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I became the proud owner of a new Akorn earlier this week and have been dying to get this thing fired up. I seasoned the grate earlier this week with some lard and then put it in the oven at 350 for an hour. I bought an 11lb. Boston butt and a few racks of pork spare ribs but they had to go into the freezer for the time being because I just didn’t have time this weekend for a long smoke.       

  I did however have time today for some burgers and Italian sausage but before that I wanted see how well I could hold lower temps. I started off with lump in the volcano formation lit by an alcohol soaked cotton ball in the middle. After grate level temp got to 160 I went to about half closed on top and 2 on bottom. At 200 I was about 1/4 open top and about .75 on bottom. After this I didn’t touch again and it settled in at 270. I was shooting for about 250 but I was pretty happy at how it responded, next time I think I’ll close the top vent a little more when my temp hits 200. It held steady between 265-270 for an hour before I shut it down just to see if indeed it would shut down which it did flawlessly. Oh and this was done on an out of the box, no mods Akorn (Who would have thunk it right?) I was worried about the sloppy lower vent but this just goes to show you it’s all designed this way to work with no mods needed. Anyway here is a few pics of my cook and I can’t wait to do a low and slow on this thing. I love this thing!!

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I added marks to the vents for repeatability.  10% points on top, 0.25 points from 0-1 on the bottom. It's documented in the Akorn mod thread. 

 

I also found mine (7/17) of good build quality compared with a Chargriller 2-barrel; no issues killing 650F fires when I'm done. I love the ash pan design, the removable fire box and the deflector. My thermometer is accurate; the temperature range as advertised.

 

One can ask no more from a steel Kamado at this price point... except you also learn what you give up. The downside of light weight and fast heating is the stability that's only found in 250 lb. of ceramic. The downside of steel, that it neither runs as hot, nor re-radiates heat like a ceramic. We'll see about rust. 

 

Some lessons can be expensive, but this one also tastes really good. 

 

HAve fun,

Frank

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On 12/7/2017 at 7:49 AM, Irish Smoker said:

Thanks...hopefully I’ll have some free time this weekend to try my first ribs. 

Good luck, took me 3 tries before I started to get good ribs lol.   Tried the first 2 attempts volcano and it didn't work for me, seemed to get crazy temp swings and took forever to smoke food.      Now I do big pieces on the bottom ,medium on top of that, small on top of that pretty much to the tabs.   Make a little hole and drop a cotton ball in.   

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I run the vents at 3 top/3 bottom after the intial light.  When it gets up to ~150 (or 175 if going for high 200's) I bump them down to 2 top/1.5 bottom.  At ~200, I bump down to .9 top/.75-.9 bottom.  Generally holds rock steady at ~225-235.

 

Key bit is to adjust your vents down lower far earlier than your target temp (~75 deg) and slowly bring it up to the final temp.  I also find that the smoke ends up a bit sweeter/milder this way.

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On 12/6/2017 at 1:02 PM, fbov said:

I added marks to the vents for repeatability.  10% points on top, 0.25 points from 0-1 on the bottom. It's documented in the Akorn mod thread.

 

Do you have a photo of the marks you made?

 

Also if I want to take my Akorn to 400° and hold it there (for seasoning, for instance) where would I start with the vents and when, and to where, would I turn it down?

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Photos are in the Akorn modification thread, with a description of the rubber band trick for equal spacing. I'd paste the link (c. Aug. '17?), but as a new owner, it behooves you review that thread regardless. I've already done the same to all the KJ Classic threads. 

 

For 400F seasoning, I'd set the bottom to 2 and progressively shut the top vent from 50% as temperature rose, say 10% every 50F rise. There's little downside to overshooting, and you'll get to see how much control the top vent provides. If you get down to ~10% (last stop before it clicks shut), let it ride unless you want to kill the fire. 

 

You can get there with the bottom vent set to 1, but it takes longer so you have more control. Just wait at least 5 minutes between adjustments, unless it's moving in the wrong direction fast. You've got experience with fires; this one just moves slowly when you get close to where you want to be. 

 

Have fun,

Frank

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I start about half way... headed for 500F, I'd close to 50% at about 300F, 25% at about 400F, and then hold to see where it goes. Using a two-probe thermometer set high and low in the chamber lets you monitor the thermal gradient. When you get close to stable, the temperature difference drops from 60-100F to 10-20F. This assumes the probes receive no radiant energy from the fire. 

 

I hope your Akorn issues are resolved; I jut got a call that my KJ is in, but it's snowing this week and I'll wait until a cleared walkway stays clear!

 

Have fun,

Frank

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