What am I doing wrong?
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What am I doing wrong?
I don't have an Auberins Temp controller but I do have a DigiQ which basically does the same thing.
I'm just a little confused by this line: I added enough water to fill the coal 50%...... I can assume you added water and filled the charcoal basket half way.
Second, what were you looking at for your chamber temperature? The controller, the lid therm, or a Maverick type therm?
All that aside, I rarely use water in the water pan, preferring to dry smoke. Why? Water acts as a heat sink to keep temps low and I'm not much of a low n slow guy. Nowadays 250F is my lowest go to temp. Remember, water boils at 212F at sea level. If you set the controller much above 225F with full or partial water pan you are going to burn up a LOT of fuel as the blower works overtime to put additional heat in the high humidity chamber that is trying to maintain 212F. There's a lot of physics involved here. Others can chime in here too but when I do use water in the water pan I do a wet-to-dry smoke. I'll set the blower to 215 to 225F until the water pan is dry. When I see the temp start to climb, I know the pan is dry and I'll reset the blower to 250, 275, whatever my target temp.
A full chimney of hot charcoal is what I add to cold charcoal when I want a dry chamber temp of 325F+ for skin on poultry. If I want a lower temp I put less hot charcoal on the cold coals and wood: 1/4" chimney for 225F: about 1/3 for 250F, about 1/2 to 2/3 for 275F, 3/4 for 300-325F, and a full chimney for hotter.
When I did a dry run on my WSM I filled the charcoal basket half way then added 1/2 chimney of hot coals. No blower was involved. I opened all the vents and let it run. The temp ran up to more than 350F and I let it stabilize there for a while, then I started choking it down to learn to control temps, which you don't have to do with a controller. I choked it down over several hours, letting the temps stabilize, eventually all the way down to 225F. I got 13+ hours out of that half load of KBB in my 22.5" WSM.
Try the run again with no water at 250F with a half load of KBB and 1/3 chimney of hot coals. I use my Maverick to tell me when to shut down the lower vents and plug in my controller. When the chamber temp on my Maverick is about 15-25F below my target, that when I shut down the lower vents and plug in the controller. My lid therm is totally useless. At 250F on the Maverick it will now read about 180-200F.
BTW, there's really no need to burn out a WSM, so on that dry run, throw something quick in there like sausages, meatloaf, boneless/skinless breasts or thighs, etc. No need is wasting good smoke!
Sorry, it was 50% water in the pan not coal. So I have a feeling my fuel might be bad, I just retired my ECB and replaced it with this new WSM. With the coal I have I had the hardest time getting above 275 with the EBC and now this unit too, but I didn't try the clay disk in the water pan. I will try this next week and see how that performs. As for the probes, they are located directly in the middle of the top rack and seem to be pretty accurate.
I will try your fuel ratio as well, I think that might be my main problem in the end.
My DigiQ has a deflector that blows the air downward. But since I don't clean my ash bowl out after every smoke you'd think I'd get blowing ashes. Nope. Maybe I do while it is coming up to temp and the smoke is heavy and white or grey. Once it settles down though to TBS, no blowing ash.
Nah, just go with what you have. It is basically just forcing air into the chamber. The airflow is going to hit the charcoal basket anyway. I ran mine once after a rare rain this past Spring, forgetting to empty the ash bowl that had water accumulated. After the smoke the next day, I looked and the water was up to the bottom of the vent holes! It still worked fine.
The forced air will find the fire, and when the fan shuts down the air flow is basically choked. It turns on the air when it needs to heat up again based upon the averaging algorithm of the controller.
I'm a bit of a loner on this topic because there are times I'll manipulate the top vent to better control temps.
Most folks say leave it full open no matter what, which I do the vast majority of the time, and always in the beginning of a smoke. As a smoke progresses though well into the TBS stage, or you can't even see the smoke any more but a hand whiff-and-sniff proves it is still there, I'll close the top vent down to half but only if I'm having trouble keeping the temps down even with the blower. Temps can spike if you are removing the lid a lot to show folks who want to see the meat, plus spraying, basting, wrapping, etc. Removing the lid lets a huge amount of air in the smoker, stoking the fire, but it is only a problem if you leave the lid off too long or you remove it a lot. Once the temps stabilize back where you want them, you can open the top vent back up all the way.
Since your WSM is new it may be a little leaky. If you find you are having issues controlling the temp with a dry water pan, you can use that top vent to help stabilize temps.
I like Kingsford Blue Bag for everyday smoking. Hate the Kingsford Competition (it burns too fast). I use a combination of KBB and Lazarri Mesquite Lump or RO Lump (any country) when I want a hot fire for poultry.
Fuel questions are practically fight'n words around here. Everyone has their preference and reasons for using what they choose. I like cheap fuel (KBB, 25 cents a lb starting Memorial Day) and have never had a taste issue with KBB pictured above. My wife is a super-taster and if there was a taste problem, I'd know it. Yes, you can use the KBB but try others too so you can decide what you like best. Playing with fuels is half the fun of figuring out your smoker.