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Old 06-20-2008, 12:40 PM   #1
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New BBQ with fire box

Glad to find this forum on the web.

I just bought a bbq with a firebox, hoping to move my indirect cooking skills to the next level.

I experimented last night by lighting a fire, in the firebox, with charcoal (full paper type starter) that I have always used (quantity wise) with my old bbq. With my old barrel unit I could get 400 degrees for an hour + with this amount of coals .

So what I got was 200 degrees for over two hours in the main cooking box.

After this I used some oak wood to see what temperature I could get in the main box. Well maybe I used way to much oak as it got to 600 degrees .

So from this experiment here is what I've concluded and would appreciate help on setting me straight.

If I want to smoke then I need to do the charcoal bit then add hickory or another fruit wood to smoke the contents of the main box over a long period of time. Just leave the ribs in for 4 (or 5) hours at 200 degrees until they are ready.

If I want to cook indirectly then I need to do the same charcoal part then add a measured amount of wood until the temperature reaches what I want, i.e, like 400 degrees. Alternatively I can just start with two or three pieces of oak and monitor the heat until I get what I want.

What I don't know is how long wood will continue to hold the heat, but guessing I'll just have to experiment.

As I mentioned I'm totally new to the firebox arena, so all comments are greatly appreciated.

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Old 06-20-2008, 01:18 PM   #2
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What grill is it?

I use a Chargriller with SFB. I only use wood logs in it. I found one or two pieces of cut down fireplace wood lasts nearly two hours ant 225-240ish. You really need to play around with whatever fuel your using and the air vents.

I can only get very high temps putting fuel in the main smoke chamber.

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Old 06-20-2008, 01:34 PM   #3
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The shortest and simplest answer I can give you is to switch to lump charcoal, and use more of it to achieve your desired temperature in your cooking chamber. Shoot for 225-250* for ribs, butts, briskets etc. The only wood you need is a small amount of soaked chunks to use as flavoring woods/smoke. Almost any wood from a tree that produces a fruit or a nut would be good. Lastly control your fire by using the intake air vent(s)...leave the smoke stack open.

Have Fun & Enjoy!
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Old 06-20-2008, 06:40 PM   #4
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The shortest and simplest answer I can give you is to switch to lump charcoal, and use more of it to achieve your desired temperature in your cooking chamber. Shoot for 225-250* for ribs, butts, briskets etc. The only wood you need is a small amount of soaked chunks to use as flavoring woods/smoke. Almost any wood from a tree that produces a fruit or a nut would be good. Lastly control your fire by using the intake air vent(s)...leave the smoke stack open.

Have Fun & Enjoy!

Hi Uncle Bob,

Tell me which lump charcoal you use and where do you get it?

Appreciate the help.

This Lannmann BBQ is pretty nice for the money. I want to learn how with this one and then step up to one of the hand build expensive ones.

Interesting as any new task we try takes on a completely new learning experience.
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Old 06-20-2008, 07:43 PM   #5
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Hi Randal...

I mostly use Ozark Oak lump charcoal. It's made in Arkansas from 100% hardwoods. I buy it from an independent retailer (friend) who cuts me a great deal at cost. He just moves it through his store. I take him a pork butt... or two or three slabs of ribs, and I buy between 25 and 50 10 lb bags each time. Also it's a pretty good charcoal. I like it because it does not "sparkle" like a sparkler (Kingsford) throwing little black missles all over my meat....probably not available at your house. There are other brands...try them one at a time...take notes...find one you like.

Get to know your cooker on a personal basis. What it will do, what it won't do... What it likes, what it doesn't like..In time you and the cooker can produce some good BBQ for your family. Keep detailed notes of what you do...times, temperatures, (inside & outside the cooker) was it raining, was the wind blowing etc. Afterwards critique yourself. What can I do better next time? What do I never want to do again!!! Mostly just...

Have Fun & Enjoy!!!
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Old 06-20-2008, 08:33 PM   #6
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Some charchoals can be regional. Find a brand that readily available in your location.
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Old 06-20-2008, 10:56 PM   #7
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Randal I had a smoker with fire box just like the one you showed us and my instruction book told me to never!!!!!!! have a temp higher than 400*F at any time as it will warp your smoker.. I used mine for 5 years and used fresh cut Peach wood and it turned out great product constantly. Do not ruin your new smoker with high heat
Charcoal fire and peach wood on top, keep it low and slow
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Old 06-20-2008, 11:41 PM   #8
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OK I have my task list:

Find some lump charcoal.

Find some fruit wood that I can use to regulate heat from the fire box and keep heat to approximately 200 to 225 degrees, and cook for a long time.

Would cedar be a good wood to use?
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Old 06-20-2008, 11:58 PM   #9
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My favorite wood to smoke with is Hickory. Just don't use too much and don't keep adding it. About 4 or 5 chunks in the beginning is all you need. Chunks, not chips!!!! Just add some soaked Hickory to your lump charcoal and also hardwood briquettes (this is where I get confused - I think lump raises the temperature and hardwood prolongs the heat or it may be the other way around). Anyway, I use both when I smoke poultry or meats.

