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Maiden Voyage Weekend - WSM 22 - Labor Day

Joined Aug 22, 2018
Hey SMF Community!

I just wanted to post the results of my first smoker weekend, with lots of help from the forums here. I owned a very horrible smoker at a rental house about 9 years ago, and did some edible smokes with it, but recently built a deck for my wife and myself on our house, and felt getting a legitimate smoker was a must. So last weekend I took my WSM 22 on its first test run after all kinds of research and reading from these forums, and I think it helped my first weekend (last weekend, labor day) be a great one. This was all in preparation for our big annual NFL kickoff Sunday party (tomorrow).

So last Saturday the 1st, I put a rub on a 8.3lb butt at about 4pm, planning on waking up and putting it on the smoker at about 5am. Long story short, the wife and I went out with some friends that night, and I was fortunate enough to randomly wake up at 5am that next morning... and I'm learning finding a good cruising temp isn't so fun while very hungover. I got the butt on about 6:30am, over 225degrees, and kept it rolling. I had planned on 1.5-2 hrs/lb on cook time, but I might have been a bit off. I took that butt off 2:30am the next morning. Thankfully a game of cards kept us up that long as well, til the IT was at 196. So 20hrs cook time for 8.3. Is that a bit much or am I crazy?

The bummer about it being that late when you pull it off, is I couldn't let it rest like it needed. That said I shredded and drizzled with SoFlaQuer's awesome finishing sauce, and was very very happy. (Shout out to SFQ and his finish. Really just added to the amazing flav)

This all said, I've been following WSM guides, and most of them end of hitting cruising temp with bottom vents at around 10-20% open. If I have anything other than completely closed bottom vents, it'll keep creeping up. If I close them completely, it'll slowly creep down. Is this just a matter of time using my unit?

I just put on tomorrow's butt, and will update everyone tomorrow, but really just wanted to pay my respects to all the awesome knowledge on this forums. Everyone ate like kings and queens.

Random notes I learned from:
1) Very glad I got a roll of lavalock for the door. I'll also be putting it on the lid, because I'm getting air leak there.
2) I was battling between a 18.5 and a 22 inch WSM forever. While I'm not comfortable using this unit enough for a crowd of friends at a party, next year for my NFL kickoff party, I will make full use of the 22, and I'm now glad I got it.
3) While I don't think seasoning a WSM is necessary at all, I did follow the Harry Soo seasoning method (didn't do 2 runs of fat, just 1). That said, After 20 hr butt smoke, and 3-4hrs of chicken, it finally got easier to keep from running hot. So while it doesn't need seasoning, coating the inside sure seemed to keep it from running hot.
4)I'm thinking I need one specific air temp therm, so I can use both of my probes for 2 kinds of meat.
5)Outside of the one time it freaked out on me (first 90 mins of my chicken smoke), the ThermoPro T20 has been pretty awesome. That said, I now wish I had 20 probes for 6 smokers =)

For the butt, I went no foil, no pan, just on the grate for about 20 hrs, ranging between 225-245 for the most part. Used hickory, full bag kingsford BB, minion with 12-15 coals starting the top. For some reason it took me 2.5+hrs per lb cook time, but it still came out amazing.

For the chicken I went "nekkid" with just SPOG, and it was done in about 3.5-4 hrs at 275-280degree. I think I might switch that to 300 next time to finish crisping the skin.

Thanks again for all the knowledge on here, and cheers to the awesome smoking arts! =)



Legendary Pitmaster
OTBS Member
Joined Sep 15, 2012
Looks like a terrific smoke you had going on. Nice Job.

Once up to temp I usually start off by keeping two bottom vents completely closed and maintaining temp with one bottom vent. Then towards the end when the coals are loosing their magic I start opening up the other two for more air. Also don't be afraid of cooking that butt at a higher temp, 250 to 275 is fine. You won't notice any real difference in flavor or texture, but it will save you some sleep time. I also don't sweat a small bit of air leakage around the lid. The WSM wasn't built to be completely air tight.

Point for sure.



SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
Staff member
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
Joined Jun 22, 2009
Great job on your first run with a new smoker!
As said above, 2 vents closed & 1 just cracked open seems to hold a pretty steady temp. Also keep the top vent open all the way.

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