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Help!!!!! (Again)

Hello All -
This is the second week in a row I tried to cook a pork shoulder picnic, this week's is 8#, last weeks was 9#. I am not having any luck with the egg as far as getting the egg to stabilize. Cleaned the egg out, brand new bag of cowboy lump, put all the big pieces on the bottom, lit up the chimney starter with med/small pieces. Took the meet out about an hour before I lit the egg. Using the platesetter, legs down, with the little green feet under a disposable cake pan filled with water. Before I put that all in the egg, I had the temp up to about 450. Once I put the platesetter, etc on it I let it go for a little and then bought the temp down to 250 and put the meat on. This was at 3;00. 4:30 looked good, was stablized at 240 +/-, was happy with that. Took a little naparoo, got up at 7 and checked it, the temp was under 200. I had this problem last week too. I cannot get the egg to stay at a certain temp. I calibrated my thermo last week after reading some posts and just to to make sure did it again this morning before the cook. So, I took eveything off the egg, moved the lump around and added a little more. It's lit and its orange and it looks good. Added everything back again, changed out the tin pan for a smaller one this time. Been checking for the last half hour - 45 mins and i cannot seem to get it above 200 degrees. I have the bottom vent WIDE open and NOTHING on the top vent. 
Any suggestions, thought...i read these posts likes its no body's business and do everything they tell me to do but I am not having any luck with egg at all. It does not want to stay lit. Last week I went to bed it was set at 225, woke up the thing was out, Still a lot of lump in it too. Please help.



  • Hi54puttyHi54putty Posts: 1,872
    In my opinion, you are probably adjusting it too much. When doing a low and slow give your temp adjustments an hour to stabilize. If you put a new pan in, the Egg has to warm up all that stuff. If you leave the bottom open and no top, in another hour that thing will be 600. Just set it where you think it should be and leave it alone for a few hours. Don't open the lid again. Good luck.
    Winston-Salem, NC 
  • Couple of things. Seems odd that the coals would be flowing but your temp is that low. Other than that, I agree with Hi54. Don't need to play with it that much. One more thing. I do platesetter with legs up for any low and slow. Only do legs down when I am baking or making pizza. I'm not a fan of Cowboy at all so may want to try a different lump.
    Clarendon Hills, IL
  • aturcoaturco Posts: 40
    Okay..thanks guys, I will try this next week...should i change up the plate setter or just leave it alone now?
  • Mattman3969Mattman3969 Posts: 8,007
    + 1 with what @yzzi said and would not put water in the drip pan but that that opinion differs depending on who you ask.


    2008 -Large BGE. 2013- Small BGE and 2015 - Mini. Henderson, Ky.
  • Hi54puttyHi54putty Posts: 1,872

    + 1 with what @yzzi said and would not put water in the drip pan but that that opinion differs depending on who you ask.

    Winston-Salem, NC 
  • Agree on starting with the smaller fire and catch temp on the way up. Also no water in the drip pan, and I go legs up on the plate setter for pulled pork.
    Ova B.
    Fulton MO
  • henapplehenapple Posts: 15,983
    Calibrate your thermo... Water in the pan is how I do it. Definitely start low and stabilize.
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • Mattman3969Mattman3969 Posts: 8,007
    I am curious about the amount of lump that you are starting with. Was it above the seam between the firebox and fire ring ?? Going out on a limb but the only bag I used of cowboy lump burnt very fast. Are you running out if fuel?


    2008 -Large BGE. 2013- Small BGE and 2015 - Mini. Henderson, Ky.
  • Fill that thing up so it almost hits the bottom of the platesetter. Also, sounds like your thermometer needs calibrated. I recalibrate mine before every low and slow as a precaution. As others have said, get your fire started then put in the platesetter and let it come to temp and stabilize. Light in one place in the center. Bringing the temp down can result in crazy temp variations like you are seeing.
    Mark Annville, PA
  • aturcoaturco Posts: 40
    Good Morning All-
    I threw the towel in last night at about 11:00 pm, I got so frustrated. I had the egg stabilized shortly after my initial post. Looked like it was going to go all night long. Checked around 10 or so and it was under 200 degrees. I opened the bottom and top vents and it didnt go up much. I pulled it at 11, wrapped it in foil and a towel and put it in an insulated cooler for the night. Woke up this morning and put it in the oven wrapped int he foil @ 250. I am glad the piece of meet was only $11. As far as the amount of lump...I did not fill up the fire box to the top, I will do that next week when I try this again. I will put the legs 'UP', no water in the drip pan and the thermo was calibrated prior to the cook, it was spot on 212. I am determined to get this thing running correctly. 
    Another thing i noticed is that there is smoke coming out of the top at the sides where the daisy wheel is. I wonder if I should put piece of the gasket around this to keep what is seeping out in? 

