The Gator Pit BBQ Forum

The BBQ Pit Owners Guide => Pit Maintenance => Topic started by: Phydeaux on August 20, 2013, 12:59:36 PM

Title: My new Gator Pit experience
Post by: Phydeaux on August 20, 2013, 12:59:36 PM
I picked up my new pit at Ritch's place, after a very looooong wait, when I  got it home I tried to follow the advice I had found on this forum for the first, seasoning, burn. I scrubbed it inside and out with hot soapy water, let it dry then applied peanut oil to the inside and out (don't worry about the inside of the fire box that is spinng your wheels. I then proceeded to lay a fire in what I thought was the proper way {uhhu]3 thinking was my primary mistake. First error was using  the Royal Oak lump charcoal I had on hand, bad stuff, many of the pieces were so small they wouldn't stay on the fire grate and they all looked like scraps from a saw mill that were salvaged by turning them into charcoal. I used a whole bag and couldn't get a decent bed of coals established :pissed:.
Second error was to add splits of oak and pecan with an inadequate coal bed  [Nono}*^&, I had to keep fiddling with the fire to keep it going and kept adding wood until I finally got the necessary coal bed. By that time I had used up so much wood I didn't have enough left on hand to produce a decent burn time besides I had already spent over 4 hours, of almost constant attention, on this task and it was getting late but I did have a good bed of coals T-up. Over the next 3 hours I added the remainder of my wood in increasing amounts trying to get the temp over 200 degrees :( and there is my third error.
Third error was to believe the nice looking thermometer screwed into the lid of my pit {uhhu]3 it never got over 225 degrees and proper seasoning requires higher temps.

I gave up and went to bed.

The next day I emailed Ritch detailing my problems, went to purchase more wood and charcoal, and spent several hours reading almost every post in this forum that had to do with fire starting and fire maintenance.  I intended to post a HELP request on the forum but was unable to register, as you can see that problem has been resolved.

Now lets talk about my very different second burn: The charcoal I purchased was B & B lump, I found it at academy, it is a totally different product than the never again Royal Oak.  It consisted of identifiable sections of tree branches in nicely sized pieces, about the size of the wood chunks used to add to charcoal fires as a source of wood smoke. BTW  I learned about B & B from Konrad Haskins, The BBQ Institute, during a cooking class at Ritch's facility. I used about 1/3 bag as a fire starter, it all stayed on the grate, once the charcoal was all glowing nice and red I added 3 splits of wood, mesquite this time. The wood almost instantly started burning, I made sure the air vents and stacks were wide open and closed the fire box door. About 45 mins later I checked the fire and temp. The fire was burning as it should; however, I was disappointed to see the door thermometer only registered 175. This time I had an ace in the hole, I was also using this burn to tune the pit so I had placed 5 oven thermometers inside the cooking chamber when I checked them I found that the initial tuning plate settings I had gotten from this forum were spot on, all 5 thermometers were within a 10 degree span and all 5 thermometers registered approximately 50 degrees higher temp than the one in the lid oojj, learning experience never never trust the thermometer screwed into the lid no matter how pretty they are.

So there you have it a tale of two burns I would recommend you try the second.
Title: Re: My new Gator Pit experience
Post by: finest_kind on August 21, 2013, 10:30:56 AM
You need to calibrate the lid thermometer. Mine was also out of calibration when I received my pit. Pull the thermometer using a wrench on the hex-nut back. Do not turn the thermometer using the dial. Immerse the stem into boiling water. Adjust the needle (using the screw on the back of the thermometer) to read 212 degrees. Re-immerse the thermometer several time to insure correct reading. Re-install the thermometer and tighten using the hex-nut on the back to tighten.

Good cooking! 
Title: Re: My new Gator Pit experience
Post by: Phydeaux on August 21, 2013, 05:24:09 PM
Thanks for the tip Finest. Didn't realize that was possible. Already added to my To Do List.
Title: Re: My new Gator Pit experience
Post by: gulfcoastcoog on August 24, 2013, 06:14:38 PM
How in the world do you get it off? Mine is on there so tight I about twisted by arm off and it didn't budge a nanometer.

Title: Re: My new Gator Pit experience
Post by: finest_kind on August 25, 2013, 12:05:08 AM
I believe it is a 3/4" hex nut on the dial. Righty tighty - lefty loosy. You might need leverage :stomp: (lengthen the wrench by slipping some pipe over the end) but it should come off. And sure as heck don't put it back on tight cuz you'll want to check calibration periodically (once a year?)