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Unread 08-06-2012, 11:25 AM   #1
bacchus99
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Default A couple issues/questions about the 18.5 WSM

I did an overnight cook on the WSM of two pork butts. Both came out great. Sunday I did ribs which also came out great. After using the WSM a few times i have a few questions.

1. It seems like it takes FOREVER to get the fire up to temp. I have been using the minion method with a full ring of charcoal and a coffee can in the middle. Light about a 3rd of a chimney and dump in coffee can and remove the can. I bury 4 chunks of wood in the unlit coals and place one on top the lit coals to get some smoke going. For the butts i ran a full water bowl. For the ribs i ran a half bowl. I'm thinking that the water is making the cooker take forever to come to temp? Also, it takes a good hour or so to get rid of the white billowing smoke. That doesn't seem right. Is everyone experiencing the same thing?

2. Maverick BBQ probe temps: Has anyone else noticed that the placement of food greatly affects the maverick pit temp probe. For example yesterday the maverick was reading about 230 or so while in the smoke part of the 3-2-1 method on the ribs. After about 2 hours i checked them and it was obvious looking at the bark that the cooker was running hotter. So went ahead and foiled and after that the maverick was reading like 290. I really think food placement affects the probe. Any words of wisdom here?
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Unread 08-06-2012, 11:37 AM   #2
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2 things... I'd use at least 1/2 a chimney. Also don't worry about the coffee can, and make sure those coals in the chimney are REALLY going before you tip it on the rest of the charcoal...

Also helps to fill with just a gallon of hot water, rather than cold water, or even use sand or a large clay saucer like some other do.

Doing this, I can hit 300 in 20mins and get nice clear smoke not long after that.

Can't help you with the Mav... sorry, I don't have one.

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Unread 08-06-2012, 11:51 AM   #3
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Using hot (boiling) water is the key. If your target temp is around 230 - 250 then 1/3 chimney is fine, but you'll get to temp much faster with hot water. If your target is higher then add more lit charcoal as Bill suggested.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 12:09 PM   #4
bacchus99
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Ok so more charcoal. I did use hot water from my tap.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 01:18 PM   #5
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just a bit more feedback... I personally only use the Minion method for long cooks ie the pork butt but not the ribs. This should partially get you around the issue at least for the rib cooks.

Usually I add the water based on the temp outside, hot days get cold water and cold days get hot water. For the Minion method, I use the same principle for the amount of charcoal so hot days get less charcoal than cold days. Vents should be fully opened for the Minion method as well if you don't already do that.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 04:39 PM   #6
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Any other ideas? What about the maverick probe...has anyone else noticed that food on the grate can make the bbq probe temp act up? For example i had 2 butts on the top grate with the probe in between them. One butt was done before the other so i removed it and the bbq temp instantly went up.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 04:58 PM   #7
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Run the pan dry and foil over the top of it. All the water dose is make you burn more fuel and keep you from getting a good smoking temp. Control your temps with the bottom and leave the High hat open. If you feel the need to put something in the pan put 2" of playground sand in the bottom and foil over the top.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 05:22 PM   #8
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I can tell you from experience the placement of the probe is very important to get a good reading. You don't want it on the edge because it will read a lot hotter then in the middle. Also if you meat is close or touching the probe it will effect it as well. I put mine in the middle of my grate and give it at least, and 1" of room

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Unread 08-06-2012, 05:53 PM   #9
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I've never been much into putting water into the bowl myself. It does create some moisture, but it doesn't impress me. I usually just run the bowl naked, covered in foil. Lots of people like sand.

You can also leave your bottom vents open, to speed up the heat. Just remember to pay attention to them, cause when it starts to shoot, it'll go fast. Then you close the vents down to achieve your target temp. As others have said, vent stays wide open on the lid at ALL times.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 06:52 PM   #10
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I like to let mine get going for an hour or so before putting the meat on anyway... It lets me get to the thin blue smoke...
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Unread 08-06-2012, 08:51 PM   #11
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I'm gonna try the clay pot base next cook. Good to hear someone else has seen the probe issue. Its definitely there. I almost want to trust the dome gauge over the digital but that's no good for overnight cooks. Need the alarm to wake me up if temps get stupid.

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Unread 08-07-2012, 11:33 AM   #12
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I don't use water. I use a foiled clay flower pot base in the foiled water pan (I actually use a Brinkmann charcoal pan, the 2009, 18 1/2" WSM water pan is way too deep).

Proper pit probe placement is hard. It needs to be as close to the center of the grate as possible and as far away from the meat as possible.

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Unread 08-07-2012, 12:19 PM   #13
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I dont use water either, just a huge mess to clean up when you are done. I wrap a flower pot on foil an put it in the stock pan. I only do about 1/3 of a chimney also, but I have not problems getting to temp fast. Run the air vents wide open until you get close to temp.

Honestly, there is not reason to use water unless you like cleaning the big mess at the end. Flower pot base mod is the way to go. Food ends up exactly the same and everything works better.

On the probe thing, I put my stoker probe on about the 3rd row from the handle facing the middle, and I usually have two pieces of meat on either side of that middle.
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