Apple is also good, as is Pecan and Cherry.

I would not smoke with Cedar. I've never heard of it and really, I'm having a hard time imagining the taste. I'm no expert, but I wouldn't do it.
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Old 06-21-2008, 08:23 AM   #10
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Find some lump charcoal. Yes


Find some fruit wood that I can use to regulate heat from the fire box….

No. You do not “regulate” heat with wood. You regulate your heat by adjusting the amount of air entering the fire with the vents provided. Leave the smoke stack vent open. Also you regulate heat by the amount of lump charcoal in the cooker at any one time. The lump charcoal is your heat source….The “chunks” of wood are for flavoring the meat...not a heat source.

and keep heat to approximately 200 to 225 degrees, and cook for a long time.

Those cooking temperatures are fine. Cook times will vary slightly due to several factors…. Therefore use a thermometer to check for the degree of doneness you are shooting for.


Would cedar be a good wood to use?[/quote]

Not for your purposes here. There is a fish cooking method that uses a cedar plank, but that’s another story. Do not use woods with resins…pine, etc. in your cooker!
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Old 06-21-2008, 12:03 PM   #11
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I don't know what's readily available in Cali, but you should find lump charchoal and some bags of lump hardwood at Lowes or Home Depot.

Since I use wood, anything from my firewood woodpile usually works. Oak, cherry, apple, etc.
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Old 06-22-2008, 09:28 AM   #12
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Question for Uncle Bob,

I have vents on my cooking (side) box, but should these be totally open?

Seems to me there is more volume of air with the vents as compared to a 3.0 inch smoke stack.

I will attach a picture. Only issue is that after I upload the picture I cannot find any method to add it to my post; need help here.
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Old 06-22-2008, 09:29 AM   #13
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OK, it just loaded the picture I have uploaded.
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Old 06-22-2008, 10:22 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Randal
Question for Uncle Bob,

I have vents on my cooking (side) box, but should these be totally open?

Seems to me there is more volume of air with the vents as compared to a 3.0 inch smoke stack.

Randal...

Yes! I would begin cooking with your new cooker with all three exaust vents fully open. Use the intake vents (in the fire box) to control air flow/temperature. The more open the intake..the higher the temperature...the less open...the cooler the fire...What you are trying to achieve is the optimum temperature for BBQing...Somewhere between 210* and 250* and stabilize it there. Closing the exaust ports can choke your fire (coals) causing the deposit of cresols, phenols, and other noxious volatiles which don't taste very good, are considered hazardous chemicals, and suspected carcinogens.

Think about it this way...When driving your car if you want to go faster, you press the accelerator (open the air intake vents) when you want to go slower you let off the accelerator (close down the air vents). You will also notice that while driving your exaust (discharge vents) remains fully open whether you go fast or go slow. The allows for complete combustion, and a good clean burn in your car's engine allowing it to run efficiently. Your goal is a good clean burn (complete combustion) in your BBQ cooker...the is evident when you have the stable temperature you want, and you have the slightest wisp of blue white smoke coming out of your exaust vents.
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Old 06-22-2008, 10:36 AM   #15
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Got it. That makes perfect sense.

I've been doing it the other way for way to long.

Think I'm going to try chicken tonight and will allow about 3 hours.
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Old 06-22-2008, 10:50 AM   #16
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Got it. That makes perfect sense.

I've been doing it the other way for way to long.

Think I'm going to try chicken tonight and will allow about 3 hours.

Allowing plenty of time is a good idea...BBQing should never be rushed or hurried....Kick back, relax, enjoy your favorite beverage, play with the kids etc. It's suppose to be a fun time as well as a time to produce some good eats! One thing you may want to consider is a good instant read thermometer...it takes all the guess work out of knowing when the meat is "jes right"...not over cooked...not under cooked!!

Have Fun!!!
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Old 06-22-2008, 10:56 AM   #17
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Yesterday I stopped by the local Orchard Supply and found some Lazzari Mesquite Charcoal.

The bag said it was "lump" charcoal and when I opened the bag this morning it is big stuff.

So should I get some smaller charcoal going, then add the big stuff?
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Old 06-22-2008, 11:10 AM   #18
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As you get into the bag you will probably find a mixture of sizes... Small, medium, and large....The best way to start it is a charcoal chimney using about two sheets of news paper...I personally don't lke the liquid starters. Once you get it burning really well, pour it into your fire box. From there you can add unlit Lump charcoal directly to the the fire as needed. Get you cooker hot, stabilize the temperature, then you are ready to take the meat to the cooking surface.

Enjoy!
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Old 06-22-2008, 11:46 AM   #19
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mastering the air and heat is part of the fun ..
just put some baby back ribs on ..
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Old 06-25-2008, 01:00 PM   #20
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Going to do the baby backs tonight. I think, with all the help I secured here, that they will turn out OK.

I'm going to use my favorite rub and then maybe bbq sauce at the end.

Oh, I forgot to ask. How about almond wood for smoking? Anyone ever try it?
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