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porkpuller1911
12-07-2015, 08:48 PM
Bought a 18.5 WSM a while back, did a small pork butt first just to try and learn it's characteristics such as temps. and how to control them. I read a lot first and most everyone consistently says the same; load up 100 briquettes with wood chunks using the minion method, place hot briquettes on top, open vents wide open until the temps. reach 200 - 250, half close vents to lock it in to 225-250, put pork butt on and stick the probe in to the center, count on it taking 6 hours on a 4 pound butt (1.5 hrs. per pound) and sit back. Count on wrapping it when it hits 160, be patient through the stall and watch it rise to 190, which should take 6-8 hours on a 4lb. butt.

I did all this per everyone's advise, put it on at 11:30 a.m., the temp. stayed at 250 all afternoon and here it is 8:45 p.m. and the eternal temp. hasn't gotten higher than 154 where it is now.
I went out about 45 minutes ago and noticed the dome temp. had dropped to 200 so I added 10-15 more briquettes and opened the vents wide open again.

This isn't the load it and go to bed WSM I'm reading about. What am I doing different?

eta- I just checked on the dome temp and it;s back up to 225 but the eternal meat temp is stuck on 154. Is it stalling early?
I'm really disappointed I had to add more briquettes and it's taken so long on a 3.8 lb. butt. Now it's at 156.

Bludawg
12-07-2015, 08:53 PM
Are you going by the installed thermo for your pit temps if so there in lies your problem they are JUNK also don't reflect the temp at the cook grate where the meat is. If it's reading 250 you're probably cooking closer to 175

IamMadMan
12-07-2015, 08:55 PM
Bludawg is right..

Also in relation to the temperature drop; Outside temperature can draw heat away and you may have to open the vent a little more. Another option is to wrap the sides of the WSM in a welding blanket to help hold the heat.

porkpuller1911
12-07-2015, 08:58 PM
Bludawg is right..

Also in relation to the temperature drop; Outside temperature can draw heat away and you may have to open the vent a little more. Another option is to wrap the sides of the WSM in a welding blanket to help hold the heat.

I'm outside of Austin, Texas and the weather was glorious all afternoon, in the mid 70's. Right now it's 50 degrees outside.

porkpuller1911
12-07-2015, 09:05 PM
Are you going by the installed thermo for your pit temps if so there in lies your problem they are JUNK also don't reflect the temp at the cook grate where the meat is. If it's reading 250 you're probably cooking closer to 175

Then I need to run it at 300+ per the installed dome gauge, starting right now, which means adding even more briquettes. This is going to be a 12 hour cook.
I don't get it.:x

porkpuller1911
12-07-2015, 09:19 PM
I said screw it and wrapped it at 156 just now. I noticed the dome temp. was dropping again too to 212. As soon as I came back in the eternal reading from the probe says 171 and the signal beeper to wrap it went off.
Sorry, but this sucs. Glad I have tomorrow off because I'm going to be up late feeding more fuel.

pjtexas1
12-07-2015, 09:26 PM
Then I need to run it at 300+ per the installed dome gauge, starting right now, which means adding even more briquettes. This is going to be a 12 hour cook.
I don't get it.:x

if the temp was below 200 then that would take a lot of extra time. i would get an oven thermometer to check the temps at the grate unless you want to invest in a maverick. also, i gave up cooking those little pieces of meat. they seem to take forever to cook. makes no sense but they just take longer per pound.

pjtexas1
12-07-2015, 09:33 PM
I said screw it and wrapped it at 156 just now. I noticed the dome temp. was dropping again too to 212. As soon as I came back in the eternal reading from the probe says 171 and the signal beeper to wrap it went off.
Sorry, but this sucs. Glad I have tomorrow off because I'm going to be up late feeding more fuel.

since it is wrapped i would throw it in the oven at 300. no more smoke is going to get on the meat. does your device have a probe to read the grate temp? if it doesn't take the probe out of the meat and poke it thru a foil ball and check the temp at the grate just so you will know how far the dome therm is off.

porkpuller1911
12-07-2015, 09:35 PM
if the temp was below 200 then that would take a lot of extra time. i would get an oven thermometer to check the temps at the grate unless you want to invest in a maverick. also, i gave up cooking those little pieces of meat. they seem to take forever to cook. makes no sense but they just take longer per pound.

