I've been smoking for a couple of years with an MES 30 inch (thanks for all of your posts for educational purposes) and earlier this year purchased a WSM 22.5 inch. I'm generally happy with it but can't seem to maintain temps above 225F without a lot of effort, though they are pretty stable. Here's what I do:
Fill the ring (usually Kingsford Blue) and use an electric starter in two spots or two batches of chimey starter. Let it get going pretty good, electric seems to get it going a bit faster. Once most have white edges and lot of red underneath, put top on and fill water pan with 160F tap water. Temp usually will rise briefly to 325F or so but then settle back to 250-260 or so. Add meat (in this case a 7lb. turkey breast as per Jeff's October Newsletter. Breezy and 50F outside here in NJ. Usually have all three lower vents open 25% or so and top full open. Eventually at 90 minutes of so the temp (dome thermometer) drops to 215F or so, though it will hold there pretty well. Not horrible, but I'm trying to figure out the air control.
My sense is that air movement through the unit due to wind knocks the temps down - is this reasonable to assume? Put up a windscreen and closed upwind vents, then stirred charcoal a bit and temp rises, only to drop again in a little while. Is this normal behavior or do any of you folks have tips for a charcoal newbie? Is there a lot of tending for a WSM filled with charcoal or should it be set and mostly forget? Too much water? Thanks for any suggestions.
PS - love the GGSA sauce Jeff - my wife can't tolerate many store bought sauces and we can control the ingredients in yours.