New WSM need help getting going with charcoal

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by herkysprings, Jun 10, 2009.

  1. herkysprings

    herkysprings Smoking Fanatic

    I got my New WSM today! I'm looking forward to using it this weekend but I would really like to do a short trail run of:

    1) Starting the WSM (Chimny starter on its way in a day)
    2) Loading with water in the bowl
    3) Maintaing temperature
    4) Evalutating temps on the bottom and top rack

    I have the new model with the thermometer on top but I'd like to compare with my digital.

    Any hints / tip on how much charcoal to use to do a short run to get it to temperature, and stay there so I can test?
  2. mgnorcal

    mgnorcal Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Assuming you want to cook low-and-slow (ie 225-250*) I'd do the following:

    Dump 1 chimney of unlit onto the charcoal grate, light 1/2 chimney full and let burn till red flames are leaping, dump the lit onto the unlit.
    Throw maybe 2-3 chunks of wood on top of the coals.
    Set the top vent to 100% open and leave it there, set the 3 bottom vents to about 50% each.
    Assemble the cooker (and add hot water to the pan if you've decided to use water).
    Put a therm through the top vent and dangle other therms where you like.
    Watch the lid temps, once it gets to about 210, cut the bottom vents down (try closing one vent to start).
    Learning to run the vents might take a while, but just remember don't make any drastic moves and make the changes before it's too late - anticipate where the temps are running.
  3. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I just did a test run on my Oklahoma Joe. If I were you, I would load up the way you would if you were going to smoke something. That gives you a better idea of how long a full load will last and gives you a great chance to stablize your temps. Tells you once you have your temp to your desired setting... how long it will smoke before you will have to tend to it. Good luck.
  4. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    What he said.I have smoked on WSM for at least ten years.Light at least a full funnel and dump it in/ with water in pan and open vents 100% should be 300 degree plus..Put a digital probe on grate-near middle and wait few minutes for temp reading.Then shut vents half-way.Wait another 15 minutes and see how you can effect temp by closing/opening vents/adding water etc..Give you a chance to season the smoker.You will need minimum 2 funnels for long smokes.

    Don't Forget Wood Chunks when it is the real deal.
  5. mikey

    mikey Smoking Fanatic

  6. hilbillyinca

    hilbillyinca Smoke Blower

    I've had my wsm for about 3 years now.
    I pretty much perform every smoke the same way.

    First I put the chimney on the coal rack of the smoker. Then I pour unlit charcoal all AROUND the chimney.

    Remove chimney, fill chimney with charcoal and light.
    Once lit, I put the lit coals in the hole where I had the chimney sitting on the on the coal rack. (Essentially this is the minion method). Throw on a few wood chunks, one or two directly on the lit coals and one on the unlit coals.

    This lets me get anywhere from 8 to 10 hours of burn time on one full load of coals.

    Once coals are going, I dial in to 225. Usually this is the top vent fully open (I never close it and have a therm mounted permanently in place in one hole). And the bottom vents just baaaaaarely open. I can usually keep it like this with minimal adjustment for about 5 hours.

    after that I might need to open a vent for a bit, stir the coals, minor maintenance to keep it going.

    Hope this helps, you will soon find your WSM is a very easy to use charcoal smoker. It maintains temps very well.

    I suggest getting handles to put on the sides (i purchased aluminum handles for a garage door and they fit perfectly). This makes lifting the drum a lot easier. You can also purchase a screw in thermometer (3/4" I think) that will fit right in one of the vent holes on the top.

    Another great and simple mod, is to get the 2gallon water pan from a ECB and replace the 1 gallon that comes with the WSM.

    Hope all this helps. Feel free to PM me anytime with questions.

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