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size, surface area, and passage of heat

 
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Coldholler



Joined: 10 Jun 2011
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Fri Jul 29 11 3:13 am    Post subject: size, surface area, and passage of heat Reply with quote

I have a cooker that offers about 48" by 29" of cooking space on the grill -- it's a oil drum on the side, cut exactly in half. The top is hinged on the back, there are two smoke stacks, and the grate. Judging by the low amount of smoke emitting from around the sides, the heat loss is minimal. It shuts pretty tight.

My cooker is propane, but it does achieve pretty good indirect heat. The burner is a 1" pipe running the whole length, and it's covered by a very thick steel angle piece, maybe 4"x4". Even when turned up higher, I've seen no yellow flame come around that. I use a wireless surface thermometer and also a meat probe -- it's interesting that when I covered the grate with 35 pounds of ribs and chicken for a long cook at 250d, for a long time the temp at grill surface was significantly hotter than the temp on the lid-mounted therm. Then, later in the cook when the meat was hotter, the two thermometers stayed pretty close to each other.

My question -- in August, I'll cook a 120 pound pig, my first. I hope to butterfly it and cook it skin-side-down at 250d. So, is it possible to block too much of the grate for flow of heat and smoke into the top of the chamber and toward the stacks? Also, in the event the pig takes up most or all of the space, where should I put the surface thermometer? It usually clips onto the grill wherever I want it. I guess it could go next to the head at one end... I'm also hoping that the narrower end allows enough space for heat and smoke. My last, related question is about the prep and placement of the meat -- if I have to cut some of the hog to make it fit, should I place that on this small amount of extra space, or should I place it on top of the butterflied main part?

Thanks -- I know that's a lot of questions, and I appreciate any feedback from folk who have successfully maximized their cooking surface or know how it should be done.

If I can figure out how to upload pics here, I'd be glad to share! Thanks, Mike
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Oregon smoker
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Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Posts: 6246
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Fri Jul 29 11 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anytime you throw a large amount of cold or even room temp meat on grate its going to take a while for the cook chamber to equalize, hence your temp differences between grate level and top of the lid.
As to how much of the grate you can cover of meat i have never really seen a ratio/percentage amount that you can get away with. I regularly fill up my smokers and would say that i cover 80% of the surface. But i use wood burning, modded offsets. I never block off access to the exhaust stack.
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Coldholler



Joined: 10 Jun 2011
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Fri Jul 29 11 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks! I thought the temp of so much meat was creating the differential, but wasn't sure. It's still something I'm figuring out.

I'll graduate to a wood-fired off-set, because I'm hooked. But the propane smoker does an amazing job, too. It's homemade, with very thick steel and a good seal.

So, I guess I'll find out how much grill I can block and still let the burner access the stacks. If it works out, I'll have that much more smoke. If it doesn't, I'll have a problem.

Thanks again. mike
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