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Temperature control

Hugh Crackman

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Hi all, 

Completed my 2nd smoke last weekend, a couple of racks of Ribs (picture taken early on in the cook). Whilst it turned out really well... I'm kind of amazed, I really struggled in keeping it in the temperature rang (216-240 was my aim). Struggled to get up to temp initially, and then struggled keeping it 'down' and then towards the end despite additional coals struggled to maintain 216! 

I'm using a Weber Kettle, with a charcoal basket (weber coals and apple chunks) and I use a foil tray with apple juice for this attempt under the ribs. At the start I had the intakes (3 of) fully open and the top vent 2/3 closed. I played with the inlet flow a few times but inevitable had to lift the lid on occasion to bring it down, losing that wonderful smoke! PS Temperature probe was pointing towards the 'cool end' (no probe in the ribs). 


As I say, they came out really well, but I am baffled as to how!!

Any tips on temperature control? 


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I find adding coals to a cook (with my grill and the old grill) I have to clean out the ash before adding the new ones due to the airflow being suffocated (spelt wrong?) by the ash. The vibration of the new ones landing on top cause the ash to drop to the bottom and block airflow, resulting in your temps not getting back up again.

With my old Grill I used 2 stainless trays that i made so I could just swap the old coal out with the new one wearing welding gauntlets (although dangerous).

My new one has an ashtray that I can empty with ease.

Give the coal a good shake/stir first before adding the coals and then clean out the excess ash into something that aint gonna burn. then just add your new ones to the existing ones....it seems like you will lose precious time while doing this but it works out for the better in the long run. Just have a methodical plan ready so you can do it all quickly and as easily as possible.

As to the rest of your temp controlling, you will get better with more cooks and learning your grill's behavior👍

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i find it is easier to control temp if you leave the top vent fully open and just use the bottom vent, i have marked mine around the ash catcher = ¼ open, ½,  ¾ and fully open, works for me and you soon get used to what temp at what setting.



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Thanks guys, I have a spare basket (I brought the weber ones and I only use 1 of them). Interestingly when i cleaned the Kettle up there was a fair amount of Ash left over which may have blocked the inlet(s). 

I'll also try opening the exhaust fully and 'tweaking' the inlets, I read that tip somewhere else too before I attempted to smoke anything. 

Thanks again 

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i once did an overnight cook with pulled pork, temp was fine all night. It finished for dinner time and I wanted to do some burgers, jackets and sausages at a higher temp. So I added some more coal and cranked open the vents....1 hour later it was still at 90C, so i lit the coals on top....1 hour later it was still 90C.

I ended up taking out the basket and could see most of the holes blocked so I emptied it out...and 15 mins after putting it back in it was at 200C.

Thats how I learnt haha.

I would only resort to swapping baskets mid cook as an absolute last resort though, my old grill never had an ashtray of any sort and was virtually impossible to empty while it was hot (due to space limitations).

Some people have success with stirring the coals but I find using a pair of welding gauntlets and just lift the basket slightly and give it a good shake works nicely👍

Edited by AdamG
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