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Why can't I control the temperature?

kimkim Posts: 63
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
I have posted on this problem twice before, printed out your responses, highlighted them and followed (or tried to) the various recommendations.[p]I took the Egg completely apart, shop vac'd it, made sure the airholes were clear and the opening aligned. Two hours ago I filled the firebox with lump charcoal. I tried to put the bigger pieces at the bottom and the smaller pieces at the top. However, I could not see the airholes once I filled it with charcoal and stuck the lighter in. I did try to move the pieces around so they were clear but I was at the bottom of the bag and had only a few really large pieces. I opened the bottom vent about 1.5 inches and left the daisy wheel openings cracked. [p]I wanted a temp of 350. After about 20 minutes I checked and the BGE was at 300. I waited another 10 minutes and it appeared stabilized. So I opened the bottom another half inch and it shot up to 400. So, I adjusted the bottom back to the original setting of about 1.5 inches and opened the dome of the BGE to hopefully let it cool off. Closed it, and the BGE eventually settled at 325 but I wanted it at 350. I opened the daisy wheel vents up all the way and the BGE shot up to 400. So I opened up the dome for awhile to let it cool off but this only resulted in feeding the fire. I closed the bottom vent to only the slightest crack and the same with the daisy wheel. Howver, now the BGE is over 400. [p]I had to put the chicken back in the fridge because it has been out so long waiting to get cooked. The breast dried out waiting. I didn't even prepare it until the BGE had been heating up for about 20 minutes.[p]WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?? Am I building the pile of charcoal wrong? I had a few big pieces and a lot of smaller pieces on top but they slid down the sides of the pile and I guess they must be blocking the airholes. Previously I have just had the urge to throw the chicken on and get it cooking but then the temp is totally uncontrollable. But at this rate I can't cook and eat meals on the same day.[p]I haven't put the BGE on Freecycle yet but I am thinking about Craigslist. However I really, really want to work this out. I have done maybe 7 poultry cooks on the BGE since Christmas. Is it just a matter of continuing to try?[p]Can someone post a link to a picture of a proper fire. Or how the charcoal should look before I light it? Or hook me up with a copy of "Big Green Egg Cooking for Dummies"?[p]Kim[p]

Comments

  • Kim,
    You are making major major changes in vent settings which is just going to make it impossible to control. Opening the dome is a big mistake since that totally negates anything you have done up to that point. If you want to get your fire to stabilize at 350 degrees, you should approach it from below and as the egg gets closer and closer to 350 degrees, start closing vents in small amounts until you get it levels off at 350. However, if you let things get out of hand and then start making major changes and opening the dome, etc. you will have a very difficult time getting it to stabilize. Good luck!
    TNW

    The Naked Whiz
  • Kim,
    you really need to set up a profile on the forum. . .where do you live?? i'm wondering if there is an egghead close by who might be able to help you out in person one day. ...[p]one dome question from your posting. ... you do have a fire box grate in the firebox, yes?? . . .i just want to make sure you aren't loading up lump on the floor of the egg. . .[p]you say that you didn't even think about putting the chicken on till the egg had heated up for "20 minutes". .does that mean that all the adjusting you did, you did all in the first 20 minutes? if so, i think you may have been a little impatient in getting your egg up to proper temps in the first place and maybe you were over adjusting with the daisy wheel. . ..just a thought here. . .[p]it just sounds to me that you going back and forth with both top and bottom vents in ways that are keeping you from getting a steady temp. . .you should light the egg with bottom vent wide open, and the daisy wheel completely off the egg . ..then as the egg approaches the desired temp, put the daisy wheel on, start closing down the vents to achieve desired temps. ..[p]keep trying!Q!

