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Author Topic: Help a Newbie out ~ Regulating Temps on a WSM 14  (Read 18207 times)

MikekiM

  • Smokey Joe
  • Posts: 38
Help a Newbie out ~ Regulating Temps on a WSM 14
« on: July 08, 2020, 12:24:04 PM »
Been lurking for a while. first post.  I've been grilling for decades but want to do some smoking.   

Please go easy.  I've read nearly all of the posts on recent pages as I try to learn my way around a new to me WSM 14.  Watched a gojillion YouTube vids too

I was going to go for the 18 (22 is far bigger than I will ever use), but a complete and unmolested 14 came up at a smoking price so I bit.  It definitely had a few smokes on it, but it was otherwise in great shape.  After cleaning it I gave it a meatless test to burn off unknown funk and re-season it.

I know I need to add a dome thermometer and side ports for my wireless, but other than that I just want to get to it. 

Started a test around 2PM with about half a basket of Kingsford classic briquettes using the Minion method to light them.  Started with all vents open as I understood this would give me the hottest 'cleansing' burn.  Temps got to 367F on my wireless, and stayed there for a few hours.  I wanted to experiment with temp control, for the sake of learning so I started to close the bottom vents to a pencil widths opening expecting the temp to drop.  It did, buy by only twenty degrees.  Still having a long way to go to get to 225-250, I closed the all bottom vents completely.  Surprised to find that the temp didn't drop after about forty minutes.

Thoughts?  Were my expectations correct?  Shouldn't the temp have dropped once all the vents for close? 

bamakettles

  • WKC Ambassador
  • Posts: 5768
Re: Help a Newbie out ~ Regulating Temps on a WSM 14
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2020, 07:43:17 PM »
I only have a 22 but IME its a bit difficult to bring down the temps after letting her go full speed, wide open and all coals blazing.  If you want low and slow its better to bring up to temp and hold.  Congrats on the new to you 14.


Sent from my iPhone using Weber Kettle Club

MikekiM

  • Smokey Joe
  • Posts: 38
Re: Help a Newbie out ~ Regulating Temps on a WSM 14
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2020, 03:52:39 PM »
Thank you for taking time to reply.  After much research, I came to the same conclusion.  In nearly every tutorial, steps to level out the temps were take well before the target temp was reached.  Better to sneak up on it than shoot past and try to recover. 

Lesson One in the books.

bamakettles

  • WKC Ambassador
  • Posts: 5768
Re: Help a Newbie out ~ Regulating Temps on a WSM 14
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2020, 05:36:13 AM »
It's fun to experiment and learn as you go with a kettle or a WSM.  I've had some cook on my WSM that needed the vents just about fully closed and some that needed more air.  I think the main variables are ambient temp, wind, type of fuel and use of water in your pan.  Most importantly, enjoy and have fun with it!

AZ2FL

  • WKC Ranger
  • Posts: 1822
Re: Help a Newbie out ~ Regulating Temps on a WSM 14
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2020, 06:34:28 AM »
It's fun to experiment and learn as you go with a kettle or a WSM.  I've had some cook on my WSM that needed the vents just about fully closed and some that needed more air.  I think the main variables are ambient temp, wind, type of fuel and use of water in your pan.  Most importantly, enjoy and have fun with it!

I agree with you, every kettle or WSM cook is just a little different.

bladz

  • WKC Ranger
  • Posts: 1184
Re: Help a Newbie out ~ Regulating Temps on a WSM 14
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2020, 07:02:05 PM »
I think with any WSM you need quite a few cooks to season it and plug up all the air leaks.  Like bamakettles said bring up temps slowly and then try to regulate to get your target temp. I have a 22 WSM and struggled maintaining temps for quite a while. Now after plenty of cooks I can hit a desired temp and hold it there for a long time.
I also agree, have fun and enjoy learning as you go.



Sent from my iPhone using Weber Kettle Club

Kneab

  • WKC Performer
  • Posts: 3495
Re: Help a Newbie out ~ Regulating Temps on a WSM 14
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2020, 07:32:41 PM »
I agree with trying to creep up on the temperature rather than try to come back down. I have also put paint marks from the bowl to the cylinder and from the cylinder to the lid so when I put it together the seal is always the same. I rarely have my vents open more than a quarter if I am using all the vents on my 18 wsm or 14 wsm.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Weber Kettle Club mobile app

ISO Brown Go Anywhere

MikekiM

  • Smokey Joe
  • Posts: 38
Re: Help a Newbie out ~ Regulating Temps on a WSM 14
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2020, 05:39:41 AM »
I have another few cooks under my belt.

I came to the conclusion I was using too many coals to launch the Minion method.  I've since backed it down to 8 or 10 coals max which is making it easier to creep up on the target temp.  With the number I was using too many coals were igniting and it was a runaway train.

Also needed to jump on the temp control earlier than I was.  Better to take a little longer to creep up than it is to blow by target temp and then struggle (likely unsuccessfully) to bring temps back down.

Thinking this is where the ArborFab Minion Starter Basket might be useful in slowing the ignition of the rest of the coals.  Not sure.  Still experimenting.

andrewshrm

  • Smokey Joe
  • Posts: 50
Re: Help a Newbie out ~ Regulating Temps on a WSM 14
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2020, 03:18:48 PM »
With my WSM14, I never light more than about 8 or 10 coals to get it going.  I also start with all the vents no more than 2/3 open.  This prevents runaways as others have mentioned, from which it is really difficult to cool things back down without squirting some water on the coals.  I use an iGrill2, so I'll set the grill temp probe on a range from 225 to 250.  After fifteen minutes or so of heating up, I'm typically approaching that 250 mark, at which point I'll close all the bottom vents down to about 1/3 open and the top vent about 1/2 open.  Then I just keep an eye on it for another fifteen minutes or so to see if I closed it down too much (or too little).  To your point, none of the vent fiddling has a very immediate impact, even when the temperature hasn't run out of control you still wait a good five minutes to see the temperatures begin to respond to whatever change you made.

AmirMortal

  • Smokey Joe
  • Posts: 70
Re: Help a Newbie out ~ Regulating Temps on a WSM 14
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2020, 08:58:00 AM »
I'm my 14" WSM I too only light about 8 coals initially, then watch it over the next 15 or 20 minutes as it comes up to temp.

I'm at sea level in Florida, so my settings may not work for anyone else, but I've got an old tine that broke off of a grate that I use as a guide for the largest opening I want. It's maybe 1/8"diameter. Insert steel part and close the vent snug to it, then slide it out. This gets me right about 300-325F.

If I'm going for actual smoking temps, I've got a piece of bailing wire that I doubled over on the end, and I'll use that as my guide for low temps. Same process, insert the metal into the vent and close the vent down on it, then remove the wire.

Different cookers will have different levels of seal vs leaks, so experiment with yours. And my own settings don't always work consistently. As others have said there are lots of environmental variables to account for.

Enjoy!