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First long cook ???

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    First long cook ???

    Ok now. LSG horizontal offset.
    3:00am, outside temp 29°, it was breezy at 5 mph.
    I used the fire management basket.
    Did not use water pan.
    I added a full chimney of lit charcoal.
    Added splits.
    Got the temp up to 275°.
    Put on two pork butts total weight at 20 pounds.
    I checked smoker every 15 minutes for about 13 hours I think it was.
    Added a warm split about ever 30 minutes if needed. Poked fire if I needed it hotter.
    Adjusted fb vent as needed. Exhaust vent wide open.

    My temperature swings were awful. Sometimes 200° something 400°. I could not maintain it somewhat steady.
    Sometimes I had to open cook chamber to let heat out.

    Turned the meat a couple times.

    Meat came out ok. Now great. A little mushy for my liking.

    Baked beans and Mac n cheese came out dry.

    I did realize after it was all done that I left my cook chamber charcoal grate inside where you add water if needed. It looks like it wouldn't make a difference being there.

    Is this normal for a stick burner?

    I tried controlling temp by using the fb vent and also adjusting door opening positions.

    I think using the water pan could have helped some with the temperature swings. And also add some moisture to your food, might not have been so dry. Being a brand new cooker and the cold temps probably didn’t help either. Once you get some buildup on the inside of the smoker, could help also. I would send LSG an email tomorrow asking them. I’ll bet they’ve seen this before and probably can give you a much better answer than me.
    Last edited by Panhead John; January 10, 2021, 01:49 PM.


      Learning experience.
      I know it's not a stick burner but the first time I ran my cabinet (dry run) I had some BIG swings also. I found that big adjustments made for a big difference. And I chased the temps the whole time. I did about 4 dry runs before I cooked anything.
      Don't get discouraged, have some fun with it.


        What size splits/ wood are you using? What kind of wood? (something that burns up fast)? Was it in the wind?


        • Joetee
          Joetee commented
          Editing a comment
          There was a light breeze coming from both sides. It just switched from the right fit a while then the left.

          The splits were about the size of an average persons wrist maybe some slightly bigger about 9 or 10 inches long. Red oak and Hickory I think. Just mixed here and there.

          I looked on YouTube for fire management and he didn't use the fire management basket. So I was wondering if that was designed more for charcoal/briquettes than wood?

          But then he was smoking in great weather not 29°.

        Would highly recommend doing some dry runs before putting 20 lbs of meat on. Every cooker (especially offsets) takes some getting used to. When I got my first offset I spent many hours with it just making certain adjustments and writing down the results with an empty cooking chamber.

        I’d say the most common mistake I see (and also made many times) is over compensating. As in when the temp spikes people completely kill the fire to try to bring it down quickly. And when it’s too low they add fuel and open the intakes wide open. Both will lead to frustrating results by overshooting the mark. I’d recommend making small adjustments then wait to see what happens. Hope this helps....it will get better!


        • Joetee
          Joetee commented
          Editing a comment
          I did two dry runs. First to season. Second to season again and then added some bratts. They were amazing.
          And yes I did the same thing trying to adjust for temperature swings.

          I'll keep playing with it and trying to figure out out.

        I did a cook on my 20 x 42 yesterday. It was about 40F here with a stiff north wind broadsiding the pit. First time I had seen condensate dripping from the flange of the stack where it joins the pit! I also noted that it needed more fuel in the brisk wind.

        Having observed my pit, I have learned that larger diameter splits on a good coal bed are more stable. Yes, do run stack full open and throttle the fire with combustion air vent. On mine about a one to 1 1/4 inch wide opening is about right.

        When I use splits that are too small in diameter, they flame up big and burn off quick. Sometimes I purposely use small cherry splits for that purpose, i.e. to give it a quick kick if needed. The cherry burns quick and hot.

        Generally I will put 2/3 a chimney of well lit charcoal in the fire management basket and then add the splits. Gets me going a lot quicker than trying to build a coal bed with just splits.

        So try to not continually adjust air, just find the sweet spot and leave it alone. Try some bigger diameter splits, say 3 to 3 1/2 inches. Use some smaller ones if the temp drops too far.

        Lastly temp swings in an offset are normal. Sounds like yours were too broad and I am betting caused by the small split diameter and the weather.
        Last edited by Alphonse; January 10, 2021, 03:33 PM.


        • Joetee
          Joetee commented
          Editing a comment
          Thank you. I'll try that today. It's a little warmer and sun out right now. I did add water to the chamber this time.

          I was making big adjustment chasing the fire.

        Welcome to the offset club. It’s a love/hate relationship . It took me two years to get to know my offset. I’m really only reiterating what the pit masters have stated above:
        1. it takes time to learn. There are no real short cuts. You can glean all the great knowledge of this website, input from all these pit masters, read a ton of books.....but it really comes down to hands on smoking. I’m a KCBS judge and after each competition, I go around and pick the brains of all the teams that use my offset. Gotten some good info, but nothing where I said "oh that’s what I’m not doing".
        2. Every offset has a sweet spot. Learn what yours is.
        3. On my offset, temp control is by way of the exhaust valve, not the intake. I can barely move the exhaust valve arm and can see the temp change. I never touch the intake port. That took me the longest to learn.
        4. Don’t sweat opening the cooking chamber door to check down the temp. It works and as you get knowledgeable of how your LSG runs, you’ll do it less.
        5. I use a fire basket. It helps to keep the bed of coals together.
        6. I use a water pan near the firebox.
        7. Always heat your wood. If I have room, and I always do, I put 3-4 splits in the cooking chamber as close to the fire box as possible. Hot wood ignites quickly and helps eliminate smoldering and temp drop. And no, I’ve never had a split in the cooking chamber catch fire. I try to keep my splits all the same size. ​​​​​​
        Grill On!
        Last edited by TripleB; January 10, 2021, 04:05 PM.


        • Joetee
          Joetee commented
          Editing a comment
          Great info. Thank you

        Great advice above. I would add that in my experience, the initial warm up of the smoker is pretty important to maintaining a fairly consistent temperature. Instead of waiting until the temperature rises to the desired cooking temperature and then putting the meat in, try overshooting the desired temp and let it gradually come back down, then use those small-ish splits to maintain that temperature. This might take about an hour, but it's time well spent.


        • Joetee
          Joetee commented
          Editing a comment
          Very good. Thank you.


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