or Connect
SmokingMeatForums.com › Forums › Smoking Supplies & Equipment › Charcoal Smokers › WSM 18.5 and Auberins Temp Controller Help
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

WSM 18.5 and Auberins Temp Controller Help

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I just got my WSM and Auberins Temp controller, I attempted to do a burn off and prepare for a nice long cook next week. I added one chimney of K Blue coal that sat in the chimney for 25 min. I added the coal to the smoker and closed the remaining two vents and left that top vent open. I added enough water to fill the coal 50% and set the controller for 250F. The temp rised fairly quickly and hit 277 for about 20 min and then dropped below 250. Once it dropped below 250 the fan kicked on at around 225-215, by then it was too late and it could only hold the temp at 179 for about 80 min. By then most of the coals were burnt out and the temp was slowly declining.

What am I doing wrong?
post #2 of 24

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!

post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 

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. 

post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
What size clay piece should I buy as well?
post #5 of 24
I dry smoke with nothing in my water pan. You can put a 15" clay tray in your pan, or playground sand, if you want.
post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
I'll check out HD and Lowes tonight for the clay disk and give it a shot again on Wed.
post #7 of 24
You don't need anything in the pan, especially with a controller. The pan is there to act as a heatsink, when filled, but is not necessary. Try just foiling it for now. Look at the minion method, and build your coal basket accordingly. Light maybe a dozen or is coals, and dump them on top of the unlit. Then let the auber bring it up to temp.

Try this and please report back.
post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
I will, lastly do I need to worry about the fan blowing onto the coals? Should I make something to direct the air?
post #9 of 24
Originally Posted by TishTheDish View Post

I will, lastly do I need to worry about the fan blowing onto the coals? Should I make something to direct the air?


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. 

post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
Since mine doesn't have one should I make one or does it not matter?
post #11 of 24

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.   

post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
One last question! What should the top vent be set to?
post #13 of 24

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.    

post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 
What about Fuel, I have two of these USA bags sitting in my garage. Should I be using this instead?
post #15 of 24

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.   

post #16 of 24
For a hot fast fire, burn natural lump charcoal, for a slower, longer burn use briquettes. A lot of guys like kings ford blue bag, but i find it makes a lot of ash. I use it (a lot) but I do try to find "natural" briquettes as they seem to make less ash for me
post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 
So then use these for brisket and other slow cooking meat?
post #18 of 24

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.   

post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 
I'll stick to my initial test with the KBB and use the lump when doing chicken.
post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 
I'm still bouncing all over the place, been going on for over 2 hours now and I bounce between 210-247..
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Charcoal Smokers
SmokingMeatForums.com › Forums › Smoking Supplies & Equipment › Charcoal Smokers › WSM 18.5 and Auberins Temp Controller Help