A longer burn process for kettles


 
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JBaker

TVWBB Super Fan
Here's a good overview of firebrick:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firebrick

Red bricks also have many different compositions. You shouldn't use a typical building brick for a walkway, it's too soft, and will absorb a great deal of water. This is especially noticeable in the northern climates. Water, whether in steam or ice form, expands quickly, the brick does not.
For that same reason you may not want to use them in a fire. Anyone here camp? Remember the old adage of not using river rocks to build up the firebase? Those too, because of the moisture content, can have failures. Depending on how severe the failure, shards could go flying past you.
For the firebrick in the kettle I'd think you'd want the more dense style of the two. Once they are up to temp they'll hold and radiate heat beautifully. They'll act much like the water pan in the WSM that's filled with sand.
 

dave_scarpetti

TVWBB Member
Thanks David and the rest for the great ideas. Looks like a long burn is possible and a good delay tactic until I can convince the wife the WSM is a good buy.
 

dave_scarpetti

TVWBB Member
Originally posted by David Lohrentz:
Fire bricks are made to withstand high heat. I've heard that it is possible for regular bricks to explode when exposed to high heat. I have no idea if that is possible or not.
Wish me luck, I'm trying some regular masonry bricks tonight. Got the urge to do a butt and I'm too busy to go shopping for firebricks. Keep you posted.

I can just see a par-cooked pork butt all over the yard and the racoons feasting.

Results: No broken bricks, but my fire went out during the night because I didn't read thoroughly enough. The biggest point was to use the minion method and I didn't. So I probably ran hot at first and then it died. After 7 hours, the grill was cool and the meat still warm. I had to fire it up again. A little late, but I read the MM and will look forward to another run. At least the masonry bricks seemed to work fine.
 
Minion method starts with just 3 or 4 lit briquettes is what I do for this. Otherwise you will burn very hot at first and get a much shorter burn, but you already figured that out.

By the way, I have an old kettle with three vents instead of the one touch mechanism which I purchased a year ago for $20. I finally got around to using it recently after cleaning it up. It has two vents rusted shut. With just the one vent open, it gravitates right to 225. For this type of use, it works a lot better than the one touch kettles.
 

dave_scarpetti

TVWBB Member
Thanks David,
I too have a OTG and one older one with the 3 vents and did a control run yesterday. Got at least 12 hours out it with only one spike early on at 300. The rest was about 250.
 

Eric Aarseth

TVWBB Super Fan
Mr. Reyes, looking at your photos, your charcoal grate has two v-shaped troughs on either side of the middle of the grate. I haven't seen this type of grate before. Stock Weber or other?

Eric

Originally posted by J Reyes:
John, I (used my safety glasses) made a couple off cuts to fire bricks to make them fit better.

I'll be cooking and monitoring temps later this week.

http://www.flickr.com/gp/10170855@N05/56A6x4

John
 

J Reyes

TVWBB Pro
As for the charcoal grate... maybe that was used back in the day when this one was built which I estimated was late 1970s early 1980s.

I'm not the original owner. I was at a friends house and he had just bought a nice stainless steel gasser and had this old Bar B Kettle on the side yard.

Like David Lohrentz's, described above, the Bar B Kettle has the 3 vent air flow system.

I asked to borrow it and he gave it to me. It had one good vent and the others rusted out. I orderd 3 new vent covers from Weber and attached them.


John
 

Lee James

TVWBB Member
Great thread. I'll have to try this set-up with my new Smokey Joe Platinum. I doubt that I'll do a long enough cook on it for a butt or a chuck roast, but doing chicken or pork tenderloin while traveling this way would be great.
 

Gary Bramley

TVWBB Pro
David,

I have had this setup in the back of my mind since it was posted. Due to an injury, using my WSM is nearly impossible, even using my kettle is challenging, but I found myself a geographical bachelor yesterday and need to eat. I smoked a rack of spares. I opened the bottom vent maybe 1/8 inch, hit a few coals with a torch and I was up to temp in less than 30 minutes. Temps held at 250 -275 for 7 hours. Very simple and very steady. The ribs turned out great. Some of the best I have done, perhaps that is due to sweat equity because of my physical limitations at the moment.

Thanks for posting.


Q'n, Golf'n & Grill'n....too many choices!
Gary
 

dave_scarpetti

TVWBB Member
Thanks for posting Gary. Hope you're feeling better. Tedious question, but can you tell me approximately how many coals you had in there?

I did some chicken yesterday with a small pile of briquettes mixed with some hickory (about 20 briquettes) and kept nice and constant about 6 hours at 275. I did a salmon for the first hour and a chicken for the 2nd few hours and they are both waiting to be eaten this week. I shut it down, but could've gone another couple hours above 225 I bet.

