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Quest for Clean Fire/Blue Smoke in a Cabinet Smoker?

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  • TheCountofQ
    Former Member
    • Apr 2015
    • 503
    • Tulsa, Oklahoma

    #16
    Approximately how many coals to keep her at temp, once she is really warmed up and leveled out?

    As I'm about to start learning a gravity feed cabinet, I'll have gravity to replace the minion method/fuse burn, but I'm concerned about if a full hopper of 'coal is the best way to get the best flame/smoke, even with a fan controler.

    Anyway, I'm following your thread....

    Comment

    • flht01
      Former Member
      • Jun 2016
      • 8

      #17
      I'm about 2:30 into a hot and fast brisket cook and will post a few pictures if I can figure out how. I'm running the vault with both intake and exhaust 100% open and controlling the temp with the fire size. Here's what have so far. Running at 310 it only requires a fist size chunk on a small handful of coals. Maybe these pictures will show up.
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      Comment


      • TheCountofQ
        TheCountofQ commented
        Editing a comment
        That doesn't appear to be much coal at all, especially for +300 temps!!

        Do you run a water pan, or CI pans as a heat shield/sync, with this amount of wood?

      • flht01
        flht01 commented
        Editing a comment
        @TheCountofQ
        In my opinion, running an insulated cabinet this way is a little to much work, at least for me. There's a fine line between temp's getting too high and having the coals die down a little too much between splits.
        I was running a water pan with somewhere between 1 and 2 gallons.
    • TheCountofQ
      Former Member
      • Apr 2015
      • 503
      • Tulsa, Oklahoma

      #18
      When you say "running the insulated cabinet this way is a little to much work", this is with the fan loading individual splits as needed? That does sound like a lot of work!!

      I used to run all stick on a split 50 gallon drum, extremely leaky smoker. I found that three sticks was typically the best set up. One burning, but essentially coals... apple from a nearby Massachusetts orchard. Another starting with a flame, and a third just warming up or starting to burn. I had too much time on my hands back then. :-)

      Comment


      • flht01
        flht01 commented
        Editing a comment
        I wasn't using the fan on this run. I had the intake and exhaust both completely open the whole time. If I try using a small fire again, I'll be using the fan/controller.

      • TheCountofQ
        TheCountofQ commented
        Editing a comment
        That's hardcore...trying to maintain a temp with fuel supply only!!

      • flht01
        flht01 commented
        Editing a comment
        That's a lot better than the names I was using
    • flht01
      Former Member
      • Jun 2016
      • 8

      #19
      PaulstheRibList
      Let us know how the stickburner-vault head to head cooks go, I'm looking for a good reason to add a stickburner to my cookers.
      With my little experiment above, I didn't really see any difference in flavor with the firebox management I used over using a minion method with oak and lump mixed.

      Comment


      • PaulstheRibList
        PaulstheRibList commented
        Editing a comment
        I will absolutely let us all participate in the side-by-side cooks!
    • PaulstheRibList
      Founding Member
      • Jul 2014
      • 1608
      • Lake Charles, LA
      • Started Low-N-Slow BBQ in 2012. Obviously, it's taken hold (in chronological order:
        1.) A pair of Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5's
        2.) #LilTex, a 22" Expensive Offset Smoker (looks like a Yoder Witicha)
        3.) #WhoDat1, a HUGE Gravity Fed Insulated Cabinet Smoker (cooking chamber 3'x2'x6')
        4.) A Full Size Commercial Dryer/converted to Vertical Smoker.
        5.) Jambo Backyard stickburner (my FAVORITE Pit so far)
        6.) GrillMeister, a huge 24"x48" Adjustable, Charcoal Grill from Pitmaker.com
        7.) 22" Weber Kettle with Slow-N-Sear
        8.) Vault insulated reverse-flow cabinet smoker from Pitmaker
        9.) BarbecueFiretruck...under development
        10.) 26 foot BBQ Vending Trailer equipped with HUGE Myron Mixon 72xc smoker is HERE, Oct 2016!
        11.) Opened www.PaulsRibShackBarbecue.com Food Trailer officially in March 2017
        12.) Austin Smoke Works 500 Gallon Propane Tank Offset Smoker, named "Lucille" as travel pit for PaulsRibShack, Oct 2018.
        12.) Opening Brick & Mortar location at 4800 Nelson Rd, Spring 2019. Had a pair of 1,000 Gallon Austin Smoke Works pits, both in RibShackRed for our new place!

