Ash buildup?

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Ash buildup?

Post  atodedeus on Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:08 am

Hello all,

I did my second smoke yesterday in the glorious weather we had in London and for the most part, it was a huge success. I did a 8 lb Boston Butt with a dry rub, used the minion method for the burn and let it go for about 11 1/2 hours. It was pretty amazing, actually -- once I put the lit briquettes on (I used about 30) the unlit fuel, the temp climbed to 230 and with a brief adjustment, stayed there literally for the next 9 hours. It couldn't have been easier.

About 9 hours in, I noticed the temp starting to drop, so I lit another 30 or so briquettes and added them to the firebox. The temp got back up to 230 and stayed there for about an hour or two, but then started dropping precipitously. I ended up finishing it up in the oven (I figured it wasn't worth lighting more coals for the last hour or so), but when I took it off the smoker, the coals were definitely still generating heat so I was a bit confused why the temperature was so low.

I'm wondering if the problem lies in the ash accumulation below the firebox grate. When I took the smoker apart to clean it out after the meal, I noticed that the ashes had basically filled up all the empty space below the coals, effectively preventing airflow from the bottom. My question for you guys -- is this normal? If so, is there any trick to either preventing this or any solutions that have been discovered?

Thanks!!

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Re: Ash buildup?

Post  Mack on Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:34 am

Hi and welcome to the forum.
What kind of smoker are you using?
Poor quality briquettes have a higher amount of binders in them, so that results in more ash. If the ash build up disrupts the air flow, it will affect the temps.
Try getting hold of some coconut briquettes, as these produce a very small amount of ash.

Ian
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Re: Ash buildup?

Post  Dr_KY on Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:06 pm

Also add a bit of lump as it makes less ash.

Give the smoker a little shake and the ash should fall away.

When adding fuel use unlit and toss in through the door.( helps retain heat range in the unit.)


As Ian said, what smoker are you using?
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Re: Ash buildup?

Post  atodedeus on Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:24 pm

In response to the question of which smoker I am using....that is actually an interesting question.

It was a christmas gift from my wife, and I *thought* she got me the Excel 20. The base unit has three vents, and based on the literature, that would indicate the E20. However, the stackers look more like the stackers from the frontier (based on the pics on the website), so I really am having a difficult time answering that. Any suggestions on how I can find out for sure? Is it possible that the shipments included pieces from different units?

Dr_KY, you mentioned that I should toss unlit fuel through the door instead of lighting it first. My only concern is that it wouldn't ignite in the smoker, especially if I wait too long and the coals start to die. Any rules of thumb here?

Thanks!

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Re: Ash buildup?

Post  Dr_KY on Mon Apr 27, 2009 7:50 pm

If you toss in lump then it will catch on faster than coal. I do it all the time to help control temp spikes. Add several portions of lump wait 5 min then toss in some coals and she's all good. If you wait too long then no it wont work but you should never wait till it hits that point.

Can you take or find pictures of your cooker. How about measuring it across the grate? the 20 should be 20".
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Re: Ash buildup?

Post  atodedeus on Wed May 06, 2009 12:11 am

Hi, sorry for the delay in response, I just got a chance to measure the grates. They are 15 1/2" across....I suppose that means it's not the E20? Although the base *does* have three vents....

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Re: Ash buildup?

Post  Dr_KY on Wed May 06, 2009 6:56 am

Even camera phone pictures would help.
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Re: Ash buildup?

Post  atodedeus on Wed May 06, 2009 7:42 am

Sorry, missed that part of the question. Here are some photos:





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Re: Ash buildup?

Post  Mack on Wed May 06, 2009 9:07 am

You have a Frontier!

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Re: Ash buildup?

Post  Dr_KY on Wed May 06, 2009 9:26 am

I sugest burning a mixture of lump with briques and go heavy on the lump side of it. You could also raise the basket a little.
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Ash buildup

Post  Razalaf on Sat Jun 27, 2009 1:21 pm

I have just bought a Frontier based on numerous positive reviews and it does tick all the boxes for me. When I came to put it together the fit of the charcoal tray did seem odd - it just seemed to rest in the base on nothing in particular half way up the vents. The parts illustration in handbook showed the charcoal tray (item 13)) the same diameter as the grills but clearly it is not but photographs on the web (and in the handbook) soon confirmed that all Frontiers are the same as mine.
So I was interested to read this thread as it seems to confirm my suspicion that charcoal tray should be the same diameter as the grills so that it sits on the three brackets provided and also sits above the vents so that the air path is from under the charcoal rather than partly from the side with the current location - and of course it would allow for a reasonable build up of ash. The only possible reason for having the current set up is that it permits the water pan to be used with the base unit - for whatever reason.

Is this a DESIGN FAULT ???

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Re: Ash buildup?

Post  Mack on Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:18 pm

The Charcoal tray sits where it was designed to sit. The 3 brackets in the base unit are there, so it can be used as a portable grill.
Ash build-up is atributed to the type/ quality of the charcoal used.
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