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Temp Control for long butts on the medium

mwraulstmwraulst Posts: 131
edited December 2011 in EggHead Forum

As of xmas i'm the proud owner of a bge medium. I fired her up twice with lump filling half of the firebox and was able to hold 245-255 for several hours. After 4 or so hours the fire seems to choke itself out. If i open the bottom vent up more it just heats up the egg to 300+ (logically). I started my first butt last night at 7pm, after filling the fire box with lump and placing 2 firebricks on the grate for my drip pan and rack. I let it heat up as instrusted. I had the bottom vent open at about an inch with the daisy wheel barely open. It held 225-250 for 4 hours and then began the same decline in temperature until it eventually put itself out. This morning i opened and fire was essentially out but still full of lump. I removed the butt and grate and stoked the coals to get the ash to fall. I opened the vent all the way up, cleaned the ash out and relit the lump. I left for work with it hovering at 285 / 300.

My question: Is there any way to achieve longer burns without having to open the egg and stoke the coals or otherwise remove the meat to get the ash to fall, short of purchasing a stoker?

Comments

  • hogaholichogaholic Posts: 225
    edited December 2011
    Fire only needs two things, fuel and oxygen.  That is obvious.  In your case it could be one or the other or both.  IF you don't have enough lump, or if the lump is wet it won't burn well.  IF the air is blocked by little pieces in the fire grate.  Small, unlit peices of lump at the bottom blanket the fire grate and that will choke the fire out.

    For long cooks I don't just pour charcoal out of the bag and into the egg haphazardly.  Perhaps I am too anal, but I haven't yet had a fire go out using this method so I am sticking to it.

    I start my long cooks with a clean egg, including emptying out all the ash from the bottom and as far as my ash tool will reach between the firebox and wall of the egg.  I take the entire daisy wheel off the top of the egg and open to bottom vent about half way. 

    I then empty out the charcoal into a large wash tub.  I start placing by hand large pieces of charcoal on the bottom of the egg and continue to build it from bottom up with the smallest pieces on the top.  I fill the egg to at least the bottom of the fire ring / top of the firebox and then a little more.  I make a hole in the center by moving lump around and light right in the middle and toward the bottom so the fire will burn upward and outward. Any wood I want for smoke goes in now.  I reposition the pieces of lump and let the fire catch.  When it does I start closing the egg down as the temp goes past about 200 - I really can't tell you exactly how to do this it just comes with experience. 

    My egg holds 250 great with the bottom grate open about 1/8" to 1/4" and the diasy wheel is slid completely closed with the slits about 1/2 to 3/4 open.  With a full load of lump my large will run for about 20-22 hours without me doing anything.  Very occasionally I may have to push some lump down from the sides into the middle using a long piece of rebar.  I have never had to take the meat off and add charcoal or restart the fire.

    Good charcoal is critical for a successful long cook.  I usually start with a new bag of Royal Oak.  BGE charcoal is just as good.  Those two are the best I can get around here.  The charcoal they sell at SAMs Club (Best of the West) is not bad but the pieces are so big I won't use much of it for long cooks.  Some of  the pieces in that stuff would make good stovewood.
    Jackson, Tennessee.
    VFL (Vol for Life)
  • mwraulst, if you clean out all the ash and build a fire with new charcoal, you should not need to knock ash off during the cook.  You can try using large pieces at the bottom and then using smaller sizes as you build up the fire.  Here is a description of the process that Elder Ward uses:  Elder Ward Pulled Pork




    The Naked Whiz
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,302
    There are several reasons a fire will fail without running out of fuel.

    If it is just a small fire comprised of only a few burning lumps, there is a chance that the fire won't pass from one piece of lump to the next. Placing the lump in by hand so there is good contact between each piece will remedy that. For an exquisitely detailed method, search for "Elder Ward method."

    Sometimes, the fire burns toward the center, where airflow is best, and burns straight down in a narrow column. Pushing the lump toward the center after several hours can prevent that. Use a long rod from above, working around the sides.

    Ash can sift to the bottom, and clog the vents. A bent hanger, or "wiggle rod" pushed thru the bottom grate holes will open that.

