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View Full Version : refueling a WSM 22.5


boogiesnap
07-20-2010, 12:34 PM
hi guys, might anyone have any tips on fully refueling the WSM mid cook?

i'd yet to run out of fuel with it during practices, but guess what? mid competition it ran low and i lost temp.

i managed to get a couple chimneys of hot coal into it, but i had to dissassemble the whole thing in order to dump it in.

my goal was 325* and i had it at @ *275 and time was running out! (out@!) i was concerned that if i fill the basket with cold lump and dumped a chimney on top to restart it i'd lose what fire i still had and it would drop from 275* to 200* or so for an hour while it regained temp and then the food might not have even been able to turn in.

any thoughts?

YellowSuge
07-20-2010, 12:45 PM
Personally, I fire up another chimney and dump it into a kettle grill. I then use a shovel to scoop up charcoal and dump it in. The shovel is one of those 3 ft. shovels that I picked up at some hardware store. The face of the shovel fits perfectly through the door of the WSM (I have a 18.5). I then use a small metal rake to even the coals.

huminie
07-20-2010, 12:49 PM
I have a set of tongs dedicated to handling charcoal. A shovel would be good for a full chimney, but tongs will get the job done too, just a bit slower.

Cast Iron Chef
07-20-2010, 01:05 PM
I just open the door, throw cold coals in. Open the vents all the way until back to temp then mostly close again.

Dave Russell
07-20-2010, 01:08 PM
Yep, I'd say the shovel is the way to go, and since you don't have much clearance between the pan and the coals, take a rake or something and level the coals before trying to put any more in. Unless you're an athlete, you're not gonna lift the whole unit loaded with a lot of meat and/or water pan off the base like you can do with the little wsm. However, it's a lot easier to refuel than a UDS!

I'd rethink my fuel choice, though. Unless weather is bad and/or you don't have a wind break, there should be no need to refuel. If using K, you need to kick the legs and knock some ash off the coals every now and then. I wouldn't think you'd need to add any (unless maybe doing a whole chuck roll or pork shoulder). If using lump, get a denser brand like B and B, and spend the time needed to pack real tight, using few little pieces.

Dave
wsm, uds, otg, ots, smoky joe, char-griller w/sfb

boogiesnap
07-20-2010, 01:46 PM
thanks guys, i had never had to refuel it before. but, it rained almost all night so i burned up a bit more than usual running 225-250.
i do think, now that i look back, a good amount of smaller peices.
then i needed to run 325-350 and there just wasn't enough juice!
i use royal oak.
are you guys suggesting shoveling cold onto the hot and then a hot chimney or 2 on top? or shoveling all hot to fill and then manage temps with dampers?
i'm looking to make as smooth of a temperature transition as possible, quickly.
even though it may never happen again, i'd like to be prepared for it.
thanks again all!

toumaj
07-20-2010, 01:58 PM
I broke mine in over the weekend for the first time.
I cooked 10 lbs of buffalo wings, 6 slabs of BB, MOINKs and TURDs.
I started with 2 chimneys of hot coals, nothing more.
This held 235-250 degrees for almost 4 hours.
As it started to drift towards 200, I added 1 chimney of hot coals.
This helped, but in hindsight, I should have added another 2 chimneys.
To refuel, I took off the lid, dead lifted the mid section, leveled out what was left, dusted off the ash and dumped my chimneys.
I'm pretty strong so the weight wasn't an issue.
Then I put the mid section back on and added the lid.
I know I lost heat, but the whole process took less than 90 seconds, so the temps got back up really quickly.
The 22.5" is a BIG grill and obviously requires more fuel than the 18".
Next time, I may use more of a Minion approach to prevent the need to refuel at all.
I've read that you only throw about 7-10 lit coals on a huge pile of unlit coals.
Is that true?
It seems like it would take hours to get the temp up to 235.
Thoughts?

Will work for bbq
07-20-2010, 03:15 PM
On my long cooks I use the minion method on my 18.5" wsm with 4 butts ~ 37lb total I get about 13 hours on one fuel load then just simply throw unlit bricketts into the chamber when needed, I start off with 18 lit and bury my wood chunks in regular kinsford blue, gets up to temp really quick.

Dave Russell
07-20-2010, 05:16 PM
thanks guys, i had never had to refuel it before. but, it rained almost all night so i burned up a bit more than usual running 225-250.
i do think, now that i look back, a good amount of smaller peices.
then i needed to run 325-350 and there just wasn't enough juice!
i use royal oak.
are you guys suggesting shoveling cold onto the hot and then a hot chimney or 2 on top? or shoveling all hot to fill and then manage temps with dampers?
i'm looking to make as smooth of a temperature transition as possible, quickly.
even though it may never happen again, i'd like to be prepared for it.
thanks again all!

