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Rotating charcoal basket

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    Rotating charcoal basket

    Hi all,

    I'm new and I've had my Pbc for about a year now cooking everything from ribs to brisket. One thing I haven't been able to figure out regarding charcoal basket and heat management.

    It seems for longer cooks, the coals closer to the bottom vent burn out and it burns in a line rather than all coals from top to bottom if that makes sense. For shorter cooks (maybe 5h) this doesn't matter, but if I'm cooking brisket, I lose heat unless I go in and rotate the basket say 90 degrees and get the more unlit coals some "direct" air.

    I pack the basket as per directions, to the top, taking out about 35 of them and pour them evenly ish on top once lit in the chimney. Vent is open 1/4th as per my altitude.

    Let me know if anyone else has this issue and if there's a trick to fixing it.

    Welcome to The Pit.

    It's not uncommon to have to stir the charcoal. That will drop most of the ashes below the charcoal grate and you should be good to go.


      Have you seen this PBC thread on fire management?



        Hello and Greetings from NW Oregon.


          Your basket will burn unevenly, often depending on where the food is placed. Also, it will burn hotter on one side for part of a long cook and switch to the other side being hotter as the cook progresses. I track this for every single cook by placing two ambient probes in the PBC, one on the vent side and the other on the side opposite, which is why I see it all the time. Temperatures at those two locations often vary by as much as 40° to 60°. Even with that, the food cooks evenly, with rare exceptions depending on the setup.

          The PBC holds its temps well despite the unevenness of the burn, usually, unless you have it stuffed with 3 chickens (6 chicken halves) or more. Chickens dump a lot of moisture into the coals (part of what makes them taste so good) and coals can burn really unevenly during a chicken cook. I've had chicken cooks where one half of the basket is totally burned before the other half really gets going.

          In general, there is no need to rotate the basket. I find it more helpful, for long cooks on rare occasions to rotate the food instead. Also there is usually no need to stir the coals. If you do stir the coals or add more coals, remove the food first so swirling ash does not settle on it.

          About adding coals: I almost never have to add coals. If the temps start to drop as the coals begin to die during a long cook, it's almost always after I have wrapped the meat anyway. At that point I can finish it off in the oven. Once wrapped, the meat can't figure out whether it's over a fire or in an oven. But if I do add coals, I always add lit coals from a chimney, removing the food from the barrel first. That way the early burn smells of charcoal briquettes is well burned away. Then I return the food, reseat the lid, and let the PBC do its thing.

          Hope this helps, and welcome to The Pit!



            Thanks everyone for the feedback. Thats an interesting note about 2 sides being different temperatures fzxdoc . I do have a probe inserted but it *is* on the vent side. Not sure I want to create another one on the other side, but maybe i'll try hanging a probe down through one of the rebar holes on the other.

            Appreciate the replies, happy smoking to all!


              Rizbiz , FWIW, I started out using only one ambient probe for the PBC but found I was fiddling with the temps too much. As soon as I added the second ambient probe, opposite from the first one, I became pretty hands off, since the average of the temps was always pretty much in the range that I wanted to cook.



                fzxdoc That makes sense. I'll see if my experience is the same after just hanging one, and if it is, i may have to create one (and subsequently get a 4 channel thermometer haha).


                  I've welded a lip on the bottom of my basket that runs down even with the feet. It wraps about 120 degrees around the basket dia. This forces the air coming in through vent to travel 60 degrees in both directions and feed the charcoal from the sides of the basket. Gives me a much more even burn and works great.


                    Just wanted to update! I haven't done a long cook since but today I am in the process of a brisket. fzxdoc answer was correct! I hung a probe on the opposite side, and actually the temperate moves from front to back! So when my main prove is at 210 the opposite prob is more 245. Therefore no rotation needed. I knew there was a reason that nobody asked about this.


                      Glad the 2 ambient probe method worked out for you, Rizbiz . Continue to enjoy smoking on your PBC. It's a great cooker.



                      • Thomassen
                        Thomassen commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I've read that you use the pit viper and fireboard for temp control. How do you do that using two ambient probes? I use the DigiQ and it only has one port for the pit probe. Do you average your temps between the two and set for that?

                      • fzxdoc
                        fzxdoc commented
                        Editing a comment
                        No, Thomassen , at the beginning I set the temp I want and go for it, since the Fireboard Drive only reads one ambient probe. As the cook progresses, if there's a HUGE difference between the two ambient readings (like more than 30-40 degrees or so), I may readjust the Fireboard Drive temp setting. That's more common for a short cook. Since the higher temp switches between the probes at some point for a long cook, I often just let it ride.


                      PBC, PBJ, PBX!



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