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Just bought a KJ Classic 3 and fired it up this morning to get a little experience but after 2 hours and all vents wide open could only get it up to 300 degrees. I’m thinking I just didn’t have enough charcoal as I only put charcoal and one side (using the divider) and probably half full, so about 1/4 full in total. Any suggestions welcome including what you use to get a strong fire started! Going to try a pork loin tonight so plan to take out the divider and fill the basket about half full this time. Thanks in advance!

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Why are you only filling things 1/2 full. Remove the divider and fill the basket full. When your done cooking shut the vents. The fire should snuff out saving the unused lump. The next day you should have plenty of lump left in the basket to do another cook. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am still a rookie myself. Like you, I had a hard time holding temp on just a two hour cook (3 hours if you include warm up) when I first started with my new KJCIII a few weeks back.  My vents were nearly wide open at the end of the cook because I didn't have enough charcoal in at the beginning. 


Now, I am putting some fresh lump in the middle of an empty basket and then dump some left over charcoal from previous cooks around the fresh charcoal.  Nestle a couple of fire starters in and light it.  My temps hold well over the cook duration now and the fire snuffs out quite efficiently when I am done cooking.  This seems to be working well for me so far and there is no wasted charcoal in the end.

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I had trouble getting temperature when I started. I also used a chimney back then. 

Now, I fill the lump and make an air path to the grate and place a starter on the grate. Sometimes I bridge high over the middle to get an even start.

For a hot fire I leave it for around 10 minutes, so it's burning very well. Then close it the lid and choke the vents down, depending on your target temperature, maybe twice as wide as target vent setting. If I am going for low and slow I close the lid as soon as the starter is out, and the fire is established and choke way back to nearly the target temp setting. 

Even for maximum temp I would not leave it wide open (W. F. O.). When I struggled to get high temps I had this sage advice from an old friend, "you need to establish the venturi effect". After that I choked it down and realized higher temps. Less is more, so to speak? 

Good Luck! 

You will get the hang of it, no worries! 

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My divider stays in most of the time. I can still get high temperatures.


For the next cook, I put new lump on top of the leftover from the last cook after I use the ash tool to move the leftover around to get the ash out.


As always YMMV but don't over think it in my opinion.

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