maintaining temperature

Discussion in 'WSM Owners (Weber Smokey Mountain)' started by craigstoeckle, Jul 27, 2014.

  1. Ok, need some help team.  For some reason my WSM 22.5" dome shows 230 degrees, but my Maverick temperature probe only shows 208 degrees.  I am constantly having challenges and can't figure out what is going wrong.

    I followed Jeff's directions to the 'T' in using lump charcoal in the ring, used the Minion method for starting coals.  Included my handful of wood chunks and have managed the top and bottom vents to 1/4 open on the bottom and 1/4 to 1/2 open on the dome.

    Ugh, any suggestions or ideas, please?  BTW - today I'm doing beer can chicken and expect it to be awesome regardless.  Thanks all,

  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Craig, trust the Maverick.  I have three therms going right now in my 22.5" WSM, the lid therm, my Maverick, and the BBQ Guru DigiQ DX2 air pump.  The Guru is set at 235 and that's what it reads.  The Maverick is reading 239.  The lid therm is reading 225F.  I choose to follow what the Maverick is telling me and just make a mental note of the lid therm.  The Guru is there just to maintain temperature. 

    I don't use the Minion method but many do.  I'll only give something a chance once or twice, and if I can't make it work like described, I go to what I know.  I dump a bed of cold charcoal with buried wood in my WSM, then dump 1/4 to 3/4 chimney of hot coals on top of that in the center of the cold charcoal, depending on the chamber temp I want (1/4 for 225, 3/4 for 300+).  I really don't spread it out much, just making sure it isn't high enough to touch the bottom of the water pan. 

    I like the dump method of loading because it provides more airflow and surface area that can burn in the charcoal.  Densely packing charcoal is not conducive to a good, clean fire.

    Placement of your Maverick probe can impact temps too.  Close to the meat will read lower than a couple inches away.  Placing it close to the edge will read higher than placing it in the center of the grate.  Pick a spot and always put it there.  I place mine about 3" from the edge. 

    At this point you want to raise your Maverick temp, what 25F?  Open your lower vents fully to raise the temp 25F or so, opening the top vent to match.  The temp may drop initially but should start to rise as the coals burn hotter.  Then when you are within a few degrees of your target close down the bottom vents to 1/4 or so and then close the top vent to 1/2.  Adjust the top vent as necessary to get it to stabilize.   
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2014
  3. Hey Noboundaries,

    EXCELLENT feedback.  Many, many thanks.  I agree with your comments and will certainly work at maintaining the temp as suggested.  Quick question - how much charcoal do you put into the ring to start?  For a five hour smoke, do you dump 1/4 or a 1/2 of a bag?  I usually put in between 1/4 and 1/3 of lump charcoal into the ring then pour the chimney coals on top.  Thanks,
  4. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Craig, I use Kingsford Blue Bag. I've tried lump, three types, and Kingsford Competition.  KBB gives me a solid smoke and is long lasting.  That's all I use now. 

    Lets look at your charcoal load this way: one load it is good for many smokes.  Whether I'm doing a one hour smoke or a 10 hour smoke I load the ring to the top the first time.  Bury 3-4 good sized chunks in the charcoal, then lay 3-4 around the edges of the top so that when you dump your hot charcoal in the middle the wood is close to or just touching the hot charcoal.  Let the smoker come up to temp and the white smoke to settle down, load your meat, get the temps to stabilize, smoke your meat, remove it, close down all the vents and snuff out the charcoal in your smoke ring. 

    When you are ready to smoke again, knock off the ash off the briquettes in the charcoal ring and learn how to pick up your grate and charcoal loaded ring to clean out your ash bowl.  Then put the grate/charcoal loaded ring back in the smoker.  Add some new charcoal to the ring if you want if you anticipate a long smoke, then charge the ring with hot charcoal.  If it is going to be a short smoke of 3-4 hours, you may just want to charge what's there with hot charcoal and some more wood on top.  Then you're off and smoking again.   

    Even with my previously leaky 22.5" WSM, I'd get 4-6 smokes out of 30-40 lbs of charcoal.  Since I added the gasket kit and the Guru I get 6-8 smokes out of 20 lbs of charcoal.   Saturday I smoked 2 racks of spare ribs for 6 hours at 235F, adding maybe 30 briquettes to what was already in the charcoal ring.  I did knock the ash off and clean out the ash bowl.  Sunday I smoked 14 brats for just under 3 hours.  I didn't even bother to knock the ash off the remaining charcoal in the ring or clean out the bowl, I just dumped 1/4 chimney of hot charcoal in the middle and put some oak around the fire.  Worked like a charm.  Below is what is left in the WSM after the two smokes.  I'll definitely need to knock ash off and clean out the bowl on the next smoke, but what you see will easily burn for probably 10 hours or more at 235F with just 1/4 chimney of hot charcoal and some new wood.

  5. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yeah trust the mavericks.... lid therm can be off by quite a bit. I also use KBB (mostly), and have it down to two basic loads. Half ring for smokes up to 8 hrs. and full ring for anything longer. I usually fill my ring about 1/3 full, put a few fist sized chunks on, cover the chunks with more charcoal, top with more chunks, then dump a full lit chimney on top (kind of piled in the middle. With that set up I am golden on temps for the entire smoke.
  6. measuring in the lid and on the grate are like comparing apples to oranges.  The lid therm may or may be off or it may be WAY off.  I recommend testing it when you get it and every year thereafter.  Be advised: water does not ALWAYS boil at 212*F .  Baro pressure and elev play significant roles.

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