Question asked by a Gator customer that I thought many of my newer customers will find helpful. He inquired about tuning his 24" x 96" offset Gator Pit. Big Gator. Here is my response to his question on HOW TO and then his response after my direction on "tuning" his large commercial Gator:
Customer: I've been playing with the tuning plates and can't seem to get it right. Need some advice.
Ritch: On Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 6:55 AM, <firstname.lastname@example.org
Firebox end to stack end: First plate can be completely closed or at most ¼ spacing. That is the hottest side being the heat transferring from firebox into the food chamber. The next spacing may be a ¼ to ¾ spacing. Going on down, the same. The next to last plate and last plate 1 space. Get heat rising there between plates before exiting stack. Need to tune the cooker with ZERO meat inside. You work the plates to even out empty. NO MEAT. If even or very close to even, then you are set. Once you TUNE with no meat inside, you are now going to cook more even when you put inside. When you first put cold or even room temperature meat in, the gauges will fall and more so where the meat is closest to the gauges. Like dumping a bag of ice on a fire. It will cool, but then heat back up once the ice melts and water evaporates or starts to boil. If you Tuned the pit evenly before meat went on, then as the meat heats, cooks, the temperature gauges will reflect that even temperature. You will notice the gauges rising and starting to catch up with each other. Give it time, if you are filling up with a lot of cold meat. This is why I run my cooker up to 275 degrees and then put my meat on. I know that cold meat will drop the temps down and usually to 250 degrees and then I maintain that cooking temperature. Makes it a lot easier to drop to your desired cook temp vs working your way up to it. BUT, TUNE EMPTY. NO MEAT. Otherwise, you are getting false readings.
Customer: Thank you Ritch! Very informative and smoker is running even temps.