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

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  • Brookie
    Club Member
    • Sep 2016
    • 47
    • Walnut Creek, CA

    I have had my pbc for a year now which has a leaky lid. Not a major leak but enough to be noticeable. This rim is now gunked up and I find that slowly spinning the lid until the noticeable void goes away helped a lot. Give it a try. Also thank you to the person that suggested thin steel rods as replacements for the rebar. 1/4” steel rods (from Lowe’s) are fantastic when cooking chickens. Brookie

    Comment

    • stickbit
      Club Member
      • Jun 2017
      • 43

      anyone install a lava lock gasket around the edge of the pbc lid? did it help with temps? I contacted pbc ccompany as I'm fairly certain I too have a lid leak and they recommended I install a lava lock gasket. Just like someone else mentioned the problem was my temps spiked at 450 or so and didn't come down much until I shoved foil in the rebar holes. Not that big of a deal (was cooking a turkey) - but I'm also concerned it will waste a lot of my fuel and I won't be able to get thru longer cooks.

      Comment

      • phoccer
        Founding Member
        • Jul 2014
        • 329
        • Kansas City, MO
        • Weber Kettle Premium 22 w/SnS & DNG
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        What is your lower vent setting? If your temps are spiking and not settling back down it could be a leaky lid or it could be the lower vent is too open for your elevation. If your lid isn't leaking or is leaking very little, try closing down the bottom vent setting from what you currently have it set.
        I'm personally not a fan of gaskets. I installed one on my Weber Kettle and didn't care for the gunk that developed on it and the resulting fuzz I had on everything.

        Comment

        • Spinaker
          Moderator
          • Nov 2014
          • 11100
          • Land of Tonka
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          stickbit Spray the inside rim of the lid with PAM or some other cooking oil. Then put the lid on the PBC and add weight to the lid. This will ensure the lid stays down tight. After a few cooks, you won't need the weight anymore. The rim will be plenty gunked up to seal the lid to the barrel.
          Spinning it will also help to seal it, as Brookie mentions above.

          Comment

          • fzxdoc
            Founding Member
            • Jul 2014
            • 5526
            • My toys:
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            stickbit, my PBC lid did not begin to leak until after about 2 years of use. It had seen plenty of cooks and was well seasoned. I used to hit the lid rim with a soft rubber soled shoe to get it to seal, but after a while even that wouldn't work.

            I installed a Lava Lok gasket and immediately the problem went away. I love it!

            Kathryn

            Comment

          • stickbit
            Club Member
            • Jun 2017
            • 43

            Thanks everyone. My lower vent I keep 1/4 open at the most (lot of times practically closed) I'm 1200ft above sea level (in Georgia). I've done several cooks and built up some gunk, and last cook I bought and used a rubber mallet on the lid...but didn't seem to help much. I've also tried to spin it which would help a little once in a while.

            I think I should either try the Pam + weight method or gasket at this point?

            Comment

            • phoccer
              Founding Member
              • Jul 2014
              • 329
              • Kansas City, MO
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              If it's been running great and just started to run hot then I'd try the Pam + weight first to see if that resolves the issue. If it's always run hot I'd still try the opening a little lower. I'm at 900' and run mine at about 1/8 (or barely open). I'd try the gasket as a last resort but take that with a grain of salt as I'm not a gasket fan. I always try the simple stuff first then move on from there.

              Comment

            • mnavarre
              Club Member
              • Jan 2018
              • 661
              • San Diego

              Any Junior specific lighting tips? From reading through this thread it looks like fzxdoc's 40 briquette lighting technique is basically 1/4 of the basket capacity of the big PBC, so I figure I'll start by filling the basket on Junior, tediously counting the briquettes, rounding to the nearest round number, and go from there. Or I just pull out 20, light 'em up and go. I think I'm going to do a chicken tomorrow after work, just to get both me and the Jr. broken in so any tips are welcome.

              Comment

              • phoccer
                Founding Member
                • Jul 2014
                • 329
                • Kansas City, MO
                • Weber Kettle Premium 22 w/SnS & DNG
                  PBC w/PBC custom chimney starter and attachable ash pan
                  Pitmaster IQ 110
                  Maverick ET-732
                  Thermapen MK4
                  Boulevard Wheat(Gotta support the hometown brewery)

                As a base I'd start with the instructions on the PBC site. If those cause you problems, then I'd tinker with lighting instructions here. Very likely the instructions on the PBC will work for you but you'll have these to play with if they don't.

                Here are the general rules I'm discovering:
                1. The more lit coals you start with(40 vs 30), the hotter you'll run
                2. The longer you light those starting coals(20 vs 15 minutes), the hotter you'll run
                3. The more open you have your vent(1/4 vs 1/8), the hotter you'll run
                Last edited by phoccer; March 9, 2018, 12:41 PM.

                Comment


                • RobertC
                  RobertC commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I concur with all three of these rules.

