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First smoke with my new Chubby 3400 did not go well.

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    First smoke with my new Chubby 3400 did not go well.

    I've been cooking on my 22" Cajun/Weber WSM kit for years. That thing was temperamental, and had an affinity for higher temps. Getting it to sttle at 225° was a wrestling match with each cook, but I managed. I started saving my pennies for a new smoker. After doing due research, I settled on what seemed the best vertical smoker for my needs and price range: the Chubby 3400.

    Following the instructions that came with the cooker, after it got to 225° I closed the side vents to 1/2". This did nothing to stop the temp from rising. Finally with the left vent closed completely, and the right at ~1/8", the temps started going down. And kept doing so. I had to readjust, and the temps started rising again. Not one time, during the six hour smoke, did the temps EVER stabilize. They were either going up up up, or down down down. This was just as much a wrestling match as my junky ol' bullet, if not more!

    To be fair, this was my first cook with the Chubby, so smooth sailing wasn't completely expected. Still, I'm really surprised that the Backwood's instructions on fire maintenance were so off. Obviously I need to turn to the REAL experts!

    Any and all advice how to keep my Chubby at a cruising altitude of ~225° without having to adjust the vents every five minutes? Thanks in advance for any help!
    Last edited by Raijer; March 9, 2020, 10:11 AM.

    #2
    Did you run it with water in the pan? I had a G2 Fatboy for a minute and you had to have water in the pan. Their biggest drawback in my opinion. If I didn't keep an eye on the water that thing would go up to 350 - 400.

    Comment


      #3
      If its any consolation I have the same problem with My Broil King Keg, temps all over the place and once you get it too hot say good night.
      Don't get me wrong some cooks are smooth sailing but most you have to work for.
      I haven't looked and any electronic devices to help maintain temps but I'm sure some of the members will add to that.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by cliffdw1 View Post
        Did you run it with water in the pan? I had a G2 Fatboy for a minute and you had to have water in the pan. Their biggest drawback in my opinion. If I didn't keep an eye on the water that thing would go up to 350 - 400.
        Yep, ran it with water. Maybe an inch or so from the top. Next cook, I'm filling that pan as full of water as I can manage!

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by smokin fool View Post
          If its any consolation I have the same problem with My Broil King Keg, temps all over the place and once you get it too hot say good night.
          I was definitely guilty of this here. When I closed off the vents per the instructions, I kept waiting for the temps to stop rising. They didn't. Once they rose past 250° I began to panic and closed them to about 1/4". The temps kept going up. By the time I had shut the vents down completely, the cooker was at 275°! The temps were all over the place after that!

          Comment


            #6
            Without watching you in action I'll just guess you're in the same boat I was when I first started on the kamado many moons ago. I'll call it temperature momentum. I was too late in dialing it back as it approached the target temp so it overshot, then I went too far the other way because of the slow response (exacerbated by the thermal retention of the thick ceramic). Once on that ping pong path frustration probably made it worse. Once I figured out how early to start dialing back on the initial temp ramp up, and where a typical vent opening space equaled what operating temp life got better. I changed, not the device (with a slight nod to fuel variations).

            Comment


            • smokin fool
              smokin fool commented
              Editing a comment
              Uncle Bob you sure you don't have a drone over my back yard....you just nailed me and my antics!!!!
              I always find its the time when you are just about to put the meat in, you put in the soaked chips, the diffuser, the grate(s), the temp probes and the meat....
              This few moments makes or breaks your smoke as this is when the coals can really get hopping then its an all day battle. I am getting better at being prepared but every so often....Yeesh....

            • Reg
              Reg commented
              Editing a comment
              I have been through that painful learning experience with my Primo Oval 300. Two main issues: do NOT start too large a fire in the beginning. No chimney. Just a single wax cube, and when it is lit, close it up with minimal venting. The other problem with the Primo is a cheesy sliding bottom vent. It allows too much air in. I removed it and seated it in hi-temp gasket glue. Then, I used a small hammer to bend the slides in a bit to make the vent tighter. Way cheap approach on a not-cheap smoker.

            #7
            some cookers just cook hotter (PBC comes to mind, seems like it stabilizes at around 280-350 based on what i've read)

            while i don't know anything about your cooker the main thing i would impart on you is that you shouldn't get so hung up on 225 as the target temp. i agree you should be able to dial in a temp and keep it there but if your cooker wants to cook at 275 you should let it. not a lot of people around here cooks at 225. i would venture to guess that near all the regulars cook between 250 and 300. if you can stabilize it at 260, 270, 280, etc i would call that a win and stop fighting it so much and just enjoy the ride.

            Comment


            • Raijer
              Raijer commented
              Editing a comment
              Yeah, haha guilty as charged. All my OCD tendencies need to follow this example! Thanks!

            #8
            I find (Weber) if I'm looking for a certain temp say 225* I'll have all the vents set for that temp way before 225*. More like 200* and let it creep up and stablize. When I want to make any kind of adjustment I'll move one vent ( usually the exhaust) a little bit. Than just walk away. These things don't react like we think our kittchen oven works. I wouldn't mess with it again for 10 to 15 minuets. Slow and easy with your adjustments may help.

            Comment


              #9
              Relax, take a deep breath, pet Chubby a couple of times, tell it that it’s a good boy & keep at it. It’s usually the master that has to do the learnin & not the critter. Yup, keep at it.