    Thanks for all your suggestions, I will keep on trying. 

  • How are you setting your bottom vents and daisy wheel? I open my bottom vent to two finger widths, and I have the daisy wheel small holes half open.  

    More detailed.  I fill the fire bowl, and I use the electric fire starter to get a small fire started in the middle.  In about 10 minutes I pull the electric fire starter, and I close the lid with the vents wide open.  I watch it until it gets to 250, and then I put the vents where I know is 250 as described above.  Then I don't touch it again.  Opening the lid to put meat, plate setter, etc in will drop the temp, but if you trust your vent settings, it will go right back to where you want it without touching it again.

    It may be worth playing with it without meat in it one day.  If you can get it to stabilize for a couple of hours without meat in it, you will be able to nail it down with meat in it the next time.  Just be patient and let it settle down with the vent settings that you know work without meat in it.
    Large BGE Decatur, AL
  • aturcoaturco Posts: 40
    @ Greenhawk...when i had it stabilized at 240, i had the bottom vent open about a half inch maybe less and the top daisywheel open less than half way. It seemed to stabilize that way but then it went under 200. I will see if i can stabilize it w/o meat in it, i was thinking about giving that a shot as well. Also my gasket is not the best, I wonder if replacing the one i have/dont have will make much of a difference. 
  • BBQMavenBBQMaven Posts: 1,041
    Don't over think this.... load with lump at least halfway up the fire ring (I often fill to the top of fire ring) and light in one or two spots. Give it 5-10 minutes and put the plate setter, drip pan, and rack in. leave bottom vent and top vent open all the way. Close the lid. At 200 degree close the bottom vent 1/2 way, at 225 close it again to only 1/4 open and put the top on with only the small holes open. At 275 I close the bottom to about a 1/4 inch and let the Egg stabilize for 30-45 minutes before the meat goes on. If the temp doesn't move - I put the meat on and DON'T TOUCH THE SETTINGS. It comes back to temp in an hour or two and rocks along. 

    Lots of lump, good starting fire, air flow, and time. Gaskets are overrated.
    Kent Madison MS
  • aturcoaturco Posts: 40
    Actually the legs were 'UP', not sure why I thought they were down...just went out to cover the egg up for the week. 
    Could I have a defective egg?
  • six_eggsix_egg Posts: 964
    No not the egg. I have smoke coming out every where when I start mine. Path of least resistance. Once it is going it comes out the top. Just hang in there man you have some great people on here they really are great cooks and helpful. I have never been mislead on this site. I read here before anything new I attempt.


    Texarkana, TX

  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 16,522
    edited November 2013

    As said above a few times, BGE fire is air flow controlled (assuming you have enough lump and got it going).  So, temperature control (aka fire volume) is a function of the amount of air flow through the bottom and out the top.  You can control by top or bottom vent or combinations of each (preferred for low temp cooks).  With any BGE  the trick is to catch the temperature rise on the way up to the desired end-point.  You have a lot of ceramic mass and if it gets heated above the target temperature it takes a while to cool down.

    With that-get a mass of lump burning (for low&slow get about a soft-ball sized quantity burning) and then shut the dome and set your vents for the approximate final desired temp.  Minor adjustments as you go.  And remember, the feedback indicator to any adjustments is your dome thermo-and that will take a while.  So, patience is the name of the game at the low & slow temps.  And don't chase small temperature movements.

