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Light my (PBC) fire: tips on lighting and maintaining temperatures

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  • j_keegan
    Former Member
    • May 2017
    • 129
    • Harrisonburg, Virginia

    Anthonyf I think a lot of times a product is made to work in ideal conditions, but often our surrounding existing conditions (such as meat temp/volume, air temp, wind, type of charcoal, etc.) can change that ideal setting to one that needs a bit more attention. Since getting my PBC, I set the sea level vent at the bottom one time and haven't touched it since. The only mid-cook change I typically make is cracking the lid 1" to raise the temp, or putting it back to lower/moderate the temp. I always use my Smoke to keep an eye on the temp inside the cooker and in the meat, and just based on what I'm seeing and how I know I should be cooking something, I make that one adjustment as needed. Otherwise, I don't do much - which is one thing I love about the PBC. When cooking chicken, and temp drops below 320, I crack lid 1". When it goes back up to 370-380, I put it back. Seems like I adjust the lid a bit more when running >300 temperatures and adjust it less when running <300 temps. (I am still a rookie at this though)

    Comment

    • fzxdoc
      Founding Member
      • Jul 2014
      • 5467
      • My toys:
        Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center (WSCGC) aka Mr. Fancypants
        Pit Barrel Cooker (which rocks), named Pretty Baby
        Weber Summit S650 Gas Grill, named Hot 'n Fast (used mostly for searing and griddling)
        Weber Kettle Premium 22" named Kettle Kid, eager to horn in with more cooks in the future
        Camp Chef Somerset IV 4-burner outdoor gas range named AfterBurner due to its 30kBTU burners


        Adrenaline BBQ Company Gear:
        SnS, DnG, andLarge Charcoal Basket, for WSCGC
        SnS for 22" Kettle
        Elevated SS Rack for WSCGC
        SS Rack for DnG
        Cast Iron Griddle
        Grill Grate for SnS
        Grill Grates: five 17.375 sections (retired to storage)
        Grill Grates: six 19.25 panels for exact fit for Summit S650 gasser
        2 Grill Grate Griddles
        Steelmade Griddle for Summit gas grill

        Fireboard Gear:
        Extreme BBQ Thermometer Package
        Additional control unit
        Additional probes: Competition Probes 1" (3) and 4" (1), 3 additional Ambient Probes. 1 additional Food Probe
        2 Driver Cables
        Pit Viper Fan (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
        Pit Viper Fan new design (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
        Thermoworks Gear:
        Thermapen MK4 (pink)
        Thermapen Classic (pink too)
        Thermoworks MK4 orange
        Temp Test 2 Smart Thermometer
        Extra Big and Loud Timer
        Timestick Trio
        Maverick ET 73 a little workhorse with limited range
        Maverick ET 733
        Maverick (Ivation) ET 732

        Grill Pinz
        Vortex (two of them)

        Two Joule Sous Vide devices
        VacMaster Pro 350 Vacuum Sealer

        Instant Pot 6 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker
        Instant Pot 10 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker

        Charcoal Companion TurboQue
        A-Maze-N tube 12 inch tube smoker accessory for use with pellets

        BBQ Dragon and Dragon Chimney

        Shun Classic Series:
        8" Chef Knife
        6" Chef's Knife
        Gokujo Boning and Fillet Knife
        3 1/2 inch Paring Knife

      You certainly can follow the lighting instructions on the PBC site, Anthonyf , and they may work well for you with your setup of altitude, charcoal type, etc. That's exactly where I started. But within a couple of cooks, it became clear to me that the PBC would not be the same temperature each time I lit it--that is, it didn't settle into a sweet spot that was good for every single cook.

      What I came to discover is that the PBC is much more reliable and reproducible, temperaturewise, by following a lighting method different from the one on the PBC site. For my PBC, it was important to get a great light of the coals every time so that after the intital temperature spike, it would settle right down and stay at the 275° sweet spot (unless I purposely jacked the temp higher for doing poultry, that is).

