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Unread 02-16-2013, 11:51 AM   #1
CPMatthew
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Angry Can't get the temps up on my mini WSM

So, I have about a 5 pound picnic shoulder I was going to smoke up for pulled pork to have around, having depleted my freezer stocks from the fall. As it is only one 5 pound shoulder, I figured the mini-WSM would be ideal. I loaded up the bottom with lump charcoal (wicked good weekend warrior blend) and hickory chunks and lit a couple weber starter cubes in there and let it come up to temp. It seemed to want to settle around 240, so I let it go for a while and then put the meat on. The temp immediately dropped to 200, ok fine. Trouble is, an hour later it is still sitting at 200 with the top and bottom vents wide open.

So, what would you do? Scrap the cook and move it to the over? Take the WSM apart and let the fire build up? Add fuel?

I'm measuring the temp with a redi-chek dual probe with the probe clipped under the center of the grate just below the shoulder.

Thanks.
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Last edited by CPMatthew; 02-16-2013 at 11:54 AM.. Reason: Added detail
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Unread 02-16-2013, 11:59 AM   #2
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I wouldn't scrap the cook just yet. Putting 5# of cold meat in there is gonna have a huge effect on the temp of a cooker of that size, and it'll take a while for the cooker to get to temp. Do you have any kind of heat deflector in there? If so, I'd ditch it for now. If not, maybe fire up a little lump in the chimney and throw it on in there. But I hear ya, I wouldn't want the cooker temp staying at 200 for very long either for the obvious health reasons, along with the fact that it'll never get done.

Also - I've learned to never fully trust therms. Put your hand over the exhaust and see how warm/hot that is.
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Unread 02-16-2013, 12:00 PM   #3
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I don't have a mini, but I vote for more fuel.
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Unread 02-16-2013, 12:01 PM   #4
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I have a small water bowl in there. I'll pull it. Thanks.

Yep, that did it. I think the water bowl I have been using is too big, it is barely smaller than the tamale pot. I guess I will find a smaller one.
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Unread 02-16-2013, 12:02 PM   #5
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I also agree that the mass of the meat is holding temps down in the small cooker for the moment.
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Unread 02-16-2013, 12:06 PM   #6
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Never thought there'd be a water pan in a mini.
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Unread 02-16-2013, 12:06 PM   #7
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i don't use a water pan in my mini. just adds to the thermal mass in a small chamber. not needed IMHO.

and once you figure out your mini, it is the shizzle!
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Unread 02-16-2013, 12:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CPMatthew View Post
I have a small water bowl in there. I'll pull it. Thanks.

Yep, that did it. I think the water bowl I have been using is too big, it is barely smaller than the tamale pot. I guess I will find a smaller one.
Great! Now, watch how this cook goes - you may like it better without a water pan.
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Unread 02-16-2013, 12:22 PM   #9
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Definitely agree with pulling the water pan or at least dumping the water if you are using it as your defuser. Not sure what your weather is like, but my mini doesn't like to play nice on windy days. Mine is built on a SJ Gold, so the Silvers may not be affected the same way. Something to consider.
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Unread 02-16-2013, 12:30 PM   #10
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In the mini you do not need to use a water pan. The mini will hold temps without issue just by adjusting the bottom vents.

I'm not sure if you cut the bottom of the tamale pot out or if you just drilled the holes. If you drilled the holes, the bottom already acts as a difuser. If you cut the bottom out, you can use the steamer insert that came with the pot as the difuser.

In my mini with the bottom cut out w/ the steamer insert as a difuser. I can maintain temps from as low as 230 and as high as 350+
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Unread 02-16-2013, 12:31 PM   #11
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I run mine dry and it will stay where I park it. I put a alum pie tin in for a drip pan once and it gave me fits holding temp. Once I pulled it out, .. Viola, right back to 300. I have found that if I really fill it up( the MIni) my temps drop because of a cold meat load, I don't touch a thing just let it be it bounces back in an hr or so.
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Unread 02-16-2013, 06:47 PM   #12
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My mini seems to cook faster than the temperature reads. It's not uncommon to see temps hovering around 200°F but it seems to cook as if it were closer to 250.

I've run into another problem later in the cook. Ash falls down and tends to block the center bottom vent (Smokey Joe Silver models) I found a can just big enough to cover the holes and cut it just short enough to fit under the charcoal grate. I then made some holes near the top to provide an unobstructed air path.



If you have the Smokey Joe Gold with the vents on the side this should be less of a problem. In fact I just picked up one off CL yesterday but have not had a chance to try it.

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Unread 02-16-2013, 06:53 PM   #13
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I have a small can with holes in the side, similar to HankB's pics over the intake. I build on a SJS. It seemed to hold temp much better w/o the water pan. I think I will forgo it in the future. I had to add a little fuel about halfway through, but otherwise all good. Now if it would just stop snowing.
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