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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 05-03-2011, 01:31 AM   #1
JMSetzler
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Default WSM Dry Run with Pics and Questions

I finally had a day off so I unboxed my new WSM 18" and put it all together. It took about 15 minutes to put it together and went without a hitch. It was packaged very nicely and came with a cover in the bottom of the box. I decided to fire it up and see how well it worked and maintained temperature.



I loaded up some charcoal with the intent of using the Minion method to create a long burn.



I let the charcoal burn in the chimney for about 15 minutes before I dumped it in.



I put it all together and then dropped my Masterforge digital thermometer probe through the top vent hole so I could monitor the temps with a digital thermometer as well as the onboard Weber temp gage. I also put a gallon of water in the water pan.



The smoker came up to temp in 10 or 15 minutes, and the Weber temp gage stayed fairly close to my digital probe. The Probe was reading 10 degrees or so higher than the Weber gage but they were right on with each other at various stages in my test today.



I knew I was gonna be hanging out for a long time so I poured myself a small glass of homebrewed American Amber Ale to help me whittle away the time...



Shortly thereafter, I decided to have a homebrewed Oktoberfest. The time passed much more easily :)



Several hours into the test I decided I might as well toss something on the grill for dinner, so I fried up some bacon to put in a macaroni and cheese dish that I figured I'd toss on the smoker...



Here's the mac and cheese ready go to on the smoker at about 225 for an hour or so...



And here's the finished product :) It was tasty...

The data I collected on time/temperature is as follows:

1:50PM - 225 degrees
1:55PM - 250 degrees
2:00PM - 255 degrees
2:05PM - 253 degrees
2:15PM - 258 degrees
2:20PM - 262 degrees (closed the vents down a little at this point)
2:40PM - 252 degrees
3:00PM - 258 degrees
3:10PM - 258 degrees
3:25PM - 253 degrees
3:45PM - 256 degrees
4:15PM - 262 degrees
4:25PM - 268 degrees (shut the vents down a little more here)
4:30PM - 252 degrees
4:45PM - 235 degrees
5:00PM - 222 degrees (opened the vents back up a little)
5:15PM - 224 degrees
5:35PM - 225 degrees (left to go to the grocery store here)
7:35PM - 206 degrees (opened vents back up a little more here)
7:50PM - 235 degrees
8:10PM - 238 degrees
8:35PM - 232 degrees
8:50PM - 225 degrees
9:00PM - 225 degrees
9:35PM - 238 degrees
10:00PM - 232 degrees
10:20PM - 227 degrees
10:35PM - 226 degrees
10:50PM - 224 degrees



Here's what was left in the charcoal grate after 9 hours of operation. Based on what I see here I probably could have gone for another couple hours maybe?

The questions I have after today's dry run are as follows:

#1 - What's the best way to run a digital temperature probe into the WSM? I ran mine through the top vent holes.

#2 - What's the best way to add charcoal when needed for a very long cook? Should the charcoal be added cold or already burning? What's the best way to put it in the bin through the door without stirring up a bunch of ash?

#3 - What's the best way to add water through the door? I'm imagining that I might need some sort of watering can with a long spout on it to get it in there and not allow water to get into the charcoal...

I gotta find the answer to the last two pretty soon... I have been volunteered to cook a brisket for Mother's Day... :)

Cheers and thanks for reading :)




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Unread 05-03-2011, 01:53 AM   #2
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1. I run the probes for my BBQ Guru thru a couple of grommets that replace bolts in the grill supports.
2. I only run lump packed tightly and get burn times of 10+ hrs without adding and lump. When doing butts on 12+ hr cooks, I usually add it cold using long tongs to place. I have also added it prelit with no discernible difference.
3. Lots of opinions on using water both for and against. When I use water, I usually don't have to add any as I use a Brinkman charcoal pan that holds more than the stock WSM pan. I have used a watering can with a long narrow spout to top up the water pan when it has run low on a couple of 15+ hr smokes.
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Unread 05-03-2011, 08:22 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMSetzler View Post
#1 - What's the best way to run a digital temperature probe into the WSM? I ran mine through the top vent holes.
Few choices. You can also just run the wires under the lid. You can drill and add your own grommet. Personally, I use the sensor grommets available from Rock's BBQ. They replace the screws used to hold the top grate. You get two in the kit though you only need one grommet to run both the pit and meat probe:
https://www.rocksbarbque.com/Accessories.html




