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Walleye1273
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« on: June 25, 2018, 10:32:28 AM »

First of all I am sorry for posting this in the Whats Cooking Forum but I think thats my best chance for it to be read as the other threads seem to be inactive.

I am new to using the Keg and as crazy as this sounds I cannot seem to light it properly to maintain a decent 5 or 6 hour fire.  I mound the charcoal in the middle and I have tried lighting it in 3 or 4 different places, I have tried just lighting it on the very top of the pyramid and I have also tried lighting it at the very bottom and no matter what I do I seem to lose my fire.

I wouldn't dare leave my house for more the 30 mins while it is cooking or it will go out on me.

I talked to the Broil King Chef at a show last weekend and he recommended a specific charcoal and offered different advice which I have followed and it still doesn't seem to work for me.

My ultimate goal is to do long low and slow cooks of shoulders and briskets but at this point I don't think I would be able to do it without sitting directly beside the unit and even then I fear it will go out.

Any help you veteran keggers could offer me would be greatly appreciated
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Shawn W
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2018, 11:02:16 AM »

Welcome!

Let's back up a bit and go through some standard stuff.

What keg model do you have?

What kind of charcoal are you using and is it lump or briquette? How much are you putting in the keg?

Do you have the top and bottom vents open? How much?

How well lit is the charcoal before you close the lid?
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Walleye1273
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2018, 11:19:10 AM »

I have the Keg 5000

I am using the Charwood Lump charcoal the Broil King rep suggested

I sign paraffin wax starters and after I light them I leave the lid open until they have burnt out and I have the light blue smoke.

I then close the lid but leave the vents wide open until I am roughly 50 degrees below my target temperature then I throttle them down to 2 or just below and wait for it to stabilize at around 250 which it typically does.

I then put my meat on and thats when things get all out of whack. 

I cooked ribs on Father's Day and it was rolling along well and 2 hours into the cook I lost the fire and had to relight it with a wax starter to get through the cook.

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GumbyDamit
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Fayetteville, GA


« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2018, 12:01:49 PM »

Without having a visual on what is happening, my first thought is the fire is not hot enough before you start dampering it.  I believe the fire is going out because it is smothered.  Trying different damper settings.  
I always getting the fire going good (flames) then close the lid and set the dampers at half way.  Let that ride for a few minutes, put the meat on (because the temp will go down), and then start adjust damper until I get the temp I want.

My two cents.
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Shawn W
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2018, 12:40:00 PM »

I have the Keg 5000

I am using the Charwood Lump charcoal the Broil King rep suggested

I sign paraffin wax starters and after I light them I leave the lid open until they have burnt out and I have the light blue smoke.

I then close the lid but leave the vents wide open until I am roughly 50 degrees below my target temperature then I throttle them down to 2 or just below and wait for it to stabilize at around 250 which it typically does.

I then put my meat on and thats when things get all out of whack.  

I cooked ribs on Father's Day and it was rolling along well and 2 hours into the cook I lost the fire and had to relight it with a wax starter to get through the cook.


Gumby is right, something is putting the fire out or it just isn't lit enough to start with. The triangle of combustion is Heat-Oxygen-Fuel. Remove any one and the fire goes out.

On the surface it doesn't sound like you are doing anything wrong, but the devil is probably in the details.

Couple of things first:
-ENSURE there is no blockage of the vents
-with lump too many big gaps can be a problem, reposition lumps if necessary
-when using lump too many fines (crumbs)/too much dust can choke off the airflow
-if not doing so already, bury your wax cubes a bit then teepee some lump over them once burning. Before starting your low and slow a small handful of lump should be fully lit ... glowing.

My way is to stabilize with food in. The mass of cold food is part of the target temp equation.

After your wax cube(s) have burnt off and you have a small fire of glowing coals add your smoke wood, diffuser, then food. Close the lid. Normally, for a starting point I'd suggest setting both vents to two, wait for it to stabilize (it can take a couple of hours), then adjust from there, and if necessary try a different starting point next time. Starting is low is better, once the temp gets away from you in a keg it can take a really really long time for it to come down again, if at all, without killing the fire.

Since you are having trouble try starting with both vents at 2.5. You want to get success having the fire staying lit and you also want to know where it stabilizes using this method. Until you get to that point try not to touch the vents. Also start with an average size of cook for you. It behaves differently with one tiny rack of ribs than it does with 30 pounds of meat in it. Get your baseline working with an average cook for you.







