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Low Pit Barrel Temps?

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    Low Pit Barrel Temps?

    This has been bugging me for quite some time and I'd like to see what you all have to say about this phenomenon. I light my PBC using a mini Weber chimney and a Weber cube. I wait 15-20 minutes and then I dump the hot coals into the basket. I hang my meat and close the lid. The temperature generally falls into the 220 or less range. Then I have to crack the lid to bring it back up. Even when I crack the lid and bring it up to 350 it has fallen to 235 in the matter of 30 minutes. The intake is open about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way and I am at ~500 ASL. What am I doing wrong? Most people say that their temps settle in the 270-290 range.

    I would let the temp get to 380-400, and then see what it settles at.

    I've only done a few chimney lights.

    The lighter fluid method works so well, and it so freaking easy, I use it.


    • Guy
      Guy commented
      Editing a comment
      Jerod, after learning about a chimney starter I swore I would never use lighter again. I think I am this weekend after reading how you use it and think it is the best. Just goes to show you never say never.

    • mtford72
      mtford72 commented
      Editing a comment
      Jerrods / Kathyrn's advice is spot on. Use the lighter fluid - it's easy and works. If when you seat the lid the temperature looks to stall (within first few minutes), crack the lid and it'll rise. Reseat above 370. It should fall back to the operating range of 270 to 310 within 30 mins.
      As an aside, the operating range seems to work well for all the meats.

    Originally posted by SRA View Post
    This has been bugging me for quite some time and I'd like to see what you all have to say about this phenomenon. I light my PBC using a mini Weber chimney and a Weber cube. I wait 15-20 minutes and then I dump the hot coals into the basket. I hang my meat and close the lid. The temperature generally falls into the 220 or less range. Then I have to crack the lid to bring it back up. Even when I crack the lid and bring it up to 350 it has fallen to 235 in the matter of 30 minutes. The intake is open about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way and I am at ~500 ASL. What am I doing wrong? Most people say that their temps settle in the 270-290 range.
    I have the same issue. Yesterday the barrel went up to 450 and slowly fell from there. I was cooking my shoulder at 315 for a long time and it turned out fantastic. My only advice is to do what Jerod says and let the barrel get hotter. I do the same lighting methods as you do.


      I resisted lighter fluid because I considered it blasphemy, but it is all I use now because I get the most consistent results from it. Do as Noah suggests: fill the basket outside the PBC, use plenty (and I mean plenty!) of lighter fluid spread over the top layer of coals, and immediately place in the PBC and light. You should shortly have flames shooting up the PBC, assuring that the top layer of coals will get hot. Since the flames are so prevalent, any lighter fluid will quickly get burned up (since it is so volatile). The biggest mistake, quite ironically, is not using enough lighter fluid.

      You will have to figure out how long after you light before you put on the lid. Noah suggests 15-20 minutes, but I usually do less (about 12 minutes). I am at sea level near the ocean. Once you figure out what works for you, you will get very consistent results.


        This might seem counter intuitive but try closing your bottom vent a bit.

        Also, once you dump the coals from the chimney into the PBC's firebox wait 5 minutes before you hang the meat and close the lid. This will help you get a higher peak temp. I want my temp to peak between 380 and 420 about five minutes after I close the lid. That almost always results in a settle down temp in the 250 to 290 range.


          Sometimes my coals in the chimney take longer, I don't go by time as it doesn't seem to work that well. When the top coals are mostly ash I dump them and usually leave the lid of a few minutes to go get the meat, that seems to get the coals lit up and happy.


            OK, thanks for the tips, I'll try some of these out on the few cooks!


              Let us know how it turns out.


                SRA - I am also plagued by this and am watching this thread intently. Unfortunately, other issues have kept me from testing myself.


                  Having the same issue here. I haven't tried leaving the lid off after lighting. I have cracked it after hanging the meat and I've been able to get up to 340ish but when I close the lid completely it drops down to 250, hangs out for about 10-20 minutes then goes down to 220. I'm going to do a practice turkey this week as soon as the weather cooperates and try leaving the lid off for 5 minutes after adding the lit coals to the basket.

                  I'll post my results.


                    I thought the PBC videos did recommend leaving the lid off after dumping the lit coals into the basket?


                      Did a turkey today on the pbc. Ambient temp was 34 degrees, rising to 39 over the course of the cook with little to no wind. Filled up the basket, took out 40 coals and lit them in a chimney starter. Let them go 15 minutes then evenly distributed into the charcoal basket. Left the lid off for 8 minutes while I hung the turkey up.

                      Temp went up to 275 then down to 260 over the next 5 minutes. I propped the lid open with a paint stirrer.

                      Over the next 33 minutes the temp climbed to 360. It went back down to 355 and I closed the lid.