Quote:
Originally Posted by JMSetzler View Post
#2 - What's the best way to add charcoal when needed for a very long cook? Should the charcoal be added cold or already burning? What's the best way to put it in the bin through the door without stirring up a bunch of ash?
Personally I use the hot and fast method on briskys and butts, so I never have to add charcoal (as long as you start with an over-loaded carcoal ring). If you do have to add charcoal, there has always been a long debate about whether you need to add cold or burning charcoal. Some people swear they can taste the difference (especially when using briquettes vs lump), others say they can't.
I use lump and just use a pair of tongs to add lump through the access door, although it is a little time consuming. You could do the same thing with either cold or burning briquettes.
You milage on a full charcoal ring of briquettes will vary depending on many variables (wind, pit temp, ambient temp, air flow, etc.)
Be sure to keep a log so you can start tracking that type of info.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JMSetzler View Post
#3 - What's the best way to add water through the door? I'm imagining that I might need some sort of watering can with a long spout on it to get it in there and not allow water to get into the charcoal...
I use sand, so I don't have this issue. Back when I did use water I would just remove the lid and top rack and pour the water through bottom grate. Any time you remove the lid of a WSM you have to move fast, if you let too much air flow into your charocoal bed your temps can really run away from you, especially with lump. Try not to have the lid off for more than 20 seconds or so if you can help it. It's not the end of the world if your temps take off, just close down the bottom vents and be paitient. It's not like your food is going to explode if your pit temps get over 300 for a bit.
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Unread 05-03-2011, 08:28 AM   #4
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Welcome to the WSM! Love mine.

#1 I cut a small slot in the top of the front access door just deep enough to allow the wires to go through. I then hang the probe (in a block of wood) under the top cooking grate. That way my controller gets the reading right in-between the meats that are cooking.

#2 As to adding coals, I just open the front access door and use it like a chute. If it's possible I will remove the meat(s) before adding new coal.

#3 I don't use water anymore. I run a dry pan with just foil over the top for easy cleanup.

Russ
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Unread 05-03-2011, 11:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saiko View Post
Thanks for that tip (and the others as well). I ordered these tonight. That looks like a perfect solution. I'll just run my probes through the top air vent until these come in. It said 2-3 week delivery time but maybe they will show up sooner :)
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Unread 05-03-2011, 11:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMSetzler View Post
Thanks for that tip (and the others as well). I ordered these tonight. That looks like a perfect solution. I'll just run my probes through the top air vent until these come in. It said 2-3 week delivery time but maybe they will show up sooner :)
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Unread 05-03-2011, 11:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by NorthwestBBQ View Post
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Unread 05-05-2011, 03:14 PM   #8
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Welcome to the WSM club.

#1 - What you did was the best way (IMHO)
#2 - I mostly use wood chunks and I add them with long metal tongs through the access door
#3 - I never use water. Foil the water pan and let her run.
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Unread 05-05-2011, 06:24 PM   #9
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Dang it people...I opened this thread and now I have to save my pennies to buy another accessory/tool. You guys are killing my wallet with all your new-fangled ideas. LOL
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Unread 05-05-2011, 07:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saiko View Post
Few choices. You can also just run the wires under the lid. You can drill and add your own grommet. Personally, I use the sensor grommets available from Rock's BBQ. They replace the screws used to hold the top grate. You get two in the kit though you only need one grommet to run both the pit and meat probe:
https://www.rocksbarbque.com/Accessories.html





Personally I use the hot and fast method on briskys and butts, so I never have to add charcoal (as long as you start with an over-loaded carcoal ring). If you do have to add charcoal, there has always been a long debate about whether you need to add cold or burning charcoal. Some people swear they can taste the difference (especially when using briquettes vs lump), others say they can't.
I use lump and just use a pair of tongs to add lump through the access door, although it is a little time consuming. You could do the same thing with either cold or burning briquettes.
You milage on a full charcoal ring of briquettes will vary depending on many variables (wind, pit temp, ambient temp, air flow, etc.)
Be sure to keep a log so you can start tracking that type of info.