  • SigmoreSigmore Posts: 621
    The Naked Whiz, It sounds like she is just trying too hard. She need to read your TAO site. ;>)

  • ChrisCChrisC Posts: 107
    Kim,[p]It sounds like you fire is OK - on quick cooks small pieces of lump are fine. I think that the problem sounds more like over adjustment - try only moving one or the other of the vents. Also - 1/2" is too much at one time for wanting such a small increase in temp. It is hard but try to take baby steps...[p]Also, I think that someone on one of your earlier threads offered but maybe you consider watching someone else work their BGE. [p]Maybe you can find someone in your area - Example - I am in Sugar Hill, GA and always willing to help anyone in this area if they need it. Though still a NEWBEE I have had pretty good luck so far.[p]Keep trying.[p]-Chris
  • Mark BackerMark Backer Posts: 1,018
    Kim,[p]You mentioned before that you live in the metro atlanta area. Why don't you email me at my profile address and maybe the wife or I can help you. [p]The wife and I are in suwanee.
  • WessBWessB Posts: 6,937
    Kim,
    Since you already have the thing clean and the firebox aligned, here`s what I would offer as advise.....fill the firebox with lump all the way to the TOP of the firebox, clearing the holes in the firebox just means to make sure they are not plugged up, you want fresh lump well over the top of those holes...open the lower vent completely...take the top vent off completely...drop in your starter cube and close the lid...the temp will rise to the 300°-400° range because the thermometer is sensing the fire from the starter, shortly the temp will drop to around 150° as the starter burns out and the lump begins to light ....as the temp begins to climb once the lump starts burning wait until it is some 50° below your desired temp and begin to close the lower vent and install the daisy wheel...you want to catch it before it gets much above your desired temp...this first adjustment should be your only BIG adjustment..if I was shooting for 350° on my large egg I would close the lower vent to about a 1/2 inch, leave the daisy holes all open and slide the top open about 1/4 inch,,,the rest will be very SMALL adjustments to stabalize at 350°....HTH...feel free to send me an e mail if this is confusing...[p]Wess

  • Nature BoyNature Boy Posts: 8,283
    Kim,
    You have received excellent advice below. If you are cooking direct, then it is not all important what the dome thermometer says. Nice to have a guideline, but start your cookin even if it reads 400, and adjust down (in small increments) from there, judging on how the meat seems to be browning up, how your fire is burning, etc. Even though it can cook a lot like one, the egg is not an oven. It pays not to get too much set in an exact temperature mode. You'll soon find what works, and have repeated success with what you are doing.[p]Each time you go through what you described, you learn something more. Combined with the great tips you have gotten, it won't be long before you feel you have this green thang under control.[p]Best of luck!
    Chris

    DizzyPigBBQ.com
    Twitter: @dizzypigbbq
    Facebook: Dizzy Pig Seasonings
  • Kim,
    I am a newbie, but I have had great success with the BGE. I read almost all of The Naked Whiz site, the BGE book, and a few other websites before ever lighting my first fire in the BGE. Here is what I did the first few times:[p]1) Filled the fire box with a good amount of lump (about 1" above the air holes.)
    2) Removed the daisy wheel and opened the bottom vent all the way.
    3) Light the fire
    4) Close the lid
    5) Let the fire get going (I let it get up to 700 F my first two times)
    6) Put on the daisy wheel (close the slide top and open the vents about 1/2 way)
    7) Close the bottom vent to about 1/2"[p]This will get the temps to start coming down. Once they stabilize, you can make minor adjustments to get the temp up or down. After 2 times, I felt like a pro. Now, I can start the fire and go right to the temp that I want. However, patience is the key. If you don't have 20-30 minutes to build a fire and stabilize the temp, then the BGE is probably not right for you. However, if you are patient, can drink a few beers while adjusting the temp, and want to eat the best meals of your life, then stick with the BGE.[p]Good Luck and Good eats,
    Brad

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    Kim,
    to go up 50 degress from a stable 300, you'd barely open the bottom vent a little more, and barely open the top.[p]an analogy to what you are doing (i'm not trying to be a smart-ass) is almost literally like looking at your speedometer going 50, deciding you want to be at 60, and FLOORING it, then taking your foot off at 60 hoping to stay there.[p]make minor adjustments. when you open and close vents all the way, it makes the fire gulp oxygen, then starves it, and so on.[p]you want to just ease it up or down

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    Fisheyes,
    if you want 350, you shouldn't need to have the fire go to 700 then come back down....[p]if it is climbing fast at 300, start shutting down and sneak up on 350.[p]really, in time, you'll light the fire, set the vents, and go make a drink, you'll come back to find you are within 10 degrees of target.[p]each egg is a little different, but your own egg won't really vary (much)[p]