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Walleye1273
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2018, 02:07:14 PM »

Thanks Folks,

I appreciate the feedback.   It could very well be that I don't have a strong enough fire established before I throttle it back.

I have always been afraid if having to big of fire and losing control.

I am hoping to use it again this weekend and I will try your suggestions.

Thanks Again
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Cajunate
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« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2018, 06:09:16 AM »



Alright, first things first. Make sure the bottom underneath the fire grate is clean and free of any ash blocking the bottom vent from allowing airflow. Put your lump in the firebowl(I find using a Kickash Basket helps with airflow.) Here's what I do.... Depending on how hot I'm going to be cooking(grilling or smoking)open your bottom vent say about to # 3 or 4 on average. You don't say how you are lighting the Keg but I suggest using a MAPP or propane torch for best results. Since you are relearning  do this. Crank the torch up with a good hot flame and hold it in the center of the pile of lump for 30 seconds. Hold it still in one spot. You should get a flame going on the lump. I have piddled around for a few minutes while that lump burns and really catches fire. Put your grate back in and shut the top lid and open the top vent to about 2 or 3. Let it go for about 10 - 15 minutes for an initial burn and you should be good to go. If it's burning hotter than you like close the top vent a little. You may need to practice a few times to get the hang of adjusting the temp where you want it.

I know they are two different models but I recently did a 23 hour cook on my 4000 at an average temp of 230 degrees. Good luck! I hope this helps. Also make sure your lump isn't damp. Store it in a plastic container or even an old ice chest. With the ice chest you can pick out larger pieces if you want to use those. Again, good luck and let us know how you make out.
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ModernMan
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« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2018, 04:55:13 AM »

Hi Walleye.
What you experienced is / was very common for Keg 5000 owners (not all - but certainly many, as shown by numerous posts re. similar problems experienced by 5000 keggers on this board - and their varioys workarounds). I may be wrong but Shawn, Cajunate, and Gumby don't own the 5K. Their keg versions are slightly different - especially the bottom 1/2 of their kegs. Therefore, their generous, experienced suggestions may be mitigated due to the inherent design differences in the 5K (i.e. it is leaky-er than the previous models and has a tendency to either go out or go high ... no matter how you play w the vents...especially when the meat anor charcoal gives off humidity/condensation.

My sometimes helpful work around was a combination of using the TipTopTemperature controller and changing the bottom vent knobs as Caveman had suggested a couple of years ago,  clamping down on the knobs.

However even with these hacks, I still cant leave the keg and go on an hour or 2 or 3 errand...because it still needs babysitting.

good luck!
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Cajunate
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« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2018, 05:14:21 AM »

I may be wrong but Shawn, Cajunate, and Gumby don't own the 5K. !

I do in fact own a 5000! I haven't had the issue Walleye is having. At least not yet.
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Walrus
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« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2018, 05:56:41 PM »

Walleye1273, I don't see you mentioning using a diffuser. Are you?
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Shawn W
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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2018, 07:31:52 PM »

I may be wrong but Shawn, Cajunate, and Gumby don't own the 5K. Their keg versions are slightly different.

Good point, I have a 4000 with the slidey screen.


Walleye1273,

The way I think of it the top vent is like the gear selector, the bottom vent is like the gas pedal. As the top vent is shut down it limits the overall airflow reducing the fire and the temp. The top vent is the same on my 4000 and the 5000 so the principle is the same, but disregard my numbers for the bottom vent I mentioned above.

I had a look at the Roto-Draft™ bottom damper on the 5000 here https://www.broilkingbbq.com/en_ca/grills/keg/keg_5000?bvstate=pg:3/ct:r to refresh my memory.  

Based on surface areas of vent openings and my infinite expertise on running a keg low n slow  Grin , I'm going to suggest this as a start: top vent 2.5, bottom vent 2/3 open. Use directions I posted above. Let it stabilize before you tweak, unless it's obviously way overshooting or going the wrong way. Adjust bottom vent next time you start if necessary, rinse and repeat. Fine tune the top vent then final tune the bottom vent until you find a consistent lighting method, and don't forget there are still some other variables, like wind, sun, ambient temp, mass of meat, different bed of charcoal, irregularities of lump, altitude  ....

Success to me when starting the keg: I do not want to sweat the temp or time to temp differences between cooks or spend all day staring at a digital thermometer and tweaking vents every time the temp moves 5ºF. I want it to work every time and land comfortably in range of my target temp. I light, I assemble, I walk away, I check it a couple of times and only adjust after stable unless things are clearly going wrong (pretty rare) and it works.


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