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September 21st, 2014, 9:25 am
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neumsky wrote:Ok...a little confused here...you mention lump as being the main heat source...but you really are maintaining the heat source with wood. Which is it please? Thanx....Jeff :?:


It's both. The bed of lump is the heat source during the initial firing of the cooker, something has to get the wood to burn and keep it burning cleanly. As the wood burns, it burns down into, essentially, lump charcoal. So the bed of coals consists of either lump charcoal (at the beginning of the cook, or added if needed during the cook), or the remanants from the wood as it burns down. Also, as I said, if the bed of coals gets too small, adding unlit lump to it will rebuild that bed of coals as it ignites. Use unlit lump if you need to at this stage, because if you add lit lump after the fire has been going for hours and the cooker temp and steel is equalized, that hot lump will give you a big temperature spike.

Does this help?

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September 21st, 2014, 3:58 pm
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I followed your advice...it worked great thank so much! Jeff :P

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September 21st, 2014, 4:42 pm
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November 7th, 2014, 5:54 pm
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Ok….I removed the heat plate and the temp went up to 325 degrees. I put 2 briskets in but the one closest to the stick box really cooked fast. I decided that sliding the heat management plate about 1 inch away from the box might help regulate the heat. I'll report back after the next smoking session.

March 26th, 2015, 9:17 am
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Would you use one or two chimneys in the Cheyenne? I am hoping to get a Cheyenne this Spring.

March 26th, 2015, 4:39 pm
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Good question.

I would just use one for a Cheyenne. You could also get by with just one in a Wichita too. I used a Kingman in that video so it needed the extra charcoal.

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March 27th, 2015, 3:55 pm
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April 23rd, 2015, 12:47 pm
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I was hoping you could give us some tips on how to use the gas ignitor for the wood box?

April 30th, 2015, 4:16 pm
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Smoke, ask Kirby said 1 is enough... In fact I found that loading it with 3/4 full of chimney worked best for me but it might vary depending on the wood you will use afterwards. I put chimney inside a firebox during initial ignition (just like in the video) and theres definitely not enough space to fit 2. I hope it helps.

April 30th, 2015, 8:07 pm
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PaddockPassion wrote:I was hoping you could give us some tips on how to use the gas ignitor for the wood box?

I personally have not used one. I prefer to stickburn old school. Sometimes I'll just take a bunch of splits from small to large and build the fire using only wood for the initial bed of coals, but that's if I have some time to spare and I'm in that mood.

If I were to use the gas ignition, I would put unlit lump in the bottom in the same manner I added the lit charcoal and wait for it to start to light. Once it's igniting I'd add a wood split on top of the charcoal bed. Finally when the charcoal is burning well and on its own, which should only take a few minutes, turn off the gas and run the pit as shown.

If anyone has a gas starter and has any other advice, please feel free to chime in.

Oh, and don't use lighter fluid.

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August 17th, 2015, 10:03 am
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We took delivery of our Loaded Wichita last week. We ran the test fire on Friday night and planned to cook ribs on Sunday. You talk about jacked up; I have not been this excited since my children were born.

I had watched the video twice and did the following. We started with two chimneys of lump charcoal (from Fresh Market). I added two medium sticks of oak and then used hickory sticks that we rotated from the top of the firebox and then warmed inside of the firebox. It was a 90 degree, moderately humid day. We had the exhaust all the way open and the intake almost completely closed. We got the grill as close to temperature as we could, but here are the problems that we had:

1. We have the heat management plate, but the temperature varied by about 75 degrees from right to left. The left side of the box rarely got over 200 degrees.
2. We are not sure that we have the heat management plate in the correct place.
3. We followed the video, but could not produce clean smoke. Every time we added a new, pre-heated stick, we got thick, white smoke. We only got wispy smoke on a few, brief occasions.
4. There was smoke leakage from the left side of the cooker.
5. One of our guests described the ribs as tasting like a campfire.

It was a rough start, but we are committed to figuring this out. Any thoughts on what went wrong; any suggestions for getting a different result?

Thanks.

August 17th, 2015, 3:06 pm
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I'll offer my thoughts and what I would try next, Starcity.

1. The HMP will even out temps, but there will still be a hot spot on the firebox side. An even pit is good, but I like when a pit has somewhat of a hot and cool spot. You can use that to your advantage if something needs to speed up, or slow down. Also if you are cooking different types of meat and need a hot spot for chicken and a cool spot for a larger cut. The HMP will take the direct heat away from the firebox opening, but it will still run hotter than the stack side. Once you learn how to keep the fire burning cleanly (see tips below), you can close the stack damper up to 1/3 of the way to keep some heat in that side of the cook chamber to even out the temps some.

2. Do you have a picture you can post?

3. Is the wood well seasoned? If the wood is still green or wet from rain it can be a difficult if not impossbile to get complete combustion and a clean burning fire. Oak can take 2-3 years to season properly. The clean smoke likely came near the time you needed to refuel I'm guessing? Since you are cooking on a Wichita (I did this video on a Kingman with a square firebox that is much larger) try just one chimney of charcoal to start and one wood split at a time. I think your fire may be too big and you have to choke it down. Since you said the intake was almost closed, you weren't getting enough oxygen to the fire and it was not burning cleanly.

