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View Full Version : Ordered a WSM 18.5 today, now what?


porkpuller1911
10-08-2015, 08:36 PM
I live in barbecue country but what I know about smoked barbecue brisket and ribs is that it is good and expensive. I've been on a Paleo Diet of chicken and turkey breast and I crave real meat, from cows and pigs. It's all I think about.
So when I found a dealer that actually carried WSM I pulled the trigger and it should be in next week.

I plan on doing pork butts first to began to learn the temp curve and use the minion method for it's simplicity.
I've been reading the Weber Kettle vs. WSM threads and it appears the dedicated smoker is the way to go as I really don't want to "experiment" more than I have to. I do have a grill / smoker thats a homemade offset barrel smoker made out of a cylinder of some type but it doesn't appear to seal well and I don't want to have to constantly check and adjust the temps for 8 hours.

If I do need to add fuel I assume I open the side door and put unlit lump and wood chips on top of lit charcoal?

Can I let it cook all night like a BGE and not worry about surprises in the morning?

Any other advise would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance

2liter
10-08-2015, 08:54 PM
I have had my WSM for about 4 or 5 months, once it gets broken in it is pretty consistent with the temps. Takes about 4 or 5 cooks to build up the coating on the inside. Pork shoulder is supper easy and once broken in it is almost set and forget. Using the menion method and placing chunks in with the coals unless you are doing a super long cook you shouldn't need to add coals or chunks but if you needed to yes use the side hatch and toss them in. I haven't used water the last 4 cooks and that has worked well, just line the bowl with foil. As with any grill or smoker getting it broken in can be a pain but once its broken in you will love it.

Fwismoker
10-08-2015, 08:57 PM
Someone will come along and post a thread of a minion style burn, there should be no need for you to add fuel. If you do then i'd just add a 50/50 half lit chimney to finish things.

Sounds like you got the itch so have fun scratching it!

yakdung
10-08-2015, 09:05 PM
https://youtu.be/LYI-k-ySrdk

https://patronsofthepit.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/the-long-burnthe-method-of-jim-minion/

KevinJ
10-08-2015, 09:13 PM
I have an 18.5 and I've never had to add more fuel to finish a cook. Also you mentioned wood chips, don't use chips get you some fist sized wood chunks.

Jeff H
10-08-2015, 09:19 PM
I have an 18.5 and I've never had to add more fuel to finish a cook. Also you mentioned wood chips, don't use chips get you some fist sized wood chunks.


To add to this comment, the only time I ever added fuel was when I was following the instructions that came with the WSM. With the minion method, there is 1/3 of the coals left after the cook most times, sometimes more. Just shut the vents and save for the next cook.

porkpuller1911
10-08-2015, 09:21 PM
Someone will come along and post a thread of a minion style burn, there should be no need for you to add fuel. If you do then i'd just add a 50/50 half lit chimney to finish things.

Sounds like you got the itch so have fun scratching it!

Thanks for the quick replies. Is lump charcoal as good as briquettes? I've been using lump mesquite and a chimney for doing caveman steak and am quite pleased but I see briquettes used more in smoking threads.

Does pecan make for good smoke? I've read mesquite may leave a harsh taste.
The famous Copper's Bar B Q up the road uses live oak.

yakdung
10-08-2015, 09:34 PM
Pork I use apple, ribs I use hickory or pecan or a combo of the two. Mesquite generates a hot fire. I will use coals from mesquite for direct grilling. I use a locking small galvanized trash can to store my smoking wood chunks. Tried plastic tubs for storing woods and such, but the UV rays from the sun will turn plastic brittle. I just try and keep things as simple as I can these days. I mainly use competition briquettes in my WSM works fine for what I do. I also do not use water in the pan. It is a variable I don't want to mess with. I use a foiled Terra-cotta flower pot base wrapped with heavy duty aluminum foil that sits inside an empty water pan. Works wonderfully. Good luck on your new smoker as I know you will enjoy it. I'm thinking about about purchasing the 14" model to add to my collection. Happy smoking.

