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Coals burning too quickly


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Hi all, 

I'm hoping somebody here will be able to help. 

After cooking for 20+ years on a bbq that was effectively a cast iron pit with an adjustable grill I bought a new bbq two months ago. Stupidly I decided I didn't want a kettle and was attracted to an American bbq - a landmann tennesee charcoal broiler -  by what felt like a familiar feature as you can alter the height of the coals relative to the grill. 

I would post a link but am not sure about board rules for doing so. 

My problem is that I cannot get my coals to burn for anything like a decent amount of time.

Temperature control seems fine but the coals burn super fast.

I've invested in Weber charcoal and briquettes and heat beads all with the same result. 

The cooker is not airtight. Is this a potential problem? 

Any suggestions / modifications gratefully appreciated.. 

Thank you


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similar to mine .. i find you really do have to close the vents .. 

a lot of the time (before the offset) for a slow cook i'd close everything and just nip out the dust tray a mm if needed .

there very airy but there a grill and not made for much else .


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23 minutes ago, flearider said:

similar to mine .. i find you really do have to close the vents .. 

a lot of the time (before the offset) for a slow cook i'd close everything and just nip out the dust tray a mm if needed .

there very airy but there a grill and not made for much else .


Thanks for this flearider.

I suspected this might be the problem but didn't want to close it down so much that I killed the coals . There's that massive gap at the back behind the dust tray. Will play with that and leave the side vents closed.

Do you close the top vent completely as well?

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What are you trying to cook? Are you wanting low-and slow or more of a smoke roast? Or maybe you are grilling. Unfortunately the Tennessee is really designed for grilling (what the Americans call "broiling") however by ensuring that the ash tray has a good seal and really closing the vent down you should be able to get some temperature control. 

You have not said how many coals you are using and how fast they are burning, however I get the idea that they are burning much faster than you are expecting. In the Tennessee for the coals to be burning that fast the heat can only be going upwards into the cooking chamber. What was the temperature in your cooking chamber?

If you find that even with the vents almost closed the coals are still racing away, try using some high temperature silicone grease under the air vent and/or sealing part of the air vent completely with aluminium tape. The important think is to get that air flow over the coals as controllable as possible.

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Hi Wade

Thanks for your message. 

I've so far tried slow cooking pork ribs and slow roasting a chicken. Both of which were great in terms of taste. 

Without wanting to tempt fate  temperature control I've actually found surprisingly easy. Setting up the oven for indirect cooking seems to naturally get it to roughly the right temperature. And I got it hotter for the slow roast chicken by taking one of the water trays out. 

My problem has been with the speed that the coals have been burning. 

I started off using my oven to slow cook and then grilling on my old "pit" which was what made me look into getting a bbq that would be primarily a griller but allow me to slow cook as well. Hence my choice. 

I've now tried two slow cooks on my new bbq. The first time I had terrible coals so I invested in proper ones. Basically I got an hour / hour and half of heat out of a batch. When they're burning the temperature is what it should be but apart from the expence it's just not practical forever having to light new batches of coals and  much as we enjoyed the cook its a bit mad. Five lots to do a slow cook and then a grill. 

Following flearider's advice I've come up with ways of sealing off the gaps around the ash tray. I'm going to try a burn today to see how it works now. Of course it may be that having sealed everything temperature control is going to become a whole lot trickier and / or my coals may go out. 

I'll also get hold of some grease and tape as you suggest. 

I'll persevere. And if I can get the coals right then I can at least use the bbq to grill onh which has been my primary experience anyway. 

If the smoking / slow cooking doesn't work then there's always the oven - am I allowed to say that here?! - and when my boat comes in I'll invest in an Aldi Kamado or wait to inherit my father's Green Egg. 

Will post back here when / if I get anywhere. Thanks. 

Edited by Lovejoy
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