WSM, too hot

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by biaviian, Jun 3, 2011.

  1. biaviian

    biaviian Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I am on my 3rd time smoking with my WSM (18.5") and it is still too hot.  I am getting temps of 325 and 316 a little over an hour after dumping the hot coals.  I am using the minion method with RO lump.  I only have 1 vent open 1/4 of the way (if that) and have the top vent wide open.  I only used enough lit lump to cover the bottom of the chimney (about 1/5th full) and it is about 70 in the full shade, no wind. No water in the pan; I use the clay pot deal.  I also am running it empty at the moment. 

    Any thoughts?
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2011
  2. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sorry, no experience with the WSM but in my old ECB I switched to sand in the water pan to help with the heat and cut way back on the amount of coals I started with after finding the SMF and learning how much I was doing incorrectly. I had to add lit coals more often but lived with it. Does lump burn hotter than briquettes? I'm sure someone with a WSM will be along shortly to help you out.
  3. From what you're describing, you are doing it correctly. When do you start closing your vents. I close 2 of them whent it gets to 200, and leave the 3rd about 25% open. It takes about 25-30 mins and it stays stable @ 225-235 for a long time. Check also  your thermometers for accuracy.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2011
  4. biaviian

    biaviian Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I close the vents at just under 200 and leave just 1 1/4 of the way open.  I am wondering if I didn't/don't let the lump ash over enough.  I assume that would cause too much lump to ignite right away thus causing my temps to be so high.  They spiked at 380 and are now back down to 311, after closing every vent but the top 1.  The probes were checked last week and were dead on then.  They were correct at room temp today so I don't think they are the problem; it is just me!

    I have never used charcoal before getting this WSM so this is really not only my 3rd round with the WSM but also with charcoal. 
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2011
  5. I'm out of ideas. You seem to be doing everything right. Man, 380 is high. I would have to try really hard to get it that high. I'm sure somebody will come along with more experience on a WSM to help you out. Good luck.
  6. I would try running it with the water pan full of water. I would also try starting it with just a few lit coals, im talking like 5-6 large piece of lump dropping in the middle of the ring and let it slowly climb. I have not run my wsm with a saucer yet but I will say when I have run a dry pan it runs WAY hotter than with water. (this should be obvious I know) I think the problem with running just a saucer with no sand is you have a serious lack of heat sink volume and you get a lot of heat build up with nothing to really absorb and evenly disperse it and it just runs on the hot side.

    Just out of curiosity is there a reason you are not running the water pan?
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2011
  7. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Try the minnion method like this & only start with 6-8 lit on one end. It will slowly burn around the circle. I also use water in the pan.

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2011
  8. biaviian

    biaviian Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Yeah because I saw the saucer mod, and that most people liked it, so I thought I'd give it a shot.  It is running hotter than the first time I ran it and that first time was with water and no saucer. 
  9. biaviian

    biaviian Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I'll have to try it that way next time, thanks.  I did it with the can in the middle but surrounded it with unlit and put the lit lump in the middle, where the can was. 
  10. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Mine hasn't got that high.

    It did get hot a few times tho.

    I don't let it get past 175-180 before I shut 2 vents and put the other at1/4 open.

    Too much charcoal burning.. 

    I use a large soup can with both ends cut out. 6-9 kingsford briquettes in the chimney.

    Can is in the center of the ring surrounded by RO. Pour the kingsford into the can and pull the can.

     The last time It got hot was when  I had the top off too long. 

     It never got cooled down enough.

     Hope this helps.

  11. biaviian

    biaviian Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I've had the vents closed for a better part of an hour and the temps have been steady at 310-313 ever since. 
  12. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    It will take a long time to cool down...the last time it happened here it never cooled all the way down..just too much coal burning.

    Take a look at that PM I sent you about starting..
  13. I would try running a full water pan with cold tap water next time, run a full ring of charcoal and use 5 big pieces of lump to use for starting, make a small indent in the middle of your ring and dump the red hot coals in there. Keep the vents at 2 full closed one at around 20% open until it gets to 225* and adjust the open vent accordingly from there. I ran mine hot as hell the first time I used it by starting with too many lit coals and havent had a problem ever since. a few smokes back I ran it for 18.5 hour at 225 without adding any extra lit coals just half a chimney of unlit at around 16 hours.