    Louisville;  L & S BGEs, PBC, Lang 36; Burnin' wood in the neighbourhood. # 38 for the win.  Life is too short for light/lite beer.  
  • Are you sure you've got your firebox in with the opening towards the front of the egg?
    Well, "spa-Peggy" is kind of like spaghetti. I'm not sure what Peggy does different, if anything. But it's the one dish she's kind of made her own.
    Aurora, Ontario, Canada
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,876
    Hang in there. It took me 6 months to learn how to keep the fire steady. Rule #1, as above, is do not mess w. the vents too much.

    The best I can do I re-cap my method. For over night cooks, do clean out the Egg. Load w. fresh lump. Place a big hunk of lump on the bottom, if available. Then fill to half way up the fire ring, mixing wood chips/chunks thru the lump.

    Take the daisy off completely. Open the bottom wide. Light using whatever method you like. I use a weed burner, and start 3 small fires at 2/6/10 clock positions. I find it is a good idea to start in a couple of places because small fires might go out, and if just one place in the middle is lit, even if it doesn't go out, the fire is more likely to burn straight down the center of the lump in a thin column. It goes out when it reaches the bottom, leaving all the lump on the sides unburnt.

    As soon as the fire is well established, but before the Egg has started to heat, place all the gear in. Whatever you are using, it all needs to come to heat before the cooking can start. With the vents wide open, the fire becomes established following the air flow that the different set-ups create.

    My personal preference for a low and slow is to not us a platesetter at all. I put an empty drip pan on the bottom grill, and place a raised grill above that. The meat goes on the upper grill.

    I use the platesetter, legs down when I want to bake breads, etc. Usually have a pizza stone slightly raised above the setter when I do that. After an hour, both stones are well heated, and will quickly and evenly cook the baked goods.

    I use the platesetter legs up when I want to roast things. In that case, one must almost always use a drip pan. But the pan must be spaced above the setter, and probably will need fluid in it to keep the drippings from frying. I've measured the setter surface temp at over 600F, when the dome therm reads just 250F.

    As soon as the dome therm temp reaches 200, I shut the bottom vent to no more than 1/4", and place the daisy on w. petals half open. Usually, after another 10 minutes or so, the temp approaches 250, and I shut the bottom vent to about 1/8" and the daisy to just barely open.  By the time the "bad smoke" clears, I have a stable fire around 250 - 275. If low, I tap the bottom vent open a bit more, and wait another 15 min to let it settle in at the new temp.

    Then, in goes the food.

    Then you will see the dome therm temp drop at least 50 degrees, maybe 70. And after a half hour, it may still be lower than when the food went in. When the dome opens, the hot air the therm monitors is dumped. Then in goes a big mass of damp, water filled meat that is going to emit lower temp water vapor. But the fire is probably generating as much heat as ever, and the ceramics haven't cooled to any appreciable extent.

    If the temp hasn't returned to where it was earlier after an hour, the mass of meat may have damped the air flow, and the fire has been diminished. (I have partially smothered fires by laying enough ribs on the grill to block the airflow.) If the temp stay down, tap the vents open ever so slightly.

    For an over-nighter, I usually wait at least another hour before I hit the sack, assuming the temp is holding.

    What is likely to happen over the next few hours is the dome temp will slowly creep up. The meat is shrinking, so there is more air flow, and the amount of water vapor is decreasing. My habit it to wake after 4 hours, and check the dome temp. About half the time, it has crept up about another 30 degrees, and so the vents need to shut again.

    Sometimes the temp has dropped to 225. That is approaching the point where the fire may be going out. I've learned to have a long rod beside the Egg to stir the lump. If the fire is burning straight down, the stirring fixes that. If the fire is damping from ash clogged grate holes, the stirring also fixes that.

    At the eighth hour, when I'm usually ready to get out of bed, its time for another check. Most of the time everything is OK, w. the dome temp +/- 25 of my target. Only once have I found the fire completely out, and all but a fraction of the lump left. On that occasion, I had to hustle the butt into the kitchen stove, refill the Egg and relight. Everything ended up fine, if more work than I like first thing in the morning.