      That's what I was looking for. I wanted it to run like an appliance, reproducible each time. I could never get that reproducibility using the PBC lighting method. For my PBC, the 15-10-10 method works best to ensure appliance-like temperature reproducibility.

      As with all things, YMMV.

      Kathryn

      Comment

      • Anthonyf
        Former Member
        • Oct 2017
        • 30

        Thanks Kathryn, I understand it better with you explanation. I think it'll be even more clear if/when I get a PBC and try it out.

        Comment


        • fzxdoc
          fzxdoc commented
          Editing a comment
          You're welcome, Anthonyf . You're going to love cooking on that PBC. Enjoy!

          K.
      • hogdog6
        Charter Member
        • Dec 2014
        • 579
        • Liberty, Utah

        My sons PBC has an issue I cannot make sense of, he lights it using fzxdoc instructions Blue bag charcoal and it runs great for 2 to 3 hours then gets cold enough to touch the sides. He then has to spend a fair amount of time cracking and closing the lid to get it to settle in. I was with him during one cook and it did not make any sense. He’s adjusted the bottom vent from a little more than to a lot more than recommended for his altitude with no effect. With mine it’s as close to set and forget as you can get using the same methods. The only difference is mine is an older model than his newer porcelain cooker. I cannot see that making a difference but at this point don’t know. Any ideas?

        Comment

        • fzxdoc
          Founding Member
          • Jul 2014
          • 5467
          • My toys:
            Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center (WSCGC) aka Mr. Fancypants
            Pit Barrel Cooker (which rocks), named Pretty Baby
            Weber Summit S650 Gas Grill, named Hot 'n Fast (used mostly for searing and griddling)
            Weber Kettle Premium 22" named Kettle Kid, eager to horn in with more cooks in the future
            Camp Chef Somerset IV 4-burner outdoor gas range named AfterBurner due to its 30kBTU burners


            Adrenaline BBQ Company Gear:
            SnS, DnG, andLarge Charcoal Basket, for WSCGC
            SnS for 22" Kettle
            Elevated SS Rack for WSCGC
            SS Rack for DnG
            Cast Iron Griddle
            Grill Grate for SnS
            Grill Grates: five 17.375 sections (retired to storage)
            Grill Grates: six 19.25 panels for exact fit for Summit S650 gasser
            2 Grill Grate Griddles
            Steelmade Griddle for Summit gas grill

            Fireboard Gear:
            Extreme BBQ Thermometer Package
            Additional control unit
            Additional probes: Competition Probes 1" (3) and 4" (1), 3 additional Ambient Probes. 1 additional Food Probe
            2 Driver Cables
            Pit Viper Fan (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
            Pit Viper Fan new design (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
            Thermoworks Gear:
            Thermapen MK4 (pink)
            Thermapen Classic (pink too)
            Thermoworks MK4 orange
            Temp Test 2 Smart Thermometer
            Extra Big and Loud Timer
            Timestick Trio
            Maverick ET 73 a little workhorse with limited range
            Maverick ET 733
            Maverick (Ivation) ET 732

            Grill Pinz
            Vortex (two of them)

            Two Joule Sous Vide devices
            VacMaster Pro 350 Vacuum Sealer

            Instant Pot 6 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker
            Instant Pot 10 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker

            Charcoal Companion TurboQue
            A-Maze-N tube 12 inch tube smoker accessory for use with pellets

            BBQ Dragon and Dragon Chimney

            Shun Classic Series:
            8" Chef Knife
            6" Chef's Knife
            Gokujo Boning and Fillet Knife
            3 1/2 inch Paring Knife

          hogdog6

          Does he have a remote thermometer in the barrel so you know what the temps are actually doing?

          Does he have foil on the floor of the barrel under the basket, perhaps blocking air flow to the underside of the basket and/or the vent?

          How does he store his charcoal? It's possible that the hot chimney of coals is carrying the beginning of the cook but the other coals are having trouble getting/staying lit.

