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Ready to Give Up - HELP!!

WrkWatchrWrkWatchr Posts: 6
edited August 2011 in EggHead Forum
I have had a Large BGE for about 18 months. Due to my continued problems with it, I am beginning to wonder if it is worth the effort. I have EXTREMELY inconsistent results coming up to temperature. I religiously have cleaned everything out (i.e. used lump) prior ro every use, tried at least 5 different brands of lump charcoal, purchased a blower/fan, ensure that the lump is red-hot prior to loading my egg and it either works like a charm, or will take 2+ hours to get up to ~300*.   I live in San Antonio  and since it has been months since we have had rain, charcoal is stored in a dry, shed where most of my lumber measures 3-5% moisture content so wet charcoal is NOT a issue, the fan should make air flow a non-problem, cleaning everything every time IAW forum directions should eliminate any plugged holes - so frankly I am at a loss. When it works, I LOVE the results, when it doesn't I want to  %$#@$%%^^^&.....

I am open for any and all suggestions. I really want to love teh egg, but I have to figure this temperature issue out to make my results more consistent and not have dinner 3 hours late after moving everything over to my GAS Webber.....(at least it works every time)

Roy
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Comments

  • Ricky BRicky B Posts: 28
    Roy, theres not a whole lot involved with a good fire. We need good dry lump and you have that, plenty of air, unrestricted. When you say you have cleaned all the old lump out before adding fresh and starting the fire. Did you remove the fire box and clean any accumulated ash from the area between the firebox and the outside wall of the Egg? Those passages need to be free and open. Is your firebox opening pointed to the screen/damper door? When you light the coals do you light in more than one loacation and let the Egg get up to temp before putting on the top dasey wheel and closing down the lower vent. The fire must be well lit before you do any dampering. Maybe try lighting the coals and leave the lid of the Egg open and see if the coals take off better that way. In my opinoin, if you have good dry fuel and all the air passages are open, somehow it still may be an air issue.
    Just my 2 cents worth and hope it helps.
    RickyB
  • I start the charcoal using a chimney ensuring it is all red-hot and glowing all the way to the top of the chimney before putting it in the Egg. I have totally dismantled the egg and there is nothing between the walls and the firebox. I have gotten into taking it apart each time I use it. I spread out the charcoal and then carefully add additional charcoal - using only larger pieces as it seems the smaller pieces only block air holes. Almost immediately the fire starts going down. I have wasted about half of the lump I have bought to focus on the larger chunks. My local vendor recommended the blower/fan - which I bought and use every time - I have tried leaving the top open, and as a minimum - leaving the vents fully open. Sometimes it works...sometimes it doesn't - hence my issue with inconsistent results.. I agree it seems to be an air issue but short of a lawn blower -which seems excessive - and I have a hard time understanding the inconsistent results...

