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Hi Everyone!

So, got bought a KCT upright charcoal smoker for Christmas and tried it out today.

The main problem I found was I just couldn’t get the temperature up! I used a charcoal chimney, stuck the hot coals at the bottom of the smoker and put some hickory wood pellets that I had soaked for an hour or so onto the coals. Then a water pan with cold water above that. Left vents open but just barely got above 100!

Any ideas what I may have done wrong?

Thanks!

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Hi Nick. Is it the KCT Pisces 3 in 1 BBQ Upright Outdoor Smoker Barbecue?

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53 minutes ago, Nick1298 said:

The main problem I found was I just couldn’t get the temperature up! I used a charcoal chimney, stuck the hot coals at the bottom of the smoker and put some hickory wood pellets that I had soaked for an hour or so onto the coals. Then a water pan with cold water above that. Left vents open but just barely got above 100!

Any ideas what I may have done wrong?

The main problem with this type of smoker is air flow. There is often insufficient air reaching the coals to allow it to burn hot enough. From what you explained that you did here are a couple of comments/observations...

Firstly, when you are cooking things like brisket or ribs low-and-slow then 110-120 C is ideal. Though if you are wanting to hot roast a chicken or joint of beef then yes you will need it hotter.

What are the bottom air vents like and how are they positioned in relation to the charcoal pan/basket? Can you post up a couple of photos. You unit will be very similar to the Brinkmann smoker however they all vary slightly.

You mention that you used charcoal. You should start off using good quality Briquettes (Heat Beads or Weber briquettes) as this will give you a much higher heat output and a more consistent smoke.

Do not soak your wood chips as they will not smoke until they have dried out. You are just wasting heat. The larger the lumps the better so if you have some hickory chunks you will get better results. Depending on your air control you may be able to use the Minion method when using the right fuel and then the wood chips/ pellets will be fine.

Try leaving the water pan empty - especially when trying for temperatuers above 100 C. The water pan is used more as a heat buffer and does not actually need water. I usually leave mine empty or filled with a little sand. If you want to use water then use hot/boiling water to start as this will avoid wasting heat warming the water mass up.

When we can see the bottom air controls we will be able to help more.

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Thanks for this Wade.

So the only ventilation at the bottom near the coals is a small door latch on the side - from what you describe, probably not ideal. 

I did use Weber charcoal st the start, so not sure that was the problem. That’s interesting about the wood chips - I’d read that smoking them is better but, as you say, could have been another reason for the struggling temperature. Not sure what the minion method is..?

ill try leaving out the water - is just read that it helps keep the meat moist?

not able to get a decent pic at the mo due to the lack of light but will post one tomorrow!

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Raptor72 said:

Might there be a need to check seals on it as well ?

I don’t think it’s a particularly well sealed bit of kit as the smoke did seem to be escaping but as it’s brand new, I suspect it’s just down to it being a cheap starter one

Edited by Nick1298

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7 minutes ago, Raptor72 said:

Aye I know a few people have had to silicone or use stove rope etc 

Yeah, last resort I guess! Would prefer not to have to mess about with it too much!

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For sure yes. Also I am trying later charcoal layer wood chunks and again and then half chimney hot biquttes in middle of top layer in Weber Smokey mountain

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Posted (edited)

Minion method in kettle BBQ is half moon briquettes two wide 3 high for instance 6 7 8 or so lit briquettes at one end overlapping and it will progress along the unlit ones bit by bit maybe for 16 hours. Water bath next to that and meat to be smoked indirect far side from briquettes. Google youtube minion method. It is an excellent way of hot smoking meat

Edited by Justin
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For an upright smoker like yours the Minion method looks like this

1141843047_ProQMinion.thumb.jpg.be8eb1a08d008733e028d22423c7a5e5.jpg

Unlit coals on the outside and lit coals in the centre. The wood chunks or pellets are spread over the surface. As the coals slowly burn outwards more of the wood catches providing a constant heat and smoke. A couple of Kilos of good quality briquettes can give 6-8 hours of Low-and-Slow cooking

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That is how I set the ask. Yes. I will try you sand not water tip though wade. That will relieve topping up water bowl need

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1 minute ago, Justin said:

That is how I set the ask. Yes. I will try you sand not water tip though wade. That will relieve topping up water bowl need

Don't use damp builders sand as it will create quite a smell. What you need is the kiln dried play-pit sand or the sand used for brushing between newly laid paving blocks.

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3 hours ago, Nick1298 said:

I don’t think it’s a particularly well sealed bit of kit as the smoke did seem to be escaping but as it’s brand new, I suspect it’s just down to it being a cheap starter one

Dont worry too much about the seals at this stage - let us first look to increase the general heat output from the coals. Once we have made the coals burn as efficiently as possible we can then work to optimise the rest of the smoker.

Another question I did not ask before... Where was the smoker located when you were smoking? Was there any breeze, wind or rain? What was the outside temperature? All of these will have had an effect on the internal temperature.

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9 hours ago, Wade said:

Dont worry too much about the seals at this stage - let us first look to increase the general heat output from the coals. Once we have made the coals burn as efficiently as possible we can then work to optimise the rest of the smoker.

Another question I did not ask before... Where was the smoker located when you were smoking? Was there any breeze, wind or rain? What was the outside temperature? All of these will have had an effect on the internal temperature.

So it was just outside on my decking. It was fairly cold, maybe 6 or 7 degrees? Not too much of a breeze. When I said it barely got above 100 though - that was Fahrenheit! So clearly doing something very wrong!

I’m going to try that setup you suggest above. How much hot charcoal would you suggest, about a chimney’s worth?

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Leave at least 20 mins to get going maybe even 40 mins and that will give you enough time to get to temp.  Maybe you need additional vents? Sorry I am not familiar with you model.

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