          But my gut tells me that the fault lies with that bottom vent opening. That bottom vent is tricky--too little an opening and you don't get enough oxygen to the coals; too wide an opening, and you don't get the draw of air that you need through the barrel. Max Good found in his testing that if the lower vent opening is too wide the temp actually decreases. Here's what he says in his review:

          Our elevation is about 800 feet so we adjusted the vent 1/4 open. Later, we tried setting it at 1/2. The PBC got real hot for a couple hours then, even with plenty of coal remaining, the temperature dropped like a rock and almost died out. When we returned the damper to 1/4 way open, the fire came back and temperature began to rise.

          HTH,

          Kathryn
          Last edited by fzxdoc; October 19, 2017, 06:05 AM.

          Comment

          • hogdog6
            Charter Member
            • Dec 2014
            • 579
            • Liberty, Utah

            fzxdoc Good ideas to check I’ll pass it along. He does have a maverick but I don’t know the temps he’s getting. (Mine is so stable that I’ve gotten lazy and don’t even think about temps anymore just touch the lid once in a while and if it’s hot life is good). Yes on foil he’ll check that it isn’t folding up and blocking the vent, on his next cook... THX

            Comment


            • fzxdoc
              fzxdoc commented
              Editing a comment
              hogdog6 , keep us posted here on the outcome. Sounds to me he should start back at the beginning with the lower vent set to the recommended opening, nice dry charcoal, and nothing blocking air flow and smoke some ribs. Sometimes going back to basics with a bit of experience under our belt can be enlightening.

              Best of luck,
              Kathryn
          • SoCalTim
            Former Member
            • May 2016
            • 255
            • Chatsworth Ca

            I have a brisket question, doing my first ‘Prime’ brisket on my PBC this weekend. 12 lbs, my guess is that it’ll trim down to 9 or 10 lbs. Does anyone have a guess on the kind if time this will take. I’m thinking 290 will be the avg temp for this cook, I do intend to wrap.

            Also, I watched Noah, on his PBC video, he says 6 hrs for a 18 lb full packer - in the real world, how accurate is that? Tim

            Comment

            • fzxdoc
              Founding Member
              • Jul 2014
              • 5467
              • My toys:
                Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center (WSCGC) aka Mr. Fancypants
                Pit Barrel Cooker (which rocks), named Pretty Baby
                Weber Summit S650 Gas Grill, named Hot 'n Fast (used mostly for searing and griddling)
                Weber Kettle Premium 22" named Kettle Kid, eager to horn in with more cooks in the future
                Camp Chef Somerset IV 4-burner outdoor gas range named AfterBurner due to its 30kBTU burners


                Adrenaline BBQ Company Gear:
                SnS, DnG, andLarge Charcoal Basket, for WSCGC
                SnS for 22" Kettle
                Elevated SS Rack for WSCGC
                SS Rack for DnG
                Cast Iron Griddle
                Grill Grate for SnS
                Grill Grates: five 17.375 sections (retired to storage)
                Grill Grates: six 19.25 panels for exact fit for Summit S650 gasser
                2 Grill Grate Griddles
                Steelmade Griddle for Summit gas grill

                Fireboard Gear:
                Extreme BBQ Thermometer Package
                Additional control unit
                Additional probes: Competition Probes 1" (3) and 4" (1), 3 additional Ambient Probes. 1 additional Food Probe
                2 Driver Cables
                Pit Viper Fan (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
                Pit Viper Fan new design (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
                Thermoworks Gear:
                Thermapen MK4 (pink)
                Thermapen Classic (pink too)
                Thermoworks MK4 orange
                Temp Test 2 Smart Thermometer
                Extra Big and Loud Timer
                Timestick Trio
                Maverick ET 73 a little workhorse with limited range
                Maverick ET 733
                Maverick (Ivation) ET 732

                Grill Pinz
                Vortex (two of them)

                Two Joule Sous Vide devices
                VacMaster Pro 350 Vacuum Sealer

                Instant Pot 6 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker
                Instant Pot 10 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker

                Charcoal Companion TurboQue
                A-Maze-N tube 12 inch tube smoker accessory for use with pellets

                BBQ Dragon and Dragon Chimney

                Shun Classic Series:
                8" Chef Knife
                6" Chef's Knife
                Gokujo Boning and Fillet Knife
                3 1/2 inch Paring Knife

              Tim, I've always had trouble matching Noah's times. For my PBC setup, they're almost always too short. I often wish he would stick a smoker probe into the barrel and give us a hint as to the temperatures he gets in there.

