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Old 04-18-2010, 08:26 PM   #1
Found some matches.
Join Date: 01-11-10
Location: Kansas City, KS
Default Help - Temp Control Problems on a WSM (Yes it is possible)

So being a newbie to BBQ, i decided to get the "easiest' non electric smoker to control. The WSM! However, somehow I'm defying the odds and can't seem to get the hang of this thing. No matter what I do, it's running too cool.

I'm starting off w/ mostly short cooking meats (ribs, chicken) and the target for most of the recipes I have found are right around 275. I've done 4 cooks over the last month and I can't get the temp to steadily remain over 220. Below is what I'm doing. Any advice is appreciated since it seems like I must be missing something fundamental.

Outdoor temp: between 50 - 70 deg F.

Wind: Might have been an issue the first few times, but moved smoker to another location and it didn't fix the issue

Start method: Have tried minion method and also just tried filling a chimney starter full and dropping it in w/o the unlit coals. Temp seems to be about the same either way, but the fire doesn't last as long w/o the unlit coals.

Fuel type: First BBQ was w/ lump charcoal, but moved to Kingsford

Fuel amount: I've been experimenting here, but haven't had much luck. At first I thought the more coal the better and would fill up the coal ring-thingy (that's the official term, right?), but the volume seemed to restrict airflow. However, when I put in less the temp didn't really seem to get any higher.

Water pan: I have played w/ this a bit, but usually fill it w/ water about 1/4 - 1/2 full.

Vents: Full open the entire time and still the fire won't get up there...

Timeline of events:
  1. Setup charcoal using minion method
  2. Wait about 20m for the coals in the chimney to get super hot
  3. Dump 'em, build smoker, add water
  4. Get excited because the temp immediately shoots up to 350+degrees
  5. Wait a few minutes and throw the meat on
  6. Watch despondently as the temperature slowly drops to about 220 no matter what I do. Usually hits 220 or lower within 20-30 minutes. Sometimes it drops as low as 185.

Also, thinking the thermometer may be broken, I got out a digital reader and measured various parts of the smoker. The coals are so friggin hot it maxes out the temp (400+), the top grate is about 220, and the temp on the lid is about 230. I figure it's normal for the coals to be that hot, but what I can't figure out is how I lose 200+ degrees in 2 ft.

Help please.
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