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Some Of Our Favorite
Tools And Toys

These are not ads. These are products we love and highly recommend. Click here to read more about our medals and what they mean.

 


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Surely you know somebody who loves outdoor cooking who deserves a gift for the holidays, birthday, anniversary, or just for being wonderful. There he is, right in the mirror! Here are our selections of best ideas, all Platinum or Gold Medalists, listed by price.

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Digital Thermometers Are Your Most Valuable Tool And Here's A Great Buy!

maverick PT55 thermometer

A good digital thermometer keeps you from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. They are much faster and much more accurate than dial thermometers. YOU NEED ONE!

Click here for more info on the Maverick PT-55 Waterproof Instant-Read Thermometer Review shown above. It may be the best value in a thermometer out there


If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the Slow 'N' Sear

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The Slow 'N' Sear turns your grill into a first class smoker and also creates an extremely hot sear zone you can use to create steakhouse steaks.

Click here for our article on this breakthrough tool


Bring The Heat With Broil King Signet's Dual Tube Burners

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The Broil King Signet 320 is a modestly priced, 3-burner gas grill that packs a lot of value and power under the hood. Broil King's proprietary, dual-tube burners get hot fast and are able to achieve high, searing temps that rival most comparatively priced gas grills. The quality cast aluminum housing carries a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

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The Good-One Is A Superb Grill And A Superb Smoker All In One

the good one grill

The Good-One Open Range is a charcoal grill with an offset smoke chamber attached. It is dramatically different from a traditional offset smoker. The grill sits low in front and doubles as a firebox for the smoke chamber which is spliced on above and behind so it can work like a horizontal offset smoker only better. By placing the heat source behind and under the smokebox instead of off to the side, Open Range produces even temperature from left to right, something almost impossible to achieve with a standard barrel shaped offset.

Click here to read our complete review


Pit Barrel Cooker Smoker

Griddle And Deep Fryer All In One

The flat top does the burgers and the fryer does the fries. Use the griddle for bacon, eggs, and home fries. Or pancakes, fajitas, grilled cheese, you name it. Why stink up the house deep frying and spatter all over? Do your fried chicken and calamari outside. Blackstone's Rangetop Combo With Deep Fryer does it all. Plus it has a built in cutting board, garbage bag holder, and paper towel holder. An additional work table on the left side provides plenty of counter space.

Click here to read our detailed review and to order


Pit Barrel Cooker Smoker

The Pit Barrel Cooker May Be Too Easy

The PBC has a rabid cult following for good reason. It is absolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world. Period. This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier. Best of all, it is only 9 delivered to your door!

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The Swiss Army Knife Of Thermometers

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The smart folks at ThermoWorks have finally done it: The Swiss Army Knife of thermometers, two in one. Start with the industry standard food thermometer, the Thermapen MK4, (Platinum Medal winner) truly instant (2 to 3 seconds) precise (+ or – 0.7°F). Then they built in an infrared thermometer ideal for measuring the temps of pizza stones, griddles, and frying pans (also great for finding leaks around doors and windows in your house).

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Compact Powerful Sear Machine For Your Next Tailgater

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Char-Broil's Grill2Go x200 is a super-portable, fun little sizzler made of heavy, rust-proof cast aluminum. The lid snaps shut. Grab the handle and you're off to the party! Char-Broil's TRU-Infrared design produces searing heat while reducing fuel consumption. A 16 ounce LP gas canister is enough to keep you flipping burgers for hours.

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The Cool Kettle With The Hinged Hood We Always Wanted

NK-22-Ck Grill

Their NK22CK-C Charcoal Kettle Grill puts a few spins on the familiar kettle design. In fact, the hinged lid with a handle on the front, spins in a rotary motion 180 degrees. It's hard to beat a Weber kettle, but Napoleon holds its own and adds some unique features to make the NK22CK-C a viable alternative.

