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finally discovery a method that worked
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dsarphie





Joined: 08 May 2014
Posts: 58



Post Post subject: finally discovery a method that worked  Reply with quote

I got a 48 patio in May, and from then thru September I cooked on it nearly every weekend, and brought it to 3 competitions.  Since September I've been able to fire it up once or twice a month.  I've complained a lot on this site about getting even temperatures through the cooking chamber, and keeping them constant.  Everything I've read, including the recommendations here, deal with the firebox pinwheels.  Everyone has always said to leave the chimney flue wide open.

People also have lots of opinions about the size of logs to use, with the majority to be Ben's recommendations of "coke can" size chunks/logs.

This weekend I tried something different.  I had listened to an interview with Harry Soo, who said that he controls the temperature on a WSM by adjusting the top, and leaving the bottom alone.  His theory, which makes sense, is to let in as much oxygen get to the fire.   Its the top that creates the vacuum to pull the air through the cooking chamber.  This was also consistent with how people control temperature on Jambos.

This weekend I started my fire with 1 chimney full of lit charcoal, as usual.  I placed one log on top of the lit coals.  Most of the wood I have is as long as the firebox is wide.  All are squared, ranging 3 to 5 inches wide.  Its all oak.

My setup is a little different.  I have Nomex gasket run around the lid.  I did that to replace the foil that I would use for each cook.   I also have a dryer vent running inside from the chimney to about 4 inches from the bottom grate.  Both great ideas I learned from this site.  Thank you Wood River.

I use a Maverick probe at each end, top and bottom.

The temperature outside was dry and mid-70s.  T-shirt and shorts weather.

It took another log to get up to 250.  I did not put another log on top of the current lit log, as I have done in the past.  I've found that when putting a log on top of the fire it will smother it, leaving a period of time for the fire to catch back up.   I would end up with a period where the temperature falls and thicker smoke is produced while the fire is catching up.  To fight this I've tried heating the logs on top of the firebox and keeping the firebox open when a new log was added.  Neither really helped.

This time I placed the log right in front of the current lit log, and used the new log to push the coals towards the back of the fire box.  So the log is going in sideways.  Each end of the log was practically touching the side walls of the firebox.  Pushing the coals helped to agitate the fire.  The new log ignited from the side touching the coals, and gradually burned all the way across.  As I saw the log burn more I would add another the same way.  Think of a conveyor belt sending wood in to fire.  This is like the snake method of lighting charcoal on a kettle.  Obviously, warming the new logs on top of the firebox helps them ignite, but I did not see much of a change with logs that had not been lit.

During the entire cooking process I left both pinwheels wide open.  Temperature in the cooking chamber was controlled with the chimney flue.  This way the firebox had maximum oxygen to get the fire running hot and stable.  Adjusting at the chimney flue would create immediate temperature changes that would hold.  

Sometimes the fire would run very hot and I would have to almost close off the chimney to maintain the cooking chamber at 250.  Everything was fine because the excess smoke and heat would escape through the firebox pinwheels.  Once I got a handle on this process I experienced clear to blue smoke for a good 8+ hours of cooking.

This is by no means a set-it-and-forget method.  I don't think such a method exists for an offset.  It did allow me to create a fairly consistent cooking temperature throughout the chamber, and better degree control.  

This was my first time using this method, so don't take this as me writing the book on how to use an offset.  It simply goes against the conventional methods I typically read and see, and I liked the results.

If you try it, let me know what you think.
Post Posted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 1:21 pm 
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Wood River BBQ Team





Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 426


Location: Tucson, AZ

Post Post subject: Re: finally discovery a method that worked Reply with quote

dsarphie: Thank you for an interesting piece. What caught my attention was the use of the chimney damper. I like the idea of how you use wood but I'm stuck with lump and chunks. I'm cooking a turkey (it's been in the freezer since Thanksgiving) in a couple of days and I want to give the chimney damper a try. Right now I have my Lang dialed in by using the fire box pin wheels but I like to try new things to make it work better.

I've met Harry Soo many times -- he lived near me in So Ca. He advised me to purchase a WSM but I went with the cheapo offset because it looked more professional. The cheapo was a lot of work but I learned a lot about how a smoker should work.

I know the chimney damper will work because you and kevin proved it but I wonder WHY it works because it shouldn't. The exhaust damper works on the WSM works because it's like cooking product in a chimney. My Weber
22.5 kettle, which I use for chicken,  sort of works like the WSM.  I control the temp with the top exhaust while keeping the bottom intake vents at 75% to 100% open.

I'm going to try using the chimney damper as you've suggested and see what happens.