4. Smoke leakage will be normal from the cook chamber door. Is this what you meant?

5. Again, incomplete combustion and a dirty fire will make this result. I make it a rule to not invite guests over until I know how a pit works. I would get a few cooks under your belt, understand how the run the fire and get a good end result before you invite guests over. I know it's tempting because you have this new toy and want to show it off, but it's best that you understand the pit first. For now, I would not warm the wood split on the inside of the firebox, just on the top of the outside. If you aren't careful, that split you are warming can sometimes start to smolder (especially in a smaller firebox) and create thick, white smoke while not producing any heat. For now until you learn the fire, just warm the splits on the top of the firebox only. When you add the split to the fire, give it time to fully flame up before you close the door back up, then monitor the cooker for a few minutes after. Some white smoke after adding a warm split is still normal, so don't worry about that. It should clean up after a few minutes.

If you have never had a stickburner before, they can take some time to figure out. I learned in a cheap model that was a real challenge, so you are at an advantage that you are cooking on a quality pit. However, you still need to work at it to learn the cooker and how to make a clean fire and make changes that work for your pit. Once you learn it and understand how the fire will behave, you will be off and running.

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August 17th, 2015, 4:22 pm
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The heat plate should be installed with the angled portion inside the firebox.

You might find this interesting: viewtopic.php?p=4385#p4385

You want to leave the chimney and the door dampers wide open in the beginning, to preheat the cooker, once you overshoot your desired cooking temperature, start to close the door damper, but not more than 50%. Let the fire stabilize for 15 or so minutes before making another change. With the correct sized fire, and the door damper at 50%, you should be close to 250 degrees in the chamber. You can affect the lower grate temperature by closing the stack dampener by 25% or so. This will slow the air movement down and create a more equal temperature profile top and bottom. Never run the stack more than 50% shut, if you close it too much you will generally have a smoldering fire and dirty smoke.


You will see a slightly different heat profile in the pit once you begin to put meat on and effect the air flow. The normal behavior of the pit will be for the top shelf and bottom shelf to run within 15 degree top and bottom. You are going to experience more radiant heat on the lower right hand side and a warmer spot on the upper left. The lower radiant side will typically cook 20°-25° hotter than the air temperature being measured. The upper left corner of pit will cook 10°-15° hotter than the lower left grate. Because the air movement is slow and deliberate the small temperature difference will have little if any effect on the quality of the food.

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August 19th, 2015, 11:35 am
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It sounds to me like you were choking the fire out the whole smoke by having the intake closed off too much during the smoke, hence the dirty smoke and bad tasting meat.

I ran a Cheyenne for 2 years and now a Kingman for 1, and there's definately a learning curve to good fire management.

Here are my thoughts...

1) I think you put way too much fuel to start the cook off. In my Kingman, I use 1 chimney of lit lump, and then either 1 large split, or two smaller splits. I've learned that if I put 2 decent size split on the lit lump, once they establish a solid coal base, it spikes my temp to almost 300+. Once those start to turn into a good coal base, I'll check temps, put meat on, and then add one split as needed, usually every 45/60 mins.

2) I run my intake between 1/2 open and 1/4 open, depending on how the fire is going. If it's shut or even close to being shut, you're cutting the O2 flow off, and you're going to see your fire start to smolder and that nasty white smoke.

3) Even with the HMP, I still see 50-60 degree differences between right and left. I've seen the videos where both sides are close to even, but I think they have the models with the HMP and damper inside the cooking chamber, or they're using magic. As mentioned before, if you look at how your HMP fits in up under the lip by the fire box, there are open spots on either side, some have mentioned filling those up with heavy foil to force all the heat under the plate. I left mine alone because I've learned to use the hot/cooler spots to my advantage.

August 19th, 2015, 11:40 am
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Here's a pic I took from this last Saturday's cook, did 4 pork butts for a party.

This a few hours into the cook, cruising along at around 275. You can see it doesn't take much to keep it up at that temp. The exhaust is wide open and the intake is around 1/2.

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August 19th, 2015, 11:43 am
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Great info kcphilaflyer, and great picture. Thank you!

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August 19th, 2015, 9:19 pm
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Thanks for the ideas and the picture. I will try to post a picture of the placement of the HMP. I will use less fuel and have more air in the intake. I really appreciate everyone's feedback.

November 24th, 2015, 12:08 am
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Great tips,thanks every one,I really surprised to see so much cooking with charchol I thought it was all about the wood-You mentioned that you cooked around 280 degrees,so how long would you cook a 13 pound turkey? And do you wrap it in foil or put on pit open?If not in foil what keeps juices in,and keeps from drying out?

