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PBC Fire Going Out

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    PBC Fire Going Out

    Anyone have issues with the fire on their PBC going out? I keep seeing significant temp drops and the fire not staying lit. I have the damper open to my sea level setting but still see it going out.
    Any ideas on how to keep this from happening.

    How are you starting the fire, Drbearsec? If you get a good light with your coals and let it burn for 10 to 20 minutes before you add the meat, it will burn for 8 to 10 hours, on average, depending on the smoker temp you maintain with a few tweaks.

    Have you read this topic about lighting the PBC fire?



      20-30 minutes, I've tried chimney starter and tried natural lighter fluid. Just bought the real stuff to try that.

      I had originally been putting the charcoal holder on a pizza tray in the bottom to mane cleanup easy. I thought this was the cause but last night I did a run without it and after an hour it seemed like the basket, while not out, was definitely very low. I didn't have my grate temp probe running so maybe it's fine.

      I honestly might be just overreacting here. In the past the temps didn't seem to stay consistent when following on the grate probe... I did a brisket in March and watched it drop to about 190 after 4 hours... Just seems wrong too me.

      The coals weren't out as they did flare back up once I removed the lid, which leads me to think it's an oxygen issue... I'm in Chicago and have the damper open 1/4 of the way as specified.

      Doing ribs today so guess we will see how that goes.


        Over 20 is too long. You are burning out the coals.


          Maybe that's the issue then. Just haven't seen it get to 350 and then settle back in to 280 for several hours like any talk abou. Guess just more trial and error. Maybe I'll do some empty burns and see where I fare


            From my experience... It's crucial to get a good light or temps will run too low for your entire cook.

            I've got my bottom vent set at 1/4 open... I pretty much mirror Kathryn's method that she posted the link to... except that I'm about 400' above sea level and I let my chimney burn a full 15 minutes before I spread it over the coal basket. Then I let it burn another 10 to 15 minutes with the lid off and bars out before I hang the meat...

            Usually my pit temp will be way up over 400 degrees by the time I hang the meat... then it will settle down to about 275 degrees and stay there for hours...

            I'm sure that once you find a method that works for you that you will be happy with the performance...


              I can usually get to 20 minutes with B & B and part of a layer of Kingsford on top. With just Kingsford, I never go above 15 minutes.


                Thanks guys... Just to be clear to any future buyers... I am not displeased with the results of the product... This is simply my learning curve on how to use it correctly. I think it is an outstanding value... Like many tools, this is a case of the user needing to learn to use it right. My short cooks, like tri-tip have been outstanding.,, I need to improve my long cooks.

                That being said, the food on the long cooks wasn't bad at all. I'm just capable of better.


                  I can feel your pain Drbearsec. I have experienced the same temp drops. Coincidentally, I am also at sea level. Most recently, I followed the protcol listed in the thread that Kathryn referenced. I get pretty good results that way but I still have to tinker to keep the temp up, especially over long cooks. Like you stated, and others have also stated on this topic- its just a matter of tinkering and adjusting until it works out for your location. That's what I plan to do, just keep adjusting until I hopefully zero in. Hopefully I can figure out soon. If I do, I will be sure to report back with what is working for me, in hopes that it will work for others. Maybe you can do the same. I am doing some ribs today as well. Best of luck on your cook!
                  Last edited by Tim E; May 3, 2015, 12:42 PM.


                    I'm having the same problem....at one hour and 10 min in my second cook, I'm babysitting it to keep it above 220......this is not what I expected. I followed Kathryn's lighting method precisely, skipping step 12 because not using wood. It's at 216 now....simply put...I don't understand it. Before I hit post it just dropped to 214. What am I doing wrong that I can't get it maintain as other folks are stating.


                      I'm a lighter fluid guy with the PBC. I also had those same issues with my first 3 or 4 cooks. Two racks of ribs seemed to take forever to cook and there would be a third of a basket of coal unburned at the end of the day.Not knowing what the problem was, I fiddled about with the lower vent endlessly and needlessly thinking I had an air flow problem. Finally, I realized I was doing two things wrong: Not putting enough charcoal in the basket, and I was letting the preburn go too long. Fill 'er up. At 500' ASL, I try to have the lid on within 15 min of lighting the fire. It works perfect every time. Also, for some mystical reason, the doggone thing just seems to cook better and better all the time. Go figure. Keep on smoking man.


                      • Chuck
                        Chuck commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Interesting that you post this........I was just thinking that I will use lighter fluid next time. Every time I crack the lid to get it back up, it certainly rises, but it will begin a steady drop, like it is right now from a temp of 255 after reinstalling the lid. However, what stumps me is the vent is at 1/4 open but it will not maintain. It certainly seems like an air flow issue, maybe I need to set it to 1/3 open, IDK.

                      I agree with what everyone said here--sometimes a PBC takes off right away and seems to hold temps fine while other PBCs seem to need more babysitting. I find that as long as the lower vent is open enough to start with (for me that's slightly more than what is recommended for my altitude), it has little effect on maintaining temp unless you want to drop it quickly.

                      Harry Soo says that maintaining temp is a lot more about the upper vents than the lower vents. He's talking about a Weber but it holds true for the PBC as well.

                      When I first started using my PBC, I followed recommendations here on the free PBC topic (thanks Jerod and Pit Boss Dave!), since that was before the Pitmaster Club was formed, and took my PBC up to 360 before adding the meat. Now I take it up to 400 and seem to have much better stability with respect to smoker temps. (Dave's original recommendation was closer to 450 but my smoker thermometer then would max out at 400, so that's where I landed.)



                      • Drbearsec
                        Drbearsec commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I'll try this on my next cook and see. Thanks!

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                      On my second cook....just showing the level full coal basket, what I think is 1/4 open vent for my elevation (400 ft), and the 40 coals I started in the chimney, from there I let them burn an additional 10 minutes before hanging the meet, after that, my lid temp read immediately at 356 deg, and then slowly would drop to 220 or less, then I'd crack the lid to get it back up, I've done that several times now on this rib cook......hoping someone will point out something I've done not quite right.........and, possibly help out the original poster too.
                      Last edited by Chuck; May 3, 2015, 05:25 PM.


                        Try opening the bottom more, opening it too much won't really affect anything but too little can. As others have mentioned you are probably letting them get too far cooked. I like some of my top ones to still have some black and a little fire too. Give that a try, it fixed my problem.


                          I agree with John. It looks to me like your vent opening is not wide enough. You may be starving those coals. As I said earlier, I open my lower vent slightly larger than recommended for my altitude. I've had 2 PBCs. I didn't have to do that for the first one, but I've had to do it for the second one to get a good steady smoker temp.



                          • PackWolf
                            PackWolf commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Was your original PBC first generation and your the current one the newer version? I have wondered if there would be any differences with the higher gauge metal and the porcelain coating as opposed to powder coat. Maybe it takes longer to get the thicker metal to a stable temp... or just more thermal energy to hold it throughout?


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