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Frustrated with my new Mini

SmokyBearSmokyBear Posts: 371
edited July 2013 in EggHead Forum
Hey, guys..OK..I'll admit that I'm a total noob with the Mini.  But, this thing is driving me nuts.

No matter what I try, I CANNOT get a good fire going and get it to stay lit across the entire fire box - without it taking me 20-30 min of putzing around.

I tried the Rutland starter cubes (one cube cut into three pieces and set vertically into the lump at 1st, 2nd and 3rd base), and that just didn't get a good fire going..

Added a paper towel soaked in Canola oil..basically laid down one level of Lump (RO), then soaked paper towel, then another layer of RO (piece in the middle with longer pieces on top like a spoke of a wheel).  Starter cube pieces in same place. 

With the towel, everything lights just ducky - but it flames, and flames, and flames..and I'm not sure when to close the dome as I have flame roaring up over the grid for a good 10+ minutes.

If I shut the dome (DFMT totally off, draft door totally open), the fire inevitably goes out, and I get 10-15 minutes of puffy grey smoke billowing out of the chimney.

This thing has got a learning curve that's MUCH higher than I ever expected. 

My wife says I may be able to figure it out if I was retired - but I'm not, and don't have half an hour to get this thing loaded, started and ready to cook every time.

I will say the couple of things we've cooked successfully (burgers, steak and a couple of pork chops) have been fabulous.  But pizza was "meh" and think my oven at 550 does better.  Hot dogs were indistinguishable from the Weber gasser.

Beginning to wonder if all the hassle is worth it, and have the 3-burner Weber that is SO much easier and seems to deliver (blasphemy, I know), just about the same end result.

Maybe I should have got a small or medium.  The mini just seems like it has too small of a fire box and is too tempermental to make it "worth it" unless you've got scads of free time to waste getting it going and to the right cooking tem.

Wondering if the small would have been a better choice..thinking of selling the Mini on CL and upgrading to a small or medium..or, just calling it a day and going back to my Weber gasser + Cookshack smoker (which is amazing..load it, set it, run it and forget it for 10-16 hours until done - and the taste is amazing).

What am I missing here?
Mini BGE, KJ Classic - Black, Cookshack SM025, Weber Gasser (mostly for Kamado storage!)


  • jccbone62jccbone62 Posts: 212
    I don't own a mini but I'm sure someone will come along that has one and can help you out.  I do have a few basic questions that may or may not help.  Have you cleaned out the ashes after your previous cooks?  Is the fire box installed correctly?  Is your lump dry?  little things like these can affect your fire.
    Hope this helps!
    XL owner in Wichita, KS
  • ChubbsChubbs Posts: 6,925
    First, don't sell but if you do ask the forum before CL.

    There are a few things you can do to trouble shoot. Is the hole in the firebox in line with the bottom vent? Is the lump wet? I have never had a fire go out in a few years but I keep y lump elevated. I use cubes to light mine with no issue. I use one an then teepee lump around the flame. Leave lid open for 5 mins or so. Just relax and grab a beer and drink it and it will come to temp. Sounds like you have cooked a decent bit on it. Have you cleaned the ash out? If having trouble with fire it can only be two things. Issue with fuel or airflow. If you get the egg up to high temp it will get the coal going. Then slowly choke it back. Can't make huge vent adjustments in the mini. Good luck
    Columbia, SC --- LBGE 2011 -- MINI BGE 2013
  • MklineMkline Posts: 177
    I agree with the fire box question? I fired up my new mini this past Friday night and within 15 minutes it was well over 400 and almost got away from me as I was not prepared for how fast it heated up compared to my large.
  • SpringramSpringram Posts: 430
    @SmokyBearI use a High-Que charcoal grate on both my Mini and Large. This grate really does help in getting the Egg up to temp quickly. 

    Hot dog? I would just fire up the gasser too. All you want to do with hot dogs is perhaps get a little char on them for looks mainly and to heat them up. Not worth lighting good charcoal for that. Hot dog wieners are good just heated up in water for that matter....

    I agree with you regarding the Cookshack smoker. Had one for ten years and gave it to my neighbor who still uses it to this day. The Egg, on the other hand, is much more versatile and fun to use. Personally, I prefer the final smoked product when using my Large Egg.

    No doubt the Egg does have a longer learning curve in getting it to do what you want. Please just hang in there and keeping asking questions on this wonderful forum. You will get there, my friend.

    Spring, Texas
    LBGE and Mini
  • SmokyBearSmokyBear Posts: 371
    Hey, guys..yep:

    - Vacuumed out before every cook

    - Full load of DRY RO (I keep it in the garage in it's original bag)

    - Hole in firebox lined up with draft door

    - High Que grate upgrade

    I'm convinced I just stink at making fire.  (Former Boy Scout here, so go figure).

    I do just think my main problem is that I don't have all the time this thing is gonna take to get going.  I literally have free MINUTES per day, not free HOURS.  And to get this going looks like about a 30 minute process from start to finish (haul ash vac from garage..take Mini apart..vacuum up all the ash from previous cooks..load mini with lump..cut up Rutland cubes..soak towel..arrange everything..light it all..wait..and wait..and WAIT..for the fire to die down long enough to close the lid..etc)

    The one thing I did notice is that the rectangular hole that's cut in the ceramic does not line up entirely with the draft door..The metal plate comes down about 1/4'' OVER the whole cut in the ceramic, so that the top 1/4'' or so of the whole cut in the ceramic is covered by the metal plate that surrounds the draft door.  Looks really sloppy and I can't imagine it's right, so am nor sure if this "normal", or if I just got a bad one from the factory..?

