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Unread 12-27-2009, 08:35 AM   #1
QansasjayhawQ
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Question Large WSM Runaway Temps

Hi there everyone!

I am VERY grateful that my wife gave me a large WSM for Christmas - along with some other cool BBQ stuff.

I fired the WSM up for the first time yesterday to season the grills and to see how it would behave, temperature wise.

I used the Minion method - but with no wood chunks. I was using briquettes and after building my mound of briquettes with the 'bowl' in the top, I lit ten briquettes in my charcoal chimney and once they were lit, I poured them into the bowl. I started with all three bottom vents open about 25% and the top vent open 100% I used no water in the water pan. since I was not actually risking any meat with this trial run (which turned out to be a good thing).

Things started out nice and seemed to be going well as the temperatures started to climb. The only time I had the lid off was right after I started the fire while I was placing the greased up grills in the pit. The entire rest of the time, it stayed closed.

Once the temperatures reached 275F as shown on the built in thermometer, I shut the three bottom air intakes down all the way - well, as all the way as they would go. Even closed all the way, there's still a tiny bit of an opening.

At 300F I tried closing down the top vent half way. The temperatures still kept rising. I closed the top vent all the way. The temperatures climbed to 375F with everything shut down. The cooker maintained 375F for several hours (five or so?) with all air intakes and the top vent shut completely down before they started slowly dropping. 8 hours later, it was finally down to 275F - it was running this hot even with all vents closed!

I am thinking of bending the 'stops' on the air intake wheels so that the air intakes close completely instead of leaving that tiny gap . . . but I don't want to start making mods without checking to see if anyone else had this kind of experience.

It also seems that there is a gap around the access door - once again, it's a very tiny gap, but it's definitely a gap. Like 1/16th of an inch of deflection.

Also, there was a steady wind at about 20mph sustained blowing on it and the ambient air temps were generally in the 20-30F range. I thought it might run a bit cool since it has such a large surface area to lose heat through but it seems that the wind along with the tiny gaps may have stoked the fire.

Anyway - I was wondering if anyone has had a similar experience with the large WSM and if there are any recommended modifications for this cooker.

Thanks in advance!
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Unread 12-27-2009, 08:46 AM   #2
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I'm basing this on experience with the smaller WSM, but I don' think the big boy would be that difference. With even a tiny gap at the bottom vents and the top closed your fire should have starved or at least died down. It sounds like you have another source of air getting in. How is the fit between the middle section and the bowl? With the smaller WSMs the middle section has been out of round when received. Also, check the fit on the access door to see if air could be getting in there.
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Unread 12-27-2009, 09:37 AM   #3
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I agree with RonL.
Also, when firing up a WSM you want to catch the temp before it gets to your target. If I plan on cooking at 250, start closing vents at 200.

Another thing, I have a heckuva time ever getting my WSMs much over 300. I have to really want a hot WSM. In other words, mine don't get there without help. How accurate is the stock thermometer? Did you verify temps with a different thermo?

Just some things to consider.
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Unread 12-27-2009, 09:55 AM   #4
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Your 1/16" air gap in the access door is probably your main culprit. I don't own one so all I have to go on is YOUR discription. Most of our cookers must be pretty much air tight execpt for the intakes and exhaust. Also the areas where the pieces parts fit together. Tighten-er up and I think you will be good to go.....

JMHO..........

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Unread 12-27-2009, 10:01 AM   #5
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I wouldn't make any modifications to anything until it's been properly seasoned and some meat cooked on it. The WSM will become easier to control as it gets used.

Check everything that's been suggested so far and then cook some meat. Also try using few briquettes to start, that might make it easier to control the heat.
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Unread 12-27-2009, 10:08 AM   #6
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I found on my brand new one that the charcoal grate causes one of the vents to open up just a bit because it sits on one of the vent tabs.

Check that out and adjust as necessary.
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Unread 12-27-2009, 11:06 AM   #7
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A new WSM will have air gaps at the bottom and top of the middle body ring. After you use the smoker a few time it will seal much better. Once you got the WSM hot it became a chimney and the hot air continued to rise and draw air from the bottom. With the outside temps at 25 and the inside WSM temps at 375 you have created a nice draft that was hard to stop. You will find out the WSM reacts to out side temps. I love my WSM an so will you. Don't be discouraged, keep on smoke'n.
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Unread 12-27-2009, 12:39 PM   #8
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Thanks a bunch everybody! I sure appreciate the help.

Notley's absolutely right - the tiny gap that remains when the vents are closed down is because the tab that keeps the air intake covers from rotating all the way around are bumping into the fire grate. I will adjust those out a bit so that they don't bump into it and see if that reduces those tiny gaps.

Thanks again!
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Unread 12-27-2009, 12:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QansasjayhawQ View Post
Thanks a bunch everybody! I sure appreciate the help.

Notley's absolutely right - the tiny gap that remains when the vents are closed down is because the tab that keeps the air intake covers from rotating all the way around are bumping into the fire grate. I will adjust those out a bit so that they don't bump into it and see if that reduces those tiny gaps.


Thanks again!
I snapped the interfering tabs off prior to first cook. I recommend this non invasive mod.

Cook a few times before changing anything drastic.

Use some straps or carefully placed bungees for a few cooks to coax the door in to shape.

Try water in the pan. (I don't use it, but it makes a large difference)

Test the dome therm versus a grate level probe. There is variance between bottom grate, top grate, and dome temp.
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Unread 12-27-2009, 01:03 PM   #10
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I would also add that a new wsm will run a touch hotter because the heat will radiate better since the metal is so clean. That will change, like the others on here said after a few cooks. Also virtual weber web site is a great source for info. Good luck, your experiences will get better with a little more use.
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Unread 12-27-2009, 01:22 PM   #11
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Any chance that it is out of round?
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