How I start and use my WSM....

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by fpnmf, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. I have an old no-frills WSM I've been using for more than 10 years, with no working thermometer, an access door that leaks smoke, a water pan that just won't come clean any more and vent controls that are so bent that I have to move them with a pair of pliers.  In other words, I'm just getting it broken in right, but it makes great barbeque, so I have had to make some concessions.

    I use an instant read thermometer stuck in the top vent to check temp, and I reduce the amount of charcoal I start with to avoid a temp spike at the beginning, so I do have to add charcoal for longer smokes.  I fire up the new batch of charcoal in my chimney, then, using a pair of Ov-Gloves, I lift the WHOLE smoker off the base by hooking my fingers under the lip where the lid fits on.  It's not as hard as it sounds, just do it slow and level and set it down carefully.

    Then, add the charcoal into the ring, put a layer of soaked wood pieces on top of the (too) hot coals and replace the smoker on the base.  You wil lose less than 10 degrees of cooking temp at the rack levels and your temp will re-stabilize quickly.
  2. Or, if you happen to have a hubcap from a 1964 VW Microbus laying around....;-)
  3. rgraham

    rgraham Newbie

    I bought the 18.5" guy first, but got tired of the rib too big problem. Got the 22", and haven't looked back. When doing ribs, I use the fire ring from the 18.5" unit, and it works great. Much less charcoal used for the same results. I can usually fit four racks of St. Louis style on the top grate.

    Bought some KB 20lb double packs at Home Depot for $9.95 each last weekend. Make sure you have a fairly dry place to store it, as it does degrade over time and moisture. I bought a bunch end of summer last year, and some of it became useless. Moldy and crumbly.

    I use my old gas Weber to reheat the ribs, adding sauce to re glaze.
    Last edited: May 29, 2013
  4. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    The only way to keep the temp low is using the lower vents..

    Most everybody uses just one of the lowers at 1/2 to 1/4 open to stay near 225..

    I experience no issues with uneven burning..the fire works its way around..

  5. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I been wanting to get away from electric smoking and I think this unit is what I am going to...Thanks Craig
  6. I apologize if someone already ask this, but what is the purpose of putting a soup can in the middle of the charcoal ring?
  7. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    The soup can is there to pour the hot coals from the chimney in..

    To start the fire...

    Pour the coals..pull the can out and there ya have it...

  8. flyinion

    flyinion Smoke Blower

    Thanks Craig.  Yeah I do of course use the lower vents to control temp and my top is always wide open.  I was just closing them all down evenly and then tweaking one or two to try and stabilize temps.  Usually that means each vent is barely open though.  I will have to try your method next time.  I suppose using one vent would also make wind easier to deal with by just using the vent not in the path of the wind.  going to try the soup can thing too.  Is that just a standard soup can like a "Progresso" brand or something?  It's always hard to tell from pictures the scale of something's size sometimes.  It looks more like a coffee can size in the pictures.
  9. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I use a 28 ounce can..was a Bush Beans its a little bigger than a standard 14 oz soup can...

  10. flyinion

    flyinion Smoke Blower

    Ok thanks.  I'll look for one in that shape.  I use 28oz canned tomatoes all the time but those cans are shorter & wider than the cans of beans I believe.  Probably not wide enough to really affect how much charcoal goes in though unless I'm trying for max burn time or something.
  11. Hey Graig I have a 18.5 SMW had it for 25yrs now and always used water in it,how dose the terra cotta work as a heat defuser.

    I came across one thread a while back he was use sand,is it just for a dryer heat or easier clean up.

    I just recently bought the 22.5 what a monster uesd once so far I know how my 18.5 works, this one will take awhile and I will still be using the 18.5.

    I have never used any guru or stoker, I set the heat and let it do the work and try not to second guess myself,but one of these days I will get smothing.

    My wife is just getting over me buying the 22.5 so I will have to wait.
  12. I've been meaning to reply to this thread for awhile now but other things always seems to interfere. Anyway, I just want today that I have the 18.5" WSM. I also have the BBQ Guru for it. I enjoy using my WSM, but I find it to be a pain because it is not wide enough for me to lay three full length rack of ribs on it. Whenver we BBQ, we tend to have friends over, so the smaller model is not as convenient to use. not as convenient as I like anyway. At some point I will sell mine and upgrade to the larger model. The BBQ Guru is a fantastic device. It should be a standard tool to have for anyone who is a weekend bbq'er.
  13. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I cut the ribs in sections and use a rack..

    Can do 5 racks of ribs easily using the top and bottom grates..

    You shouldnt have any probem selling the 18 on CL...

    If you use sand get the heavier grit sand not play sand...

    The terra cotta pot saucer works great for me..

  14. Craig, how much air space would you guess that you have between the terra cotta saucer and the bottom of the water pan?Reason I ask is that I have read other posts that say water pan warpage is possible if brought up to smoking temps while empty.You obviously haven't had water pan warpage issues so just wondering how close your saucer is to the bottom of the pan.Thanks,Jay
  15. teebob2000

    teebob2000 Meat Mopper

    Craig - did you install an additional rack between the water pan and the normal top cook grate?  I assume you don't do the ribs right on the bottom/water pan grate as that's getting really close to your heat source and without any buffer, they'd get done REALLY fast.
  16. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Gee ....... are you guys engineers or sumthin???


    I use rib racks extra grates..never have had an issue with cooked too fast..

    I do 2-2-1 or 3-2-1  so the time in the racks is short...

    I rarely use the bottom grate but have no issues when I do...

    Once past the first few hours they go into a pan and covered...

    With juice of some sort then the last hour on the grates...


    I am waiting for pics of your adventure...

    I went out and took some pics...

    I have never heard of water pan warpage..ever..

    Due to my TBI I forgot once that the top was off and it got so hot it melted the guru cables and all the seasoning on the inside flaked off in big chunks..

    No damage to the pan tho..

    Its never had water in it either..

    Where did you see that???

    The terra cotta pan is about 4 inches off the bottom..

  17. Forgot where I read about pan warpage but coulda swore it was on this forum.Just for grins I did fill in the air space between the terra cotta saucer and bottom of water pan with play sand then foiled over top of terra cotta saucer and pan. May remove the sand later and see what, if any, difference it makes.Will attempt Eric's (forluvofsmoke) wet to dry method for my smokes (Pork butt & brisket) in Tahoe.No foiling. Smoke straight through the stall. Rest on raised roasting rack in tall roaster pan loosely covered with kitchen towel for an hour or two in attempt to get maximum bark.Leaving for Lake Tahoe tomorrow morning. Will take Q-View and post. Only downside is ~14 MPH winds expected all week. May not be a big deal since I'll be using the DigiQ ATC.Thanks,Jay
  18. Normally, I believe that smoking meats requires a Y chromosome, but I have to give credit to my wife for this idea.  I was looking for a way to start a max burn for my Father's Day Brisket Fest.  She went to the hardware store and bought an empty paint can, cut the bottom out of it with a kitchen can opener and VOILA!  Notice the stay-cool handle for easy removal.  I guess she likes my brisket.

    markbeer likes this.
  19. That's pretty cool. I just use a large bean can and pull it out with a gloved hand and channel locks.

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