I use sand, so I don't have this issue. Back when I did use water I would just remove the lid and top rack and pour the water through bottom grate. Any time you remove the lid of a WSM you have to move fast, if you let too much air flow into your charocoal bed your temps can really run away from you, especially with lump. Try not to have the lid off for more than 20 seconds or so if you can help it. It's not the end of the world if your temps take off, just close down the bottom vents and be paitient. It's not like your food is going to explode if your pit temps get over 300 for a bit.
Does Rocks offer a Brethren discount? I went and looked at the grommets, which I knew I needed, then saw a bunch of other stuff that I didn't know I needed!
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Unread 05-05-2011, 10:35 PM   #11
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Does Rocks offer a Brethren discount? I went and looked at the grommets, which I knew I needed, then saw a bunch of other stuff that I didn't know I needed!
I dunno... I didn't ask. The grommets were $10 with $5 shipping... It also estimated 2-3 weeks delivery time so I don't know how long it will take them to arrive. Hopefully not that long...
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Unread 05-05-2011, 10:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMSetzler View Post
#1 - What's the best way to run a digital temperature probe into the WSM? I ran mine through the top vent holes.
When I use temp probes I just ran them under the lid.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JMSetzler View Post
#2 - What's the best way to add charcoal when needed for a very long cook? Should the charcoal be added cold or already burning? What's the best way to put it in the bin through the door without stirring up a bunch of ash?
Use an old coal or fireplace shovel, and dump unlit in one shovel at a time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JMSetzler View Post
#3 - What's the best way to add water through the door? I'm imagining that I might need some sort of watering can with a long spout on it to get it in there and not allow water to get into the charcoal...
I have a piece of PVC pipe that I stick through the door on top of the bottom grate over the water pan and use left over 1 gallon plastic fruit punch bottles to dump water through the pipe into the water pan.

Hope that was helpful.
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Unread 05-05-2011, 11:01 PM   #13
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#1. I just put a piece of furnace tape over on the side where I wanted to drill a couple 1/8th " holes for my dual probe. Drilled the holes and everything works fine.

#2. I have a 22.5 with a Guru - never had to add. Longest burn: 15 hrs. Also use lump.

#3. Never added water either but when I first load, I use a long neck garden watering can through the top.
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Unread 05-05-2011, 11:04 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chambersuac View Post
Dang it people...I opened this thread and now I have to save my pennies to buy another accessory/tool. You guys are killing my wallet with all your new-fangled ideas. LOL
If you had a drill press, you could drill a hole down the center of the bolt you have you already have. Not easy though, because you need the bolt to be aligned exactly in line with the drill.
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Unread 05-05-2011, 11:05 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMSetzler View Post

The questions I have after today's dry run are as follows:

#1 - What's the best way to run a digital temperature probe into the WSM? I ran mine through the top vent holes.

#2 - What's the best way to add charcoal when needed for a very long cook? Should the charcoal be added cold or already burning? What's the best way to put it in the bin through the door without stirring up a bunch of ash?

#3 - What's the best way to add water through the door? I'm imagining that I might need some sort of watering can with a long spout on it to get it in there and not allow water to get into the charcoal...

I gotta find the answer to the last two pretty soon... I have been volunteered to cook a brisket for Mother's Day... :)
1) <Already resolved>

2) If needed I lift off the cylinder + meat + water (careful!!) and just deal with it. That includes stirring, adding new coal, etc. Do not want to kick up a buncha ash. Not good. Get some good tactile oven gloves and a pit stick to stir. Most time with good fuel you just need to stir things around a bit. If your temps are OK, just add unlit. If you are running low temps you may need to add a partial chimney.

3) I also upgraded to a larger pan. Used the Brinkman fire pan; not sure if that is still available. I currently use a stainless mixing bowl that is 2x the size of the original (note mine is about 5 years old now; not sure if they increased the water capacity). I like water though.
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Last edited by bmanMA; 05-05-2011 at 11:38 PM..
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