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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 05-29-2011, 04:51 PM   #1
caseydog
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Default Getting a WSM up to temperature...

I think I have been starting to close the bottom vents too early on my 18-inch WSM.

When you are trying to reach 250 at the lid thermometer, at what temperature do you start to close bottom vents, and at what rate?

I've been closing down to 1/2 as I reach 200, but that seems to stall the climb.

Should I go all the way to 250, and close down? Maybe 225?

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Unread 05-29-2011, 06:32 PM   #2
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with a full charcoal basket and 1/2 chimney lit on top, my 22 gets to temp in @ 1/2. i start wide open, overshoot @ 25*, close up 1/2 way, put meat on and see how it reacts after @ 15 minutes make another adjustment then. if it dropped too far due to cold meat i open her back up until desired temp and close down to @ 1/2-1/4. if it stayed where i want it, close down to 1/2 and do another check in a few. typically it'll lock in after 1 or 2 minor adjustments.
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Unread 05-29-2011, 06:44 PM   #3
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I start with about a 1/4 of the fire ring banked with hot coals and the cooker taken apart. I then add fresh coals and place some wood chips on top. Next I put the top parts on the grill on with a full water pan. I always have all 3 wheels at the bottom open. I use the top wheel for control. I usually hum away at 250* with having the top damper open to slightly shut. Really I can cook for 8+ hours with this method before needing water and new coals to be added. With the WSM once you get it locked in there is little to no adjustment of the dampers needed.
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Unread 05-29-2011, 08:29 PM   #4
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I am actually finding that, as outdoor temperatures get hotter here in Dallas, I need to keep the bottom vents open a little during the whole cook, where I closed them down in cold temperatures.

That kind of makes sense, since cold, dense air will feed a fire better than hot, moist air. It is the same with the twin-turbo engine on my car -- it runs like a banshee in January, and loses power in August. Likewise, it looks like my WSM will need to have the bottom vents open a little to get good combustion in the summer months.

It is running pretty stable now, at about 250, with two bottom vents wide open, and the other one closed.

CD
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Unread 05-29-2011, 08:49 PM   #5
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I have found that if I overshoot about 50 degrees so that when I load the cool meat on it pulls temps down a bit. Once the meat is on and the temp stabilizes, I close down the vents a bit to reach the temp I want. I pay more attention to the vent that is on the wind side and close that one a bit more than the other 2.
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Unread 05-29-2011, 08:55 PM   #6
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I started closing my vents down at about 200°. I closed them each about 50% and when I reached 220° I closed them down just a tad more. At that point I let it go and the smoker stabilized out at about 235° and I just let it ride from there. During the cook (10 hour long run with a brisket flat) the temp varied between 220° and 240° or so for the entire duration. Precise temperatures are not critical when smoking meat. I would probably consider 225° to be a minimum rather than a target temp for low and slow. If you keep that smoker between 225 and 250 you are gonna be very successful and that smoker should be easy to keep at those temps.

I also think, being the beginner that I am, undershooting the temp in the beginning is desirable. It's a little easier to warm the pit up than it is to cool it down.

I cooked some chickens the other day at 300°. When I opened the lid after about 1 hour and 15 minutes, my pit temp climbed up to 360° rather quickly. Good thing my chicken was almost ready because putting the lid back on didn't cool the pit down very quickly :)
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Unread 05-29-2011, 09:03 PM   #7
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I add the charcoal then the meat start closing at 225.
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Unread 05-29-2011, 09:13 PM   #8
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I start closing the vents at 200* to half way. at 225 I close 2 of the vents all the way, so that I am making adjustments to just one vent. I adjust that vent to 3/4 closed, and that is about where it ends up for the rest of the cook.
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Unread 05-29-2011, 09:19 PM   #9
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I agree with most of the above, I followed the virtual Weber Bullet site, here's a link:

http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/cookinglog.html
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Unread 05-29-2011, 09:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian in Maine View Post
I start closing the vents at 200* to half way. at 225 I close 2 of the vents all the way, so that I am making adjustments to just one vent. I adjust that vent to 3/4 closed, and that is about where it ends up for the rest of the cook.


That was working for me in February, and since you live in Maine, it probably works in June.

I kind of thought I would need to close down sooner in hot weather, but I am finding that it is just the opposite.

I am almost done with my butt cook -- I tossed some ABTs on about 30-minutes ago. I think I will need to adjust my game plan for summer smoking.

I figure that after a year with my WSM, I should have it down to something close to science. I'm just going to have to learn and adjust until I figure this smoker out.

CD
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