Temp probe locations (one more time)...

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Temp probe locations (one more time)...

Postby Chasdev » Wed Jan 20, 2016 8:10 am

Don't mean to beat a dead horse (bruise maybe) but here goes..with tuning plates installed, my stickburner is hotter on/in the bottom than the top.
My topside gauges, both digital and Tel-tru read 275/300 but the meat is clearly cooking hot on the underside.
I placed the digital probes on the cooking surface near the meat but I think the meat is "heat sinking" and driving the readings down at least until the body of the meat gets close to cooked because the readings there don't read much different than theTel-tru's mounted in the lid.
I'm thinking I should place some digital probes on the plates, or slightly above, and manage cook temps off those readings..thoughts?
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Re: Temp probe locations (one more time)...

Postby k.a.m. » Wed Jan 20, 2016 8:22 am

Chasdev wrote:Don't mean to beat a dead horse (bruise maybe) but here goes..with tuning plates installed, my stickburner is hotter on/in the bottom than the top.
My topside gauges, both digital and Tel-tru read 275/300 but the meat is clearly cooking hot on the underside.
I placed the digital probes on the cooking surface near the meat but I think the meat is "heat sinking" and driving the readings down at least until the body of the meat gets close to cooked because the readings there don't read much different than theTel-tru's mounted in the lid.
I'm thinking I should place some digital probes on the plates, or slightly above, and manage cook temps off those readings..thoughts?

You're over thinking it. ;) As long as the probe is not touching the meat you're fine
Always remember slow and steady wins the race.

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Re: Temp probe locations (one more time)...

Postby Chasdev » Wed Jan 20, 2016 10:39 am

Overthinking perhaps but I feel driven to master this particular cooker and although almost all the meat it's produced has been great, I have to shorten the cook time due to the hot cook to prevent drying out the meat.
Truth is, there is a minimum level of coals needed to keep the smoke in the sweet zone and that seems to drive the tuning plate temps too high.
I may go back and cook one without the plates and just move the meat to the cooler area of the cooker..which of course drives up my cold beer costs due the longer cook times!
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Re: Temp probe locations (one more time)...

Postby k.a.m. » Wed Jan 20, 2016 11:09 am

The only thing measuring tuning plate temps is going to is tell you they are hotter than your grate temps.
You say you are cooking between 275°/300°. Try cooking between 250°/275° this will allow the cooker to breathe slower and cook at lower temps. You are trying to smoke at temps I cook chicken at on my Hybrid with plates and yes the plates sound like bacon frying while this is happening.
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Re: Temp probe locations (one more time)...

Postby Chasdev » Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:19 pm

I can't get it to stay that low without losing the coal bed for the next piece of (pre-heated) wood, or at least it is a struggle..
I may need older wood that catches quicker.
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Re: Temp probe locations (one more time)...

Postby k.a.m. » Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:06 pm

Chasdev wrote:I can't get it to stay that low without losing the coal bed for the next piece of (pre-heated) wood, or at least it is a struggle..
I may need older wood that catches quicker.

How big are your splits and how long are you trying to go in between split rotation?
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Re: Temp probe locations (one more time)...

Postby Chasdev » Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:51 pm

I've been using smaller and smaller pieces but the same problem arises, if I don't have enough coals going the next piece of wood steams and smokes too much..
So to answer your question, normal size splits, some cut in half, some even smaller pieces to bridge the failing coals to the next split or split of a split..
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Re: Temp probe locations (one more time)...

Postby k.a.m. » Wed Jan 20, 2016 3:10 pm

If it is steaming then your wood is not seasoned enough.
How long do you go between splits?
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Re: Temp probe locations (one more time)...

Postby k.a.m. » Wed Jan 20, 2016 3:13 pm

What is under the plate with the slits in it?
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Re: Temp probe locations (one more time)...

Postby Chasdev » Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:10 pm

Steaming is just a descriptor I used to describe "unclean" smoke, not steam at all really.
In that picture I propped up the factory supplied plate with two surplus tuning plates to allow room for ash to build up and not choke off the air flow from underneath.
I've tried several props to raise it, they all work pretty well but I found that the higher in the box I build the fire, the hotter the cook chamber runs..
I don't feed the fire based on time, but when the temp rises right before the fall..
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Re: Temp probe locations (one more time)...

Postby k.a.m. » Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:22 pm

On average how long in between splits and are you feeding between 275 and 300?
Is there expanded metal on the original ash tray under the sheet with slits in it?
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Re: Temp probe locations (one more time)...

Postby txsmkmstr » Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:49 pm

A little late to the party here but I'll toss out some observations.

That wood pile doesn't look real seasoned.

Those splits look large for your pit.

Every pit has a sweet spot it likes to run at - trying to lower that spot and maintain a quality fire might be difficult.

Control temps with fire size - leave dampers wide open.

Go to Academy or Walmart and buy some wood chunks - Western Wood is super dry with no steam effect. Build a small fire.

Preheat your splits if at all possible - harder with a round firebox but it can be done.

Even large smokers don't require a very big fire to maintain temp if properly tended to. You may end up adding wood more often than you'd like but keep the fire size small (sensing a theme here).

Good luck.......
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Re: Temp probe locations (one more time)...

Postby k.a.m. » Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:15 pm

txsmkmstr wrote:A little late to the party here but I'll toss out some observations.

That wood pile doesn't look real seasoned.

Those splits look large for your pit.

Every pit has a sweet spot it likes to run at - trying to lower that spot and maintain a quality fire might be difficult.

Control temps with fire size - leave dampers wide open.

Go to Academy or Walmart and buy some wood chunks - Western Wood is super dry with no steam effect. Build a small fire.

Preheat your splits if at all possible - harder with a round firebox but it can be done.

Even large smokers don't require a very big fire to maintain temp if properly tended to. You may end up adding wood more often than you'd like but keep the fire size small (sensing a theme here).

Good luck.......

Trying to get all the information about his fire management before I suggest a solution. Looking back at previous pics he is running a very large coal base for that size cooker. Seeing the firebox set up also has me wondering about how well it breathes with a small fire. His cooker should not have a problem running between 250° and 275° if the coal base is managed properly. He may have to replenish the coal base with lump or charcoal on longer cooks but even that should only be at around 5 or 6 hours.
Always remember slow and steady wins the race.

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Re: Temp probe locations (one more time)...

Postby Chasdev » Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:18 pm

k.a.m. wrote:On average how long in between splits and are you feeding between 275 and 300?
Is there expanded metal on the original ash tray under the sheet with slits in it?


The metal plate with slits is all it came with, and while it works well, it sits too close to the bottom of the barrel to get a good scoop full of ash out from under, so the slits tend to get blocked after a few hours, hence the need to jack it up.
I think 45 minutes is close to the add wood time..
As to the wood in the pics, the 1/2 cord is a little "green" but I just bought it and is not the wood I've been burning to date.
The splits I cut in half are shown as an exemplar of the size I try to use, and have used up as of now..
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Re: Temp probe locations (one more time)...

Postby BigDave » Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:38 pm

Would like a side view of the firebox. But IMHO, the chunks you are using are too small for that cooker. They are burning fast and that creates more heat. Try closing down the intake a little more and see if the fire will burn a little lower. That intake opening is a lot of air for that small a firebox. Just start closing a half inch or so in increments and see if it helps.

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