              Anyway, for your prime packer, many folks here have mentioned that it is probe tender way before 203°F, and recommend probe testing around 190°F or so. I've only done prime flats, and they have been probe tender around 195°. So that shaves a bit of time off the cook. Otherwise, they seem to cook in the same amount of time. At 290°F PBC temp, I would guess a 6 to 8 hour cook time, depending on the thickness, but that's just a guess. Every briskie has a mind of its own. If it's done earlier, it can just happily have more time in the faux cambro, which never hurts.

              Have a good time with that cook, Tim.

              Kathryn

              Comment


              • SoCalTim
                SoCalTim commented
                Editing a comment
                Thank you so much!
            • jecucolo
              Club Member
              • Nov 2015
              • 1275
              • Schertz Texas
              • Pit Barrel Cooker






              Yeah 203 for prime is too long.

              Comment

              • SoCalTim
                Former Member
                • May 2016
                • 255
                • Chatsworth Ca

                OK, got a question. Put on my 10 lb Prime brisket .. PBC has settled in @ 250 degrees. The brisket has gone from a starting temp of approx 45 degrees to 155 in two hrs. Boy that was fast, is this normal??

                Comment

                • fzxdoc
                  Founding Member
                  • Jul 2014
                  • 5467
                  • My toys:
                    Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center (WSCGC) aka Mr. Fancypants
                    Pit Barrel Cooker (which rocks), named Pretty Baby
                    Weber Summit S650 Gas Grill, named Hot 'n Fast (used mostly for searing and griddling)
                    Weber Kettle Premium 22" named Kettle Kid, eager to horn in with more cooks in the future
                    Camp Chef Somerset IV 4-burner outdoor gas range named AfterBurner due to its 30kBTU burners


                    Adrenaline BBQ Company Gear:
                    SnS, DnG, andLarge Charcoal Basket, for WSCGC
                    SnS for 22" Kettle
                    Elevated SS Rack for WSCGC
                    SS Rack for DnG
                    Cast Iron Griddle
                    Grill Grate for SnS
                    Grill Grates: five 17.375 sections (retired to storage)
                    Grill Grates: six 19.25 panels for exact fit for Summit S650 gasser
                    2 Grill Grate Griddles
                    Steelmade Griddle for Summit gas grill

                    Fireboard Gear:
                    Extreme BBQ Thermometer Package
                    Additional control unit
                    Additional probes: Competition Probes 1" (3) and 4" (1), 3 additional Ambient Probes. 1 additional Food Probe
                    2 Driver Cables
                    Pit Viper Fan (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
                    Pit Viper Fan new design (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
                    Thermoworks Gear:
                    Thermapen MK4 (pink)
                    Thermapen Classic (pink too)
                    Thermoworks MK4 orange
                    Temp Test 2 Smart Thermometer
                    Extra Big and Loud Timer
                    Timestick Trio
                    Maverick ET 73 a little workhorse with limited range
                    Maverick ET 733
                    Maverick (Ivation) ET 732

                    Grill Pinz
                    Vortex (two of them)

                    Two Joule Sous Vide devices
                    VacMaster Pro 350 Vacuum Sealer

                    Instant Pot 6 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker
                    Instant Pot 10 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker

                    Charcoal Companion TurboQue
                    A-Maze-N tube 12 inch tube smoker accessory for use with pellets

                    BBQ Dragon and Dragon Chimney

                    Shun Classic Series:
                    8" Chef Knife
                    6" Chef's Knife
                    Gokujo Boning and Fillet Knife
                    3 1/2 inch Paring Knife

                  Oh sure, at least for my PBC setup. I usually run at 275°F, using a 37°F cold hunk of meat. You may stay in the stall for a while. Sometimes I get a double stall around 160° and a shorter one around 175°F. Just go with the flow and let your PBC do what it does best, SoCalTim . But then you're already doing that, so enjoy!