Really? That is opposite to common logic. I wrapped it at 154 and it's up to 187 now.

It's taken long enough to began nipping at a bottle of Bulleit at 2:00, get sober by 5:00 and now working on my second buzz. :biggrin1:

porkpuller1911
12-07-2015, 09:39 PM
Its at 189 now. Should I throw it in the cooler or how long would you leave it in the WSM at 190+?

smokingkettle
12-07-2015, 09:39 PM
I said screw it and wrapped it at 156 just now. I noticed the dome temp. was dropping again too to 212. As soon as I came back in the eternal reading from the probe says 171 and the signal beeper to wrap it went off.
Sorry, but this sucs. Glad I have tomorrow off because I'm going to be up late feeding more fuel.

I live in Round Rock and have a WSM 18. So I cook in the same environment that you do. My dome is 50 degrees cooler than my grate. I use a Maverick and when the probe on the grate is reading 275, the dome reads 225. I learned this the hard way the first time I cooked pork ribs and they were a little too "fall off the bone". The thermometer that comes with it isn't that good.

Harbormaster
12-07-2015, 09:42 PM
since it is wrapped i would throw it in the oven. no more smoke is going to get on the meat.
This.

From my experience those little butts are stubborn and take just as long to cook as an 8 pounder.

Cold air temps don't kill the heat in a WSM, but couple it with wind and yoou have a problem. Wind blocks are more important than a blanket.

Everyone who has ever posted about the stock WSM thermo say the same thing: They suck. They look good with the bezel and all, but if I were to buy a new WSM as my primary pit, the first thing I would do is install a decent thermo that can be calibrated. Then I'd put an oven thermometer on the grate to know where I'm really cooking.

The WSM really is a set it and forget it pit. You'll get there.

Harbormaster
12-07-2015, 09:45 PM
Its at 189 now. Should I throw it in the cooler or how long would you leave it in the WSM at 190+?
Don't cook to a temp, cook to a tenderness.

When you can pull the bone out or when it probes like buttah, it's done. That might be 190, might be 205.

porkpuller1911
12-07-2015, 09:46 PM
I live in Round Rock and have a WSM 18. So I cook in the same environment that you do. My dome is 50 degrees cooler than my grate. I use a Maverick and when the probe on the grate is reading 275, the dome reads 225. I learned this the hard way the first time I cooked pork ribs and they were a little too "fall off the bone". The thermometer that comes with it isn't that good.

Ok, so we're on the same latitude as I live in Spicewood, 25 miles to the west.
Since it was 225 at the dome all afternoon it should have been 275 and plenty hot at the grill to have taken the eternal temp above 154 where it stalled. Still stumped here.

Harbormaster
12-07-2015, 09:50 PM
Since it was 225 at the dome all afternoon it should have been 275 and plenty hot at the grill to have taken the eternal temp above 154 where it stalled. Still stumped here.
Assuming yours sucks exactly like his sucks.

They don't all read hot, or cold, they are just notoriously inaccurate. Yours might read hot - 225 at the dome, 180 at the grate.

pjtexas1
12-07-2015, 09:52 PM
Ok, so we're on the same latitude as I live in Spicewood, 25 miles to the west.
Since it was 225 at the dome all afternoon it should have been 275 and plenty hot at the grill to have taken the eternal temp above 154 where it stalled. Still stumped here.

you are assuming the therm is reading low. could be reading high. until you get an accurate reading at the grate you will not know for sure. today might be where you find the true meaning of "every piece of meat is different". it's all about learning your cooker and at least you get to eat some tasty pork butt during the process.:becky:

porkpuller1911
12-07-2015, 10:03 PM
you are assuming the therm is reading low. could be reading high. until you get an accurate reading at the grate you will not know for sure. today might be where you find the true meaning of "every piece of meat is different". it's all about learning your cooker and at least you get to eat some tasty pork butt during the process.:becky:

I learned four things today:
1. Don't trust the dome gauge
2. The one 1.5 hr. per 1lb. rule is b.s.
3. Small cuts of meat take as long as larger ones
4. Don't drink whiskey until you hit the stall

robert-r
12-07-2015, 10:35 PM
I learned four things today:
1. Don't trust the dome gauge
2. The one 1.5 hr. per 1lb. rule is b.s.
3. Small cuts of meat take as long as larger ones
4. Don't drink whiskey until you hit the stall

Repeat 1, 2 & 3.
4 is optional. Depends on the time of day.:becky:
Get a Maverick or equivalent.
Cook to tenderness.

porkpuller1911
12-07-2015, 11:10 PM
Repeat 1, 2 & 3.
4 is optional. Depends on the time of day.:becky:
Get a Maverick or equivalent.
Cook to tenderness.

