After indirect grilling/smoking on my 22 1/2" Weber I decided to take the plunge and pick up a 22 1/2" WSM. I know from reading the forum they will run hot the first several times until it get seasoned. The first smoke I tried chicken quarters to help the seasoning process, I really made some mistakes when firing it up as I left the smoker open while I filled the water pan, this took maybe 5 minutes or so. By the time I closed it up it peaked out at 375 I shut 2 of the bottom vents all the way and left the last one barely open. Temperature dropped but only to about 280 (after quite some time) so I shut the top vent about half and did get the temperature down to about 240 (using a Maverick ET-732). Then it settled in and ran very well. Using the top damper I could control the temp very well, even though I knew this is not the way to do it. I took the chicken off by thigh temperature but it was still pink at the joint so the next day I finished them on the One-Touch Gold. Accidental reverse sear, the chicken turned out great.
Smoke #2 was a couple rack of baby backs, better results by having everything ready to go and keeping it closed up as much as possible and closing off the bottom vents from the start. I still couldn't regulate the temperature down to 225 without tweaking the top vent. Results were great though.
Yesterday was smoke #3, spare ribs and I still couldn't keep the temperature low enough without the top vent for regulation. End results were still great.
Is this normal to have to use the top vent? I am using Royal Oak lump charcoal. I fill the ring and then add a chimney full of hot coals, is that too much?
I am finding better control once the vents are set and that it will run there for hours, just having to use the top vent which bothers me.
Thanks to this forum for advice on mods as I have added expanded metal and handles to the charcoal grate as well as 2 brass ports for temperature probes.