  14. jak757

    jak757 Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    I use the clay saucer too in my WSM, and while it ruuns a bit hotter, I have not had the type of problem you are having. I'm not sure using water will help that much -- given that not using water, using the saucer, has not "hurt that much" in my experience.  Have you checked to make sure you have a tight seal around the door and the cover?  With the vents closed, if it's not coming down, it may be sucking in air somewhere.  

    I've loaded mine up with charcoal and some wood chunks, and dumped nearly a whole Weber chimney of lit coals on it.  I closed two vents when it was close to 200; tinker with the third.  I did have to close my third vent a time or two for a while to stabilize the temps, but it got there....and stayed there for a long time.  

    Good luck -- I'm sure you will get it where you want it.  Just don't give up!
  15. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    My WSM ran hot for the first 5 smokes, the TVWB board says this is normal, it takes some time for the seasoning to fill in all of the tiny holes that allows the air to enter other than by the vents, mine is now a chocolate brown inside.  You say this is your third smoke, but I read your first smoke was ABT"s which don't take that long, so you don't have much smoking time to build up the seasoning, I cooked chicken at first, both grates filled with quarters and cooked two batches each time.  Mine leaked around the door and I had to tweak it some and fill the gaps with tin foil, also you might try less lit charcoal, to solve the problem of the small pieces of lump falling through, you can buy another charcoal grate and wire it in perpendicular to the other.

    Have fun and enjoy.

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2011
  16. big twig

    big twig Smoking Fanatic

    I have only had like 6 or so smokes in my WSM and the only time mine ran that hot was when my water pan was empty, so I filled it up and the temp stabilized. I have heard of people using the clay pot idea but they had the pot filled with sand or water. I think there needs to be something with mass to act as a heat buffer (ex. water or sand). Just my 2 cents. Hope you figure things out.
  17. biaviian

    biaviian Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I actually have another charcoal grate that is perpendicular; that was my first "mod". No, I don't have too much time on this WSM as a whole, which is why I'm running it today even though I only cooked 2 sausages, for lunch. Currently I'm using my MES to smoke some eggs. Let's hope they turn out OK!

    The door certainly isn't tight by any stretch of the imagination and that is why I have a replacement on the way. Besides that I do have probe holes for each rack.

    I really think it is a combination of having too much lit lump to start and/or the way I'm doing the minion method.  I believe it boils down to the fact that too much lump is lighting at the start.  The lack of water/sand/mass may play a role but I can't imagine it would make that much of a difference.  The only way I can see temps getting that high is because I have an all-out fire/lump war and the fire was winning the battle. 
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2011
  18. biaviian

    biaviian Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Yeah, I have been starting with at least twice that, if not 3xs, in my chimney.  That has to be the issue. 

    Craig, I saw that PM and used it for my first smoke.  That smoke turned out great!  Thanks again for the advice on this smoker.
  19. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I know it sounds counter intuitive, but filling the ring at least half way with unlit charcoal helps to keep the temps down. Also if possible put your lit stuff on top of the unlit in a small pile.

    Now the reason I believe this works is by filling the ring at least half way an putting your lit on top in the middle you actually are using the mass of the unlit charcoal to cut down on the amount of air hitting the lit charcoal and stoaking it hotter. Basically the air coming in the bottom has to filter through the unlit charcoal which slows it down and creates a restriction, and since the lit charcoal is on top it mainly gets fed air from only one side, the top. But if you have lit charcoal exposed on the bottom of the charcoal grate then incoming air will draw straight up through the lit stuff and stoak it like the bellows on a forge. Basically you want a large unlit mass that is not only your long burn fuel source, but also helps to regulate your fire.

    Course I could be completely wrong and making an @#$ out of myself to..... (just ask my wife! [​IMG]) LOL
  20. Filling the charcoal ring up completely may help. I've never had that problem with my 18.5 but I always filling the ring completely and use 5-7 pieces of competition charcoal. Only temp spikes are when I want to run it up and open all the vents.

    Let us know how it turns out.

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