Actually, I've got a remote internal meat probe that seems to work well, if thats what a Maverick is.

What I apparently need is an accurate exterior therm., something that gives an accurate reading at the grill that doesn't require removing the lid to check, which would obviously ruin any heat build up achieved.

pjtexas1
12-07-2015, 11:17 PM
Actually, I've got a remote internal meat probe that seems to work well, if thats what a Maverick is.

What I apparently need is an accurate exterior therm., something that gives an accurate reading at the grill that doesn't require removing the lid to check, which would obviously ruin any heat build up achieved.

the maverick has a 2nd probe that monitors the temps at the grate which is the most important temp.

THoey1963
12-08-2015, 04:32 AM
This is a Maverick:

Amazon.com : Maverick ET-733 Long Range Wireless Dual Probe BBQ Smoker Meat Thermometer Set : Patio, Lawn & Garden@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41BdKkP0NEL.@@AMEPARAM@@41BdKkP0NEL

It has a base unit that hangs on the side of your WSM and has two probes. One for the pit and one for meat, or two for meat, or two for pit temps. It also has a remote unit that you can take into the house and monitor what is going on. It allows you to set alarms that tell you if the pit temp gets too low or too high, and you can set the meat temp to alarm when it gets up to a certain temp.

I will say that most of us here do not cook to temp. One butt may be done at 195* and another may not be done until 205*. They idea of BBQ is taking tough meat and cooking it until it gets tender, and each piece of meat may be different.

With my WSM I have not had any issues with the temps I expect you had tonight. But when we get a cold north wind, I built a blanket with the following and some aluminum tape. Made it like 4 - 6" bigger diameter than the Weber and cut some notches at the bottom to allow for airflow.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Reflectix-48-in-x-25-ft-Double-Reflective-Insulation-BP48025/100052556

I bought a welders blanket before and got several shards of fiberglass in my hands while wrapping it up. If it could get to me, it might get in the pit. Never used it again.

cheez59
12-08-2015, 05:19 AM
Don't get discouraged with your WSM. They are great cookers in any weather except wind where they truly suck. The more you cook on them the better they work. None of mine were easy to control until they had 4 or 5 cooks on them. Counting briquettes is a waste of time. Just fill the ring with charcoal and some fist sized wood chunks. Then light up a dozen or so briquettes and spread them over the top of your fuel. When your cook is done just shut all the vents off. You will have a lot of fuel left. Shake the ash out when it cools and re use the unburnt charcoal on your next cook. I have never once added fuel during a cook of anything. Did you use the water pan with water in it? If so that will slow down your cook considerably. I take my water pan completely out on any cook of big chunks of meat.Get yourself a Maverick ET-733 and learn how to use it.

Dweverett
12-08-2015, 09:36 AM
Only thing I'd add is that the stall doesn't happen at a set temperature either just as the finish temp can vary. if you are wrapping to protect it from getting too dark, wrap when it's the right color regardless of temp. If you are trying to power through the stall to speed up the cook you should wrap when the temp stalls out. I've had that happen quite a bit below 160.

Ron_L
12-08-2015, 10:03 AM
I read a lot first and most everyone consistently says the same; load up 100 briquettes with wood chunks using the minion method, place hot briquettes on top, open vents wide open until the temps. reach 200 - 250, half close vents to lock it in to 225-250, put pork butt on and stick the probe in to the center, count on it taking 6 hours on a 4 pound butt (1.5 hrs. per pound) and sit back. Count on wrapping it when it hits 160, be patient through the stall and watch it rise to 190, which should take 6-8 hours on a 4lb. butt.


Why 100 briquettes? Fill the ring, leaving a depression in the center and put your lit briquettes in the center. I've run over 20 hours at 250-ish by doing this.