        Fabulous Backlit Thermapens, several Maverick Remote Thermometers (don't use any remotes anymore), Thermoworks Smoke, Other Thermoworks toys, Vacuum sealer, lots and lots of equipment...

        I'm loving using BBQ to make friends and build connections.
        I have #theRibList where I keep a list of new and old friends and whenever I'm cooking, I make 1 to 20 extra and share the joy.

      #20
      Alright, finally got a couple #VaultPractice sessions into the rotation!

      Here's what we did:
      1. 3 wide briquettes with small to medium chunks on top.
      2. 1/4 a big chimney of lit coals
      3. Pre-heat to 225 with weed burner
      4. No water in waterpan
      5. About 50% open ball valve

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      Worked alright. But still had to keep valve at the 50-60% closed to keep temps in line at 275 or less. Flavor was...Alright, I'll admit, I can't even remember what we cooked here, lol. Oh, yeah, now I remember. It was a couple of brisket's for a friend. I didn't get to taste but a little bit as I was slicing and bringing over.

      Comment

      • PaulstheRibList
        Founding Member
        • Jul 2014
        • 1608
        • Lake Charles, LA
        • Started Low-N-Slow BBQ in 2012. Obviously, it's taken hold (in chronological order:
          1.) A pair of Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5's
          2.) #LilTex, a 22" Expensive Offset Smoker (looks like a Yoder Witicha)
          3.) #WhoDat1, a HUGE Gravity Fed Insulated Cabinet Smoker (cooking chamber 3'x2'x6')
          4.) A Full Size Commercial Dryer/converted to Vertical Smoker.
          5.) Jambo Backyard stickburner (my FAVORITE Pit so far)
          6.) GrillMeister, a huge 24"x48" Adjustable, Charcoal Grill from Pitmaker.com
          7.) 22" Weber Kettle with Slow-N-Sear
          8.) Vault insulated reverse-flow cabinet smoker from Pitmaker
          9.) BarbecueFiretruck...under development
          10.) 26 foot BBQ Vending Trailer equipped with HUGE Myron Mixon 72xc smoker is HERE, Oct 2016!
          11.) Opened www.PaulsRibShackBarbecue.com Food Trailer officially in March 2017
          12.) Austin Smoke Works 500 Gallon Propane Tank Offset Smoker, named "Lucille" as travel pit for PaulsRibShack, Oct 2018.
          12.) Opening Brick & Mortar location at 4800 Nelson Rd, Spring 2019. Had a pair of 1,000 Gallon Austin Smoke Works pits, both in RibShackRed for our new place!

          Fabulous Backlit Thermapens, several Maverick Remote Thermometers (don't use any remotes anymore), Thermoworks Smoke, Other Thermoworks toys, Vacuum sealer, lots and lots of equipment...

          I'm loving using BBQ to make friends and build connections.
          I have #theRibList where I keep a list of new and old friends and whenever I'm cooking, I make 1 to 20 extra and share the joy.

        #21
        OK, #VaultPractice number duce.

        1. 2 wide, one tall briquettes with medium chunks on top.
        2. 1/4 a big chimney of lit coals
        3. Pre-heat to 275 with weed burner
        4. About 3 gallons hot water in waterpan
        5. Start with 60% open ball valve for nice and full airflow to seek after that cleaner smoke.
        6. It was cooler tonight, temps in the 40's.

