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Unread 10-30-2011, 08:15 AM   #1
cere19
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Default Need suggestions, low temps in WSM

Quick background I've been smoking for about a year with a Char Griller Smoking Pro that I moded out (Sealed firebox cover, sealed main chamber cover, charcoal basket). I bought a WSM 18.5 because from what I've read WSM require less baby sitting than my Char Griller. and this is my second cook with it. I started last night about midnight with a 3/4 full chimney lit and the rest of the charcoal ring filled with non lit to use the minion method. I've always used Royal Oak Briquettes and never had a problem with them. Water pan filled with Hot water and it was low 40's high 30's during the cook.

My problem is that my temps struggled to get to 225 all night long on my Maverick ET-732 which I know is accurate. I've read in other peoples posts that they run their WSM top vent open and only need 1 bottom vent 1/2 open and they have good temps. My problem is last night I had the top vent wide open and all 3 bottom vents wide open and still struggled to get higher temps. At most there was a slight breeze which shouldn't of required the use of the wind break. In both my smokes so far in my new WSM I have trouble getting the higher temps and after 6-7 hours my temps start to drop. I packed the charcoal ring full when I'm setting up. Right now I just moved my 5 lb brisket and 5 lb pork shoulder to the oven so I can get some sleep and a nice constant temp.

My question is what am I doing wrong that I'm not getting the 225-250 temps in the WSM like everyone talks about. Is it because I'm using Royal Oak Briquettes? I know a lot of people use lump but I haven't ventured that way yet. Others talk about using sand in the water pan. I appreciate all suggestions, I'm pretty dumbfounded right now with all that I read about the WSM before I bought it and the troubles of getting nice long consistent 225-250 temps.
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Unread 10-30-2011, 08:29 AM   #2
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I have a 22 WSM and have not had a problem getting up to temp. They do say it takes 5 or 6 cooks to get them seasoned good for more stable temps. I haven't ran my WSM without the Guru so as for the steady temps without I can't help. I have always used KB. I did do my first cook with water in the pan. That takes a little more tending to. If it runs out temps will spike. I now use sand in the water pan covered in foil. Works great. Keep at it. You will get it mastered.
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Unread 10-30-2011, 08:40 AM   #3
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my issue isn't steady temps - it will hold steady


I had to get through the mental block and close down the top vent 50% Holding at 250 now (was able to get it down to 225, but wasn't sure if I was putting out the coals so I opened a second bottom vent to 25%)


As for cere19, I'll ket others respond, since the only reasons I've heard a wsm wouldn't get to temp was using cold water and blocked, but you are using hot water.
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Unread 10-30-2011, 08:51 AM   #4
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Was your charcoal damp? Seems odd you couldn't get up to temp with all vents wide open. You might want to do a dry run(no meat) to observe your temperatures. You can crack the door open to allow more air in to get you up to temp. Are you starting with all vents open?
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Unread 10-30-2011, 11:28 AM   #5
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This is how I do it.

Load the charcoal ring with Blue bag Kingsford, fire it off with a weed burner until the top layer of briqs ash over on the edges- all vents open 100%

Assemble the WSM, Top vent open 100%, position the bowl so one vent is facing the front of the cooker, dry waterpan foiled over. Let temps rise to 250*

Load meats on rack(s) expect the temps to drop - don't freak out! When temps rise to 212-225* close the 2 vents and in no time it will settle in @ 225-250*. Any temp issues use the front vent to control the intake. Mine usually is open 75-100% depending on the conditions.

Do the "door prop mod" and you'll never have to worry about temp issues.

I'm thinking you didn't have enough airflow through the charcoal since you said you packed it in the ring.
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Unread 10-30-2011, 02:49 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=Cris;1834172]Was your charcoal damp?

I have agree with this usually with a new wsm they run hot. Damp charcoal.
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Unread 10-30-2011, 03:18 PM   #7
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Yep.^^^ If I had to guess I'd say the issue was damp charcoal.

I don't recommend Royal Oak briquettes, unless it's the big Chef Select briqs available through doitbest.com. Regular RO briqs seem to burn a little slower and don't last as long as K or Stubbs, which is a pretty low ash charcoal you might try if you can get it. I wouldn't mess with the lump if it was me, since it just doesn't last as long, no matter how much I pack it in.

You're often gonna have some issues getting up to temp simply because of your climate. However, you don't have to totally abandon water in the pan like so many guys do up north. Lighting with a weedburning torch will make it faster to get up to temp, for one thing. Also, I like to use a tea kettle for boiling one of the two gallons of hot water I use for long cooks. For short cooks I'll only start with about one gallon of boiling water. Nothing wrong with cooking hotter and skipping the water, though. You might decide you'd rather smoke most things in the 250-275* range, anyway. As for what I can consistantly maintain in my 18.5" cooker: 250* with water, and 275* is tops without water... unless I crack the door.
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Unread 10-30-2011, 03:25 PM   #8
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I have an 18.5 WSM I use the water pan when I start out then that's it. I use blue Kingsford and have not had a problem.............
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Unread 10-30-2011, 03:59 PM   #9
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i've used ro briq in my wsm with no issues. actually had 1 vent open less than half open to get and maintain 250. do not over adjust/micro manage the temps. any adjustments should be very small ones. yes, a breeze can be a problem especially at that temp.
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Unread 10-30-2011, 04:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbshop View Post
i've used ro briq in my wsm with no issues. actually had 1 vent open less than half open to get and maintain 250. do not over adjust/micro manage the temps. any adjustments should be very small ones. yes, a breeze can be a problem especially at that temp.
Some cookers are leakier than others and run hotter... especially if they don't have water in the pan.
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