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I can't keep the temp steady

BotchBotch Posts: 4,695
edited August 2011 in Forum List
One thing the BGE Corp keeps bragging about is how you can control the temperature so precisely, like within a couple degrees.
I haven't been able to do that, and have been experimenting constantly and digging thru all the threads in this website before posting a "whine" discussion, which I'm reluctantly doing now.
Everything I've done "slow", so far, has been a constant exercise in re-adjustments; a few briskets, couple chickens, etc.  Last weekend I preheated the Egg and it seemed to stabilize at 350, which I figured was just about right for a bunch of hot dogs and sausages.  She kept a steady temp nicely, first time for me.
Late this afternoon, I fired up the Large to do my first pork butt, and first time using my new Maverick wireless thermo.  It seemed to stabilize at 250, I added the butt, and decided not to touch the vents at all.  She stayed at 250 for about an hour, then slowly started to drop, eventually hitting 214.  I forced myself not to adjust anything unless it hit 200.
Well, for whatever reason, it then started going back up (weather is cloudless and windless today), and now its at 241!  I haven't touched the vents at all. 
 
I balked at even buying a wireless Maverick (I'm old-school) but right now I'm thinking about getting one of those fan-powered temp controllers; and that goes against my barbeque instincts.  Any ideas what's going on here?
 
Oh, and it just hit 245 F... 
_____________________________________________
 
Live fast, die young, and leave a well-marbled corpse.  
 
Ogden, Utard.  

Comments

  • Well, first off, congratulations on the will power to not mess with the vents.  When you put all that cold meat in the cooker, the air temperature dropped.  Some of the heat from the fire was now warming the meat instead of the air and ceramic.  As the meat warmed, the heat from the fire could go back into warming the air and ceramics and the air temp began to rise.  Eventually, since you didn't mess with the vents, the temp should have re-stabilized near your original temperature.

    As for your comment, "it seemed to stabilize at 250", well, if you start shutting down the vents as you approach your target temperature, you should be able to get it to stabilize at 225 or 275 or wherever you want. 

    So, two bits of advice.  Don't let the cooker get hotter than you want it because once the ceramic gets hot, it takes a long time for it to cool.  Second, don't fiddle with the vents too much.  Make small adjustments and then wait to see the effect before deciding to make another adjustment. 

    Good luck!
    The Naked Whiz
  • Misippi EggerMisippi Egger Posts: 5,095
    Botch,

    For your butt, cook, it's just acting normally. Nothing is wrong.

    1) You have to stabilize it for 30-45 min., (maybe even an hour for a low-n-slow cook). you have to get all the ceramics up to temp fro it to be stable.
    2) Did you have your platesetter and drip pan in place during the stabilization or did you it with the butt? It should be in there during the stabilization so it gets warm also.
    3) When you add 7-8# (or more) of cold meat, it is perfectly normal for the temp to drop due to the cold mass. 
    4) You did EXACTLY the right thing by resisting the temptation to overcompensate and open the vents. As the meat warms up, the temp will also come up.
    5) From this point on, make only incremental adjustments, anticipating the temp trends (try not to chase it).

    BTW, there is nothing wrong with using a power fan device. Many commercial and most competition teams use them. Much more reliable and for home use, helps get a good night's sleep ! 
  • To quote the Tao of Charcoal: "Even masters need their sleep."

    image
    The Naked Whiz
  • BotchBotch Posts: 4,695
    Whiz & Egger, thanks!
    Yeah, it makes sense to me now, adding that many lbs of pork (which I forgot to remove from the frig to allow to come to room temp) obviously would cool the whole thing down for quite awhile.  With two degrees in Engineering I should've figured that out... :(
    I've also noticed that my temp is back to 250; if it stays there until I go to bed, I'm gonna sleep well (with an alarm as backup!)
    Thanks again, Gents!  
    _____________________________________________
     
    Live fast, die young, and leave a well-marbled corpse.  
     
