2010, 08:54 PM
:whathesaid:

PigCicles
05-25-2010, 09:37 PM
I agree on the intake - you probably need to have more air coming in (controlled would be best vs. leaving the door cracked).

Loose the fire basket - sounds familiar :shrug:

peculiarmike
05-25-2010, 09:48 PM
1- That firebox is huge. A smaller one would have been fine.
2- Your intake area size must match your exhaust area size. You need more intake.
3- Drop your stack intake down to cooking level.
4- Charcoal won't do the job. You need a wood fire.

Is that shelf the basket sits on removable? If so you could buy a fireplace grate at a fireplace store of a size that would fit inside and start burning wood splits.
If it is not you might consider modifying it to allow burning splits. Remove the expanded metal and weld on some pieces of 3/4" rebar to make a fire grate. Or burn splits on it as is until it burns out then modify. :shrug:

Keep us up on your progress. And include pics!

timomart
05-25-2010, 11:32 PM
Thanks to everyone who responded.

Mike - Thanks for your tips. I think you are dead on with what I need to do. The only thing I picture having trouble with is #3. Dropping the stack intake down would require welding, which I do not have the ability to do. I will try to find someone locally who can do that for me.

I will give it another go this weekend and follow the advice that seems to be unanimous - use it as the stickburner it is. I would have done it already, but I had some trouble finding split hickory locally here in Memphis. I found a guy who has some and I'm hoping the rain stays away this weekend. I will hopefully have some food pics and success stories by next week.

I am going to work on combining my other love, spicy food with the smoked food. I will post pics and recipes on here soon. My brother and I have created a blog that focuses on spicy foods and hot sauces that we have discovered both around town and online. Anyone who loves food that burns your mouth, check it out at http://www.burnmymouth.com.

Thanks again everyone
Tim M.

peculiarmike
05-26-2010, 09:38 AM
Is the stack square? Looks like it in the pics.

timomart
05-26-2010, 10:28 AM
Yes, it is square. Actually, more of a rectangle. Here's a closeup of it


http://i963.photobucket.com/albums/ae114/timomart/DSC01760-small.jpg

SmokyOkie
05-26-2010, 10:48 AM
I would think that would be plenty adequate for exhaust.

Check my math:pi x radius squared = area


2x2=4x3.1416=12.57" of exhaust in a 4" round

If your stack is rectangle, even just 4x5, you have 20" which is slightly more than a 5" round.

Umpa
05-26-2010, 02:15 PM
good luck tim.. i use about a bag of kingsford for every 12 hours of burn..mostly because i dont' have a great attention span and my 30-45 minutes of time between loads sometimes goes too far. and i like the idea of the fireplace grate. gonna try that i think..

peculiarmike
05-26-2010, 05:24 PM
Find a length of rectangular tubing that size and have a welding shop cut it to size and tack weld it to the bottom of the stack. Does not need to be welded all the way around if the ends of both pieces are square and it matches up. That would get the intake of the stack down to cooking level and make a big change in your heat flow pattern. Shouldn't be too costly.


Yes, it is square. Actually, more of a rectangle. Here's a closeup of it


http://i963.photobucket.com/albums/ae114/timomart/DSC01760-small.jpg

SmokebyKel
05-27-2010, 12:12 PM
I have to agree with the others, your intake and exhaust are too small. Now mine is not a RF but I have (2) 4" dia. exhausts located at the end. To start mine I preheat the chamber using gas burner while I have a chimney of coals lit. Once the coals are nice and hot, I turn off the gas and add about a chimney of unlit coals to the grate. Top with the lit chimney and throw on 2 to 3 sticks (3" to 4" dia x 22"). Let sit till the wood catches and wait maybe 5 to 10 minutes and then close the fire box door with the intake vent fully open. (both exhaust vents are fully open). Once the pit come up to what ever temp I want to cook at I close the intake damper about half way and check the temps maybe 15 minutes later and adjust accordingly. Wait another 15 minutes and if temps are where I want them, throw my meat on. Temps stay constant as I throw on a stick about every 50 minutes or so and if I open the firebox and notice the sticks burning a little quick I'll throw on an extra stick. My temps maintain steadily and if I want to increase or decrease temps when adding other items I adjust the intake vent slightly and recheck in about 15 minutes.