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Adjusting AirFlow on a WSM...

skyclad

Fire Starter
36
10
Joined Jan 13, 2012
Hey guys......I was wondering if you all could fill me in on some techniques or hopefully even some "secrets" regarding the air flow adjustment on a Weber Smoky Mtn (22.5, just for extra info..)..  I got this great smoker for my birthday and love it!  Only thing is that I've still got lots to learn about the above issue, and was wondering what you guys usually do.........partially open 3 vents on bottom/mostly open on the top vent......full open on bottom 3 with 1/4 open on top?........or maybe the many combinations of both..  Please fill me in if you would..  I'm a newbie on the WSM and could use any suggestions you would have..  Thanks in advance for anything you might suggest...!

PS  Right now, looking through beer goggles at the temp gauge (with football game in the background..), it seems to be about 215 and is struggling to get any higher..  I suspect it's "operator error" and that's why I wanted to ask you guys about this..  Probably no big issue since I'm simply putting extra smoke on a ham and "smoked" turkey I bought earlier..  Since it's already cooked, a high temp is probably not a big deal today.........but was wondering about the future and what needs to be done..........especially on that first rack of ribs!!
 

jerseydrew

Smoking Fanatic
336
12
Joined Dec 7, 2012
google has tones of info but easy run through:

top vent ALWAYS 100% open. 

bottom vents full open on warm up till about 200 then cut all three back to about 1/4 open. 

over shoot your temp by at least 25 degrees so when you put on a hunk of cold meat it can rebound to a smoking temp faster. 

once you get used to it very small changes will make a difference just give it 10 minutes and then check again. 

TAKE THE THERMOMETER OUT OF THE LID AND TEST IT WITH BOILING WATER!!!! YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW FAR OFF IT IS FROM REAL TEMP. I HAD ONE THAT WAS 10-15 DEGREES OFF AND THEN GOT A REPLACEMENT THAT WAS 25 DEGREES OFF!!!

bottom shelf is about 20 degrees cooler then the top one. 

on a windy day use a welding blanket or a wind break.

after many hours of smoking you will have to shake some of the ash out of the burn area. i use welding gloves to take the middle section off with lid still on. i installed handles to the fire grate and can shake the ash and add more coal at that time. 

don't use a lot of water if you are going to use it. most likely in the summer if you get to the point where you have two lower vents closed and the third one only a sliver open and you still cant bring the temp down add about 1/2 gallon of cold water to help bring down temps. 

royal oak burn very hot and VERY fast. will go through tons of it. if you insist on using it then hand pack it in the fire ring to lessen dead space and get a longer burn. 

there is much more but that is off the top of my head. 
 

skyclad

Fire Starter
36
10
Joined Jan 13, 2012
Thanks much Jerseydrew..  That was VERY helpful...!!  I'll have your comments printed out and in hand for the next smoke...

S
 

jirodriguez

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
4,653
138
Joined Jun 5, 2009
Drew has you covered only comments I would add are:

You don't need to dissasemble the smoker to "shake" the ash, just get a fireplace ash shovel and very slowly, very gently use it to stir the coals. This will knock the ash build up out and by doing it slowly and gently it won't kick up any ash on the food. Been doing it for years and it works great.

If your are using lump even after hand packing it grasp the sides of the ring and turn it 1/4 turn back and forth a few times. This will help it settle and pack in tighter. The tighter pack will keep the burn going longer and at a stedier rate - you can also mix lump and charcoal 50/50 for a good long burn as well.
 

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