    You might also consider cooking in "turbo" style. Dome as high as 350F, and the meat wrapped in foil when it hits 160F internal temp. My few experiments w. butts done that way is that they can be done in as little as 7 hours. So far, I haven't been as pleased w. the texture of the meat or the bark flavor as w. what I get from the slow method. But the results are good enough that if i learn I'll have visitors in the evening, I can still make a pretty good meal if I get going by 9 am.

  • Are you sure you've got your firebox in with the opening towards the front of the egg?
    This is the first thing that occurred to me as well - we've seen this issue before with airflow problems...
    Large BGE and Medium BGE
    36" Blackstone - Greensboro!

  • FoghornFoghorn Posts: 6,377

    Nobody else ever seems to support what I am about to say when this discussion comes up - and maybe that this is really only an option in the XL BGE (therefore plenty of space in the firebox) - but I had your problem when I first got my egg.  I've found that if I clear the charcoal aside at the front of the firebox so that one of the airholes of the charcoal grate is clearly wide open and not clogged with charcoal or dust or whatever - then I don't have any problems with temperature control.

    The only downside to this is that you have a cooler spot at the front of the firebox if you are doing a direct cook, but for most of my cooks the XL provides me plenty of real estate so that I can use that to my advantage.

    XL BGE, Klose BYC, ProQ Excel, Weber Kettle, Firepit, Grand Turbo gasser, and a portable Outdoor Gourmet gasser for tailgating

    San Antonio, TX

  • I was going to say something related. I am brand new to this. But I have noticed my temperature falling a couple of times - I needed to clear the grate of ash. I think this has occured since I started using a different charcoal.
  • Did you ditch the water in the drip pan?


    Caledon, ON


  • Like TexanoftheNorth said, Are you sure you've got your firebox in with the opening towards the front of the egg?
  • aturcoaturco Posts: 40
    Ditched the water box is def lined up correctly. thanks for all the great ideas, I will try them next week for round 3. I actually just pulled it out of the oven and it smells and looks pretty good. 
  • Okay on the firebox.

    Try a new bag of lump next time. Maybe the one you've been working with was exposed to moisture and that's contributing to your lack of heat.
    Well, "spa-Peggy" is kind of like spaghetti. I'm not sure what Peggy does different, if anything. But it's the one dish she's kind of made her own.
    Aurora, Ontario, Canada
  • yzziyzzi Posts: 1,793
    +1 on a new bag of lump, but I'd try a brand other than cowboy. It may be producing an abundance of ash and could be clogging up your fire great holes.
    Dunedin, FL
  • Hard to clog the XL holes unless they are smaller on the newer models but it might be laying atop the burning lump. I've seen many times where liquid in a drip pan will hold a fire at the boiling point. Maybe moisture and ash doing it. Only used Cowboy a couple of times and it was not real good. Mainly mill scrap that isn't properly carbonised.


    Caledon, ON


  • If you are using an XL try using a charcoal reducing ring. I have found that my XL does much better with the reducer in place. This allows the vent holes to remain open and stops the build up of unused charcoal.
    I have used the Cowboy lump and found it to burn very fast and hot. I have used BGE, Royal Oak, but use The Good One for competition. Make sure yohr ash is cleaned out, and all vent holes are open.
    Like several have said get a fire going (I use a chimney) start with the vents open and as the tempcomes up slow start closing the vents. I also believe the plate setter (legs up) and rack need to be in that get them up to temp as well. During comps I light my eggs at 11:00 they will staiblize in about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. I put the butts on at 1:00am this allows me to make sure I'm not fighting different temps and altitude.
    In a nut shell don't over think the adjustments. Temp changes of up to 10º either way is no big deal.
    Don't give up, once yoh get it, you will laugh at all the things you ve tried and start cooking fantastic que.

  • aturcoaturco Posts: 40
    Thanks all for the suggestions!!!! I am getting back on the horse again and giving it another shot. I still have a little bit or cowboy left, and I bought a new bag of royal oak. Drip pan will not be filled w/ any water, place setter legs will be up. Not sure if I will light it tonight it is raining on and off here in Phila thanks to Authur. I am going to try a 6# shoulder. Its in the refridge loaded w/ yellow mustard and my rub. I will report back and let you know how I make out. 
    Again, thank all you wonderful people for providing help and ideas

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