Click here for more about what makes this grill special


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G&F Suede Welder's Gloves

Heat Resistant Gloves With Extra Long Sleeves Hold The Hot Stuff

If you're using oven mitts at the grill, it's time to trade up. Say hello to these suede welder's gloves. They're heat resistant enough to handle hot grill grates, and flexible enough to handle tongs. The extra long sleeves even let you reach deep into the firebox to move hot logs without getting burned. Our Fave.

Click here to read our detailed review

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GrillGrates Take Gas Grills To The Infrared Zone

grill grates

GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips, pellets, or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke to whatever is above. Every gas grill needs them.

Click here for more about what makes these grates so special


kareubequ bbq smoker

Our Favorite Backyard Smoker

The amazing Karubecue is the most innovative smoker in the world. The quality of meat from this machine is astonishing. At its crux is a patented firebox that burns logs above the cooking chamber and sucks heat and extremely clean blue smoke into the thermostat controlled oven. It is our favorite smoker, period.

Click here for our review of this superb smoker


Masterbuilt MPS 340/G ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker

masterbuilt gas smoker

The First Propane Smoker With A Thermostat Makes This Baby Foolproof

Set ThermoTemp's dial from 175° to 350°F and the thermostat inside will adjust the burner just like an indoor kitchen oven. All you need to do is add wood to the tray above the burner to start smokin'.

Click here to read our detailed review


Professional Steakhouse Knife Set

masterbuilt gas smoker

Our founder, Meathead, wanted the same steak knives used by steakhouses such as Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, Morton's, Kobe Club, Palm, and many others. So he located the manufacturer and had them stamp our name on some. They boast pointed, temper-ground, serrated, high-carbon stainless-steel, half-tang blades with excellent cutting edge ability. The beefy hardwood handle provides a comfortable grip secured by three hefty rivets. He has machine washed his more than 100 times. They have never rusted and they stay shiny without polishing. Please note that we do not make, sell, or distribute these knives, they just engrave them with our name.

Click here to read our detailed review and to order


PK 360 grill

Is This Superb Charcoal Grill A Kamado Killer?

The PK-360, with 360 square inches of cooking space, this rust free, cast aluminum charcoal grill is durable and easy to use. Four-way venting means it's easy to set up for two zone cooking with more control than single vent Kamado grills. It is much easier to set up for 2-zone cooking than any round kamado. Beautifully designed and completely portable. Meathead says it is his preferrred grill.

Click here to read our detailed review of the PK 360

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Fireboard: The Ultimate Top Of The Line BBQ Thermometer

fireboard bbq thermometer

With the ability to monitor up to six temperatures simultaneously with either Bluetooth or Wifi on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer, Fireboard is the best digital thermometer we’ve tested.

Click here to read our detailed review


Finally, A Great Portable Pellet Smoker

Green Mountain Davey Crockett Grill

Green Mountain's portable Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker is one mean tailgating and picnic machine. But it's also gaining popularity with people who want to add a small, set it and forget it pellet smoker to their backyard arsenal. And with their WiFi capabilities you can control and monitor Davy Crocket from your smart phone or laptop.

Click here to read our detailed review and to order

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

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

    Preparation:

    To make a foil liner for the bottom of the PBC: Take 2 sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil and crimp them together. Use the lid of the PBC to make an impression on the foil. Fold the foil just inside that impression so that it will fit neatly into the bottom of the barrel. Make sure the foil is as flat as possible so that it won't compromise air flow under the basket.
    Edited to Add: in Oct 2015, the Pit Barrel folks came out with an ash-catcher tray that easily attaches to the legs of the basket. It does a pretty good job of catching most of the ash.

    In my experience with a full basket of Kingsford Original, about 1/2 cup of ash deposits around the edge of that ash-catcher on the bottom of the barrel. Because I'm lazy but meticulous about keeping my PBC clean, I still put the aluminum foil under the ash-catcher to get that spillover ash.
    Thermometers: It's always good to monitor both the temperature of your PBC smoker and the temperature of the meat. That's the best way to achieve consistent results. Refer to the Thermometer Reviews and Ratings section of this website to decide which thermometer will work best for you.

    Place the temperature probe in the meat before taking it to the smoker. That way you can be sure it's exactly where you want it.