    Ogden, Utard.  
  • Nothing to add to the advice already given.  I have been amazed at how well the Egg holds temps. Stabilize at 250 at 10PM, still the same at 10 AM.  Be patient, take your time and learn your Egg.
  • Misippi EggerMisippi Egger Posts: 5,095
    edited August 2011
    Botch,

    Let beef and chicken come up to room temp., but most like to put pork on the Egg as cold as they can (some even advocate putting prepared ribs in the freezer for 10-15 min. just prior to going on the grill.  

    The smoke ring forms from a reaction between the nitrates in the amino acids in the protein and the smoke. As I understand it, this reaction that creates the reddish smoke ring on pork, ends when the external temp of the meat reaches about 140*. Therefore you want your meat to spend as much time in the smoke before it gets up to 140*.  I start cold ribs (haven't done the freezer thing) at 200* grid temp for an hour before incrementally raising the Egg temp. 

  • BotchBotch Posts: 4,695
    edited August 2011
    Well, I'm going to bed now, and the temp has DROPPED again, to 214 F; I still haven't touched the vents.    
    _____________________________________________
     
    Live fast, die young, and leave a well-marbled corpse.  
     
    Ogden, Utard.  
  • Did you mention if you are setup indirect with a platesetter and drip pan?  Also, how about the lump.  Did you clear out small pieces and ash (below and firebox holes) beforehand, try to load with large pieces at the bottom, etc.  Where are you upper and lower vent settings--are they similar?  What condition is your gasket? 

    Last thing, I have never heard of a "droopy thermostat" but have you compared it to your Maverick temp (needle out of meat)?

    There aren't any moving parts other than the needle, settling lump, drippings from meat and air (in the bottom and out the top).  So it really gets down to either inaccurate readings or something is causing your fire to fluctuate that has not been taken into account yet.   

  • BotchBotch Posts: 4,695
    Well, I missed having lunch again.
    Meat was at 124 this morning at 0600, and the Egg was at 104.  I didn't put enough lump in last night.  Got the fire going again, with lotsa lump, and using the same upper/lower vent settings, the temp jumped to 278, then dropped to 218...???  I opened the top vent a tad and it went back up to 248 and is staying there.
    The meat heated right up to 185, and has stayed there for the last 3 hours or so.  I assume that's the "ledge" everyone talks about, but I thought it was at 160 or so (or are pork and beef different?).  
    Hopefully it'll be ready for supper.
    Buckwoody, I am using the platesetter leg's-up with a drip pan, and preheated it before putting the meat on.  I do ensure the holes are clear and the gasket is fine (I don't, however, "jigsaw-puzzle" the big vs small pieces)  
    _____________________________________________
     
    Live fast, die young, and leave a well-marbled corpse.  
     
    Ogden, Utard.  
  • I wouldnt worry about exact temps.  I shoot for anything between 215-300 when I am doing low and slow.  The fire moves around the lump, and this going to slightly modify the temps from time to time.  I tend to leave the bottom vent open a little more than people suggest, and then control the temps at the exhaust.  This way I only have one variable.

    John - SLC, UT

     Webers, Eggs, Bubba Keg, Smokin-It #3, Blackstones

  • NapTownNapTown Posts: 5
    I've had my Egg for about 4 months now, and have had the most success with cooking pulled pork.  Controlling the temp definitely takes some practice, but once you get feel for it, it's pretty simple.

    I've found that for doing the really long, overnight cooks (my best pulled pork thus far has been 18 hours), doing the 'jigsaw-puzzle' makes a big difference. 

    This is what I've been following.  Hopefully Naked Whiz doesn't mind me posting it, since it's his write-up: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/elder.htm#fire
  • OMG EggsOMG Eggs Posts: 118
    Get yourself a stoker or guru.  Trust me, you'll be happy you did...
  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 2,804
    edited August 2011

    Botch - that sounds unusual to me.  I do have a Stoker and use it regularly but didn't experience the decline in temp like you described on my overnight Stokerless smokes.  I know sometimes the fire grate can become clogged which will restrict airflow and therefore reduce your temp. Prestoker I would use a coat hanger to clear out my holes every no and then to maintain good airflow.   Maybe this was the issue?

    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Columbia, SC Wonderful BGE Resource Site: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm and http://www.nibblemethis.com/  and http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/2006/02/recipes.html
    What am I drinking now?   Woodford....neat
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