Originally posted by Gary Bramley:
David,

I have had this setup in the back of my mind since it was posted. Due to an injury, using my WSM is nearly impossible, even using my kettle is challenging, but I found myself a geographical bachelor yesterday and need to eat. I smoked a rack of spares. I opened the bottom vent maybe 1/8 inch, hit a few coals with a torch and I was up to temp in less than 30 minutes. Temps held at 250 -275 for 7 hours. Very simple and very steady. The ribs turned out great. Some of the best I have done, perhaps that is due to sweat equity because of my physical limitations at the moment.

Thanks for posting.


Q'n, Golf'n & Grill'n....too many choices!
Gary
 
Gary,

Sorry to hear about your injury, but really glad to hear that this setup worked well for you and made it possible for you to smoke some ribs.

Dave, as far as the number of coals, I'd guess that it is about half as much as when you load the WSM with as much as you can get in the ring with it mounded up on top. This method is really, really miserly with the fuel. I guess I should weigh it just to verify, next time I do this.
 

Gary Bramley

TVWBB Pro
Dave,

If you look at the image up thread the coals are fairly close to the top of the fire bricks. Then I hit three spots with the torch.

Q'n,Golf'n & Grill'n.... too many choices!
Gary
 

David-B

TVWBB Super Fan
glad to see others using the kettle for long smokes. Ive been smoking on the kettle way before i got a wsm. I put indicating marks on my vent control lever to help me know how much the vents are open without opening the lid to see. I'm careful with how many coals lit at the beginning of the cook.Usually run the top vent 50% closed and the bottom 80-90% closed and maintain temps for many hours.
 

Gary Bramley

TVWBB Pro
Originally posted by DAVIDMICHAEL:
glad to see others using the kettle for long smokes.............................. I put indicating marks on my vent control lever to help me know how much the vents are open without opening the lid to see. I'm careful with how many coals lit at the beginning of the cook........................

It is definitely a workable alternative especially if you are cooking for 1 or 2. When firing up the WSM I like to have it loaded up to maximize each cook.

I have had the marks on my kettle for some time and would recommend that to all. When firing this cook I had the lower vent open about 1/8 inch at its widest point. Immediately after firing the coals I set the lid slight off its proper seating. When temps started getting up to 200 I seated the lid. The temp spiked to 300 then quickly settled. It was a good cook, and good to know I have an alternative for low & slow.


Q'n, Golf'n & Grill'n.... too many choices!
Gary
 

Jered Crews

TVWBB Member
I'm definitely going to be trying this out. I've been using charcoal rails and refueling every few hours. Very inefficient and time consuming... Couple of questions for the pros.

1) Do you ever sit a pan of water above your coals? Currently using the rails, I've set a pan of water above the coals to somewhat mimick the set up of a WSM.

2) Do you mix your wood chunks in with the mound of unlit coals so that you have a continuous release/burn of smoke?

Thanks!
 

Gary Bramley

TVWBB Pro
Originally posted by Jered Crews:
.........Couple of questions for the pros.

1) Do you ever sit a pan of water above your coals? Currently using the rails, I've set a pan of water above the coals to somewhat mimick the set up of a WSM.

2) Do you mix your wood chunks in with the mound of unlit coals so that you have a continuous release/burn of smoke?

Thanks!

I am no pro, but I don't think it would hurt to have a heat sink type setup to stablize temps. I thought about it for this cook but opted not to. I was not going to worry too much about temp swings between 250 - 300. To my suprise temps stayed steady.

I mixed the chunks in with the coal.

Give it a try.

Q'n, Golf'n & Grill'n.... too many choices!
Gary
 

K Kruger

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Firebricks act as a heat sink--provided one is using them of course. An additional water heat sink shouldn't be necessary if one controls the amount of lit at the start, and then the air intake. If bricks aren't being used water can be helpful. I usually don't bother with it though as it takes up more room than I am willing to spare.
 
The difficulty with a water pan and this method, is that you really don't have much real estate for a water pan. You'd run the risk of running out of water and then getting a temp spike. Either that, or you would have to be opening it up way too often to check on the status and/or add water. I don't like removing the lid any more than necessary when doing a long smoke. If I can dial in a temp and keep it steady, then I don't want to lift the lid at all for the first half or two-thirds of the cook. It is quite possible to do that without a water pan.

I have put another fire brick above the coals as sort of the same function as a water pan, but without any danger of running out and getting a temp spike. That gives you a little extra stability.
 

David-B

TVWBB Super Fan
ive gotten good results without a water pan. I can usually tell where the temp is going to peak just by watching how fast the temp is going up on the thermometer. I have one at cooking grate level and a probe at the top vent level. It takes a little more work than the WSM however you can get similar results with some practice. I can keep 230(indirect) at grate level for several hours, of course the vent temp is hotter than that.
 
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