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Unread 10-18-2008, 08:06 AM   #1
daedalus
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Default WSM Temp Control Question

I recently purchased a used WSM. Last weekend I tried it out for the first time. I had a great deal of difficulty getting the temp to stay where I wanted it(I was attempting the Minion Method). I was hoping some of you WSM gurus out there could tell me what I did wrong. Here's what I did:

Dumped 1 chimney of unlit charcoal into the ring
Lit about 15 coals
Open vents full
Dumped greyed-over coals onto unlit coals (piled them in the center)
Put on middle section, water pan(full) and lid (vent open)
Within 30 minutes the temps soared to over 300 degrees.
Panic stricken, I closed down all of the vents
Temp still rose slowly to about 320, but held there for about an hour
At that point, I pulled all but about a dozen coals out of the smoker.
This finally got the temp down to where i wanted it(225), but because I had removed most of the fuel, I kept having to add more coals every 30 minutes or so.

I have never used the minion method before...I think the reason it got so hot so fast was because all of the coals lit right away, but I dont see how to control the speed at which all of the coals light. I humbly await the wisdom of the brethren.
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Unread 10-18-2008, 08:17 AM   #2
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I don't even do 15 coals. Maybe 10 and I clear a small space in the dead center to add them. To get temps up I'll open full and when it hits about 210 I shut all them down but 1 and its pretty close to being shut off. Once it hits 225-250 I close the last one down all the way.

At this point add your meat quickly and cover again. I'll check temps for the next 30-45 minutes and adjust accordingly. When trying to increase the temp only open a little and wait atleast 15 minutes to see how it changes. Once I get the temp I want I close it down all the way again.

I have 2 and they both seem to act a tad different so you will get it down with more experience.

I should add I leave the top vent open full all the time.
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Unread 10-18-2008, 08:18 AM   #3
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If I do a long cook I fill the charcoal ring with unlit. If it is a shorter cook the I shoot for 1/2 full. I don't spread lit coals so much anymore, I usually just hit the top of the pile with a weed burner or a little torch. When I did spread hot coals it was usually about 10 of them spread out and not piled right in the middle.

I put the meat on the cooker as soon as I am satisfied that the coals are lit. As the temps reach 180-200 I close the bottom vents t o 1/2 open.

As the temps reach 220-240 I close the bottom vents to 1/4 open. ( If I am targeting 250).

By the time the meat warms up some and the temps are trying to stabalize, I find that I may have the vents 1/8 open or even less than that if I am having trouble.

Leave the top vent 100% open all the time.
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Unread 10-18-2008, 08:19 AM   #4
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Hey there Daedalus, you will get to love that WSM. I've had mine for about a year. What I do for a minion is to put the lump and chunks in a semi circle around the the charcoal chamber, leaving the center empty. Light one end with about 15 hot briqs, vents full open to about 200* then close down to about 1/3 open. Add meat wait 15 minutes and adjust vents slightly as necessary. Good luck.
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Unread 10-18-2008, 08:21 AM   #5
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Six or seven lit coals is all I use to get my WSM going.

All vents half open to start. As temp starts to get in the 175 degree I'll start easing the vents closed. Temp goes up slowly and I can usually get it pretty close to the 225 degrees I want.

What are you using for a heat shield? I only use the the clay saucer method and it works great for me.
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Unread 10-18-2008, 08:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trp1fox View Post

What are you using for a heat shield? I only use the the clay saucer method and it works great for me.
I just used a brinkman water pan filled with water and apple juice. I am not familiar with the "clay saucer method"...please enlighten me!
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Unread 10-18-2008, 08:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daedalus View Post
I just used a brinkman water pan filled with water and apple juice. I am not familiar with the "clay saucer method"...please enlighten me!
Get yourself a 14 inch version of this:



Set it on top of your water pan. It should nestle right in there. Wrap it all in foil and put in place. No water, just this. Works great for me as a heat shield and clean-up is super easy.
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Unread 10-18-2008, 08:53 AM   #8
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One other suggestion is to check to make sure the mid section is not out of round. If it is, you can gently roll it and push around on it to get it back pretty well. Out of round can really skew the temperatures.
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Unread 10-18-2008, 08:59 AM   #9
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The door.....Don't forget the door. You may have to tweak it a bit also.
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Unread 10-18-2008, 09:44 AM   #10
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I use lava rocks or ceramic briqs in my waterpans along with pizza stones foiled over. 3 of my WSM's are setup this way.





put a sheet of foil over it all and toss it after cooking- no mess!

This is my preferred way of firing the WSM's-depending on what I'm cooking - meat should be ready to hit the grates (long - full ring or short cook- 1 chimney + 10)
Add charcoal
Open all vents
Use weed burner and fire until briqs start to ash over
Assmble WSM
When temp hits 212-225 add meat
temps will drop then rise again when it hits 225 I start to close the rear and side vents until it reaches 250 then control it all with the front vent. It will settle in at @240-250 and just cruise.

Timing is crucial at the onset, watch the temps and be ready to rock or it will take off on you and its hard to get back down. It took me a few cooks to get used to it, but now its a piece of cake! I have cooked on others using water in the pan and thats the same method I used and it was fine. I'm just lazy and hate the cleanup.

Same method for the claypot base. Find one that fits in the waterpan. I used this one for awhile, foiled over it was great.

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Unread 10-18-2008, 09:51 AM   #11
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Here's a good link for learning your new WSM...

http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/tipsfaq.html

Here is the "flower pot mod"...







Happy Smokin'!
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Unread 10-18-2008, 12:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliff H. View Post
The door.....Don't forget the door. You may have to tweak it a bit also.
Yeah this too, I stepped on my about 3 weeks ago and I'm having a ton of problems with temp on one of them.
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Unread 10-18-2008, 12:08 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mokin Bandit View Post
Yeah this too, I stepped on my about 3 weeks ago and I'm having a ton of problems with temp on one of them.
Order a new door!
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Unread 10-18-2008, 12:19 PM   #14
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be mindful where you stick the smoker, I always tried to keep it out of the sun, there is a method that uses a coffee can, with both ends cut out, so when you pour your hot coals in the center of the unlit, just pull out the coffee can (that is the method that I used) I hate to say this, but when I used WSM, I always used kingsford, seems to work better for the temp swings.

keep working with it, WSM's are great smokers, soon temp control will be the thing of past.
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Unread 10-18-2008, 12:50 PM   #15
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You need to take into account that this was the first time you used the WSM.
The inside walls are still shine and new, and the heat is reflected more.
This happened the first time I used mine.
With a good build up on the inside walls the heat will be more controllable.
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