                  BTW, if you use Kingsford original Blue Bag, each briquette is 25g so there are 18 briquettes per pound.
              • wcpreston
                Club Member
                • Nov 2016
                • 241

                I'm having a problem when lighting my PBC for Brisket. I've been using it for a year now and have found it to be quite dependable. Now I'm trying to do brisket and am having problems.

                I follow the usual directions, and it's usually about 300' when I put the brisket in. But it drops down to 225 or even lower when I put in the brisket. I've had to vent it to get the temp back up. This last cook I took out one rebar and it went up to 264, but then went back down to 225 two hours later. I've checked the vents and all looks normal. Thoughts?

                Comment

                • fzxdoc
                  Founding Member
                  • Jul 2014
                  • 5526
                  • 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

                  Sounds like you're not getting a good enough initial fire for that big drippy piece of meat. What lighting method are you using, wcpreston ? Knowing that, we can figure out what might need to be changed.

                  When it comes to changing a lighting method on the PBC, I find it's best to change only one thing at a time. Sometimes it's a small modification that makes all the difference.

                  Since your PBC works fine for all other cooks, it sounds as though your lower vent is set where it needs to be.

                  My first thought is to let the fire burn with the lid off a bit longer before adding the meat, letting the temp run up closer to 400°F.

                  Kathryn

                  Comment

                  • Cheapboy
                    Former Member
                    • May 2018
                    • 8
                    • Columbus, OH

                    After some experiments, I do feel like the lighter fluid method works best for me. I know Noah put the lighter fluid into the basket outside the PBC, does anybody know why? It seems a lot easier and cleaner to do it inside the barrel.

                    When I was doing a dry run this past weekend (to burn out mold), I let the fire run for 15 mins before putting the lid on. My temp was holding at 370 for a long time. Should I simply cut that time shorter to get into the desirable temp range? Im at sea level using KBB.

                    Also, Kathryn, thank you for starting this extremely helpful thread.

                    Comment


                    • fzxdoc
                      fzxdoc commented
                      Editing a comment
                      You're very welcome, Cheapboy . Hope that mold is a thing of the past now. As far as using lighter fluid, the nice thing about BBQ is that everyone finds the best way that works for them and their cooker. It's all good.

                      Kathryn

                    • smn1285
                      smn1285 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I’m also less than 200’ above sea level. I don’t use the lighter fluid method, so that could be totally different from what I do, but.... What I did last weekend that was successful was lit the coals in the chimney for exactly 10 mins, dumped, put meat in and immediately started cooking. That allowed the temp to climb up to the 270-280 range as opposed to starting high and working its way down.

                    • snctom
                      snctom commented
                      Editing a comment
                      The reason you put the lighter fluid on outside the drum is to avoid a build-up for flammable fumes inside a contained area. Once the fluid is applied, place the charcoal basket inside and immediately light the charcoal. Reduces the chance of the fumes flashing. I believe this is in the "Lighting the PBC" video on their website.
                  • Huskee
                    Administrator
                    • May 2014
                    • 15812
                    • central MI, USA
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                    Originally posted by Cheapboy View Post
                    After some experiments, I do feel like the lighter fluid method works best for me. I know Noah put the lighter fluid into the basket outside the PBC, does anybody know why? It seems a lot easier and cleaner to do it inside the barrel.

                    When I was doing a dry run this past weekend (to burn out mold), I let the fire run for 15 mins before putting the lid on. My temp was holding at 370 for a long time. Should I simply cut that time shorter to get into the desirable temp range? Im at sea level using KBB.

                    Also, Kathryn, thank you for starting this extremely helpful thread.
                    Most likely to avoid spilling fluid on the walls or bottom of the barrel, which could lead to stinky fumes or fire where you don't want fire. Noah would have to account for the, umm, less than careful humans out there (let's put it that way) and do the safest method in his videos... Next, I'd go only 10 with the lid off. Did you add the bars with the lid or was this bar-less? Without cold meat it'll likely stay quite a bit higher, at least at first.

                    Comment

                    • Cheapboy
                      Former Member
                      • May 2018
                      • 8
                      • Columbus, OH

                      Originally posted by Huskee View Post

                      Most likely to avoid spilling fluid on the walls or bottom of the barrel, which could lead to stinky fumes or fire where you don't want fire. Noah would have to account for the, umm, less than careful humans out there (let's put it that way) and do the safest method in his videos... Next, I'd go only 10 with the lid off. Did you add the bars with the lid or was this bar-less? Without cold meat it'll likely stay quite a bit higher, at least at first.
                      Thanks Huskee. Yes, I did have the bars and the lid. I'll have to try 10 minutes next time.

                      Comment

                      • JCinPA
                        Former Member
                        • Aug 2017
                        • 63
                        • Chicago & Philadelphia (split)

                        Wow! Great info, just reread OP for my first pork butt of this season. Kathryn, it’s probably in the later 18 pages, but what is your elevation? I am in Chicago and plan to follow the OP 15-10-10 to the letter today. I’m wondering if you are also at sea level, and would crimes likely change if you are not. I pretty much at sea level, give or take 100-200 feet, and I figure I’ll start with your exact method before any tweaking experimentation.

                        thanks!

                        john

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