18.5" wsm with party q in cold temps help.

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Meat Mopper
Original poster
Jul 16, 2013
Dighton, Mass.
I got a party q for Christmas and it works well. The one thing that I notice is after  approximately 4 hours @ 235 my temps  start to drop a couple of degrees at a time and can"t seam to be able to reach that 235 mark.  I use kingsford blue and the out side temp was around 29 degrees. The charcoal ring was full when started. I do not know how much is left as my duck was done ( thankfully ). New batteries and the party q is running so I don't be leave its a battery issue.

This is the second time using the party q  and the first time I didn't use a full ring of fuel and thought that was the problem. This time I used a full ring and same thing

Could it be because the Party q is blowing in cold air that it  kills the fuel fast?  I hope that this is not the case, if it is any tips?

I also use water in the water pan.

Thanks in advance for any help.
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I've thought about this and I can't explain it. I did an overnight butt New Year's Eve and ran 230*F all night with a full ring of KBB, no water, and only vents in 20*F-ish night air. I do not run a ATC but hot air exiting and pulling in cool air feeding the fire is EXACTLY what you want (chimney effect).  Is your top vent open? 
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Do you have a grate so the ash can fall and the air can get to the coals?  I would do lump coal instead of the KBB.  I find if I want 225 then I use KBB but if I want higher temps Lump seems to work better. 

I have the original charcoal rack. I always keep the top vent wide open and only close it after my smoke is done.

I have had a couple of thoughts, I am starting to think the cold weather is raising havoc on the batteries and even though to party q is running perhaps its not running at peak. I use water in the pan and have read that in cold weather some don't use water in the pan (just foil it).

I packed the ring pretty tightly with charcoal, could I have packet it to tight?

Thanks for the help every one.
I doubt you packed the coal too tight. 

I recommend ditching the water first.  I rarely use water any more.  You get a lot more mileage from the charcoal if it doesn't have to heat the water and the air. ...and in the cold temps it has to work harder anyway so I give it all the advantage I can.

Though you may be onto something with the battery idea.  I saw a guy use an AC/DC adapter on his PartyQ in another forum which could help.   I can send you a link.  Send me a PM if interested.
Thanks for the tips. As far as the ac/dc adapter goes I have already ordered some parts to do that. (Saw it on another forum)  I'm thinking of doing a fatty this weekend so I will try it without water and hopefully the part for the party q comes in too.
Since our recent move to Colorado, I've also had trouble reaching and maintaining temps in my WSM. I thought it was just colder weather but my buddy pointed out 20% less oxygen is a problem as well.

I believe I've been using too much fuel as lately my fires seem to smolder and I'm getting dirty smoke.

Last week I got a packers cut brisket and was determined to conquer the problem. I cooked on a warmish day so outside temps weren't a problem. I started out on lump charcoal but switched to sticks once we were cooking. Still the same problems, the temps were to damn low.

As I was loading fuel I noticed the temps would go higher when the door was opened. So I tried opening it slightly for the rest of the cook. Presto! Perfect and stable temps. Since all my vents were wide open, I'm coming to believe that in this case my problem is too little exhaust, not too little combustion air.

Any other observations are appreciated.

The brisket turned out to be my best ever cook
I haven't done any smoking since my last post. I did how ever pick up a terracotta saucer to place in the water pan instead of water and did the ac/dC adapter to my party q. Unfortunately I have been feeling under the weather this week end.
I ran my 22.5 WSM today here in Wisconsin.  It was around 25 deg out and I didn't have any issue keeping the temp up.  I don't run water in the pan just dry.  It always seems to drop around that 4 hour mark and I have to open up one of the vents a little more to bring it back up.  Other than that it runs like a champ.  I am thinking of adding sand to the water pan just to help hold the temp down when it is hot out.
Never had an issue getting heat out of my 22 1/2. I always use lump and water (coldest was 5 degrees), I use hot water out of the sink to start. Smoker is ready to go in less then a 1/2 hour. I have never had all the vents open to maintain 225-230. I have opened them all the way to kick it in the ass at the end of a smoke to finish off the meat (eg. double smoked ham). I find wind and darkness more of an issue than the temperature.
I have 2 PartyQs and have adapted both for AC power after having issues with batteries in cool weather ( 40s & 50s)
You didn't say what forum, my first one I soldered wires in with an adapter, the second I took another's idea and just used dowel rods to replace the batteries, easy and works well.
I have the PQ but rarely use it.   Today i cooked a bird in 51 below zero @ 350*  in my mni WSM.     It's just not needed, obtw...drop the water!   Good luck.
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