    Still perplexed, but after reading the forum, it seems that low temps for new users is a VERY common problem...I just need the magic incantation.... :-(
  • My few cents worth...  I have a large and a mini, my experience with size of lump is opposite - mini likes the bigger pieces better, large the opposite.  I agree with Ricky B mostly.  Here's what I do, even at thirty below, works every time:  Ensure the opening below the firebox is pointed directly at the vent at the bottom.  Reach in from the vent or look in there to make sure you see into the base.  OK, I just stir up whatever lump is left to knock down the ashes.  I dump in some more if need be to get it to the top of the holes in the firebox minimum - depends on the cook.  Then I drop a firestarter (BGE or dollar store knockoff) about 1/2 inch square - that's it.  Light the little square, (ensure it's about half way down into the lump), toss a couple pieces of lump on top of it without putting it out.  Open vent at bottom all the way.  Leave lid open for 5-10 minutes, should be starting to see fire.  If not, wait another 5-10.  Once you see decent fire, close lid and open daisy all the way, leave bottom open.  In 5-10, you're building some serious heat (at least 300).  Now adjust for the upcoming cook - Steaks, you gonna wait for 500, ribs, you want to start adjusting down now.  Typical bottom vent is about half inch open.  Ultimate control from daisy, no prob...  Try it out, I'll try to check up on your progress...
    BTW, when done, just cap and close the bottom vent, she'll go out and you can reuse leftover lump tomorrow...  Don't clean every time!!!
  • Ricky BRicky B Posts: 28
    Sounds like you got it covered. The only time I have this problem on my Egg is when there is an excess accumulation of ash between the firebox and the Egg side. Since you have ensured this area is clear then it brings us back to air flow. I have had my large since 2007 and have never used a fan, blower or other items to assist with the fire. Granted I am not a Pit Boss as some others on this forum and the use of a blower is definately a must for some situations but I have yet to find a need for one. Just with what you have posted the only thing different I can see is between the way you light the Egg and the way I light the Egg. I put the charcoal in the firebox about up to or ablove the side air holes. I light the coals with a MAPP torch in the egg in several different locations. Once it starts to smoke I close the lid with no cover on the top and the lowe vent wide open. It will take anywhere from 10-30 min to get the coals going and the thermom to read 400 plus. I try to throttle down the air flow as it gets close to my target temp as it take the egg awhile to cool down once it's hot, BUT do not try to throttle down to soon. Maybe, just maybe , for sh_ts and giggles, try lighting the coals in the egg instead of using the chimney. Don't give up though, there is probalby a simple reason and I am sure we"ll figure it out.
    RickyB
  • SpoonSpoon Posts: 328
    Try lighting it in the egg, not in the chimney starter. You may be burning up a lot of the lump before you get it in the egg.
    "Pork so tender you can pull it with a spoon."
    ~Spoon
  • Ricky BRicky B Posts: 28
    Roy, keep us informed on this issue. I am sure there is much tallent out here and we WILL get this figured out. Just as side note, I also will have a problem if I add additional coals after the initial start. It seems to bring the whole grill temp back to square one sometimes. Try adding all the coals you will need and then some, light in the egg and go from there.
    RickyB ;))
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 4,148
    Can't offer much more than all the above but would echo try lighting without the chimney. I have had great success with half a starter cube, bottom dead-center and then pile on the lump above that. Rest of lump has been to fire box or half way up fire ring for low and slow. Never lost a fire even at 22 hours at 250*F dome. I leave dome open til the fire is going well then close and set grate and DFMT for desired temp. If air flow is good and fuel is good then you are defying physics-don't give up.
    Louisville
  • SmokeyPittSmokeyPitt Posts: 4,047
    edited August 2011
    I had some issues like that but I could usually solve it by a good cleaning.  Once I made a good wiggle rod this was the solution to my problem.  If it doesn't seem to be burning right, just give all the holes a good wigglin'.   A couple of more ideas:


    Which came first the chicken or the egg?  I egged the chicken and then I ate his leg. 
  • Matt_AlbertaMatt_Alberta Posts: 10
    edited August 2011
    Another thought...
    Could your issue be lid and gasket not seating?
    Do you see smoke burping either from bottom vent(that'll be firebox not aligned with vent- can't breathe) OR smoke leaking from side or back of lid to base seal???
    Both real easy to fix.
    BGE lump?
    Up here in Canada, not a lot of choice. Either BGE @ $32.00 or Royal Oak at $14.00. Same mfgr, like I said, not a lot of choice. Some other specialties but pricey!
    I've never wasted more than crumbs and dust, maybe pound or two per 20 pounder.
    Only other thing I can think of is are you sure you're using hardwood LUMP, not brickettes? Dumb question but...
  • Thanks for the suggestions guys...I really don't want to give up. A couple of questions tho....Most of the stuff I work with is on the lower temp side of things...250-320...Can I infer it is better to get it hotter then drop the temp vs bring it up to the temp and hold there (perhaps part of my problem?) Secondly, What is your opinion about using the BGE indirect heat gizmo? My local vendor really stressed it for low temp stuff and I am wondering if it is choking the airflow(???) Everything is clean and aligned I can assure you with all the time and effort I have spent so far. For Lump I have my choice of several brands and tried them all  - except BGE - have not seen that around here. I don't notice much difference in the results except some brands are more chips than pieces resulting in more waste as noted previously. 