    Slide the smoker probe through the rebar hole so it can monitor the smoker temp during the lighting procedure as well as through the rest of the cook.

    Lighting using a chimney

    My method:
    1. Place the foil liner next to the PBC barrel. Place the empty coal basket on the foil.
    2. Fill the basket level with its brim (Kingsford Original), then take 40 briquets out and put in the chimney. (For my cooks so far, there's something magic about this 40 briquet number so I count carefully.)
    3. Put 2-3 sheets newspaper (single page width) in the bottom section of the chimney and set aside. Or forget the newspaper and use a Weber wax lighting cube set on the grate and put the chimney over it when ready to light.
    4. Set the basket aside and discard the fine bits of charcoal that have fallen onto the foil.
    5. Place the foil into the bottom of the PBC barrel. Make sure it is pressed down flat so as not to block the air intake hole or compromise air flow under the basket.
    6. Place the basket into the barrel and align the handle in the same orientation as the rebars. That way longer pieces of meat won't touch the handle and the meat will drip directly onto the coals.
    7. Place chimney on the grate in the PBC and light the newspaper. Note: you can also use a Weber Lighter Cube instead of the newspaper as noted above.
    8. Allow about 15 min for the chimney burn (10 min at sea level, 20 min at 5000+ feet). The goal is to get some ash around the edges of the topmost coals in the chimney before pouring. The time varies depending on the type of charcoal and on the design of the chimney. For example, compact chimneys can take upwards of 20 minutes for KBB coals at the top of the chimney to start to ash over.
    9. Holding the chimney in one hand, remove the grate and set aside. Pour the hot coals over the cold coals in the basket.
    10. Use one end of the rebar to evenly distribute these glowing coals.
    11. Leave the lid off and rebars out and let the fire burn for 10 more minutes.
    12. Add wood to the coals (if using). Put the lid on but leave both rebars out for another 10 minutes.
    13. Insert the rebars, position the smoker probe, and then add the (already temp-probed) meat.
    14. Holding one rebar (if necessary, use gloves to protect from heat), slip it out of one hole and push the plug end of the meat temp probe through the hole. Re-seat the rebar. Connect the plug to the digital thermometer so the meat temp can be read out real time.
    15. Close the lid securely. No smoke should come out of the lid's lip where it joins the barrel edge. This is important!
    16. If after 5 to 10 min the temp has not come up to 360 to 400 deg F, crack the lid but watch closely because the temp can run away. Get the temp up to 360-400, re-seat the lid firmly. The temp should settle in the 270 to 290 range.
    17. For a 225-250 deg F range, Step 16 is not usually necessary.
    18. If the PBC temp is too hot, stuff some aluminum foil into the holes around the rebar until the temp comes down to the desired level. Then remove the aluminum if/when necessary.

    Note 1: See the PBC-recommended method of lighting the PBC by clicking here.

    Note 2: I now use the Char Broil Half Time Chimney for my PBC. It's short and wide and the coals heat up in it quickly. For years I used the Weber Compact Chimney, but it took almost 10 minutes longer to get the topmost coals ashed over, compared to the Char Broil.

    Note 3: I edited this method after several months of using the PBC and having greater success by inserting Steps 11 and 12.

    *****

    David Parrish's method (from the PBC forum):

    I used the chimney method for the lighting process. I didn't really pay attention to times, but I can speak to the process.
    1) Fill PBC basket full of charcoal. Transfer coal into Weber Chimney until it is 3/4 full.
    2) Light chimney using a Weber lighter cube. Let coals mostly ash over.
    3) Once chimney coal is mostly ashed over, pour lit coal back into PBC basket and put basket in PBC.
    4) Let coals continue to heat up for a few minutes until all are mostly ashed over.
    5) Throw on the meat, close the lid, watch for peak temp about 5 minutes later. The peak temp is the best indication of how well you lit your charcoal. I aim for 380 to 420. Anything lower means I didn't get the charcoal lit well enough. Anything higher means I've got too much airflow. Usually this is due to the lid being cracked.
    Attached are pics of how the coals looked at the end of steps 2 and 4. I also added a pic of the meat on the PBC just before I closed the lid. The temp peaked at 419F about 6 minutes later. Success!

