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Thread: New to me WSM 22.5"

  1. #1
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    New to me WSM 22.5"

    I've owned an 18.5" WSM for about a year and I happened across a 22.5" WSM on CraigsList that I was able to get for $160 with the Weber cover. Since I paid $150 for my 18.5" WSM used on CraigsList, I felt that this was a pretty good deal. After a thorough cleaning (this thing was "well used", to say the least), the weather finally cooperated enough to let me smoke some baby backs on it today as a test run for a brisket I'm planning to smoke in a few weeks.

    There are 3 things that stick out to me that I've never encountered with my 18.5" bullet that I was hoping someone could shed some light on:

    1. On the 18.5" WSM, I never use water. I have a terra cotta "heat sink" built out of the base of a flower pot that I run instead. Using this method since the purchase of the 18.5" WSM, my temp control is pretty decent...typically staying within 5-10 degrees of/over my target temp which is usually 225. On the new pit, I didn't have a terra cotta base that fit the larger water pan so I decided to run water since I was also worried about maintaining temps on this new (to me) behemoth (compared to the 18.5").

    So, as instructed, I filled the water pan up after I put the center section on top of the base which I had lit using the minion method. No sooner than I got the water pan filled, I heard a crash followed by a lot of steam... Yep, the pan had fallen off the little tabs that hold it and it landed upright on top of the charcoal ring. (In my defense, I checked prior to putting the water pan on and felt that the fit was sufficient to prevent this from happening.) The good news is that I got lucky in that most of the water stayed in the pan and didn't put the coals out but I'm curious if anyone else has encountered this?

    2. So, I scrapped the water idea and just ran the pan empty... Again, I think I have the process of adjusting the dampers down enough to be able to keep this thing under control. What I didn't think about is just how leaky this thing is compared to my 18.5" WSM. It is well-documented that the door is leaky and that a stainless steel upgrade is in order, but the top leaks, too...and all of the dampers seem a bit loose to me. In order to maintain 250 degrees, I'm having to run all 3 bottom dampers closed and the top damper at 25-50%. (I know this isn't recommended but I don't want to cook higher than 225-250 degrees if I can help it.) Other than re-seasoning it so it has some gunk to keep it sealed up, does anyone else have any issues with air leaks? I've put a gasket on my gasser before but I don't really want to do that on my WSM if I can avoid it.

    3. I run a Weber iGrill 2 with an air/pit temp probe at the top grate level. I've done this for many cooks now on my 18.5" WSM with good results, so I am confident that my probe temp and iGrill 2 are functioning properly. At grate level, the pit is running 250 degrees...or within a few degrees of it. The lid thermometer, however, is showing 175 degrees. On my 18.5" bullet, it is usually 25-ish degrees different from grate level to the dome thermometer. I realize that there is a bigger dome on the 22.5" WSM, but does it seem correct for the dome thermometer to be 75 degrees off? (Full disclosure: I have not cleaned the thermometer or checked to see if it is clean...I did every other piece of this thing but I don't recall paying any special attention to the thermometer.)

    I'm just curious if anyone else has encountered similar experiences with the 22.5"?

    Thanks,

    Otis

  2. #2
    TVWBB All-Star Lew Newby's Avatar
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    First. Welcome to the group and congrats on an excellent first post. That's a good price on the big boy. I also went from the 18 to the 22 and there is a small earning curve with the upsizing.

    I never used water in the 22 because of the charcoal consumption so I can't speak to the water pan falling. I found a heavy pizza pan online and foiled that.

    I suspect you "over" cleaned it. My son gave me his 22 and cleaned the inside before he gave it to me and it leaked like a sieve. I got a gasket kit and put gaskets on the top of the center section and the door. That was a big help with temp control and that even got better once I got it gunked up. If you do the gaskets I recommend that you do it before it gets too gunked up. Lot less cleaning.

    The Weber thermometer is not very accurate but I think I get about a 50 difference between my maverick on the cooking grate and the lid thermometer. I just use the grate temp. I think there are some folks here that just learn what works with their lid thermometer and just use that. Different strokes etc..