              Comment


              • Raijer
                Raijer commented
                Editing a comment
                Them are some wise wise words FireMan!

              #10
              Originally posted by Uncle Bob View Post
              Without watching you in action I'll just guess you're in the same boat I was when I first started on the kamado many moons ago. I'll call it temperature momentum... I changed, not the device (with a slight nod to fuel variations).
              You're right here, of course. I dialed back the vents per the instructions provided with the cooker, and the temp kept rising. I had this expectation that things would go according to plan, and kept waiting for the temps to slow. They didn't, and I waited way too long. Temperature momentum is a great term, and it got me good!

              That last bit is perfection. Next cook is going to see a much different game plan!


              Comment


                #11
                Originally posted by HawkerXP View Post
                I find (Weber) if I'm looking for a certain temp say 225* I'll have all the vents set for that temp way before 225*. More like 200* and let it creep up and stablize. When I want to make any kind of adjustment I'll move one vent ( usually the exhaust) a little bit. Than just walk away. These things don't react like we think our kittchen oven works. I wouldn't mess with it again for 10 to 15 minuets. Slow and easy with your adjustments may help.
                That's how I dealt with temps on my Weber as well, and how I'm going to deal with them on the Chubby going forward! Thanks!

                Comment


                  #12
                  I have a Chubby G2. Start out with the left (back) vent open about 2 inches and the right front about 1 inch. When you get up to about 150, shut the back vent to about 1 inch and completely close the right front. At 200, close the back vent to about 1/4 inch. Open/close this vent to control your heat. I leave the top vent completely open all the time.

                  To light, make a space in the back left corner of the charcoal tray to hold the lit coals. Put unlit in the rest of the tray so it can snake from there. Only use about 12 lit coals to start it and allow up to 30 min to come up to temp. Bring up to temp slowly and you will quickly learn how to move the vent to control temp.

                  Use about 20 lit coals if you want to cook in the 300-350 range for chicken or turkey.

                  Here is a picture of the G2 loaded with char-logs for a low and slow. Keep in mind the G2 is bigger and has a deeper tray than the 3400 so you may want to try starting with only 9-10 lit coals.

                  Click image for larger version

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                  Comment


                  • Raijer
                    Raijer commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Fantastic! These are the specifics I could've used from the get-go. I appreciate you taking the time to put them all down here. These are the instructions I'll follow on my next cook! Thanks much jlazar!

                  • jlazar
                    jlazar commented
                    Editing a comment
                    On the G2, some air gets in the front vent even when completely closed. Tolerances aren't that tight. That is why you can close it completely. Also, if you need to raise the temp quicker, you can open this vent a bit and then close when you are near to temp.

                  #13
                  jlazar is on to what I was gonna say: how do you start your fire? How many lit briquettes? Just like with a kamado, it’s easy to ramp up, but hard to throttle back down. So, for next cook:

                  - Start with a smaller fire, and
                  - Start dialing back earlier.

                  Comment


                    #14
                    Click image for larger version  Name:	Chicken G2.jpg Views:	100 Size:	1.71 MB ID:	813551Click image for larger version  Name:	Brisket.jpg Views:	101 Size:	4.95 MB ID:	813552Click image for larger version  Name:	Cook5.jpg Views:	141 Size:	5.21 MB ID:	813550 One additional comment. My Chubby G2 will run for 6-8 hours at a solid 225-230. But near the end of the cook, as the charcoal basket becomes totally lit, the temp will raise to the 250-275 area. But still within an acceptable range by that time.

                    Next time it starts to spike on you, add some water to the water pan. This will bring the temp down and help stabilize the temp.

                    I don't know if it is due to the design, moisture, or what, but I have never had a brisket (16-18lb before trimming) or a 7.5 pork butt (usually cook two at once) run longer than about 7-8 hours. I usually wrap when out of the stall at 175-180.

                    I use a fireboard and Viper fan.

                    It will run about 10-degrees difference for every rack position from top to bottom. (Heat/smoke enter at top back and exit at bottom back.)

                    Top 255
                    Next Down 245
                    3rd 235
                    Bottom 225

                    Don't rely on door temp gauge. Put a temp probe on 2nd or 3rd shelf near the middle.

                    Once you add a large hunk of meat, expect to see the temp drop 20-30 degrees. But it will recover fairly quickly.
                    Last edited by jlazar; July 1, 2020, 07:38 PM.

                    Comment


                      #15
                      I use vertical smokers a lot...almost exclusively. I have 2 gas, and 4 charcoal, two trailer rigs. The charcoal ones are super insulated with lots of thermal mass. Learning on them is a bit different. Full waterpan, and smaller amounts of fuel than you think you need, along with less airflow than you think you need. I start choking mine back when it hits about 190° as if you overshoot it takes at least an hour to come back down. Creap up SLOWLY.once they are dialed in, they are SET. leave your exhaust all the way open, and adjust with intake. I start with water the same temp as the cold pit so they come to temp together. Sounds like your main problem is too much charcoal. This is how I cook on my smokesafes.

                      Comment


                      • Raijer
                        Raijer commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Definitely overshot my initial temps, which is what made the rest of the cook so difficult. With all this good advice, I'm really looking forward to my next cook!

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