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Ran into some difficulties this weekend!!!

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This is going to be a bit of a long winded story, but I am including it all, in case you think it's relevant.


Starts on Saturday, with my plan to do 4 racks of ribs on my KJC.  I purchased the grill expander and I was using the SloRoller.  I set the rack on top of the SloRoller and put my grill grates in the highest position.  I had two types of ribs... side ribs and back ribs, so I started the side ribs and hour early on the regular grate at 225 degrees.  I put the expander grill on top of the side ribs, with a plan to put the baby backs on an hour later. 


So far so good.  Temp was holding really nice.  After an hour, I placed two back rib racks on the expander grill.  I cooked at 225 for two hour (3 hours for the side ribs) and then I wrapped.  Still good. No issues to this point.


I noticed when closing the Kamado, it felt "different" but not enough to make me investigate.  My temp started to fall, so I increased air flow on the top vent.  Temp was hovering at 200 and I couldn't get it to increase.  Kept increasing the air flow with NO luck in increasing the dome temp.  After doing this for an hour or so, I decided to see what was going on and I realized the dome thermometer had pierced the foil on the grill expander and was giving the temp of the meat and/or temp of the foil.  I started taking immediate steps to rectify the problem and realized my actual temp was around 300-315.


Believe it or not... I did not kill the ribs.  They all came out good.  Not my best, but good.  This is not really where the story ends, but how it starts...


My real concern is the following day (Sunday - yesterday).  I was doing chicken and steaks (on Sunday) and pizza.  I had prepared to do 4 chicken quarters and 7 steaks (4 NY Strips and 3 Filets) and 2 Neapolitan Pizza's.  My plan was to go indirect on half the grill and reverse sear the meat (chicken included).  Chicken first, temp of the grill was around 375 when I started and never really climbed above 500.  Waited until it got to about 155-160 internal on the chicken and they came off.  Steaks up next.  Same deal.  I wasn't all that concerned about the dome temp because I kept opening the Kamado and losing heat, so nothing led me to believe anything was different at this point in time.


The strips were very well marbled (USDA Prime) and they induced a lot of flare ups (even cooking over indirect), their was fire coming off the defelector plate.  Got the steak to about 130 (except for wifey who likes hers ruined at 145).  Steaks came off and they were fine but the grill never really got up over 500.


I set up the KJC for pizza, using the heat deflector with the pizza stone set atop the grill expander (3.5" separation).  I closed the dome and opened BOTH vents fully.  After 20 minutes, the temp would NOT rise above 500.


I was using Blues Hog Lump (for the first time).  I previously use KJ Big Block and get temps up to 850 or 900 degrees with no problems.  Here, it was just stalled at 500.  I thought, maybe I didn't have enough lump, so I opened her up, took out all of the grates and filled the basked up to the top (the basket was still pretty full so I really did not have to add too much).  Loaded my grates back up and closed the dome and let her sit for 25 minutes and there she was sitting at 500-550.  At no time did I get the grill above 550.  I did the pizza's at 550 and they were just okay.


So, after this very long winded story... I am trying to diagnose why my temp wouldn to rise above 550.


1.  Did I damage my dome thermometer the day before (or maybe I just need to clean it)?

2.  Lousy Lump Charcoal?  I've never used Blues Hog, but the online reviews are good. Is it possible it just burn very hot???  Doubtful.

3.  Didn't give it enough time to heat up?  25 minutes after adding new lump wasn't enough?

4.  Was my new setup with the pizza stone 3.5" above the heat deflectors preventing my grill from heating up past 550?

5.  Something else?



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21 minutes ago, LargeRedJoe said:

I assume the slo roller was removed for the pizza cook?

Were the deflectors in the lowest position? (That can produce a lower dome temp even full open). Higher? Highest? 



Yes, SloRoller wasn't used on the Sunday cook at all.  I used it on Saturday for Ribs to explain why the rack was so high (such that the dome thermometer could pierce the foiled Ribs).  


Deflectors were in the HIGHEST position and then the pizza stone was 3.5" above the deflectors on the grill expander rack.

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1 hour ago, len440 said:

MAybe all of the above . Not familiar with the slo roller . But i would look at the charcoal I use rockwood and it doesn't get as hot as royal oak anad it does take me longer than 25 min to get hot for pizza 


Maybe it is as simple as not giving the Lump enough time, but the coals were already roaring hot from the steak cook, so when I added fresh lump, I had assumed the temp would rocket up.


I think when I get home from work today, I will clean the dome thermometer and re-test it in boiling water to make sure I did not damage it.

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I had several bags of Dragon's Breath that would not get over 500 degrees. It was also very slow to get up to that temperature.


It took me quite a while to figure out that it was the charcoal that was the problem and not something else.


I was never so glad to see the end of something as I was that charcoal.

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So, I am about 99% sure it’s the lump.  I am 45 minutes into an attempt to do high temp pizza and I cleaned the grill before hand removed all the lump, cleaned the firebox and made sure I had good airflow.  I put the biggest lump on the bottom of the charcoal basket and the smaller ones on top.


I started the fire using 3 KJ firestarters to ensure i had good coverage.  I lit the charcoal top open for about 10 minutes and closed with both vents fully open.  I am 45 minutes in and the temp is just under 400.  When I was using KJ big block I was up over 500 after 20-25 minutes.

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You will find that using the extender rack will interfere with the dome temp probe, if you cook anything with any height to it. I would recommend getting external temp probe setup and just remove and plug the temp probe, when you use the extender rack. I agree it's most likely the lump is the cause for not getting the temps as high as you want.

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17 minutes ago, retfr8flyr said:

You will find that using the extender rack will interfere with the dome temp probe, if you cook anything with any height to it. I would recommend getting external temp probe setup and just remove and plug the temp probe, when you use the extender rack. I agree it's most likely the lump is the cause for not getting the temps as high as you want.

I was thinking that as well, only I am pretty confident the temp was reading correctly.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the temp over 575.  I was still able to do the pizzas but had to keep them on much longer than my usual 90-120 seconds.

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