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Dave 1 resized.jpg Views:	1 Size:	81.8 KB ID:	12619Click image for larger version  Name:	Dave 2 resized.jpg Views:	1 Size:	75.5 KB ID:	12620

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Dave 3 resized.jpg Views:	1 Size:	79.4 KB ID:	12621



    Lighting using charcoal starter:

    The method for lighting the coals using charcoal starter is shown in the PBC video on their website.

    Many PBC users say that the temperatures are more consistent when using the charcoal starter method.

    Notes from PBC users:
    1. You must wait until all the coals are ashed over before putting the lid on to be sure the fluid has burned off. (Max Good)
    2. One PBC user (on the general PBC forum) said that "the biggest mistake is not using ENOUGH lighter fluid. The more, the better. When I first light it, the PBC should look like a scene out of Rocky--a trash can with flames shooting out of it. This will quickly burn off any lighter fluid and get a consistent top-layer of coals heated up. After 10 minutes (I am at sea level), I put the lid on and am ready to roll.You must absolutely follow Noah's instructions on this, including pouring the lighter fluid on the coals when it is still outside the PBC, then immediately put the basket in the PBC and light the coals. My cooks have become much more consistent this way."


    To maintain temperatures:

    Temperature too high:
    Stuff some aluminum foil in the holes surrounding the rebars. That will cool things down pretty quickly.

    Temperature too low:
    Crack the lid a half an inch or so and watch the temperature closely or it will get away from you. Overshoot your desired temperature by 20-30 degF and then re-seat the lid.

    More temp tips:
    Jerod B. says that the side nearest the vent runs hotter for the first couple of hours of the cook, then the other side seems to take over but never gets as hot, probably due to the drippings.

    One PBC user has had success in maintaining the desired temperature by putting a square of foil over the air intake hole, adjusting it as necessary to control the amount of oxygen getting to the coals. I haven't tried this yet but it sounds like an idea worth investigating.

    Many PBC users add the coals to the basket outside of the PBC and then quickly pick up the basket with an insulated glove on the hand and set it inside the barrel.

    One PBC user recommended using a garden rake to lift the hot basket up by its handle (when lit outside of the PBC) and place it in the barrel, or to remove the hot basket from the barrel at the end of the cook and to place the coals in a closed grill or some other receptacle to save them for the next cook. On occasion I forget to align the basket's handle with the rebars at the beginning of the cook, so the rake method would be a good way to align it the way I want.

    At the end of the cook:
    After dumping the cooled coals from the basket, I carefully fold up the foil liner, trapping all of the ash inside and dispose of it as well.

    Kathryn
    Attached Files
    Last edited by fzxdoc; December 11th, 2016, 07:54 AM.

  • fzxdoc
    replied
    Parisie

    About the vent setting: some people here in The Pit have said that their PBCs work better at sea level with the vent closed more than the setting recommended by the PBC folks. I’m suggesting that you close the vent more and see if it makes a difference for your PBC.

    For cooks ready at different times:It shouldn’t make a difference what you start first for most foods that are best cooked at the same optimum PBC temperature. For example, you can smoke a meatloaf and a pork butt at the same time but the meatloaf will take less time to cook. If you want everything to come out at the same time, then you can easily add the shorter-cooking meat later on in the cook. The PBC will cook both just fine.

    I don't smoke ribs and chicken at the same time because they have different optimum temperatures. Meathead recommends smoking chicken at 325 deg F or higher to have moist chicken and crispy skin. I smoke my chickens in the PBC at around 350deg F. They are done in just over one hour.

    Ribs are best done at your PBC’s sweet spot, usually between 260 and 290 deg F and take around 3 to 5 hours. If you smoke a chicken at this lower temp it will take 2 to 3 hours to get the chicken breast to 165 degF, the safe serving temp. It will still be juicy and delicious but the skin will most likely be rubbery. You can always crisp the skin by leaving it in the PBC with the lid off for a few minutes at the end of the cook, as recommended by the PBC folks on their website. I don’t do this for fear of over cooking the chicken, but it may work just fine. Maybe others who have tried this method for crisping chicken skin will chime in with their results.