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Post Posted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:00 pm 
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dsarphie





Joined: 08 May 2014
Posts: 58



Post Post subject: Reply with quote

It works because you are controlling the draft.
Post Posted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:08 pm 
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dsarphie





Joined: 08 May 2014
Posts: 58



Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, I kept the drain pipe partially open.  In the past I've kept it wide open.
Post Posted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:15 am 
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Wood River BBQ Team





Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 426


Location: Tucson, AZ

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

dsarphie wrote:
It works because you are controlling the draft.


It's going to be easy for me to check the change in heat temp going out my chimney while I fiddle with the exhaust damper because I have a temp gauge installed in the chimney. I saw a rig at a competition with one. I never did get to talk to the pitmaster to determine the use of the gauge but one I had a couple of gauges, which I removed from a cheapo smoker before I sold it, and I decided to add it. It's just another indicator to show me what's going on inside my rig.

Anyway, on draft -- draft & heat are 2 different things. You can have a rip roaring fire in the fire box, which isn't going anywhere without sufficient draft and on a Lang reverse flow the heat has a long way to go and the larger the unit the longer the distance. I've been controlling my temp by the size of my fire (the higher the temp, the bigger the fire) and with the 2 intakes. I can't stay steady at a target temp as it fluctuates 10* to 15* to 20*, which is no big deal. What I'm hoping is your discovery will give me better temp control by just making a simple adjustment to the chimney damper.

On the subject of "set it and forget it", which the Lang ain't. I do have a cooker that is a "set It and forget it" once you set the intake correctly for your altitude. It's a Pit Barrel Cooker. It's small enough to fit in my motor home and is American made by a military vet.

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Post Posted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 3:22 pm 
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Jimbo





Joined: 11 Sep 2014
Posts: 7



Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Dsarphie,  trying your technique on placing the wood across the firebox and and it is working well. Have dampers open completely on firebox and using flue to control temp. Cooking a brisket and ribs.  Temps holding great and clean heat.  Thanks
Post Posted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 7:27 pm 
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dsarphie





Joined: 08 May 2014
Posts: 58



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Awesome!!  How'd the rest of the cook turn out?  I was attending Johnny Trigg's seminar today and was talking about the same process with another Lang user.  He was going to give it a try too.
Post Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 1:10 am 
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Jimbo





Joined: 11 Sep 2014
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Post Post subject: Reply with quote

dsarphie wrote:
Awesome!!  How'd the rest of the cook turn out?  I was attending Johnny Trigg's seminar today and was talking about the same process with another Lang user.  He was going to give it a try too.


It all turned out great!  I have a 60 and 4 dampers on my fire box. Left them open and just cut the flue back to keep my temp between 250-260. Very clean heat and was easy to control temp.
Post Posted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 1:31 am 
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Wood River BBQ Team





Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 426


Location: Tucson, AZ

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

dsrphie3956: Today I cooked a boneless rib eye roast and tried your method. I was skeptical before trying it but it worked.

I recorded the tenp readings of the Lang thermometer, the actual cook chamber temp, the firebox left and right side and the chimney so I knew exactly what was happening with every adjustment. I started out with both pinwheels open and the chimney draft fully open. Next I went with pin wheels open and chimney draft 50% open. The cook chamber temp dropped 10* -15*.  Next, I adjusted  the chimney draft to 75% and obviously the cook chamber temp went up. With both pin wheels open the fire box temp on both sides was over 600*. I don't like fire box temperatures that high - the paint started to bubble.

Next, I experimented with closing the right pin wheel, as I normally do, and messing with the left pin wheel AND the chimney vent. It was easy to control my target temp of 250* and the fire box temp dropped to around 500*. So, what works for me is a combination of using the chimney vent and the left pinwheel.

I've never used the chimney vent on any smoker I've owned so thanks for your discovery.

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Post Posted: Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:13 am 
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mr.piggy





Joined: 12 Feb 2012
Posts: 55


Location: phila,pa.

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hello everyone, been wanting to respond to this article for some time. I to was understanding to never close off the damper leave it wide open.in all of my cooks I could maintain my temps. no problem,  only if I baby sat. put a pc. of wood say every 15-20 min.  never ever even had a bed of coals. probably cause I had the damper wide open. I am going to try this method in a week or 2.  my smoker is in the garage from late dec. till end of march, to cold any more for me. during the winter  I use my kettle on the back porch using the minion system. i sit in the kitchen drink beer look out the window at the temp. gauge. any way what about the fellas that went to the lang bbq classes did the say or mention any thing or did any one noticed the damper half closed etc.  also everyone please go to lang web site front pg click on videos then go model 60  click on MODC PIG ROAST watch the video he explaines the damper valve  its a very short vido may want to play a few times. lang has a few classes coming up if any is going can we get some feed back on this subject. wood river bbq team I think you were orginally knocking on the door with you extension on the chimney that idea probly slowed the exaust down .  every one happy bbq  vincent

Post Posted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:47 pm 
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