    One last question and this may be the heart of the issue - what is a good expectation - time wise - for it to come up to temp and be ready to cook? Maybe I am expecting too much too soon....although I would think within 30-45 minutes I should have something above 200 degrees... 

    Thanks

    Roy

    BTW - no observed issues with the lid and gasket 
  • I've had difficulty adjusting to platesetter (indirect), suggest getting your 'base' for establishing heat FIRST, then move to platesetter.
    My experience with it is to establish good fire/heat, then drop it in. Now I know what to do with it, I've been going earlier but...
    I agree again with Ricky B, we WILL figure this out, the BGE is absolutely the BEST machine! you shouldn't be having issues at all, your dealer shoulda been better...
    Friends don't let friends grill with gas...
  • Obviously something is wrong based on your description.
    Have you contacted you dealer and asked for help?
    Have you calibrated your thermometer?
    How much lump are you loading? You should load at least to the TOP of the fire box.
    I have never used a chimney. I always us 2-3 starter cubes and have never had a problem.
    You want to catch the temp on the way up. Cooling down a hot Egg will take a long time.
    You might want to ask the old-timers on the other site. There are a couple of them in San Antonio and I'm sure they would be willing to help you, if not come to your place to help solve your problem. A LOT of them have had Eggs longer than I have (3 Eggs since 2001).
  • And I can hit 500 degrees plus (for steak) in half an hour - at 30 below. OK, maybe 40... I'd suggest getting to at least good fire/about 300 before trying to adjust down. Maybe the red all the way through is killing the lump?
  • ChokeOnSmokeChokeOnSmoke Posts: 1,615
    edited August 2011
    It's a shame you've had such problems because lighting the egg shouldn't be this much trouble.
    You said you're using a tower to light the lump, is there unlit lump in the egg already?  -- one tower of lump isn't all that much.  Nothing wrong with lighting the lump in the tower but then dump it in a bed of unlit lump, close the lid without any cover on the lid and make sure the bottom vent is all the way open.

    Here's what I do, and works consistently and easily, every time:
    I light mine with an electric starter.  I pull the starter after 8 minutes and lightly stir the lump.  I immediately close the lid and make sure my bottom vent is wide open.  I start closing the vent after about 10 minutes because if I forget for maybe 15 minutes, my egg will be 700 degrees or above!!!

    You definitely want to control your egg on the way up (in temp).  If you overshoot your temp by too much, it will take forever to bring it back down.

    I have no issues at all with my plate setter other than it takes a little while longer to get up to temps.  More ceramic to heat up.  If I'm going to use it, I put it in after I stir the lit coals and unlit coals together and put the plate setter on right before I close the lid.  This way it will heat up along with the rest of the egg.

    If you do it this way, there's no way you should have a problem getting it up to temp every time.

    Oh, by the way, absolutely no reason to ever use a fan.  Your struggle should be keeping the temp down, not getting it up.

    Good luck!
    Packerland, Wisconsin

  • I always thought my XL was exremely finicky when I was using a chimney to get it started.  I would get some really uneven lump burns.  I figured it was because I was staring the lump in the chimney with it sitting on the fire grate.  After the chimney load was full, I'd pull the chimney load and dump in my lump then dump the chimney over the top newly loaded lump.  Well, it would burn from the embers at the bottom and the lit lump at the top.  I suspect if I had a little grill on the side, I could use it.  

