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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 05-09-2013, 11:47 AM   #1
newbie_smoker
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Default Am I bringing my WSM up to temp correctly?

First of all I have a maverick therm that I just checked for accuracy yesterday. The lid therm always reads around 30 degrees UNDER what the grate therm says. I have always had problems with it running too hot. Here is what I do:

-minion method, full ring of coals and 8-10 starter coals spread evenly on top.

-leave all vents open till 180ish then close 2 and leave 3rd open half way

-I put the meat on when it hits 235-245 and when the smoke turns blue (usually about the same time).

-close the 3rd vent 3/4 of the way.

-WSM will cruise around 250 for a couple hours then

-after couple hours it always increases to 280ish. About 45 mins of this temp I decide to all but close the last bottom vent.

-Temp will then hover around 275 for majority of the cook.

Why does my WSM refuse to cruise under 275-285? I dont care about 225 but I'd at least like to be in the 250-260 range. I can have all the bottom vents closed and it still goes at 275.

I've had it for a year but only done about 5 cooks in it. I just cleaned it out with a stiff bristled brush before this cook as it was covered in soot inside. Thanks for any advice!

Oh and I'm making 17 lbs of pork butt.

One reason I am exploring is when I bought it last year the door was definitely a less than ideal fit. Were talking 1/4-1/2 inch gaps b/w the sides of the door and the WSM body. I bent it into place some and also put it on upside down to get a tighter seal but I suspect that the seal is still less than adequate. Maybe I need an aftermarket door?
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Unread 05-09-2013, 11:54 AM   #2
Bob in St. Louis
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Hmmm...I've done maybe 15 cooks in mine and don't have that problem.
Couple questions come to mind.

- Is yours the 18" or 22.5"
- Where do you put your top vent
- What kind of fuel you using?
- Maybe have a lot of leaks around the door?

A couple things I do differently:

- I use a full 16.6# bag of Kingsford
- I use 5 or 6 briquettes as the "starter" for the minion.
- I use a bamboo skewer as a "guage". I stick it in the three bottom vents, that's how far open they are.
- Top vent is always wide open, period (unless the smoker is in storage).
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Unread 05-09-2013, 11:54 AM   #3
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You putting water in the pan? I'm a newb myself, but I always use water and i can stick to 250 all day long.
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Unread 05-09-2013, 11:56 AM   #4
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I typically leave the vents wide open until around 200, then close all 3 bottom vents between 1/2-3/4 shut and leave the top wide open until it comes up to temp. Once I hit about 240 or so, I shut the top vent about 1/2 way and that usually settles in around 250...ish. Then I just adjust vents as needed, which isn't much.

Are you using lump or briquettes? I've always used KBB until recently switching to RO lump, and I've noticed that I do have to work harder to keep the temps under 280. Still learning this. That being said, the difference between 250 and 275 is not all that great...I'd be more concerned if you were running at 300+.
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Unread 05-09-2013, 11:56 AM   #5
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Another thing on the way that door seals......From the factory, it doesn't fit very well. You have to "form it" by hand. If you see smoke coming uot, then it's not fitting very well. Be gentile, don't get crazy as it's a bit flimsy.
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Unread 05-09-2013, 12:04 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies guys:

-i have the WSM 18

-I'm using kingsford blue

-top vet always open fully

-boiling water in pan when I start

Maybe I need to try to get the door shaped better. And when I first start it I'll have smoke coming from the door AND around the lid. I tried to rectify the latter problem by spraying a bunch of pam around the lid seal while it was heating up. IDK how well that worked (obviously not well)
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Unread 05-09-2013, 12:14 PM   #7
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How much water are you starting with? Does the temp maybe increase when you boil off all the water?

My suggestions:

ditch the water in the pan--try using a foiled clay saucer, or just a foiled pan. Temp control is just as good, and clean up is easier.
let your WSM settle in at whatever temp it wants to (mine is typically somewhere in the 250 - 270° range), and adjust your cook times based on that. Your food will be just as good cooking at 275° as it will cooking at 225 - 250°
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Unread 05-09-2013, 12:20 PM   #8
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Every cooker has a temp where is just want to settle in. Don't fight it.
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Unread 05-09-2013, 12:24 PM   #9
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If your cooker runs 275 all bottom vents closed its getting air someplace, perhaps it out of round?

that said, if it runs 275 easily every time, id just go with it, but thats just me...
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Unread 05-09-2013, 12:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fantomlord View Post
How much water are you starting with? Does the temp maybe increase when you boil off all the water?

My suggestions:

ditch the water in the pan--try using a foiled clay saucer, or just a foiled pan. Temp control is just as good, and clean up is easier.
let your WSM settle in at whatever temp it wants to (mine is typically somewhere in the 250 - 270° range), and adjust your cook times based on that. Your food will be just as good cooking at 275° as it will cooking at 225 - 250°

It is my understanding that water instead of a foiled saucer or sand actually helps control the temp BETTER as it will act as a heat stabilizer whereas the saucer or sand will just heat above and beyond the 212 point of water. Clean-up isn't a big deal at all. I've just heard that water works better for temp control.
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Unread 05-09-2013, 12:26 PM   #11
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Close that top vent some when you're getting close to the temp you want to maintain. If it's all the way open, you're allowing the coals to run the show as opposed to inhibiting the drafting that it wants to do.

On any kamodo cooker, which are usually even more airtight, that's an important variable, and the principle is the same. (on my char-griller, I can leave the bottom open just a sliver, and control my temp between 220 and 260 adjusting only the top vent. When I need more than that, I usually just slightly nudge the bottom.
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Unread 05-09-2013, 12:28 PM   #12
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The smoke around the "body" is normal. As you cook on it more, it'll get loaded up with nasties that'll help seal the lid better. Just don't clean the lip that the lid sits in.

Although I have yet to try it, there was a thread here recently about not using water in the water pan. I just can't wrap my head around the concept, although I'll give it a shot someday as the clean up sucks. The fact of having a heat sink in there (clay late, steel plate, or filled with sand) is the most important factor.

But like the guys said, it'll have it's own "personal" temperature and there's not much you can do to fight it, as long as the leaks are sealed(ish).
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Unread 05-09-2013, 12:28 PM   #13
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1. Don't spread your lit coals evenly, dump them in a depression in the center of your unlit coals.
2.Use what ever you want for a heat sink, it's your choice. You can use water, no water, clay saucer, what ever.
3. Now that you've cleaned out the inside it will run a little hot just like when it was brand new.
4. Season it up with a few cooks and find the sweet spot where it wants to cruise at. My 18.5 WSM seems to cruise around 260.
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Unread 05-09-2013, 12:32 PM   #14
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My wsm likes to run exactly at 275*, I don't fight it and have great results. I wouldn't worry about 15-20* temp swings it won't make a bit if difference in the long run. I had a cooker get away from me and cooked 4 slabs of ribs at about 325*, some of the best rubs I've ever had.
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Unread 05-09-2013, 12:36 PM   #15
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Thanks for all the advice! I think I might just be having a bit of newbie paranoia as I've only done 5 or so cooks. Maybe I just need to leave it be and only worry if it stays at 300 or higher for a sustained period of time (>1hour).

Speaking of patience, the cooking temp dropped to 250 about 35 mins ago and its been there ever since (with 2 closed and 3rd 1/8 of the way open). So maybe the couple hours at 275-285 was just a spike?

also, the last time i didn't evenly spread out my starter coals and just put them in the middle I had a large ring of unlit coals around the outside at the end of the cook as they never lit. that was the only time I've not spread them out and incidentally the only time I've had problems with keeping the temp up.
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