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Another M1 experiment

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    Another M1 experiment

    I decided to try a cook with charcoal and wood chunks using the lower firebox. I wanted to see if I could simulate what I do with a Weber kettle with SnS - a modified "snake" method that I think of as a fuse method. Light a bunch of charcoal, pack into a corner then pack a bunch of unlit charcoal seeded with wood chunks against the lit coals. The concept is that as the lit coals burn down they ignite the charcoal and wood next to them, which then catch and ignite the next briquettes, etc. On a Weber doing this with a not very large amount of charcoal I can get a controlled burn at 250 that will last for about 5 hours. Then it's a simple matter to open the hinged grate, repack the last embers using a charcoal rake and pack in more charcoal to restart the process. Since I was building a fire anyway I decided to cook a couple steaks I had picked up along with a huge baking potato.

    This experiment was not a success but the food came out great anyway. I lit a full chimney of briquettes and dumped them into the firebox. I tried to pack them into the back left of the firebox as best I could but the firebox is so large I had trouble really getting them in there tight. I did the best I could then laid my fuse. I figured once I got to temp I would then put the food on the cooking grate and toss in some hickory chunks I had. The food in question was some really nice looking NY strips. I also had a huge russet potato that I coated with olive oil, salt and pepper and placed on the cooking grate as soon as I dumped the charcoal.

    First problem was the temp. Even with the dampers fully open I couldn't get the temp over 220 or so, which go surprised me with a full chimney and dampers open. After waiting awhile for the temp to come up with no movement, I ended up tossing on a piece of cherry wood just to try to get the temp up.I went inside and waited. Eventually the temp got up to 400. I went outside to check the firebox and the entire box full of charcoal was fully lit. It didn't burn like a fuse. Maybe this is from me adding the wood split but the entire firebox went up at once.

    I let the potato bake at 400 for about 40 minutes then used the dampers to push the temp down to about 325. I then added my steaks and threw two chunks of hickory into the pile. After about 15 minutes I added two more. I noticed some light smoke coming from the chimney but not as much as I would have expected at that temp with the quantity of wood.

    The steaks cooked fairly quickly. When they hit 115 I pulled them and gave them about three minutes on the sear burner of my gasser.

    The steaks were delicious, perfect medium rare, nice light smoky flavor, not overwhelming but noticeable. I was really pleased with the end result.

    I was not pleased with the attempt to try to simulate the action of a slow and sear on a Weber. The higher temp I was shooting for probably contributed to my difficulties but I did not expect what happened. I think the large size of the M1 firebox is problematic for this type of cook. The firebox is huge, it could easily take an entire bag of charcoal, maybe 2. This makes it difficult to pack it tight. If someone came up with an insert like the SnS, I would buy it in a heartbeat. I think on a SnS the tight pack of the charcoal restricts airflow and helps with that even slow burn. I just don't think that's possible in the M1 unless you dump 2 bags of charcoal in there.

    I will keep trying and report back if I manage to get this to work.
    Last edited by Tuckmonster; September 11, 2021, 04:42 PM.

    Great post! I wonder if you could achieve what you want by spreading the lit coals over the top of the basket filled with unlit coals, so it would act as a fuse from top to bottom? That's how I used to set up my WSM for a long burn.


    • Tuckmonster
      Tuckmonster commented
      Editing a comment
      That's a good idea and time permitting I will try that in the next week or two. I would definitely say that just trying to pack in the charcoal in a snake or fuse fashion on the M1 is not a good option because of the size of the firebox. Top to bottom is an interesting idea and I will definitely have to give that a try the next time I have some free time

    I've seen other people use bricks in the firebox to separate the charcoal into a more snake like configuration.

    Something like this....
    Adjustable "T" Plates for Fire Box – Lone Star Grillz
    Last edited by HawkerXP; September 12, 2021, 06:57 AM.


    • Tuckmonster
      Tuckmonster commented
      Editing a comment
      Funny, after my last post I remembered seeing a Hasty-Bake video where they did this. It's definitely a possibility for the M1 and something I will try.
      Last edited by Tuckmonster; September 13, 2021, 12:05 PM.

    You go, guy, have fun going about what you are doing, and I will continue to have fun reading your posts.
    Perhaps there will be a patent, or copy right in your future.


      I have never tried a fuse burn in the lower basket. If I'm using charcoal or lump in the lower chamber I will do two different methods. For briquettes, I will fill the basket up with unlit charcoal first and then start a small Weber chimney up and when it's pretty much ashed over, I will pour it in a back corner of the basket on top of the unlit. I usually have a little indention in the pile of unlit.

      With lump, I will fill up the basket with unlit and then use a weber fire starter cube or two down in the lump and light it and let it burn for about 15 minutes or so and see what my temps are and then begin to shut down my vents. I also use B&B comp logs on top of the lump or briquettes for longer burns since they seem to burn slower.

      I have never had issues getting the grill up to temp using these methods. I leave the lid and side door open initially until the temps get to about 25 degrees or so of where I want to cook at and then start shutting things down.


      • 70monte
        70monte commented
        Editing a comment
        There is a round plug on the firebox door for a temp controller.

      • smarks112
        smarks112 commented
        Editing a comment
        Correct - the punch out hole on the firebox door is for a fan / controller. I use Fireboard + Pit Viper but I am sure any of the fans people use work. I light a half chimney, dump in the corner of the basket, then fill with either large lump (usually Jealous Devil or and/or competition char-logs).

        Also, in general, there is a lot more forum activity under the stick burning M1 forum where a lot of people (myself included) have shared their experiences that may be helpful in prior posts.

      • Tuckmonster
        Tuckmonster commented
        Editing a comment
        I don't know how I never noticed the punch out for a fan controller but yup! It's there. Definitely have to give that a try.

      The M1 has a LOT more thermal mass than a kettle, and burns a lot more charcoal to run the same temp IME. With a kettle, or even moreso a kamado, a very small fire can maintain 225f. I'm not sure a snake method would work well with these grills, although that LSG snake insert is interesting.

      IME, just fill the firebox up with lump or briquettes and use the vents to maintain temp. I'm not sure a small enough fire to work well in a snake format would work with these larger, much higher thermal mass smokers.


      • Tuckmonster
        Tuckmonster commented
        Editing a comment
        Haven't logged on in a while and just saw this. This post is in line with my experiences with the M1. It goes through a LOT of fuel compared to my old Weber kettle. It also seems to be inconsistent with the temp. I find I'm using it less and less because I am just not enjoying the experience like I used to and the cost of each cook is through the roof given the amount of fuel I'm consuming.


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