    Then I bought an electric starter.  I love it.  I don't know if that really fixed my problems but I seem to have a lot better control over my fires now.  
  • BBQMavenBBQMaven Posts: 1,041
    We can solve this and have you Eggin like you want.
    First, I'd like to know if you have checked your dome thermometer in boiling water to ensure it is accurate. Need to do that first to know what the temps really are. 
    Second, try something that will cost less than $2 bucks. Buy a bottle of 91% rubbing alcohol (make sure it is 91%). Load you lump as you normally do (as listed above). Now in a 6 inch circle put 60cc of the alcohol and let it sit for 5-10 seconds and drop a match in.
    Third, leave the top up and lower vent wide open. After you see the lump where the fire started burning red (5-8 mins), close the lid - without the daisy wheel on it. 
    For the last 3 years I've lit my 6 year old Egg this way - I'm at 300 in less than 15 minutes every time. 

    Give it a try and let us know how it goes. 
    Kent
    Madison MS
  • Haven't read all the replies, so if this has already been suggested, sorry about that.  But make sure the holes in the fire ring are not clogged up as that chokes off the air flow.  Also make sure the hole in the ring is lined up w/ the hole for the bottom vent. 

    As far as getting up to temp, I can have my Egg up to over 500 in about 10 minutes.  In fact, just last night, it was about 210-220 when I left it, and was only in the house for about 10 minutes, and when I came back, it had jumped to 700!!!

    Another thing is, depending on where you live, maybe a fellow Egger would be willing to come over & help you out?  Where are you located?

    Sorry that you've been having so much trouble, it's really not that hard!!
    Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup... Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. - Bruce Lee
  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 1,103

    What
    everyone else is posted....plus 1

    I will add,
    I really do nothing special to clean my Egg, keep my lump dry, etc and I have
    never had a problem getting my Egg to temp. I only post to give you confidence
    that your issue is something really small and can be worked out. I especially like
    the suggestion made about lightening the lump in the Egg instead of the
    chimney. Maybe by the time you pour yours in, it has lost too much of its heat?  Keep us posted on your results.  Good luck

    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Wonderful BGE Resource Site: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm and http://www.nibblemethis.com/
  • Ricky BRicky B Posts: 28
    Roy, KC Transplant makes a good point. If you use a chimney to start your coals, dump the hot coals from the chimney ON TOP of your bed of new charcoal in the Egg, not the other way around. When I first got my egg I used a chimney and did like you are doing (dumping new charcoal on top of hot coals) and had issues every time. When I started to light the coals In the egg that problem went away. Just saying.
    RickyB
  • crghc98crghc98 Posts: 1,006
    What Ricky B just said. Also I light in the egg and am not a Chimney starter fan though it works for others....
  • James MBJames MB Posts: 347

    I used to have my egg next to my Weber performer so I was accustomed to lighting the charcoal in a chimney and dumping in. I only got good results after a good clean. I think the hot coals got packed together by the dumping, unlike being spread out on the Weber grate they are forced together in the egg and I guess they choked themselves. Now I light the coals in the egg, probably using a couple of sheets of lightly oiled paper napkin.

    I don't pay too much attention to getting the ash out but I found using a wiggle stick makes a massive difference, so two suggestions.

    1. If you light in a chimney then dump onto unlit lump - use a wiggle stick after dump.

    2. Light in the egg and use a wiggle stick either before or after applying the flame.

    It is always a bit tricky to bring the temperature down but it is important to get a sustainable fire going. In this respect the plate setter is your friend - get the fire going without it in, then adding it will compensate for overshooting your target temp if you have. Also remember that initially the therm measures the heat coming directly off the fire before the flame dies down so it may look like you are getting a heat spike.

    I have had issues with damp charcoal (I'm in the UK) but this just made the startup process a bit slower.

    Make a wiggle rod and hang in there, soon you'll ditch the chimney and love your egg!

  • I bought my egg used from a guy who was moving up  to an XL.  He told me to get an electric starter.  Its worked great.

