The WSM 22, Signals, Billows and the Cold!

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splendorlex

Smoke Blower
Original poster
Jun 18, 2013
96
83
Lake Geneva, WI
Hey all! I was just wondering if anyone is running a setup like this. I have a WSM 22 that I've had for a couple of years, and recently added Thermoworks Signals and the Billows to try to make temp management simple. Does anyone have this setup, and if so, how successful has it been for you? This is my second time using it, and in both cases the results aren't exactly what I was hoping for. (And it's why I'm considering trying to identify a good pellet smoker that can reliable hold the temp I want.)

For some extra background, I also upgraded the WSM with the Gasket kit this summer, and the thing is pretty tight at this point. I used to get quite a bit of smoke loss out the door and lid, but now that's gone. I have a pork butt on today, and I have the billows set to maintain at 250, but it's still struggling to keep it above 225. Is the problem I'm having just the temp? It is in the 20s here in Wisconsin, and there's a decent wind blowing as well. Maybe 225 is the best I can do in these conditions? Any thoughts or experience with this setup?
PXL_20220115_171905865.jpg
 

yankee2bbq

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
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May 7, 2017
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Ar kansas
Hey all! I was just wondering if anyone is running a setup like this. I have a WSM 22 that I've had for a couple of years, and recently added Thermoworks Signals and the Billows to try to make temp management simple. Does anyone have this setup, and if so, how successful has it been for you? This is my second time using it, and in both cases the results aren't exactly what I was hoping for. (And it's why I'm considering trying to identify a good pellet smoker that can reliable hold the temp I want.)

For some extra background, I also upgraded the WSM with the Gasket kit this summer, and the thing is pretty tight at this point. I used to get quite a bit of smoke loss out the door and lid, but now that's gone. I have a pork butt on today, and I have the billows set to maintain at 250, but it's still struggling to keep it above 225. Is the problem I'm having just the temp? It is in the 20s here in Wisconsin, and there's a decent wind blowing as well. Maybe 225 is the best I can do in these conditions? Any thoughts or experience with this setup? View attachment 522284
I have a set-just like yours. I use the bbq guru temp. controller. (Same thing, different brand). I have the stainless steel door too.
First, in outside temperatures like that, I would definitely wrap that smoker in a welders blanket. And using heavy duty clamps to keep that welders blanket wrapped up tight.

Second, are you using water in that pan? I wouldn’t. More, fuel or energy to heat that water. I never do anyway, regardless of weather.

Third, are you using charcoal briquettes? If so, how is the charcoal set up? Minion method i assume.

My opinion: I’ve smoked in that type of weather before. Right now your are fighting the ambient temperature. Keeping that smoker wrapped in a welders blanket and keep that lid closed is very important.

Also, finishing that butt off in the oven is no shame! I’ve done that many many times!
 
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splendorlex

Smoke Blower
Original poster
Thread starter
Jun 18, 2013
96
83
Lake Geneva, WI
Thanks Justin! I think we do some of the same stuff! I did also upgraded to the steel door from Cajun Bandit when I did the gaskets this summer, forgot to add that. I was thinking that maybe insulation is what I'm missing in the cold. I should look into getting a welder's blanket like you suggest when I'm running it in the winter months.

And I absolutely plan to finish it in the oven once I move to the wrap phase around 160. I feel no shame, I've done it before and it turns out just as good. It's not getting the smoke anymore when it's wrapped anyhow.
 

yankee2bbq

Master of the Pit
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May 7, 2017
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Ar kansas
Thanks Justin! I think we do some of the same stuff! I did also upgraded to the steel door from Cajun Bandit when I did the gaskets this summer, forgot to add that. I was thinking that maybe insulation is what I'm missing in the cold. I should look into getting a welder's blanket like you suggest when I'm running it in the winter months.

And I absolutely plan to finish it in the oven once I move to the wrap phase around 160. I feel no shame, I've done it before and it turns out just as good. It's not getting the smoke anymore when it's wrapped anyhow.
Your welcome.
I forgot to add, start with more hot coals than normal in cold weather!
 

splendorlex

Smoke Blower
Original poster
Thread starter
Jun 18, 2013
96
83
Lake Geneva, WI
I did use the minion method, and used a full chimney of coals to get it going. It is now holding around 240 or so, which is just fine. I think it may have needed more coals to get going.
 

tx smoker

Legendary Pitmaster
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Apr 14, 2013
7,539
11,123
Lago Vista, Texas
I have a set-just like yours. I use the bbq guru temp. controller. (Same thing, different brand). I have the stainless steel door too.
First, in outside temperatures like that, I would definitely wrap that smoker in a welders blanket. And using heavy duty clamps to keep that welders blanket wrapped up tight.

Short version of the quote but that was an outstanding answer!! Very informative and detailed. That sir is the epitome of what this forum is all about!!

Robert
 
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MileHiGuy

Smoke Blower
Mar 24, 2019
145
100
Denver, Colorado
I have the same smoker and I'm in Denver. I have the same thermometer too but I recently switched to the Fireboard. My dad uses the bbq guru with the fan. I've never had any experience with a fan, so can't comment on that... sorry. My WSM is pretty much set and let it do it's thing after I get the fire going...usually around 225 degrees. I have the cajun bandit door on it too and when I have the vents where I want them it just stay at the same temp. I usually run it with a full batch of water in the pan but in the winter I dial it back a bit. I usually use Kingsford or Royal oak charcoal briquettes. I don't think your issue is with the smoker or fan. My guess is the charcoal but I don't really know. I do overnight cooks with a whole bag of royal oak and a 16 lb brisket and it will take about 20 hours.

Good luck!!!
 

SlowmotionQue

Smoking Fanatic
Feb 6, 2019
647
239
Absolutely the ambient temperature is playing a huge role in the WSM not being able to maintain temp. And if you're running it with water in the water pan, that adds on to the difficulty in it holding temp.
 

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