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Most frustrating cook day


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This is probably one of the most frustrating cook days on my Vision Grill Kamado.  Cleaned it out, vacuumed out ash.  Added new charcoal and some wood chunks and chips to the mix.  Lit one cotton ball and buried it in the middle of the lump pile.  Left lid open until I saw smoke and felt a little heat.  Closed the lib, set top vent at 1.25 and put on the Pitmaster IQ 120 with set point of 225.  Set unit inlet air damper to 1 setting small available and the unit picked up and temp climbed at a normal rate.  The unit shut down as it should at 220 but the pit temp kept climbing to 350.  I've checked for air inleakage around the kamado's bottom vent and used some duct tape to seal everything up as a precautionary measure.  Burped the lib over the course of an hour but temp just stayed at 350-ish.   Decided to put two 3 lb boneless chuck roasts on the lower rack (heat diverter in place by the way.  Probes are located above the heat diverter and not directly above the firebox / heat diverter stone gap.  Anyway the chucks are cooking away and looking great.  2 hours later I added 3 racks of baby backs to the top rack.  Temp has fallen a little but not like I'd expect.  I replaced the lid gaskets last year with nomex ones.  Maybe time to return to felt gasket which from memory was thicker.  It's frustrating when the temp gets away and you can't get it down no matter what you do.  Gotta be an air leak but for the life of me I'd expect a fairly good size leak to get the results I'm seeing.   So I marshal forward and am cooking away.   I'm using Rod Grey's "Eat BBQ" Zero to Hero rub and IPO sauce on the pork and am using his "Most powerful stuff" rub and his matching "Next big thing" sauce.

I'm taking the beef to about 195 then will brush on with sauce and set it and let it climb to 200, then hold for shredding.  As for the pork I'll foil with some brown sugar, fake butter and apple juice after about 2.5 hours of smoke then after about 30 minutes (at this temp) of wrapped steam stage I'll set the sauce.  

While I'm frustrated at the temp control I'm looking forward to eating some BBQ later.

 

Any tips on air inleakage?

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On your Vision, with a pitmaster IQ120, the leak should be easy to find.  Light it, load up a bunch of smoking wood on top of where you have it lit. Close the upper damper.  Set the pitmaster to 350, and look for the smoke coming out.  It will pinpoint your leak.  Also, when smoking at lower temperatures, the damper on the blower should be moved to a "2".  A setting of "4" will allow for enough flow to pull past the blower to support a higher temperature under worst-case circumstances.  Only use a "4" for temperatures above 300. 

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The Pitmaster IQ 120 was set on 1, the smallest opening.  I started it up on the 1 setting and was going to move it to 2 once it stabilized but the train was already down the track by then so I left it at one.  I don't recall the fan running at any point that I was looking at it during the cook, so air is getting in somewhere.   As for the smoke test I only saw faint smoke coming from the lower kamado inlet air setting area.  I used duct tape to seal it up on this cook.  The food came out really good.  Lessons learned when the kamado is steaming away at 350 and you put meat on the lower rack it is too close, at that temp, to the heat deflector which causes the bottom of the chuck roast to get crispy around the edges.

I'm going to do a full seal of the bottom vents with high temp RTV, replace the thin nomex gasket (I never see smoke coming from lid gasket area) with thicker material.

Ceramic Chef what tips do you offer out on a Vision Grill Classic (Costco model)?

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What kind of luck do you have regulating temps manually?

My suspicion is that if you had brought the temp up manually and arrested it at 225 and let it get stable before starting the Pitmaster it may have worked better. You have to remember that when coming from a fresh start on a cold cooker that fan was stoking the fire right up until it hit 225 but by that time it had so much lump lit that it overshot. When it hit your target the fire was burning hot and still had plenty of oxygen to go hotter before coming back down whereas if you had manually regulated you would've started reducing vents 50 degrees or so before hitting your target to prevent overshooting so when it hit 225 there wouldn't be any extra fire and no residual oxygen to burn up before temps stabilized. At that point all the Pitmaster would have to do is provide a puff of air when the temp dropped below target but not enough to blow it up into a raging fire. I don't know if that makes any sense at all, just me thinking with my one good typing finger.