    Don't give up.  I am also a relative newby.  Have had good comments on first efforts but feel I will be doing much better with continued experience.  Let us know how things are going.

    Greg, Northern MN

  • WrkWatchr,

    I have had my BGE for about a year. My experience has not been as trying as yours
    but this thread has touched on a lot of questions that were in my mind.

    Thanks a bunch for asking the question and thanks to all who have responded.

    Ted
    Cape Cod
  • ChokeOnSmokeChokeOnSmoke Posts: 1,615
    edited August 2011
    I like it that many on this post are using electric starters!  I've been using one for a year now and will never go back to all the other things I've tried.  They're $8 bucks, last for years and give you a perfect light every time.  Just because your dad used one, doesn't mean you can't!!! :))
    Packerland, Wisconsin

  • jbennyjbenny Posts: 147
    I use an electric starter and just let it do it's thing for 8-10 minutes and then i'm good to go.  Best advice is catch the temp on the way up instead of trying to bring it down.

    AND if you do decide to quit and give up, I'll take the egg of your hands cheap.
  • Thanks to all so far...FYI, I have an electric starter and went to the chimney due to similar/unsatisfactory results with the electric starter.  I haven't seen much difference WRT results on the two methods of starting. I guess I will try the cubes next. 

    Like I have said, I have had intermittent success but cannot figure out what I am doing different one time vs the failure the next. From what I am reading and thinking about things, I need to start lighting earlier, get it hotter before inserting the plate setter, mixed reviews on need for a fan, but without ANY air/wind movement around here, I am expecting to have to continue using it, Check thermometer (but since I can touch teh grate after 45 minutes with my hand, I have no reason to think it is not that far off) and continue to hope to find the holy grail/magic incantation....

    Roy
    San Antonio

    P.S. Eldredge - I noticed a similar vein about temperamental temperature problems with new users and so I knew I was not the only one with the problems - Glad my problems are helping you too..perhaps we can both add to the great community here on the forum of experienced Eggurus.....
  • Roy,

    All I can think of is when you reassemble your firebox after cleaning, make sure the "hole" or "opening" on the base of the firebox lines up with opening on the outside of the egg, aka the draft door.

    Jeff
  • From what I am reading and thinking about things, I need to start lighting earlier, get it hotter before inserting the plate setter, mixed reviews on need for a fan, but without ANY air/wind movement around here, I am expecting to have to continue using it...
    If your geographic area has little to no wind, then you might need to use a fan. For me, on days that it is not windy, I use an old pair of fireplace bellows. I also light my Egg w/ a torch, so after I put the torch to the coal in 2-3 places, I get the bellows & insert the end into the bottom vent & proceed to use the bellows for about 30 seconds to a minute, or until I feel I've gotten enough air going.

    It does sound like you have an airflow problem...

    Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup... Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. - Bruce Lee
  • Wind or no wind it really doesn't matter.  Once lit, the Egg will generate its own air flow.  Remember in high school when they taught us that hot air rises?  When the air inside the Egg rises, it sucks more air in through the bottom vent.  The only thing that will stop that is either a clogged bed of lump or a closed vent.

    And .............. check your thermometer!!
  • Wind or no wind it really doesn't matter.  Once lit, the Egg will generate its own air flow.  Remember in high school when they taught us that hot air rises?  When the air inside the Egg rises, it sucks more air in through the bottom vent.  The only thing that will stop that is either a clogged bed of lump or a closed vent.

    And .............. check your thermometer!!

    Rich - true. Sorry, I didn't mean to make it sound like that. I meant in first lighting it, sometimes ya might need some help. But yes, once it's lit & going, if you have the bottom vent open, it should "suck" whatever air it needs in from the bottom vent to feed the fire, and then exhaust out the top vent.

    (though, I have heard of folks who don't really use the top vent & allow the bottom to be both the intake & exhaust - but that's a different story for a different day) :D
    Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup... Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. - Bruce Lee
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