Ever since I managed to discover the dome vent method for temperature regulation during long smoking sessions, I've regained new interest in my kettles. I bring my blue one flowers daily.
I've gone one step further with my new mod. With the temperature regulation handily taken care of, I now wanted it to be easier to stop and start for my indirect sessions. When the lump charcoal is loaded on one side, it works fine, but to stop and restart, one has to re-stack the fuel, get messy and light it again. With a chimney inserted in the kettle, the fuel could dispense itself perfectly and the burned stuff just falls out. But, could the chimney be placed right inside the kettle? With a little cutting, no problem.
I lost a bit of cooking surface, a tad less than with normal indirect, but gained ease of operation. I stack in the fuel, ignite it, let it rip ... tonight I did a chicken (with mesquite and maple) at 330-deg-F for 1.5 hours ... close the vents and finish. The remaining fuel is still loaded and ready to go for the next session. No re-stacking the fuel, just toss another piece of paper in and light it and ready to go in about 10 minutes (tonight's fired up in about 5-10 minutes, 1 match). This chicken was prepared while we ate dinner. After it was done, I wrapped it up to contain the smoky goodness and it's ready for dinner tomorrow.
Been hanging out on the Weber Bullet forums the past day asking about dome vent temp control and realized I made a huge mistake. Or, I conducted a method prone to overheating. The setup should remain the same. However, the chimney should not be lit from the bottom. This will quickly ignite ALL of the fuel making for one vicious mound of heat. Using something called the minion method, I should have lit a few pieces of fuel and placed them on top of the fuel. And the fuel should contain several pieces of smoke wood in the pile. Then, as the lit coals proceed to ignite fuel below them the burn will commence in a slower manner than all the fuel ignited at once.
The chicken was still killer but the heat source was hard to control. Can't wait for another run. Same set up, just minion method and I'm there. May even be able to keep the top vent open if the fuel burns slower. Keep you posted on further developments.