    HTH,
    Kathryn

    Leave a comment:


  • Parisie
    commented on 's reply
    Thanks much for for the response everyone, I will keep it in mind the next time I use the PBC.

    fzxdoc - It to be clear, there has been reports of consistent results at sea level with a vent opened less than 1/4? It really would be useful if the PBC came with notches on the barrel to use as a guideline for the vent.

    For cooks with foods that are ready at different time what is best practice? For example, w/ chicken and ribs should I load at once or start with the ribs and then add the birds?

  • fzxdoc
    replied
    Oh gosh, Parisie , don't give up on the PBC! That said, I can understand your frustration.

    I find that "loaded" cooks with 3 chickens almost always adds around 30 minutes to the cook because the fire has a hard time keeping up with all the moisture released by the chickens. It's more difficult to keep the temps in the desired 350°F range without keeping the lid cracked the whole time.

    I too had to add a gasket after about 1.5 years of heavy use of my PBC. With that lid leak problem solved, it once more was easier to get more consistent cooks.

    Some people at sea level report that they have to close their lower vent more than the recommended amount to have consistent cooks. You may want to play with that. Since I live at 3700 ft altitude, I actually have to have my vent open slightly more than recommended. Try adjusting the position of the vent's disc for the next cook and see if you have better results.

    Every now and then I have a cook like you describe where the temps are solid at 275ish and then after a few hours begin to drift down. I always use two ambient probes in the PBC and find that often when one probe trends down the one on the opposite side of the barrel is actually trending up. They are often 40 to 50°F different from each other.

    However, if I see that temps of both probes are trending down, I crack the lid repeatedly, about 3 times or so (every 10 minutes for half an hour) to get the fire lit back to where it needs to be for a solid cook temp for the coming few hours.

    Let us know how making some small changes works for you. If that PBC worked well for you for over 2 years, it will do so again, I'm sure.

    Kathryn

    Leave a comment:


  • HawkerXP
    commented on 's reply
    No thermometer mounted in mine. I do hang a probe off the rebar, but like its been said, temps in the PBC can be different in various places at the same time. I use it as a guide. Mine, lit correctly with rebar in runs 270ish. One rebar out 340 ish. Yes a big hunk or multiple hunks will drop the temp and cracking the lid for a little while helps with that.

  • cashelton
    commented on 's reply
    I've had to quit paying attention to my grill probe when doing large cooks. I cant give it the space it needs to give an accurate reading. I still attach it to keep an eye on temp spikes.

    Here of lately I've been using the 15-10-10 method...probably too much by the book. The charcoal hasnt been ready at the 15 minute mark, but I was loading it into the PBC. Those cooks, the temps stayed lower than normal (240°)

  • Skip
    replied
    Thanks jecucolo . I'm new to the PBC club. I've done less than 10 cooks on mine and feel some days like I've learned a lot and some days like I know less than nothing. I've got a lid Gasket ordered but also had to slightly prop my lid open during a Bacon cook yesterday. I'm not frustrated just a little confused. For now I'll keep reading and cooking. The last couple cooks I put my BGE Thermometer (which I tested and reset the calibration on to match the Smoke Themomter) thru a lid handle bolt hole besides using my Smoke Digital Thermometer. I struggle a little with the idea of adding a good Tru Tel Dial Thermometer but not sure where to drill the hole to place it. Have any of you added a GOOD Dial Thermometer? There are a few Fairly Accurate Dial Thermometers they are just a little costly.

    Leave a comment:


  • jecucolo
    replied
    I have heard this problem a lot lately. fzxdoc believes it is high humidity causing the charcoal to be moist. Due to all the rain we have been having I brought a bag of unopened charcoal inside the house. I cooked half a turkey and temps were high. Maybe just a coincidence. Another common thread is the use of sealing the lid with lava lock. I am beginning to think the just may be too tight. One of the things I have been using to compensate for the low temp is I pick a small twig in the yard and just prop one end of the lid. It just seems to need a little bit more air.
    A final option is go purchase some 1/4” rebar rods. This gives additional oxygen to the pbc.