Yep, smaller pieces didn't help, and Royal Oak lump isn't what I'd call dense charcoal, even though it's better than Cowboy...(everything is!). There's a lot of lump that's denser. The stuff they sell real cheap at Sam's Club now, Frontier, is probably denser. If you have an Academy Sports nearby though, they have the B and B, and it's head and shoulders above the RO...Oh, and I'd only shovel in lit coals if temps are already falling. It takes BTU's to light the unlit. I suppose you can put some unlit in if you think a lot have burnt already, assuming temps are still where you want them....but I usually don't add much unlit.

boogiesnap
07-20-2010, 05:21 PM
toumaj, depending on what temp you are shooting for, but, for 225-250, fill the ring with unlit, add 1/3 chimney of lit. for 325-350, add a full chimney of lit. i can get it stable either way within an hour(with or without the stoker).
i dead lifted the thing too, and added 2 chimneys worth, but, a full pan of bbq grease is a pretty sketchy thing to be moving around. plus at the time it only had 2 racks of ribs. i don't think i couldv'e done it if it was full of brisket and butts. i don't want to do it again, if it can be avoided.

boogiesnap
07-20-2010, 05:25 PM
i'd agree dave, but i've settled on RO for the time being. it sorta hits all cylinders to a pretty high degree. good flavor, high burn, low ash, and cheap. i was using wicked good for a while, but it is somewhat pricey. i do mix in stubbs briquettes or K for various reasons. i don't like cowboy very much.

zydecopaws
07-20-2010, 06:02 PM
I just open the door, throw cold coals in. Open the vents all the way until back to temp then mostly close again.

This is pretty much what I do, but I also settled on using briquettes (Kingsford Comp) for the primary fuel source. Start with Minion method; a full load generally will last at least 12 hours even in crappy weather, then add in more by dumping it on the door and letting it roll into the fire ring. Spread it around a bit and you are good to go; rarely will it take a full load for whatever additional time is needed to finish the cook.

toumaj
07-20-2010, 06:17 PM
toumaj, depending on what temp you are shooting for, but, for 225-250, fill the ring with unlit, add 1/3 chimney of lit. for 325-350, add a full chimney of lit. i can get it stable either way within an hour(with or without the stoker).
i dead lifted the thing too, and added 2 chimneys worth, but, a full pan of bbq grease is a pretty sketchy thing to be moving around. plus at the time it only had 2 racks of ribs. i don't think i couldv'e done it if it was full of brisket and butts. i don't want to do it again, if it can be avoided.

Thanks. Follow up question:

Where do you like to place the "lit" charcoal with the Minion Method?
I've read that some people prefer to place the hot coals directly on top of the unlit while others prefer to put the hot coals off to one side (sometimes with a coffee can).

I really appreciate the comments.

rdenn_58
07-20-2010, 06:38 PM
I just did a couple of butts last weekend using the Minion. I place a coffee can in the center of the ring and fill around it with the unlit and mix in wood chunks. I then place a 2/3 full chimney in the coffee can. Lasted over 13 hours with temps around 250* even though the wind started blowing the last 4 hours.

rdenn_58
07-20-2010, 06:40 PM
I do like the idea of the shovel and the rake!! :clap2: I will head down the store before the next cook. Sure will help for the winter cooks.

Kosmo's Q
07-20-2010, 07:40 PM
I use a fireplace shovel and it works awesome!

boogiesnap
07-20-2010, 09:34 PM
i always CAN GO 12 plus hours:becky: easy, on 1 full ring, but this one time it didn't happen and i tanked in the field. maybe hvac tubing cut lengthwise as a "shoot".

kosmo, where do you shovel the hot coals from? the chimney?

Kosmo's Q
07-20-2010, 09:57 PM
I add them when I have the lid open (checking temps) to create more draft to get them heated. Although, I am not too concerned with them getting started to quick because I always cook minion method. Usually a full ring will keep me going and I don't have to add any unless it is cold outside. BTW I like cooking to the 260-280 range.

D0ughB0y
07-20-2010, 10:21 PM
I use the door as a chute and pour the chimney right down the door into the ring. I also have a 2' pair of tongs that I move things around with.

qndummy
07-21-2010, 10:54 AM
On my small WSM I've added Weber handles to sides of the chamber walls, this allows me to lift the whole assembly with the meat still in and the top still on off the charcoal chamber. Heat is maintained in cooking chamber while you redo the charcoal. On the large WSM this would definitely be a 2 person operation due to the weight.

Smokesman
07-22-2010, 04:15 AM
Running 2 22 WSM's at comps overnight (one for briskie, one for butts) a full load of RO lump under normal weather conditions (275, 1/2 water in pan) once dialed in (bottom vents around 1/3) we get on average 6 hrs. As part of our process we try to keep the two big boys at temp all the way to turn-in so we regularly refuel with full loads.

We have mastered with what I would call a medium load the "Lift, turn & down" method. Requires 2 people for spotting but only one is doing the lifting. Simply position yourself with feet slightly apart so you can lift & rotate with one clean move w/o moving your feet. Silicon or rubber gloves are a must. The spotter calls the ball making sure you've cleared the bottom of the smoker before lowering - same deal when reassembling.

Reloading with RO we quickly knock away the ash on the remaining then we place unlit on top of the remaining lit coals then a chimney of lit on top. We give it a few minutes to get going before reassembling smoker. Our large cuts are usually panned by this point so the few minutes off heat have never been an issue.

I really try to minimize any adding, stirring, mixing, raking, etc of the coals if there is open meat in the cooker. Drives me crazy when ash gets on the meat.