THoey1963
12-08-2015, 02:29 PM
Counting briquettes? I am usually half asleep and partially hungover when I fire up the pit...

Yeah, I made a fire basket for mine and I just fill it up with charcoal and then use a torch to light the center...

landarc
12-08-2015, 03:43 PM
I always filled the basket with briquettes, counting them would never occur to me. And you absolutely cannot rely upon the thermometer in the lid. It is worse than useless. In most Webers that I have cooked on, the lid thermo is anywhere from 15 to 30 degrees hotter than the grate. Cooking a pork butt at 185F to 200F will easily take 15 to 20 hours.

porkpuller1911
12-08-2015, 08:41 PM
I always filled the basket with briquettes, counting them would never occur to me. And you absolutely cannot rely upon the thermometer in the lid. It is worse than useless. In most Webers that I have cooked on, the lid thermo is anywhere from 15 to 30 degrees hotter than the grate. Cooking a pork butt at 185F to 200F will easily take 15 to 20 hours.

Thanks for all the help guys. I think it is as simple as this thread and others before saying I got a false read from the dome gauge. I was cooking at too low a temp as a result.
I pulled the butt at midnight, over 12 hours on the smoker, and began shredding it. That was a tough piece of meat as it didn't want to pull. I had to tear it apart. The bone came out fairly easy so it was done and there was a pretty red smoke ring but there was lots of gristle and just tough meat.
I caught a cold going in and out all night checking the dome temp. and only ate one sandwich today. It was tough. With Salt Lick Sauce it was palatable but not near as good as the first butt I did which required no cover sauce.

Harbormaster
12-08-2015, 08:44 PM
Sounds like it could have used some more time cooking.
There's no shame in pulling a butt off the pit, wrapping it and finishing in the oven.
Don't give up on the WSM. Great cookers.

Rusty Kettle
12-08-2015, 09:04 PM
If it makes you feel any better I set mine on fire the first time I ever cooked on my first WSM. It was one heck of a grease fire on my son's first birthday in front of the whole family.

Then about 7 months later got my first ever first place ribs win in an amateur event on that same WSM that had been on fire.

My point is as much as people say it's a set it and forget it pit it's not at least not until you learn your pit. You learn the quirks and you will be fine and it will be set it and forget it but there is a small learning curve.

porkpuller1911
12-09-2015, 01:41 PM
I need to learn how to throttle the temps up and down using the top and bottom vents. It's like learning to drive a standard for the first time.

gsmith
12-09-2015, 02:08 PM
I leave my top vent wide open all of the time and adjust only the bottom vents to regulate the temps.
The wind will give you an opportunity to play with the vents more but really once you get it dialed in it is pretty much set it & forget it.
Target temp for me is 260ish.
I cook 4 butts on my 18" wsm and they average around 8 hours. I once loaded it with 6 and they took almost 12 hours. The 6 averaged about 9 lbs each and there really wasn't much room for airflow.
Keep cooking on it and enjoy the results.

porkpuller1911
12-09-2015, 08:11 PM
I leave my top vent wide open all of the time and adjust only the bottom vents to regulate the temps.
The wind will give you an opportunity to play with the vents more but really once you get it dialed in it is pretty much set it & forget it.
Target temp for me is 260ish.
I cook 4 butts on my 18" wsm and they average around 8 hours. I once loaded it with 6 and they took almost 12 hours. The 6 averaged about 9 lbs each and there really wasn't much room for airflow.
Keep cooking on it and enjoy the results.

That helps me a lot too, thanks.

KevinJ
12-09-2015, 09:19 PM
As others have said fill up the charcoal ring, I replaced my water pan with a clay saucer since I don't use water when I cook, this gives me even more room to fill her up. Even on shorter cooks like Ribs.

I use a Maverick to measure grate temps, no way in hell I would trust the dome thermo.

I can pretty much hold a temp once I get to my targeted cooking temp by leaving the dome vent open and closing 2 vents. I try to leave the vent that is opposite of the wind direction open. I may have to adjust the open bottom vent or open a second vent slightly depend on the weather.

I'd don't use it often but I also have a BBQ IQ110, I like to surf so when I go to the beach its set it and forget it.