                  Kathryn

                  Comment


                  • SoCalTim
                    SoCalTim commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Kathryn, thank you for the very fast response and thank you for the peace of mind. I'm having First-PBC-Brisket-jitters ... lol
                • bcshivers
                  Former Member
                  • May 2016
                  • 1

                  The outside temp here in Ohio is about 60 today. I have a 10 lb. pork butt cooking and my ambient temperature is about 230. This seems a bit low for a PBC. What do you think?

                  Comment


                  • Huskee
                    Huskee commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Sorry we missed this. Yeah, kinda low but certainly not too low. The occasional lid crack will help bump it up.

                  • fzxdoc
                    fzxdoc commented
                    Editing a comment
                    My apologies, bcshivers , I've been traveling and connections have been hit/miss. How did the butt turn out?

                    Kathryn
                • Skillethead217
                  Former Member
                  • May 2017
                  • 2

                  Would anyone have some suggestions on how to trouble shoot my lighting procedure? After looking over the great instructions here I wanted to try and better control my pit and have an established method for lighting my coals. Unfortunately, some part of my procedure must be wrong as I have a had a terrible time trying to settle my temps in.

                  Here's my process:

                  -Fill PBC basket to the top with coals
                  -Take out 40 coals and place into chimney starter
                  -Light chimney starter with paper towels (and a bit of oil on the paper)
                  -Let the chimney starter go for 5-7 minutes until the coals are just beginning to ash over
                  -Dump into PBC and spread coals evenly
                  -Let the lit coals burn uncovered for 7-10 minutes
                  -Drop in wood and cover with lid. Let burn for 10 minutes.
                  -Insert rebar and hang the meat

                  My issue has been that I do not get a short temperature spike and then a slow drop to 275ish temps. My temperatures shoot up to 450F or so and then stay there for 10-15 minutes. After about 30 mins my temperatures are still at 375. I've pushed down on the lid to make sure it is sealed but nothing seems to help. Usually at this point I start panicking a bit and use some foil to choke off two of the rebar holes and then cover the bottom air input a bit more. This will drop my temperatures to a normal range at the 60 minute mark, but also kills off a bunch of my coals.

                  This has been very frustrating to me as the sole purpose for purchasing this cooker was the promise of a (nearly) fuss-free cook. Any ideas on things to try to help get this under control? FYI I live at 5000 feet and have the bottom air intake adjusted to the recommended setting for this altitude. (I've also looked at Noah's videos as he's in Denver as well).

                  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

                  Comment


                  • SoCalTim
                    SoCalTim commented
                    Editing a comment
                    IMO, 5-7 then 7-10 isn't long enough to let the PBC set up. I live at sea level and go 20 - 10 - 10 .. and i have absolutely no problem. I peak in the 450 area, then settle in @ 290 or so.

                    I think (because I did the same thing) that your overthinking things. You'll be ok, just keep trying.

                  • HawkerXP
                    HawkerXP commented
                    Editing a comment
                    How many cooks have you done on the PBC? It seems to me like you really need to build up a good layer of gunk (?) in your barrel and on your lid before you see the stable temps. I still place a couple of foil wrapped bricks (don't want to scratch my Black Beauty) on the lid if my temps are staying to high. Keep trying, you'll get there. Don't panic have fun!
                • Skillethead217
                  Former Member
                  • May 2017
                  • 2

                  I received the PBC as a father's day gift last year and have probably done at least 20 cooks on it to reasonably good success. I think the lid is fairly well sealed by this point. I've tried pressing down on it for a few minutes while watching my temps and they don't seem to move very much.