    Enjoy that big boy, you can cook a lot of meat at one time.
    Old dog, learning new tricks - one cook at a time :-). -14.5" & 22.5" WSM, 1998 22" Performer with Vortex, Auber ATC. CB Rotisserie, Rec Tec Mini Pellet Grill

  3. #3
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    Lew,

    Thanks for the reply. I think you're right about over-cleaning it as it seemed to "seal up" more and more the longer it ran. In my defense, this thing was "gunky" (if that is a word). I'm talking pressure washer with a 0-degree tip dirty, and that still didn't get all of the gunk off. (Simple Green didn't put a dent in it.) I'm not super OCD about keeping my pit clean, but this was excessively dirty to me and sanitation becomes a concern at some point.

    Looking back on the cook, I wanted to comment on it...more for my peace of mind but perhaps others can learn from my mistakes.

    1. I under-estimated how much of a fuel-hog this beast is. Yes, it was leaky which will make it use more fuel, but I was surprised to see the charcoal practically gone and I barely had enough for a 6-ish hour cook using the minion method. I also forgot that I have 2 grates on the bottom of my 18.5" WSM and I haven't purchased the same setup for this pit, so the small coals stay on the grate longer on my 18.5" bullet and fell through the cracks much faster on the 22.5".

    2. I used KBB for this smoke (it was all I had on-hand) and I didn't have any issues with heat or flavor. Having used Royal Oak lump for most of the past year, the one thing I noticed is just how much dust the briquettes kick up. With the lump, I can gently poke and prod the fire a bit without stirring up much dust. When I tried this with the KBB, it was like a dust storm. It was so bad I took the lid off to prevent it from getting on the food (which, I'm sure, had already happened). The outside of the dome was literally covered in a layer of dust that I could write "WASH ME" in if I wanted to. For this reason alone, I think I'm a lump guy vs. KBB... If anyone has any suggestions on how to gently stir the coals without kicking up a dust storm using KBB briquettes, let me know.

    3. I don't think I trimmed the ribs enough. They were baby back ribs from Costco in a cryovac. The sliver skin was already removed, but there was quite a bit of meat on top. I think that thick meat detracted from the flavor as the meat was almost too thick and therefore was flavorless (it tasted just like pork with no rub or smoke). The edges and in between the bones were better, but these were not the best ribs I've ever had. (See #4 and #5 below.) I've since watched enough BBQ Pit Masters to know that you should trim the meat to a thinner/uniform thickness.

    4. I used a "keto-friendly" Texas rub (for the wife) on all 3 slabs. I like sweet, but sauce alone isn't enough and pork ribs need that sweetness. From now on, my slab(s) will have a brown sugar-based rub and the wife's 1 slab will be keto-friendly. I did use brown sugar and butter when I reheated my ribs in the oven wrapped in foil and they were much better, but I suspect they would have been even better if I did that to begin with.

    5. I should have wrapped the ribs using the 3-2-1 (or similar) method vs. going straight through. I think they come out more moist this way and I'm less concerned about bark if the flavor and moistness is there. Besides, if you uncover for the last hour, the bark firms up...

    All in all, for my first smoke on the new pit, it wasn't that bad. I've screwed up my share of things on the smaller WSM, too...and much worse than these ribs. Meatballs and meat loaf didn't come out very well on 2 different smokes... My ABTs from the recipe I used on the other forum weren't good, either. I also over-cooked some reverse-seared ribeyes. The ribeyes was before I got the Thermapen--which is a life saver so I think I'd be better off trying now that I'm properly equipped.

    I love the site and enjoy reading everyone's "war stories", recipes and advice.

    Thanks!

    Otis

  4. #4
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    I just picked up a new to me 22 wsm for 100$ also. I cleaned it up and can already tell she will be a leaky sob. I added a high temp silcone gasket from lowes to the door of my 18 wsm and it sealed up great, almost too good so thinking about doing the same to the 22. lid I don't worry about so much since it will seal up good the more you smoke.

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