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Butt Ugly: The Saga Continues

bdavidsonbdavidson Posts: 411
edited 4:14AM in EggHead Forum
Dome temp was hovering around 180 this morning when I awoke hoping to find the internal temp of the port 20 degrees higher. I was disappointed when I found that the Polder read 130. So I opened the bottom vent up until I was sure that the coals were still among the living and allowed the temp to rise to 250 before backing off. I left for work at 7:30 with the dome temp at 225. My wife had to leave the house at 10:00 this AM at which point the dome temp had decreased again to 180! She opened the bottom vent about an inch and when she returned home a couple of hours later, the fire was out, the dome temp was 150 and the Polder read 115! At 1:00 the fire was rekindled and smoking at 300 degrees and, once again, the bottom vent slowly closed to reduce the temp.
I have never had so much trouble maintaining the dome temp!
The only thing I've done differently is to use another brand of charcoal. Is there really that much difference between them? Carbon is carbon, right? At this rate my dinner won't be ready until sometime later this month!


  • Tim MTim M Posts: 2,410
    bdavidson,[p]What kind of top do you have and why are you not adjusting it? Just opening the bottom vent to go from 180 to 225 is not as easy as opening the daisy a little. You might be better off with more vent open and more restriction on the daisy top. They ofset it other to some degree so you can add a little to one and close the other.[p]Tim

  • EarlEarl Posts: 468
    bdavidson,[p] Sounds to me like you have some kind of blockage in the air flow.I would not think there would be a major difference in the type of charcoal one uses but then again i have heard stranger things.I am sure you have done this, but mabye the lower grate is pluged.
    Just a guess.[p]Earl

  • SpinSpin Posts: 1,375
    bdavidson,[p]It sounds like the fire took an odd trail through the lump, running into only a few pieces of lump to burn before reconnecting with more pieces. This would give you the lower dome temps and still have a viable fire. I have needed to use vent settings (later in low and slow cooks) that normally should produce a much hotter fire. The fire has always (with time) grew and then needed a tighter opening. Lump charcoals differ but are, as you state, mostly carbon. The size of the pieces, in how they touch (allowing the fire to spread), and how they don't touch (airspace is needed to provide oxygen) is the most important factor. It is also the one we have the least control over.[p]I would chalk this one up to a visit by the fire gremlins. Always remember to use good Egg temperature control methods. Catch the temp as it rises and adjust to hold. Whatever the vent settings, they are what is needed to maintain the heat. On long cooks these settings may change as the fire requires.[p]I do look forward to reading (next month) how fine this butt tasted :-).[p]Spin
  • bdavidsonbdavidson Posts: 411
    These Fire Gremlins were literally a pain in the butt!
    Jo had to restart the fire twice while I was at work.
    I think Tim may have been on track with the top adjustment. I use the old style daisy wheel. I have always adjusted temperatures primarily using the bottom vent, with subtler temperature controls with the top. Throughout the day, Ms. Daisy was 1/2 to 1/3 of the way closed, which may have significantly limited airflow. Another possibility is the lump limiting airflow itself. The pieces are smaller, in general, that the BGE charcoal, so it's possible that some of the vent openings were obstructed (although I made sure that I had the iron trivet in place for this cook).[p]As it turns out, all turned out well. The dome temp ultimately stabilized and the internal temp of the butt reached 190 at 4:30 today. I allowed it to rest in a foil wrap until 6:00 and it was mighty fine! I'm stuffed.

  • SpinSpin Posts: 1,375
    bdavidson,[p]I have used the daisey top vent on both the large and small Eggs (I got both prior to the invention of the combo top). On low and slow cooks I tend to use the daisey completely closed. It does leak enough air to keep the fire going.[p]I would offer that the trivet had nothing to do with this cook as the airflow required to maintain 225F dome temps is quite small. Everybody seems to be stuck on opening up the airflow thru the bottom grate to make a "proper" fire. How about closing this air access off entirely? Yup, a blocking grate. The Egg still cooks like a champ, it just operates a little differently and takes more time to reach cooking temp. It seems that the cooking difference is only in the patience of the user rather than what or how the Egg works.[p]Glad to here of your success!

  • bdavidsonbdavidson Posts: 411
    I've not had a great deal of success using the daisy wheel top to regulate the dome temperatures. Understanding that the Eggs tend to vary slightly, how much of a gap do you allow the bottom vent for a low & slow at 225, assuming you've closed the daisy wheel completely? I believe that I had mine open about 1 cm the majority of the time.

  • KennyGKennyG Posts: 949
    bdavidson,[p]I'm going to go against conventional wisdom here and suggest that you just may have a bad load of lump. I've had a few similiar experiences over the years. The first was when I found some lump on sale at a "close out" store. It was Hagsmanns Picnic brand and I got the last 4 10 lb. bags at $2 each, a good deal I thought. The first 3 seemed to be OK but the last was simply unusuable for low and slow and kept going out. Never did hear that satisfying "clinking" sound during startup. The bag had several tears in it from rough handling and was probably stored in a high humidity location for a long period of time. Same problem with a bag of Cowboy lump that I misplaced and forgot about in my basement for a couple of years. [p]K~G

  • Nature BoyNature Boy Posts: 8,411
    Great point buddy. Up and down the east coast, where Brad and I live, it has been an extremely wet summer. Humidity/moisture could have definitely played a big part. You never know how the dealers/distributors handle and store the stuff.[p]That's a good point....if you can't hear the "clink" when starting it the fire, there could be problems.[p]NB
    Twitter: @dizzypigbbq
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  • bdavidsonbdavidson Posts: 411
    Good point. No clinks!
    All turned out well, however. It only took me 24 hours to do a 7 lb butt! Fortunately, the temps didn't fall too much before the problem was discovered and corrected (had to restart the fire twice).
    You're right, the clink is satisfying.

  • SpinSpin Posts: 1,375
    bdavidson,[p]Usually the bottom runs 1/16 - 1/8". I possibly get some air in from around the dome as the seal has long since went away ;-}. Even when the seal was good I remember running around 1/8" gap.[p]Spin
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