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Dana Myers
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Default NBS/Char Broil Silver fire control question.

Duwop wrote:

> Jesse Skeens wrote:

> If it wouldnt get hotter it sounds like poor air circulation? How raised are
> the coals from the bottom of the firebox? Does that gap become full of ash
> quickly? You might want to get a local metal shop to cut you a grate that
> sits about an 1" higher than the existing one.

My CBS (aka NBS) came with three charcoal grates so you
can run a fire in the firebox and in the cooking chamber
(for grilling).

So what I do in my NBS is take the charcoal grates put
two of them, rotated 90 degrees, in the firebox. This
raises the fire a couple of inches, which is extremely
useful. The 'stock' grate level is way too low.

> A tip I followed, and am glad I did, was to run the vents full open the
> first year/summer. The idea is that would accelerate my understanding of
> firetending in a offset. It worked, and the effort payed off.

I always run the chimney vent full open. Never close it,
except perhaps to strangle a fire after cooking if you want
to try to save some lump.

I run the firebox damper about 1/3 open, primarily to
reduce the disturbance caused by wind. I frankly
don't think it makes much difference in the cooking
heat if you're 1/3 open or full open, enough air flows
at 1/3 open that the charcoals get all they need.

I have the bigger Weber chimney and about 1 and half
loads of glowing charcoals will get me into 250F at the
grate no problem. I have extended the smoker chimney to
the cooking grate using a short length of flexible
aluminum ducting.

I do not use the firebox damper much, preferring to
control temperature through fire size. I've found that
it requires less tending that way. I mean, the charcoal
wants to burn and you have to let it, if you cut off the
air to the charcoal, you'll quickly slow the charcoal
down to where it doesn't want to burn. If you've got a
fire that's running at 270F and you try to damp it down
to 225F, you'll get a fire isn't burning right.

Don't try to regulate the temperature too precisely.
Swings 25F below and above your target temperature are
just fine in my experience. If my target is 250F,
I'll let the fire burn down to 225F, then add enough
lump to get the fire up to 270-275F, then let it burn down
to 225F and repeat the cycle. I think I add fuel about
once an hour or so on the average.

When you add fuel, give it a chance to come up to
temperature. With experience, you'll know pretty much
exactly how much to add (for me, it's two scoops with
the plastic scooper I use) and you can just add the
lump into top of the fire, close the lid on the firebox
and, about 15-20 minutes later, you'll see the temperature
peak around 275F and start down. If you want to get quicker
feedback, you can run a side-fire to get your lump burning
before adding it (I have a little weber-clone kettle that I
sometimes run a well-damped fire in for this purpose). If
you add already-buring lump, you'll see the grate temp peak
much sooner.

If your fire is too hot, you basically have too much fuel
in the fire box. Take some out into the side-fire.

For smoke, I usually use chunks of foil-wrapped wood,
use several layers of foil and poke maybe one or two
holes. If the wood gets too hot and the foil gives
way, the wood can catch on fire, and this is pretty
much the only time I use the firebox damper to knock
down the burning wood chunk... wait until the chimney
starts smoking again and re-open the damper. You can
tell when a wood chunk is burning when your grate temp
spikes up pretty suddenly.

Some of the lump, especially larger pieces, have
charcoalized bark on them. When it's burning, it
can give off a bit of a waxy odor. I haven't noticed
it showing up in the meat, but, if I have a side-fire
going, I'll put barky-lump in it to get it burning and
that usually drives off the waxy smell.

I've been able to run 225F at the grate no problem,
it means I let the fire burn down to 200F and run it
up to 250F after adding fuel. I prefer a side-fire
when running at lower temps.

At first, I was constantly messing with dampers and
adding fuel and getting major spikes. It was nerve-
wracking. It can make you crazy. Once I learned
the best control of temperature in my NBS was fire
size, and you just need to make sure to get enough
fresh air to the fire, it all got easier. One
adjustment an hour or even a little longer is about
all I do now.

Cheers and good eatin'