BBQLuver
10-08-2015, 09:51 PM
Early on I did a lot of experimenting... guess I still do from time to time. I also stopped using water after a few cooks as it was tough to clean. I've heard that the WSM will run hot while your breaking it in. I eventually switched to a clay flower pot base wrapped in foil for a while, but finally took that out, replaced it will foil and switched to a temp control (IQ110). A lot of people were able to control their temps better than I so you may not have that issue.

I did have to add fuel a few times because I wasn't filling it up all the way with briquettes. I now fill it up each time and snuff the fire out when I'm done and reuse the leftovers next time.

For wood I've only played around a little but use Hickory most of the time.

Only thing I would recommend while learning is only change one or two things from smoke to smoke. That way you can better understand what each change is impacting. I would usually change one technique thing (temp, amount of wood, water/no water, etc.). This allowed seeing how the technique changes the result. I would also smoke two identical items and use different recipes (one the same as last time and change one thing and the other a new recipe/rub/etc. that I wanted to try out). This allowed me to change and isolate each variable.

Good luck, enjoy your WSM.

va_connoisseur
10-09-2015, 08:07 AM
I
If I do need to add fuel I assume I open the side door and put unlit lump and wood chips on top of lit charcoal?

Can I let it cook all night like a BGE and not worry about surprises in the morning?

Any other advise would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Unless its frigid outside, you should not have to add fuel once you get your smoker dialed in. That will take 3-5 smokes. Hit your local grocery store, grab a few pork shoulders and get smoking.

Take as many notes as possible to begin, don't make any changes to vents unless you note it first. That way you can tell what is what.

Also, invest in a Maverick or Thermapen. They will help you get accurate temps. With a 18.5, the dome thermo is 7-8 inches above the top grate so that temperature is not your cooking temp. Once you get used to it, you will know, for instance, that when the dome reads 275, the grate may actually be 245.

Also, the WSM works good with chunks, charcoal, or lump. Don't get chips, they are a waste for this smoker.

In short, welcome to the addiction. Buy some pig and get to smoking.

porkpuller1911
10-09-2015, 08:30 AM
Again thanks for all the quick helpful replies.

Also, one of the main reasons for a smoker is, as I mentioned, I'm on a Paleo Diet. The most healthy, leaner meats are supposedly wild game, venison, wild hog, stuff a caveman would eat. I'm in a wild hog rich environment and hopefully feral hogs will be one of the main porks that go on the smoker.

Anyone smoke feral hog shoulder / tenderloins / backstraps and how does it differ from domestic pork?

yakdung
10-09-2015, 08:37 AM
"...I did have to add fuel a few times because I wasn't filling it up all the way with briquettes. I now fill it up each time" - BBQLuver

Ok, here's a real basic noob questions. What is 'filling it up all the way'? Is an unlit, 1/2 chimney or a 1lb.Folgers coffee can of briquettes / wood chunks 'filling it up' and enough for say an 8-10 hr. cook?

The perforated metal ring that holds the charcoal. I just pour in as much as it will hold, others may fill it half way or less then full. I would also recommend starting with smoking a pork butt using apple wood chunks. Very forgiving and easy to do.

Ron_L
10-09-2015, 08:45 AM
"...I did have to add fuel a few times because I wasn't filling it up all the way with briquettes. I now fill it up each time" - BBQLuver

Ok, here's a real basic noob questions. What is 'filling it up all the way'? Is an unlit, 1/2 chimney or a 1lb.Folgers coffee can of briquettes / wood chunks 'filling it up' and enough for say an 8-10 hr. cook?

Take look at this thread...

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=133433

and in particular post 6...

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showpost.php?p=2059442&postcount=6

Fill the charcoal ring all the way with unlit charcoal (meeaning put as much in there as it will hold), either leaving an opening in the middle or making a depression in the middle for the lit charcoal. I mix some wood chunks into the unlit so they preheat as the fire spreads and then light when the fire reaches them.