    Using lots of pieces of lump that are smaller than the firebox vent holes obstructs air flow, and often they plug the vent holes. Keep tiny and small lump pieces near the top. I used to follow the Elder Ward method, which is quite a bit of fuss. But I do still put large pieces at the bottom, so that any tiny lump and/or ash will fall on them rather than down onto the grate holes.

    The firebricks will absorb lots of heat.The drip pan does not have to sit on them. It can just sit on the lower grill. There is a small chance that late in the cook, the drippings may begin to burn, but not having to heat up several pounds of cold ceramic as well as the meat saves time and lump.
  • ChokeOnSmokeChokeOnSmoke Posts: 1,697
    edited December 2011
    Curious, how did you light your fire?

    One rare occasions, I've read about fires being lit in one place, it then burns straight down and burns out.

    Most likely, your charcoal grate got clogged and it killed the fire.
    Packerland, Wisconsin

  • Fire only needs two things, fuel and oxygen.  That is obvious.  In your case it could be one or the other or both.  IF you don't have enough lump, or if the lump is wet it won't burn well.  IF the air is blocked by little pieces in the fire grate.  Small, unlit peices of lump at the bottom blanket the fire grate and that will choke the fire out.

    For long cooks I don't just pour charcoal out of the bag and into the egg haphazardly.  Perhaps I am too anal, but I haven't yet had a fire go out using this method so I am sticking to it.

    I start my long cooks with a clean egg, including emptying out all the ash from the bottom and as far as my ash tool will reach between the firebox and wall of the egg.  I take the entire daisy wheel off the top of the egg and open to bottom vent about half way. 

    I then empty out the charcoal into a large wash tub.  I start placing by hand large pieces of charcoal on the bottom of the egg and continue to build it from bottom up with the smallest pieces on the top.  I fill the egg to at least the bottom of the fire ring / top of the firebox and then a little more.  I make a hole in the center by moving lump around and light right in the middle and toward the bottom so the fire will burn upward and outward. Any wood I want for smoke goes in now.  I reposition the pieces of lump and let the fire catch.  When it does I start closing the egg down as the temp goes past about 200 - I really can't tell you exactly how to do this it just comes with experience. 

    My egg holds 250 great with the bottom grate open about 1/8" to 1/4" and the diasy wheel is slid completely closed with the slits about 1/2 to 3/4 open.  With a full load of lump my large will run for about 20-22 hours without me doing anything.  Very occasionally I may have to push some lump down from the sides into the middle using a long piece of rebar.  I have never had to take the meat off and add charcoal or restart the fire.

    Good charcoal is critical for a successful long cook.  I usually start with a new bag of Royal Oak.  BGE charcoal is just as good.  Those two are the best I can get around here.  The charcoal they sell at SAMs Club (Best of the West) is not bad but the pieces are so big I won't use much of it for long cooks.  Some of  the pieces in that stuff would make good stovewood.

    Nice description of how to create a long cooking session on the BGE. I just received a Large Egg as well for a Christmas present and I had the same question as the original poster.

    Oh yeah, I'm a Vol for life as well!

    =D>
    Sarasota, FL via Boynton Beach, FL, via Sarasota, FL, via Charleston, SC, via The Outer Banks, via God's Country (East TN on Ft. Loudon Lake)
  • Choke on smoke, for an overnighter, I start the fire by dumping a chimney full of roaring charcoal on top of the fire I've prepared.  Yes, it gets hot to start with, but once you add the plate setter and cold meat, the temp drops rapidly and you can then control the fire with the vents as the temp starts coming back up to 230 or 250.

    The Naked Whiz
  • mwraulstmwraulst Posts: 131
    Great! Thanks for the help. With Butt #2 i certainly won't just dump the bge lump into the firebox.
  • mwraulstmwraulst Posts: 131
    i lit it with 1 bge firestarter that came with the grill. dug out a spot in the middle of the coals about 3/4 of the way down and made sure i had a good hot fire after 10 min before closing it down. I think a combination of our wet weather, pouring the lump from the bag, and beginner status led to inhibited airflow.
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