November 24th, 2015, 9:58 am
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In an offset, the charcoal is a starter for the bed of coals. With no bed of coals, you really have no fire. Only wood is fed after the fire is started with charcoal unless because the wood burning down will create new coals. However if that coal bed does get too small that it's hard to maintain a fire, then adding a little lit charcoal will have you back on your way.

13lb is right in the range I cook. Turkeys are done solely by temp. Once it's 175* in the thigh and 160* in the breast, it's done. I brine turkey so it won't dry out, even with leftovers for your turkey sandwich. The only time foil is used is when I rest it. The rest is very important to get a good final result. If I'm eating the bird at home, I'll cover it with foil on the cutting board and after 30 minutes I carve it. A lot of my birds have to make a 45 minute trip though (since I'm usually asked to bring the bird to a family event), so I will wrap it in foil and a towel then put in a warm cooler and then go. The drive acts as the resting time and I carve when I arrive with consistently good results.

I also do like to spatchcock my birds, which allow them to cook a little quicker and more evenly. Plus it easier to carve. All you do is cut out the back bone and splay open (on turkeys I usually just break the ribs by pulling the bird open) season and cook.

To keep juices for gravy, elevate the bird on a rack or two depending on its size and place a pan underneath. That way none of the airflow to the bird is obstructed and you can still collect juices for gravy.

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November 24th, 2015, 9:48 pm
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Thanks,going to do my first one tomorrow have a great holiday

November 28th, 2015, 9:44 pm
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What a great post this was for someone that doesn't even have a stick burner. I'm going to apply this fire management to my Pitmaker Safe and see how it works. Many times I've turned to using my Yoder YS640 pellet grill for its ease of use but I do believe some great food comes from a pit burning a good clean fire.

Love my pellet grill but really looking forward to trying my Safe after reading this very informative post. Great forum Yoder!

December 14th, 2015, 11:41 am
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Temperature management question?
I have gone through this post, combing for clues (love the vid, btw). I kicked up my Cheyenne twice this weekend for my first two cooks. I followed the suggestion of a chimney full of lump prelit then adding split every 45 mins or so based on how much the previous burnt up. I had placed in the main chamber a water pan, something like you’d cook banana bread in, between the fire box and the meat. I placed my digital thermometer between the meat and the water pan. I was cooking chicken and ribs and I had placed the chicken on the hot side for a crisper skin. My digital thermometer keeps a graph of the cook temp vs time… and it pretty much looked like a wicked mountain range, anywhere from 250 to 500. I am trying to learn how to lower my spikes and get a more consistent cook, with the understanding there will be some spikes. I did not have my HMP in during this cook, would having it in all the time give a more consistent cook? It was a very windy day as well… and I am assuming that played a key role in this as well. What is the best way to combat wind? I am assuming of all the elements for the stick burners this is the worst aside of a monsoon or blizzard. I could possibly rotate the smoker, but where it’s at now is in kind of a weird spot where wind blows in from different directions. Any suggestions? Thanks.

December 14th, 2015, 5:24 pm
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You said what I do, move the intake to where wind is less of a factor. If you have ongoing varying wind speeds, it's going to be a little more work. I've even gone as far as placed metal trash can or some sort of object a few feet away from the firebox intake to help divert some of the wind away from the intake after I have rotated the pit. Wind swirls in my cooking area, so I really can't avoid it all together. Plus I live in a windy region.

Some of it will just take learning and experience. A smaller pit is more susceptible to temp swings than a larger one since there is less thermal mass from the pit, so that is just the nature of the best to a certain extent. But your swings shouldn't be that wild. Another thing to do is if it is windy, I'd heat the pit up 50 degrees or so above your cooking temp and let it sit there for an hour or two first so the steel is evenly heated and will help the swings be less of an issue. Also, do NOT open the pit door unless absolutely necessary. No peaking is a big deal here. Make sure to feed the wood in the side door of the firebox instead of the top door. Less heat will escape and therefore less swing.

This isn't always an option for everyone, but if you have an accessible detached building on your residence, you can use that as well to a certain degree. My garage is detached, so if the wind is just too much to deal with, I will put the firebox side into the garage and make sure the stack side is out so the smoke can exhaust out of not into the structure. If your garage is attached, DO NOT DO THIS!!! Carbon monoxide is not your or your family's friend. Also make sure the it won't change the level of the cooker allowing grease to flow toward the fire. That is a big problem waiting to happen as well.

Wind is an issue, absolutely. In addition to the changing the amount of O2 that goes into the intake stoking the fire, it pulls the heat away from the cooker cooling the metal as well. All around it can be a pain in the neck and swings are just going to happen. However, experience with the pit and learning a technique and save pit placement that works for you will be the biggest key to reducing the swings to a little more than a normal stickburner temp swing.

Hope this gives you some ideas to apply to your individual use.

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March 24th, 2016, 10:32 am
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Yoder_Kirby: Which cooker is that in your demo, and does it have an insulated firebox?

Thanks.

March 24th, 2016, 10:35 am
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That is a Kingman comp cart. No insulated firebox. The Kingman comp cart has been replaced by the Cimarron, which does have an insulated firebox.

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