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Old 11-28-2010, 11:32 AM   #1
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Cool Firebox/mister

I just built a two chamber bbq out of 6 ft propane tank. It has no firebox. What are the advantages of having a firebox and do I need one? I do smoke some meats and like to grill but, I don't like meats with real smoky flavor. Also, I was considering a liquid drip system for internal moisture. Is this a good or bad thing. Any suggestions?

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Old 12-16-2010, 07:36 PM   #2
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Location: Houston, Texas
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Well, mlabate, your post is a few weeks old, but I'll take a stab at answering it. Maybe some other folks will chime in too.

The advantage to the firebox is it supplies indirect head and smoke (if you're using smoke wood) to the main area of the grill. You don't run any risk of charring your meat, supposedly. I've found that, in practice, if I locate the meat too close to the opening to the firebox I can get some charring on the surface that's closest to that opening, especially if I lay the meat on the grill a bit early before the fire has settled down. A firebox usually will maintain a lower temperature to the main cooking area than having coals inside the main cooking area. If you're into the low-and-slow method of cooking, this can be important.

In my experience, using a firebox to barbecue low-and-slow requires a lot of charcoal, but if I'm using hardwood only, it doesn't require as much. So if I'm barbecuing with charcoal and I don't feel like going through almost an entire large bag, I'll arrange a small-to-medium sized fire inside the main cooking area, but off to one side. I'll place the meat at the other end of the smoker/grill, well away from the fire. I'll then add soaked wood chips to the charcoal to give the meats a smoked flavore. And yes I do soak my chips. I've tried it both ways and if I don't soak them, they just catch fire and burn up without imparting any smoke to the meat.

So this second method above is one you can use with your grill for the low-and-slow indirect method, provided you have enough room in one of the chambers. If your grill has the capability to share heat between the chambers through an opening, you might try stacking up your fire right next to the opening and your meat in the other chamber. That might end up working the same as a firebox for you.

I've found that the smoky flavor depends on two things mostly: the type of wood being used and the length of time the wood is being used. It's often a matter of personal preference as to what wood gets used in some cases, and in others, it's a matter of what's handy. Me, it's usually what's handy. The first post in the sticky at the beginning of this forum area contains a link to a page that gives some good useful information on the various smoke woods. Here's another link to that webpage:

What Wood to Use

Since you don't like a heavy smoke flavor, you might want to try one of the lighter-flavored woods listed.

I don't know if a internal drip system is necessarily good or bad, but I don't think I'd go to the trouble. Some folks will place a pan of water under the meat for this. Others will even flavor the water with slices of oranges or other fruit. I used to use the pan of water under the meat, but honestly I didn't notice a difference between times when I used it and times when I didn't. Well, I did, honestly. The difference I noticed was I had more mess to clean up afterward when I used it.

So, I have a question for you: why two chambers? So you can do the low-and-slow thing on one side and hot-and-fast on the other at the same time?
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Old 12-16-2010, 10:03 PM   #3
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I have a smoker that is made of metal pipe it it stands 6 foot five inches high and is 3 ft and 1/2 inch wide . the inside floor is concrete and the grille that rotates is 4 feet from the ground. I start off with charcoal and then add seasoned oak or mesquite (depends on meat) oak for brisket and mesquite for fryers,turkey,ribs. Since the fire is very low the middle temp is around 250 degrees. Smoker resembles the "Tin-Man" Wizard of Ozz. This set up works great no need for fire box it can cook four large briskets. I need to post a picture of it.
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