Originally Posted by jamus34
1) It took almost 3 hours before I started getting the "thin blue". Is this normal? Sucks losing that much charcoal time waiting for the smoker to come up to operating specs.
Also, there doesn't seem to be an easy way to reach the lower grate...I need to get some bricks to rest the upper grate on when probing / temping the lower grate.
Did you have water in the bowl? Reason I ask is that water coupled with high charcoal consumption => steam from the lid vent. I wonder if that's what you were seeing. One way to tell is that steam will dissipate within a few feet of the cooker (as the droplets evaporate) while smoke will mix with air and dilute but still be visible.
I had difficulty with temperature control on my 18.5 at first so I put a bead of high temp silicone on the lower edge of the mid section.
This made all the difference in being able to control temperature. Prior to that I could close all bottom vents and temperature would hold steady or drop slowly.
If you had more than one bottom vent open (or equivalent between the three) you probably had too much air. I haven't done a low 'n slow yet on my 22.5 but on my 18.5 I usually run with half of one bottom vent or less unless I'm shooting for more than 250°F.
I usually put stuff on the top rack that will finish first so I don't need to mess with stuff on the bottom rack until the top rack is out of the way.
Lastly, getting the most out of your WSM could take some practice. "You didn't think it was gonna be that easy, did you?"