                  I used to give the coals 15 minutes to heat up in the PBC per the standard instructions, but found that my coals didn't catch and I struggled to get temperatures above 225F. I posted on a different forum and the advice from Noah (or someone else on the PBC team) suggested that they were burning out before lighting the main coal bed. Hence the drop in time in the chimney to allow for more 'catching' power.

                  Unfortunately I typically don't cook with the PBC more than a few times a month and therefore it's hard to get consistent with a method (or tweak different parameters to observe the results). My cooks usually turn out well but I'm just looking for more consistency in the startup/cook phase so I don't have to constantly mess with foil or other things to adjust the temperatures.

                  Comment

                  • fzxdoc
                    Founding Member
                    • Jul 2014
                    • 5467
                    • My toys:
                      Weber Summit Charcoal Grilling Center (WSCGC) aka Mr. Fancypants
                      Pit Barrel Cooker (which rocks), named Pretty Baby
                      Weber Summit S650 Gas Grill, named Hot 'n Fast (used mostly for searing and griddling)
                      Weber Kettle Premium 22" named Kettle Kid, eager to horn in with more cooks in the future
                      Camp Chef Somerset IV 4-burner outdoor gas range named AfterBurner due to its 30kBTU burners


                      Adrenaline BBQ Company Gear:
                      SnS, DnG, andLarge Charcoal Basket, for WSCGC
                      SnS for 22" Kettle
                      Elevated SS Rack for WSCGC
                      SS Rack for DnG
                      Cast Iron Griddle
                      Grill Grate for SnS
                      Grill Grates: five 17.375 sections (retired to storage)
                      Grill Grates: six 19.25 panels for exact fit for Summit S650 gasser
                      2 Grill Grate Griddles
                      Steelmade Griddle for Summit gas grill

                      Fireboard Gear:
                      Extreme BBQ Thermometer Package
                      Additional control unit
                      Additional probes: Competition Probes 1" (3) and 4" (1), 3 additional Ambient Probes. 1 additional Food Probe
                      2 Driver Cables
                      Pit Viper Fan (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
                      Pit Viper Fan new design (to pair with Fireboard Fan Driver Cable)
                      Thermoworks Gear:
                      Thermapen MK4 (pink)
                      Thermapen Classic (pink too)
                      Thermoworks MK4 orange
                      Temp Test 2 Smart Thermometer
                      Extra Big and Loud Timer
                      Timestick Trio
                      Maverick ET 73 a little workhorse with limited range
                      Maverick ET 733
                      Maverick (Ivation) ET 732

                      Grill Pinz
                      Vortex (two of them)

                      Two Joule Sous Vide devices
                      VacMaster Pro 350 Vacuum Sealer

                      Instant Pot 6 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker
                      Instant Pot 10 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker

                      Charcoal Companion TurboQue
                      A-Maze-N tube 12 inch tube smoker accessory for use with pellets

                      BBQ Dragon and Dragon Chimney

                      Shun Classic Series:
                      8" Chef Knife
                      6" Chef's Knife
                      Gokujo Boning and Fillet Knife
                      3 1/2 inch Paring Knife

                    In my experience, whenever the temps stay that high for that long in the PBC, there is a lid leak, Skillethead217 . Lid leaks can be difficult to see, especially if they occur in the area where the rebar holes are, which is what happened with my PBC. My PBC didn't develop a lid leak until after the first year or more of use.

                    Pushing the lid down has little effect; it usually needs to be weighted down (being careful not to scratch the finish) or smacked with a rubber mallet or both. Before finally installing a gasket, I used to crimp a strip of doubled aluminum foil around the outside of the rim at the place where the smoke was leaking out and the temps would settle right in.

                    Check carefully for for leaks on your next cook and let us know what you find. There are plenty of experienced folks here who can help if you have questions. You'll get it sorted out and be able to achieve your goal of consistent cooks, I'm sure.

                    Kathryn

                    Comment

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                    We've unfortunately had to cancel the 2021 Meat-Up in Memphis. We are rescheduling for March 18-20, 2022. More details and re-booking info coming soon! For now click here for more info.
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