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • stike,
    That is what I do now. However, the first two times, I wanted to get a feel for how the fire builds and the amount of air that is required for different temps. So, I let it build and then backed it down. I really learned a lot about the airflow of the BGE by doing that.[p]A friend of mine with a BGE told me that the first 2 or 3 cooks are more about learning how to control the fire than actually cooking a perfect meal. Lucky for me, I did both.[p]I actually mis-spoke during my previous post. I haven't been drinking beers while the fire is building. I'm off beer for a while. I'm sticking with good 'ole Kentucky Bourbon instead.[p]Thanks,
    Brad

  • Nature BoyNature Boy Posts: 8,283
    I agree Brad. I also let the fire get rip roaring to start, then back it down....often adding new lump after spreading out the hot coals. I get a cleaner fire, and a more spread out fire for direct cooks. This startup method works nice for me, as I am really careful about not putting food on the egg until the smoke is clean and the fire established. One thing I noticed at the Eggtoberfest last year was that several of the things I tried had too much of that early stale smoke flavor. Best to start hot, and dry up all the lump, then tone it down for your cook. Just some thoughts....
    Back to work!
    Chris

    DizzyPigBBQ.com
    Twitter: @dizzypigbbq
    Facebook: Dizzy Pig Seasonings
  • kimkim Posts: 63
    Thanks all. I appreciate the time taken to reply. I am in Alpharetta,GA will be moving to Kennesaw soon.[p]From what you all are saying I think my problems are overadjusting everything and also opening up the Egg to get the temp back down. And, I guess I am not supposed to start it with the daisy wheel on. That is what I had been doing.[p]My other problem is I start Egging to early in the day to drink beer and take care of young children at the same time. [p]I will just keep trying with all the additional info. I am still trying to get to 350, have been working on this since lunchtime. The good part is that at least it's beer o'clock. Out of those 7 chickens I have cooked since Christmas, one was so amazing I can't stop til I figure this out.[p]I bet you all can't wait until I move on to pork. (B-T-W I DO check the Naked Whiz site before posting a question-today I even checked it before lighting up).[p]Sincerely,
    Kim

  • Picnic.jpg
    <p />Kim,
    I don't do well on the temperature control either, but I made a fine Picnic. My 11 lb picnic was quite forgiving and delicious. The chart doesn't show that I was running out of lump near the end (@ 10:30). I forced the temperature up in an attempt to get the internal meat temperature up before it died. You can see that by some measure of leaving it alone it ran pretty stable in the middle. I would suggest maybe a 7-8 lb picnic or butt to try as you learn when to, how much to, and when not to adust the vents. There sure is a lot of great responses here. Have a great evening.

  • Kim,
    if you can get the egg to stabilize in the 300 range, rather than mess with the lower vent, try rotating the daisy so the holes are larger. If the daisy holes are open fully without the slide opened, then try opening the lower maybe 1/8" more.[p]Remember, this is a learning process. When you make an adustemnt to airflow, allow 10-15 minutes for the temp to re-stabilize.[p]I feel your frustrations. Finally, I spent a saturday and a 12 pack learning the different airflow settings and how that effected temperatures. I filled the firebox, cracked a beer, lit the grill and started with the smallest vent opeing I could get and still keep a fire lit. After each beer, I would make note of the vent opening and the resulting temp, then make a small adjustment, drink another beer, make note and do the same again.[p]BTW, if the grill is only at 300 and you want to start the chicken, then start the chicken. It may just take an extra 15 mintues of cooking time to get 'done' compared to a 350. When you are cooking over direct heat (no heat deflector like an inverted plate setter or fire bricks, dome temp is not as critical... you are still cooking with infrared heat which will still do the job. [p]I'm no expert... I'll leave that designation up to the professionals (those that cook in competitions and/or industry professionals and/or chefs). Like you, I am and forever will be learning new tricks and techniques from my friends here. Don't get discouraged. If a meal does not turn out as planned, remember that you have small children and they may turn up their nose at even the finest of meals and then ask for seconds of something that, to us adults, might taste like boiled diaper discharge. The key, I have found is the peace and quite found while cooking on my medium.[p]Banker John

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