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Old 10-26-2008, 08:00 PM   #1
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WSM question

It's happening again. My fire is dying and I don't know why. For the last four hours my temp has been around 188-195 with the bottom vents full open for a couple hours now. I have added unlit charcoal and lump. It is maintaining, but it appears the cooker has reached the "stall point". The butt has been hovering around 164-168.... I cannot understand why I read about these 18 hour burns, yet I can't seem to get over 6. I must be doing something wrong.
On the plus side, using charcoal got me dialed in much more quickly and humming away around 230F, but it appears it doesn't last any longer than that lump did for producing heat. Four hours ago I still had 3/4 of a ring of orange charcoal without a whole lot of ash, but I took the lid off to pull my ABTs and it never recovered from the drop to 188.

What's going on? Why can't I get decent temps on one ring past six hours?
How do you know when to add more unlit charcoal on top of the existing stuff so you still need to throttle the cooker down some with the vents and not have to run it wide open to try to build the heat back up?

Thanks for any insight into this
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Old 10-26-2008, 08:09 PM   #2
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What brand of charcoal are you using?
At this point add lit charcoal to get the pit temp up.
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Old 10-26-2008, 08:29 PM   #3
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Kingsford.
The pit is back up to 215 and the butt 167. I probably should have just added more charcoal right off the bat, seeing as how I had the problems with this lump before, but I thought the lump would catch faster and didn't need a long life from it. Or so I thought.
It's already 8:30 PM here.... Might be time to fire up the Ducane unless I get a radical climb all of a sudden. I really don't want to be fussing with this thing at 10:00. And then there is the resting stage and all....

It's that same old question, why can't I get any length of burn from a ring that was so full this time, that I had to set some of the lit charcoal on with tongs?
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Old 10-27-2008, 08:19 AM   #4
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Ok, I realize that it's a day late, but, how much ash accumulation did you have? That ash really blocks airflow, especially if you're using briquettes. Does you Weber have an efficient method to remove ash without opening the lid and/or disturbing the coals that are already lit?

This is the main reason why I burn wood, or if I have to use charcoal, I'll use lump. The ash is "softer" and disintegrates easier. Also, I rarely cook anything in my smoker for longer than 5 hours, and just remove/wrap/bake at 250 degrees F after that.
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Old 10-27-2008, 08:49 AM   #5
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pacanis, I've got a WSM and I'm at a loss. Everything I could think of being the problem was already suggested. Could your charcoal have gotten wet during storage? Maybe got rained on or something? You do have your top vent fully open, right? Check your thermometer in a pot of boiling water to make sure its working. Where are you checking the temp.?

About adding more charcoal -- I've never had a need to add more charcoal during a burn, it's always lasted for whatever I need. I've heard of WSM's running hot, but never running too cold.

I full ring should last you a good 12-16 hours, and if you're cooking ribs two weber chimney fulls of charcoal will last more than 6 hours.
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Old 10-27-2008, 09:32 AM   #6
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I ended up putting more Kingsford in, besides the lump, and the temps finally took off, causing me to have to close the bottom vents back where they were. So the butt was finished on the WSM and pulled at 192F, I just didn't get any sandwiches until 11 last night....

Fresh bag of Kingsford and it started right up using the chimney, so I don't think it was wet or old... It was definitely more consistent than the lump, but seemed to fade at the same time.

I had a probe in the meat, one at the botom grate where the meat was and the lid thermomter. I'm pretty sure they were working correctly because they seemed to fluctuate equally, with the lid reading around 30* higher than the grate.

I'm going to give Weber a call just to see what they have to say, because everyone has been telling me I should be able to get more time out of a ring. It seems lie anything I do that drops the temp, like pulling the ABTs off this time, and she can't recover. We'll see. The butt was good anyway.
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Old 10-27-2008, 05:43 PM   #7
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are you using the minion method?
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Old 10-27-2008, 06:14 PM   #8
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Yes. Ring just overflowing and 3/4 of a lit chimney.
I'll give your PM advice a try. Maybe even look for those Weber starters. Maybe I am getting too much charcoal going at once.
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Old 10-27-2008, 07:51 PM   #9
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i never had the minion method work for me ..
to many highs and lows ..
i just keep an eye on the temps ..
add when i need to ..
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