Where was your top vent set during this cook?

Edit: I see top vent 1.25. I'm not familiar with Vision. How wide is that? I assume you would only need a tiny sliver of exhaust with the Pitmaster, possibly it would leak enough to run completely closed with forced air feeding the fire. It doesn't take hardly any heat to maintain that low of temp so the fan might force enough through the closed vent.

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I do not know what settings you have on your controller.  I found that my controller was causing a significant overshoot because, as described above, it was not slowing down enough before it hit the correct temperature.  I have found two ways around this.  

1.  Change the setting in the controller to have a much wider proportional band.  This causes the controller to slow down its quest to get to the desired temperature.  Once it gets to its temperature, I change it to a smaller band so that it more tightly keeps it at the right temperature.

2.  This way is the one that I use much more often.  Give the controller a hold temperature lower than what you want.  Let the grill come up and overshoot.  Then, change the temperature setting to what you want.  Often my new temperature is just above where the actual temperature is.  This allows just a nudge from the fan and I am exactly at the right hold point.  

 

Having written all of this, I have NEVER had an overshoot of more than 40 degrees.  It sounds like yours was significant, so there may be more than the controller at play here.

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I have found that I need to let the temp get almost up to desired temperature before attaching my temperature controller (PartyQ).  Having the fan on to early cased my fire to grow at to fast of a pace.  Even once I needed to open the lid and the temp on the controller drops, I decrease my desired temperature until the grill recovers from the opening.  After that I move the temp back and all is good.  A little extra work but this has prevented any large overshoot of temperatures.

 

For some reason, I was never able to have a stable temp on my vision without the temperature controller. :(  Hoping this is different once my Big Joe gets delivered.

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I also have a vision Kamado and run a bbq guru temp control system. I had the same problem as you, what I did is lowered my pit temp setting to 50 deg lower and just had the top vent cracked open. It is hard to maintain a steady low temp, just take a lot of practice. I just plan a lot of slow cooks.

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What kind of luck do you have regulating temps manually?

My suspicion is that if you had brought the temp up manually and arrested it at 225 and let it get stable before starting the Pitmaster it may have worked better. You have to remember that when coming from a fresh start on a cold cooker that fan was stoking the fire right up until it hit 225 but by that time it had so much lump lit that it overshot. When it hit your target the fire was burning hot and still had plenty of oxygen to go hotter before coming back down whereas if you had manually regulated you would've started reducing vents 50 degrees or so before hitting your target to prevent overshooting so when it hit 225 there wouldn't be any extra fire and no residual oxygen to burn up before temps stabilized. At that point all the Pitmaster would have to do is provide a puff of air when the temp dropped below target but not enough to blow it up into a raging fire. I don't know if that makes any sense at all, just me thinking with my one good typing finger.

Where was your top vent set during this cook?

Edit: I see top vent 1.25. I'm not familiar with Vision. How wide is that? I assume you would only need a tiny sliver of exhaust with the Pitmaster, possibly it would leak enough to run completely closed with forced air feeding the fire. It doesn't take hardly any heat to maintain that low of temp so the fan might force enough through the closed vent.

This seems to be the most logical explanation. When I had my Akorn I bought a Party-Q. I had the same issues along with problems keeping temps stable. I sold the unit but kept the adapter for the bottom. The Akorn actually ran better after that.

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For some reason, I was never able to have a stable temp on my vision without the temperature controller. :(  Hoping this is different once my Big Joe gets delivered.

 

Your BigJOE will hold the pit temp on the nads jag. I have had one since they first came out and have only hooked a controller up to it once, and that was on a day we were experiencing 30 > 40 mph winds off the lake. If conditions are fairly calm, I don't even use a controller on over night cooks. 

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