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

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    You're welcome Joedvasquez. As I mentioned, I had the same issue in my second cook. The lid looked like it was on nice and tight but it wasn't. That PBC is a marvelous cooking machine, but it is prone to having temp issues if the lid is not secure. Enjoy your next cook. Let us know how it turns out.

    Kathryn

    Comment


      Updating my post from Thursday...
      I found my problem. When I put the wood in and covered the lid so much smoke was coming out of the lid I tried pushing down on it and it stopped. I let go and it kept going. So I threw a couple 12"x12"X1" concrete pavers on top and that seemed to do the trick. I'm cooking 3 racks of baby backs been running at about 270 the whole time so far. About to pull them off. More photos to follow.

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      • Jerod Broussard
        Jerod Broussard commented
        Editing a comment
        May need to tap the lid in some locations.

      I'm wondering if it isn't the mysteries of fabricating metal.... Mine hit about 340 on the first cook and still heading upwards. Put foil on all four rebar holes, and it dropped right down. Felt like it might go too low, so I pulled the foil off two of the holes....stabilized right at 235 for the whole cook.... sauced 'em a minute ago, dining very soon!!!

      Comment


        I did tap all around with a mallet. Didn't work. I'm going to contact PBC and see what they say. I'm just happy I figured out what the issue was. These ribs were amazing. I rubbed yellow mustard and salted first and let set for an hour, rubbed with Meathead's Memphis Dust on all 3 racks and sauced only 1 with Sweet Baby Ray's Honey BBQ sauce. I normally do my own sauce using mango nectar and apricot pineapple jam, but felt lazy today. This worked out well. Thanks for the help. Looking forward to moving on to something else.

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          Haven't tried it yet, but I wonder if big binder clips would work on the PBC like they do on Weber kettles to help keep the seal tight?

          Comment


            That's a good idea. I was in a pinch and this was what I had in the yard but a clip or vice grips might be a decent idea. Thinking to squeeze under the rebar to bring the lid down maybe?

            Comment


            • MBMorgan
              MBMorgan commented
              Editing a comment
              Just the rim, I'm thinking ...

            Joedvasquez , if you have to use clamps or pavers stacked on top of the lid to keep your smoker from leaking smoke around the rim, then the PBC folks need to replace your smoker. I've had two PBCs, and the only thing needed to keep the lid from leaking (on the occasions when that happens) has been a few taps with the rubber sole of my shoe. It doesn't happen all the time; otherwise I'd keep a rubber mallet handy. I'm glad to hear and see how well the cook turned out. Good job!

            flyby , those ribs will be pretty doggone tasty, I'm guessing. A climbing temperature like you had is often an indication that your lid might need a few whaps of a rubber mallet as well at the start of the cook. I almost never have to foil my rebar holes during a cook. Just sayin'. Congrats on a successful first cook.

            Kathryn

            Comment


            • PappyBBQ
              PappyBBQ commented
              Editing a comment
              As I mentioned in a different post, this sounds like a barrel that is out of round.

            fzxdoc , the ribs were nearly perfect! My bride loved 'em, and while I thought they were better than anything I've ever tried on a regular grill, I thought they were just a tad over cooked. I read the guideline of 3 to 4 hours, and hard to get an accurate reading with a probe due to all the bone.... I went for a total time of just shy of 4 hours with the two slabs (about 5.8 pounds total) - the last 25 minutes were saucing them....

            Overall I am very pleased with the cooker, and certainly for the first dip in the lake, not bad at all... My thanks to you and others who chimed in with tips and encouragement!!!
            Last edited by flyby; April 17, 2016, 05:21 AM.

            Comment


              Wow, those ribs sure look pretty with the smoke ring and all. The bend test works pretty good for me and ribs, when testing for doneness. And think of all you learned already! The PBC is such a forgiving cooker that you'll be an expert in no time! (And have a lot of tasty meals along the way).

              Love the photos...thanks for posting them. Another happy PBC user on the planet. Yay!

              Kathryn

              Comment


                Joedvasquez , I forgot to mention one thing I do with managing the smoke leaks around the rim. After whapping with a shoe or rubber mallet, if I still see little wisps of smoke, I foil the rim with heavy duty foil. That works like a charm. Try that instead of the pavers.

                My PBC doesn't leak around the rim all the time. I've done a bazillion cooks on it, though, and there's a lot of gunk buildup on the lid. Every now and again, I'll clean the inside of the lid rim and the barrel lip with a Scotch scrubber, and that helps with the seal.

                But with your situation, being a brand new PBC, I'm guessing that there is some warping that went on, and the lid simply does not fit the barrel properly. The PBC folks are great about replacing faulty PBCs quickly and with almost no hassle. They deliver the replacement to your house, you take it out, put the old PBC back in the same box, seal it up and slap on the shipping sticker they provide, and let the shipping folks know to come back to your house to pick it up. Easy peasy.

                Kathryn

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                • Joedvasquez
                  Joedvasquez commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Wow that's great! I'm going to email them today. Thank you.

                Just a couple of thoughts about the PBC after my first cook - first off, I love it!!! I can see why those who have been cooking on it for a long time sing its praises. I had no issues with it - fiddled just a bit with the bottom opening to see what changing it does and I think I have it dialed in for 660' elevation. I was readily able to seal up the rebar holes for finer temp control, no issues there. My lid seems to seal very well, maybe just lucky. While in place, it rotates very freely and frankly, cant see where beating on it with anything would change a thing. It simply lies there, very flat, again maybe just lucky.