PatAttack
10-09-2015, 08:47 AM
Use fist sized chunks of wood instead of chips. Four or five should do the job.

Everything you want to know about the WSM is here:

http://virtualweberbullet.com/

Sorry for shilling another forum.:oops:

I start with a full ring of charcoal and dump about half a chimney of lit on top. I also bury my chunks down in the unlit before dumping the lit coals on top.

Happy Hapgood
10-09-2015, 08:50 AM
Congratulations. On my 18.5 I can go up to 16 hours at 250-275*F with no water in the pan. I never need to add fuel mid cook. It will run a little hot at first until you get some gunk built up on the sides then it should hold temp rock solid.

Wind is really the only thing that can affect the temp.

Mapleleaf
10-09-2015, 08:55 AM
I have a 18.5 and just picked up a 14 in Maine. Walmart was clearing them out for $54. I got 2. Just a heads up.

yakdung
10-09-2015, 08:58 AM
I have a 18.5 and just picked up a 14 in Maine. Walmart was clearing them out for $54. I got 2. Just a heads up.

I'm going to check locally for the 14". Thanks!

Bludawg
10-09-2015, 09:05 AM
Never a good Idea to leave a Pit unattended DODO HAPPENS! Lots of threads about "I got up and my pit temp dropped to ****and my meat is **** what should I do??" Answer toss it out. Not to mention the possibility of a pit fire burning your house down while you sleep.

THoey1963
10-09-2015, 11:44 AM
Welcome to the WSM club. As mentioned, the WSM is a great smoker right out of the box and even better after 5 - 10 cooks when she starts to get dirty. The first several cooks will run a little hotter than expected, but that's ok. This is BBQ, we ain't making a quiche.

There are many ways to BBQ, and you will need to try a couple until you find the way that is right for you. We all will offer different ways that work for us. This is how I use my WSM:

I remove the barrel and lid from the bottom bowl. I remove the charcoal ring and grate and clean out any old ashes. I replace the grate and ring and fill the ring up to the top with charcoal. I open all the vents. I use my brush burner to light a bunch of coals in the middle. Wait about 15 mins till the fire gets going, and then I replace the barrel and lid (make sure the exhaust vent is open). Wait until the temp gets to about 25* less than you want to run and then I close two bottom vents and close the third about halfway. My temps are usually stable and ready to throw the meat on within an hour. I toss some wood chunks on the burning coals and put the meat on. I check the temps about once an hour. I have cooked on one full ring for over 13 hours and have never had to add more.

See the link in my signature for some mods I have done to my WSM. You may not want or need to do any of them. Just there for ideas...

Whitewookie
10-09-2015, 12:38 PM
Never a good Idea to leave a Pit unattended DODO HAPPENS! Lots of threads about "I got up and my pit temp dropped to ****and my meat is **** what should I do??" Answer toss it out. Not to mention the possibility of a pit fire burning your house down while you sleep.

I agree with Blu completely. I know a lot of guys leave 'em, but I never would. To many possibilities, none of 'em good. I wouldn't be able to sleep anyway, to paranoid.

VR,
Harold

charrederhead
10-09-2015, 01:57 PM
I have a 18.5 and just picked up a 14 in Maine. Walmart was clearing them out for $54. I got 2. Just a heads up.

Which store?!

charrederhead
10-09-2015, 02:15 PM
I agree w/the safety idea of never leaving a pit unattended, but I'm comfortable leaving my WSM alone for overnight smokes, if necessary.

It's on patio block w/ a 10' buffer zone from combustibles. I secure the sections w/ratchet tie-downs. No bears, coyotes, or even raccoon around.

Sure, it's possible something bad will happen (it's also possible I win MegaMillions tonight), but the probability is that nothing bad will happen (and I won't win MM).

....unless some sumbeech comes by dawn's crack and yanks my meat. :shock:

Mapleleaf
10-09-2015, 04:53 PM
I was down kayaking at Acadia National Park and picked them up at the Ellsworth Walmart.