                      Over the next 45 minutes the temp dropped to 255 where it stayed for the remainder of the cook (around 3 hours).

                      After removing the turkey I decided to see how it went. Temp was 290 after I replaced the lid from removing the turkey.

                      Over the next hour the temp dropped to 275.

                      An hour later we were at 255 and it stayed there another hour and I quit paying attention to the temp.

                      Not sure what to try now. I've messed around with the vent so much I had to retighten the nut on the inside of the cooker to get it to stay. I haven't messed with it during a cook, just before each one. I also printed out the picture of the vent setting in actual size and made sure I was right on the money. I've had it more open and more closed and haven't had much luck with temps staying around 270 at all.


                        Mine needed a little more air then it should according to the diagram. Next time you fire it up make sure it gets up to 350 or so and then let it settle where it wants. Then, with both rebar in make a half inch or so adjustment one way or the other on the bottom vent and give it 15-20 minutes to respond and play around with it that way.
                        The numbers just don't make sense to me if we are using the same kind of charcoal. When I put my coals on I let it sit for a few minutes wide open and it gets hot fast, then I hang food and put the lid on. What is interesting is it took so long to heat up, which makes me think it isn't getting enough air or enough coals aren't lit. If mine is at 255 I crack the lid, and by that I mean I pick it up and set it not quite back on which leaves a gap of about 1/2 inch. It will go from 255 to 300 in about 5 minutes, I've accidentally left it cracked for 15 and it was near 350.

                        Once you have checked the above, my only other guess is that too many coals are lit too soon. In my early attempts to get to 325 I would get a whole basket of coals ashed over and put them on and let it sit until basically every piece of charcoal was burning. It got super hot but that only lasted about an hour, after that the coals were burnt up and there were no new ones to catch so it hung around 250 for a couple of hours and that's it. Those things should be able to keep 250 for 12 hours or more, so when you do the above stuff check back every few hours, if it is shutting down only 4-6 hours in then this may be your problem. Maybe. Or Gremlins.


                          Hi Everyone,
                          I'm a new member to the Pit and long time reader of the site. Been BBQ'ing up here in Montreal, Canada for a few years now and just love it. Thanks so much to all of you for this special PBC section of the forums.
                          I've got the same trouble and will see if any of the tricks here will help me out. After reading through this thread, I'm wondering if I should crack the lid initially until I hit 400ish.
                          I added a PBC to my collection a couple of weeks ago and finally got the chance to give it a go with 4 racks of
                          ribs. The outside temp has been hovering around -22F for the last few weeks and I was overjoyed when we finally
                          hit a "balmy" +32F over the weekend. No winds to speak of and ideal to give my PBC a first run (at least for
                          I have read the posts here, seen YouTube reviews and studied the PBC instructions. I thought that I had
                          everything down to the numbers. I must say that my first cook left me with "mixed" emotions. Mostly due to this issue. Let me list my experience in a quick point form.
                          -Lined the bottom of the PBC with aluminum foil (as posted in the sticky here in the PBC section.)
                          -Filled the charcoal basket with Kingsford Blue level.
                          -Removed 40 briquettes and started them in my chimney.
                          -I'm at sea level, set the vent accordingly, and let them burn for exactly 15 mins.
                          -Dumped the hot coals in and closed the lid for about 20mins while I got my racks seasoned up.
                          -lid seemed to be perfectly sealed.
                          -Put the meat on after about 20mins.
                          -I ran a Maverick about half way down the chamber. (I recently tested it and it was accurate ~3 degrees up/down.)
                          The PBC was locked in at 240-250F for the first 2.5 hours before I started getting antsy.
                          I was hoping to hit the sweet sport of 280-300.
                          I cracked the lid with a tongue depressor and brought the temp up to 340 before locking the lid down again. Within 20 minutes, I was back at 240-250. Repeated this again a little later with the same result.

                          I understand that the cold may lower the temp a bit but it was "mild" given the time of year.
                          I didn't use any wood chunks this time as I wanted to try everything "out of the box". I'm also wondering if my
                          lower than prescribed temps contributed to the heavy taste of the briquettes. Don't get me wrong, I've been
                          using Kingsford for years and love them but this time around, the taste was really intense. My guests didn't
                          seem to notice (or were maybe being polite), but it put a little damper on things for me. I've run my WSM 22 in the 220 range and have never had a taste that harsh. Maybe the 6 chunks of wood that I would use masks the flavor. LOL.

                          Here's hoping that cook #2 will go a little smoother.



                            Originally posted by SRA View Post
                            OK, thanks for the tips, I'll try some of these out on the few cooks!
                            Leaving the lid off after lighting will solve this problem.



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