                I did buy the ash collector pan and it was about 99% effective in containing the mess that would have been there otherwise. What little that is left can easily be vacuumed out with the shop vac. I found no moisture in the bottom at all, drier than the proverbial popcorn fart....

                A twelve pound full packer brisket is the next project, followed up with the eye of round that is currently brining. Keeping notes on what I've done so I'm not AS likely to repeat past mistakes.....

                Comment



                  #23.2

                  jtabasco54 commented
                  June 4th, 2016, 09:21 AM


                  That has been my precise experience! Follow the original instructions and you get the best balance of temperature regulation and length of burn. I am curious why others have needed to modify the instructions. Interesting.

                  @jtabasco54 , it all depends on the PBC, is what I can make out. I've had 2 of them and have had the same experience with both. When I followed Noah's lighting instructions, my PBC's temperature fell steadily from the get-go, stabilizing out in the 210-240 range. Plus, when I added the meat, I got a ton of white smoke that took rather a long while to settle out.

                  With the lighting method that I outlined in the first post of this topic, my PBC's sweet spot is 275 and don't get much white smoke at all. Instead I get several hours of beautiful blue smoke at 275 pit temp. And I get single basket burns that range from 8 hours to 12 hours, depending. Works for me!

                  I think it just varies a bit from PBC to PBC sometimes. That's why I put the link to Noah's lighting instructions in the first post as well. We each just need to do whatever makes our PBCs happy.

                  So if Noah's lighting method works for you, great! Smoke on!

                  Kathryn
                  Last edited by fzxdoc; June 4, 2016, 11:01 AM.

                  Comment


                    I truly like Kathryn's lighting method. No nasty chems (other than what's in KB's binding material). I've had occasional deviations and I've never had the barrel hit 360F or above on initial ignition. I've had similar experiences to Kathryn when following Noah's instructions (I'm at sea level btw)... but even following the directions in this post, I've not exactly had repeat experiences either. The temp profiles I've had are good but often have required my tweaking and when I get it wrong, babysitting!

                    My last cook however went the smoothest yet. Here is what I did differently...

                    I used Kathryn's method of course (we physics people have to stick together)...

                    KBB, filled the basket... and when it seemed full, I added 15-20 more briquetts... i.e. I made it FULL.

                    I used 42 briqs in the chimney because I like the hitchhiker's guide... no other reason... and Im fairly sure not enough of one to make any diff :-)

                    Took extra pains to spread the lit charcoal...

                    Forced myself to be patient...

                    Hung the meat on one side, and put the wood chunks on the other.


                    It came up to 330, stepped down to 280 for a while... then down to 260... and bounced there... I went for a run... and when I was back in an hour or so (started to rain) it was actually hovering around 280. I did not have to pull a rebar (as I've often had to do) or crack the lid or nothing. The temp got as low as 247-248 but it did not stay there long... it was back up to 260-280. If I had planned on going on that run, I wouldve graphed the profile.

                    My expectation is that the proper filling of the basket and patience are the two key features!

                    Comment


                      Woo Hoo! Here's a shout out to all my physics compadres out there. JPP !

                      You lit my nerdy fires with your rationalization for using 42 coals. I will mos' def' have to switch to 42 as well.
                      The number 42 is, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, " Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything"
                      I overfill the basket for long cooks and of course always distribute the lit coals evenly with the tip of the rebar, as described in the first post.

                      I think what you saw is that in the initial phases of the cook, the hot side is on the vent side. When that starts to get spent, the hot side is on the side opposite the vent, and the temp begins to climb back up. Depending on where you place the smoker probe, you may see that scenario as well.

                      Your comment about patience is spot on: I used to fiddle a lot with the PBC to get the best temp ever. Now that I use two pit probes with each cook (one on the vent side and one on the side opposite the vent), both suspended at the level of the meat, I find that the average Pit temp stays pretty much on target throughout the cook until I have to start lifting the lid to verify meat temps with my Thermapen or crutch the meat. Once I introduce more oxygen, the fire seems to be less stable. But for a long cook, the ave temp stays pretty much rock solid at 270-290 for 5-6 hours until I have to lift the lid. Plus the smoke is such a pretty blue during that time! It's so nice that I hate to have to lift the lid to check the meat temps or foil! It's like having a sleeping dragon in there, albeit a nice one, even when riled by lifting the lid.

                      Kathryn
                      Last edited by fzxdoc; June 14, 2016, 10:26 AM.

                      Comment


                      • UncleFester
                        UncleFester commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Kathryn,

                        One question: You mentioned you overfill a bit for longer cooks. Do you do the opposite for shorter cooks? (Underfill a bit). I am thinking that would work just fine as long as the initial charcoal lighting has 40 coals spread evenly over the lesser number of un-lit coals. Thoughts?

                      • fzxdoc
                        fzxdoc commented
                        Editing a comment
                        UncleFester, no, I don't usually underfill at all. I consider the cost of charcoal to be the least $$$ contributor in the smoking process, so I fill the basket even for short cooks. That way I have reproducibility of barrel temperature for every cook.

                        Kathryn

                      • UncleFester
                        UncleFester commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Very good point. Charcoal is so cheap anyway. Thanks

                      Originally posted by fzxdoc View Post
                      I did get those gloves. Wow do they work great, but then they're pretty pricey. I think I could grab on to the hinges of hell with them, though.

                      Kathryn
                      Do you happen to know what the model number is? I was looking at the catalog and there are a number of options. http://www.chicagoprotective.com/pdf/CPA-Cat-4001.pdf

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