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Newbie with temp questions.

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    Newbie with temp questions.

    Newbie to the PBC here. Question on temps. When Pit Barrel says it runs at the temps they state, is that with or without food in it? No doubt adding food will drop the temp down in the cooker? I’m expecting 275-300 degree temps inside but don’t get that with food and the rods in place. I’m way under 2000ft level, vent is quarter open and temp outside today for my cook is roughly 32 degrees out and no real wind. I have six slabs of ribs in it right now and my Maverick thermo says the temp inside with meat is 220. Sometimes goes lower. I cracked the lid and it has gone up to 246. I have to keep cracking the lid to get temp up. Should I be shooting for a consistent temp inside or just fire it up, put food in and don’t worry about it? I am using the smaller version of Weber’s chimney to light coals. Am I not waiting long enough for them to get hot before dumping them in? I thought I read Noah stated that they are able to smoke at temps -15degrees below outside air temp. I got this for xmas and have been using it almost every weekend.

    JD, you should check out the prior threads which deal with this issue here and here


      I'll go into this by saying that I don't have a PBC. However, I've been a chef and line dog for 35 years. Don't stress out too much on the temps for ribs. I've cooked ribs from 175-375 and had good results. Having said that, if you can keep 246 pretty steady in your conditions, then keep it as the food will be fine. You can fine tune as needed. If your temp is 220, no worries either but your food will take forever to cook, which sucks if you have people waiting for food.

      Most bbq rigs are just ovens, really; so I approach things from a "what would I do if this was just in my oven" perspective. It helps me, so maybe it will help you. Greetings and good wishes from a breezy(50 knots) Houston, Alaska.


        Putting food in the PBC will no doubt lower the temp in the cooker for a bit. Make sure that your probe is away from the food after you put it on. Sometimes the probe will read cooler if its reading surface temps around meat that has been hung recently.

        I am in Minnesota, about 650 Ft above sea level, and I've cooked in weather that is below -15 with out to too many problems. The PBC just needs a bit more fuel at those really low temps. Every cook I have done since November has pretty much been below 32 F and I don't have huge problems with the PBC running cold. I don't think that is your issue. You really have to get down into those negative temps for the ambient temps to really make a huge difference.

        I would try to run with the lid cracked a bit and leave it cracked. You can also put a piece of folded paper between the lid and the top of the rim of the PBC to hold it at a constant lid crack. Adjusting the bottom damper does not have nearly as much effect on the PBC as the lid will. You can however, open that thing up too half way if need be, but I think the lid crack will solve your problem.

        As for the coals, I fill my PBC basket with a heaping pile of unlit coals, then I take them out of the basket to fill the chimney to 3/4 full, leaving the residual in the basket. I light the coals and let it get HOT, but not ashed over, still covered in orange flame. Then I dump the lit coals into the basket. I use a welding glove and some tongs to move the coals evenly over the top of the basket of unlit coals. Then I leave the lid off for maybe 5 mins then cover it. It gets to hot (400+) if I let it sit open like Noah does. I don't know why, it just does. More proof that nothing in BBQ is truly set it and forget it.

        Long story short, cracking the lid will have the most effect on the overall temp of the PBC. The key is to find a spot where it can level out. Thats why I used the folded paper in the lid rim to keep a consistent crack to the lid. Crack the lid a tiny bit, and wait for 15-20 mins, if it gets to hot, push the lid down further, if it doesn't get hot enough make the crack a bit bigger. But make sure you give it time to level out. Once it levels out, leave it to do its work as is. Don't touch the lid or any dampers. Otherwise its gonna just YO-YO up and down and that kinda defeats the purpose of having a PBC for some people.

        I hope this helps brother. I'm sure there will be others writing in as well. There are a ton of PBCers in The Pit so your certainly not alone.

        Good Luck!!!!



          Until you have time to read the other articles, crack the lid and let it go past 300, it should settle down a lot higher after that. Some of us seem to get difficult ones!


            Wow, thanks for the help! I took lid off and saw sensor was hanging next to/touching a slab. I moved it and cracked lid again and the temp soared to 300. I can't believe that in such a small volume of barrel having the sensor touching a slab would make such a difference. I installed the food probe as well now as a secondary for temp reading and have it hanging near the other one in middle of barrel,and they're reading pretty close. Can there really be much temp difference in this cooker from one area inside it to another? I've been doing wings and chix thighs and usually have the probe laying next to them, so try not to do that huh..? Or just stop being so anal about everything with this thing and just cook!!


              So here's a pic with the lid cracked, is this too much smoke?


                Lotta smoke, but I never worry about the amount of smoke if it is holding the temp I need.


                  That kind of smoke happens when you crack the lid and unlit charcoal lights up or relights. Once it ashes over the smoke will die down. I wouldn't worry about it unless it persists for a half hour or more.


                    @Dewesq55 already shared my post on PBC temperature management above...thanks @Dewesq55! RE: the smoke, did you include wood? And if so, was it wet? That could increase your apparent smoke. Either way, I wouldn't sweat it. But I would try to find some kind of steady state on temps rather than having it fluctuate wildly. Again, don't sweat this either. With more practice you'll find how the adjustments affect your temps. But do give adjustments time...they won't instantly affect temperature. Having a remote temp gauge is a convenient way to keep an eye on things while enjoying warmth indoors. I personally use one of the Maverick Redi-Chek thermo's and it works great.


                      I think I was over analyzing the temps and should of "just set it and forget it". After 3 hours I had hardly any coals left in basket, I'm guessing because they were burning real hot with the lid cracked?

                      The ribs came out pretty darn good. The ends by the coals were quite burnt, and some of the bone/back sides of the ribs. 6 slabs done in less then 3 hours!! Half hour before taking them out, I took them out and put bbq sauce on them, some of the lower quarters near the coals were almost breaking off the slabs.
                      Wanted to cook more food so I put half a small chimney back in and had the sensor near the top of barrel. It went up to 400 with no rods in and lid on. I had 2 wood chunks in there, Weber brand form Home Depot while doing the ribs and they were not soaked. Thanks for the info and help and no doubt I'll be back again..............



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