    Leave a comment:


  • Parisie
    replied
    I have owned my PBC for 3 years now. The first two years I loved it and would get delicious food, nailing the cooking times on the PBC site. However, starting last year I have been having an extremely difficult time maintaining temperature for even a 2 hour cook. My usual go to cook is split chicken (1-2 whole chickens cut in half as Noah explains on the site) and baby back ribs (2-3 racks). I have tried both the 15-10-10 and Noah's lighting method, using the original Kingsford blue bag, with the same results:

    After a good start, the temperature drops ~ 1-1 1/2 hours later to low 260s and continues to do so. At this point I usually open up the vent more to try and compensate.

    One thing I noticed last year was that smoke was leaking out of the lid. After reading this forum's advice, I purchased the Lava Lock 1/8" gasket, removed the grease off the lid edge with Dawn Professional Power Dissolver Spray and installed.

    Keeping the difficulties of the past cooks mind I decided to keep things simple today and cook only chicken (3 birds cut into 6 halves). Since I was cooking only chicken I used Kingsford Professional, which I recently picked up from Costco.

    I lit up the Charcoal using the 15-10-10 method and started the cook with a hinged grate configuration: Four Chicken halves hanging on one side and the other two halves lying on the grate along with a circle of brie (the appetizer).

    Checking back 15 minutes later, I saw that the lid was leaking smoke and noticed that the lid was not seated properly. After reseating the lid I saw that the gasket was doing a fantastic job. The temperature of the PBC (I use a Thermoworks Smoke) was 415° F at this time. 15 minutes later I removed the brie, the grate and hung all the chickens 3 per side.

    To my frustration about an hour later, the temperature of the cooker was in the low 260s and dropping. At this point I decided to open up my vent (See Start-Vent.JPG for a photo of the vent opening at the beginning of the cook and End-Vent.JPG for the vent opening after I adjusted)

    Since I had hungry guests, and the chicken temp in the breast was not rising beyond 152-154° F, I decided to finish them in the oven.

    While everyone enjoyed the results, I felt the they were dry and lacking in smoke flavor. For some reason the chicken color was also a bit paler than usual.

    Since I really do not know where to start I guess I have the follow questions for the forum:

    * Is my vent opening correct? (I am on Long Island, New York with an elevation of 87')
    * Is it fine to smoke items in the PBC that have different cook times? Basically, should I minimize the amount of time the PBC lid is opened and stick with one type of food.

    Things have been so hit or miss I am almost ready to give up on my PBC so any advice would be much appreciated.

    I know how great the results of the PBC can be and hopefully I can get back to it and start smoking with confidence soon enough!
    Attached Files

    Leave a comment:


  • au4stree
    commented on 's reply
    stickbit, I lit according to Noah's vids.

  • stickbit
    commented on 's reply
    thanks for posting! curious when you say ' lit according to instructions' which lighting method did you use?

  • stickbit
    commented on 's reply
    thanks for posting! curious when you say ' lit according to instructions' which lighting method did you use?

  • au4stree
    commented on 's reply
    RobertC, I lost my graphs before the gasket, but the temps would surge to low 400’s and settle at 350ish, often spike above. It rarely stayed at 300, which I’m fine with. I feel like the temps I’m getting now are where it is supposed to run.

  • RobertC
    commented on 's reply
    Ahhh! I see it now: there's a tiny thin vertical line at the extreme left of the top graph and a tiny thin vertical line at the extreme right of the bottom graph. Those must be 1pm and 7pm.

    What did the plot look like before you added the gasket?

  • au4stree
    commented on 's reply
    RobertC. If you'll look at the top of the graph it indicates the time of day, temp of barrel and date. The graph shows how consistent the barrel burned. Y-axis is temp, x-axis is date/time. I moved along the graph in the 2 images to show start temp and ~5hr mark
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