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        You can see the reflection of the weedburner fun in the water in the bottom.
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        We had 5 briskets going on here, so we heated the cabinet up a little more. It got to 300 when we closed it.

        After things settled in a couple hours after loading, the temps on the dial were about 150, and the smoke color looked better due to the higher airflow. so I opened the valve up to 70%, and added a little more charcoal.

        About 2:30 am, 5 hours into the cook, temps were still low, about, well I can't quite remember, but less than 200. So I added a little more charcoal to the end of the string, and opened the valve to 100%. When I checked about 6:30 am, now about 9 hours into the cook, the temps were 205 on the grate, and the briskets looked good.

        The original coals were now mostly spent, so I gathered the live coals into one corner, brusked the ash to the pan, and built a new fuse. The water was a good bit evaporated, so I guessed it has a few more hours before it would be gone and my temperature would raise significantly and get these briskets finished in fine fashion! My apprentice, Sam, would be here by 9 am to wrap them when ready and monitor their doneness until the pull.

        SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENT IN SMOKE FLAVOR!

        The more open airflow strategy made me happy. Significantly cleaner fire and smoke color without spiking temp.

        I did not get to taste, but Sam did and said they had a clean smoke flavor, but not as smokey as when cooked on the stickburner.
        #Success
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        I can't wait to do another one soon with a few adjustments!

        Comment


        • flht01
          flht01 commented
          Editing a comment
          What brand briquettes and type wood are you using? Nice smoke ring and bark, looks like a successful cook to me

        • PaulstheRibList
          PaulstheRibList commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks Nate and @flht01.

          I'm burning Kingsford Blue Bag (from the 2 pallets I bought a Memorial Day!), and putting Western Wood chunks on. Normally we do Hickory on beef, but i ran out so these have Apple.

        • flht01
          flht01 commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks for the response , Paul. I'll give your fire management a try, so far my smoke rings have either been slight or didn't exist. Keep those reports coming.
      • ChrisSpencer71
        Former Member
        • Mar 2016
        • 22
        • Regina, Canada (aka The City that Rhymes with Fun)

        #22
        I have a Pitmaker BBQ Safe, which is a smaller version of the Vault. I had many of the same problems that you're experiencing. I found that what worked for me was to preheat the insider of the cooker with a weed burner. In my situation I use about a medium setting on the weed burner and heat each section in 45 second intervals. This brings the cooker up to about 225. I then light 30 briquettes in a chimney and add to charcoal bin when they're asked over. In terms of how much charcoal to have in the charcoal basket, less is more. For me, 15 unlit charcoal will last me 4 hours. I add 10 for each additional hour. So if I'm doing a pork butt, 55 unlit briquettes is enough. I keep both the intake and chimney open to 100%, and then close the bottom intake to about 25% when I reach my desired temp. I will often close this down even further to 10% but always keep the chimney open 100%. If you use a CyberQ or some other kind of controller, stop. They seem to cause more problems.

        This is a highly insulated cooker and is extremely efficient. Let it do it's thing. When it's up to temp and venting properly you shouldn't have to muck with anything.

        Comment


        • TheCountofQ
          TheCountofQ commented
          Editing a comment
          Thank you for that detailed info! I have been pondering lately how having a controller may actually be hurting me, "in the long run", as a trade off for better Q now. Could still use the Stoker as thermometer and graphing. On the vault anyway.
      • ChrisSpencer71
        Former Member
        • Mar 2016
        • 22
        • Regina, Canada (aka The City that Rhymes with Fun)

        #23
        You're welcome. I was so frustrated with my Pitmaker when I got it. I hope I can save you some frustration. I'm embarrassed to say this but it took me two full calendar years for me to figure out that "less is more" with my BBQ Safe. Once you figure it the nuances of your cooker you'll see that its a true fire and forget smoker.

        Comment

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