    Mini BGE, KJ Classic - Black, Cookshack SM025, Weber Gasser (mostly for Kamado storage!)
  • MickeyMickey Posts: 18,747
    edited July 2013
    You said: "With the towel, everything lights just ducky - but it flames, and flames, and flames..and I'm not sure when to close the dome as I have flame roaring up over the grid for a good 10+ minutes." My two Larges sit and I use my Mini 80% of the time as I can be cooking in 5 min. Light your fire and immediately shut your lid. Both holes wide open and should hit 375/400 in 5 min. As Chubbs said only two item control; air and fuel.
    Salado TX Egg Family: 3 Large and a very well used Mini, added a Mini Max (I'm good for now). 

  • jaydub58jaydub58 Posts: 2,130

    As Mickey says, it may be that you are closing the lid too soon.  Once you have a good flame going, close the dome, leaving top and bottom vents open.  Should be good to go in 10 or so minutes.

    Another thing to try is 91% rubbing alcohol.  Get a plastic 60cc catheter syringe (cheap, at any pharmacy) load it with alcohol, and squirt it into the lump.  Light a wooden match, drop it in , and  stand back.  That should get you cooking pretty quickly.  

    John in the Willamette Valley of Oregon
  • FanOfFanboysFanOfFanboys Posts: 2,047
    I recently got a mini and haven't cooked on it much but so far I suck at it. Like I'm awful. My large had a pretty small learning curve and maybe part of my prob is comparing it to large in how I cook. I have only used maybe 6 times so I know I need to use more. I think once I get a setup that allows raised direct I'll be able to cook something decent. I haven't had trouvé with my fire though. Just everything else ha
  • Anyone try a looft lighter on a mini? It gets my large ready in no time.
  • jaydub58jaydub58 Posts: 2,130
    How sparky is it when lighting the mini, @williamadamsesq?
    John in the Willamette Valley of Oregon
  • SpringramSpringram Posts: 430
    Anyone try a looft lighter on a mini? It gets my large ready in no time.
    Yes, sir. Up and going in no time!

    Spring, Texas
    LBGE and Mini
  • henapplehenapple Posts: 15,986
    Pm @mickey
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • SmokyBearSmokyBear Posts: 371
    edited July 2013
    Hey, guys..tried my electric lighter tonight..


    Mini acted like I'd expect.  Turbo-charged thermonuclear MACHINE.  Raced to 600, had to dial it back..smoke billowing like the maw of a dragon.  Pretty cool.

    Gee, who woulda thunk it?  The thing actually gets pretty hot when you get a decent amount of lump burning.

    Of course, stupid me - I was so busy watching the sparks when the electric starter was popping all over the place (DOH!) that I hit my gasket pulling it out - and now have a half inch "gouge" in the gasket.

    Oh well..will probably replace it with Nomex (sp) or something similar soon anyway.

    Fingers crossed that I'm S-L-O-W-L-Y starting to figure this beast out.

    Did Lamb Chops on it tonight.  Turned out AMAZING, but Oh. My. God. The smoke!!! Huge, billowing smoke everywhere.  Neighbors probably thought I was burning down the block.  Had no trouble getting it hot enough, and actually had to close the draft door and use the DFMT a bit.  First time for that!  Usually I had to run it "naked" (wide open draft door, no top) to get it a smidge above 450.  Tonight, with fully lit coals, was racing to 600+ and I had to dial the beast back..

    So, as I suspected..starter cubes lighting three little pieces of Lump...BAD.  Lighting a BUNCH of Lump...Goooood.  (really?!)

    Of course, the electric lighter has it's own learning curve.  Not sure I love the spark fest.  Wood deck and all.  But it DOES get the Egg going.  And another thing I really liked is that I don't get 10-15 minutes of grey smoke that I have to wait to burn off, like I do with the Rutland starter cubes and/or paper towel with canola oil.  I just get the lump going, shut the dome, and it easily races to 500+ pretty quickly.  I do have to watch the sparks, and that's a bit freaky, but the egg itself comes up to temp pretty fast, and I finally see how it "can" perform when you do the black magic voodoo and get everything "right".  It truly is a beautiful thing. 
    Mini BGE, KJ Classic - Black, Cookshack SM025, Weber Gasser (mostly for Kamado storage!)
  • td66snrftd66snrf Posts: 1,367
    I think you should sell. PM me. I don't have a mini yet. Just kidding stick with it and you'll get it. But if you do want to sell...........
    XLBGE, LBGE, MBGE, SMALL, MINI, 2 Kubs, Fire Magic Gasser
  • MickeyMickey Posts: 18,747
    edited July 2013
    I always use this and close the lid the second it's lit. Cooking in 5 min. image
    Salado TX Egg Family: 3 Large and a very well used Mini, added a Mini Max (I'm good for now). 

  • Sparks aren't going to light a wood deck on fire. As you discovered with oil soaked paper towels, starter cubes and the like, sometimes it's hard to light charcoal, let alone lumber. Just don't put down a bunch of sawdust on a kerosene spill and you'll be fine.
  • Mickey hit the nail on the head, it looks like you leave the top open, close it after you start the fire and go get your meal ready to cook, about five minutes is all it takes...if your not careful you''ll be sitting on 600 before you know it...

    your on the right track..good luck

    Rockwall Texas, just east of Dallas where the humidity and heat meet! Life is too short to get caught in the fast lane behind somebody slow!

    XL, LG, Sm, Mini and Weber for drink holder

  • GriffinGriffin Posts: 7,674
    Glad you found a solution, not everything works for everybody. The paper towel method works for me, but I'm going to try what @fishlessman suggested last week and stick the paper towel in through the vent and under the charcoal grate.

    Rowlett, Texas

    Griffin's Grub or you can find me on Facebook

    The Supreme Potentate, Sovereign Commander and Sultan of Wings


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