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Thread: Couple questions about using an ATC system with the WSM

  1. #1
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    Couple questions about using an ATC system with the WSM

    I recently purchased the Signals/Billows combo from Thermoworks and had a couple of questions before my inaugural cook on the 22" wsm with it.

    Do you light the charcoal any differently? I would normally place the lighted charcoal briquettes in the center of the charcoal ring and was wondering if it would be better to place the lighted charcoal in closer proximity to the fan, or keep doing it like i have always done it, or even go further away from the fan.

    Would I use the same amount of lighted briquettes to start the cook? Normally I would use about 20 or so briquettes to get started.

    Finally, is there an ideal position for the pit temp probe if I plan on loading up both grates?



    Looking forward to using my new toy, just thought I would ask those with more experience using an ATC system.
    22.5" ; 14.5" ; ;

  2. #2
    TVWBB Fan Donna Fong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AbeLos View Post
    I recently purchased the Signals/Billows combo from Thermoworks and had a couple of questions before my inaugural cook on the 22" wsm with it.

    Do you light the charcoal any differently? I would normally place the lighted charcoal briquettes in the center of the charcoal ring and was wondering if it would be better to place the lighted charcoal in closer proximity to the fan, or keep doing it like i have always done it, or even go further away from the fan.

    Would I use the same amount of lighted briquettes to start the cook? Normally I would use about 20 or so briquettes to get started.

    Finally, is there an ideal position for the pit temp probe if I plan on loading up both grates?



    Looking forward to using my new toy, just thought I would ask those with more experience using an ATC system.
    I wouldn't do much differently. One thing that does happen is that the coals next to the fan are spent faster. But I'm not sure one should build more coals there as this might slow down the distribution of heat. I put the hot coals in the middle too. Just use the same amount of coals to achieve the temp you want. I might even not use the fan until you get the temp you want with both grates loaded because you'll get some up and down with starting the pit and then loading the meat. The fan pushes when the meat is loaded because the temp takes a dip. I always wondered if the fan blowing so hard is a good thing.

    At a contest, you may not have the patience to wait but if I had time, I'd wait to turn on the unit. Best of luck. It's a nice unit. Can't wait until my partner actually opens up his box and tries it. Change is hard. Let us know what you think of the Signals/Billows.
    22", 18", 18", 18", 14", copper kettle

  3. #3
    TVWBB Guru Bob Bass's Avatar
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    I agree with Donna's assessment. I too went from a Rock's BBQ Stoker ATC to the ThermoWorks Signals/Billows system. Works very well on my 22" WSM. My process is a slight bit different than Donna's. I distribute the hot coals across the top of the unlit coals and my Pit temperature probe sits in a hollow grommet that supports the lower grate. Tip of the probe only sits inside the pit about 1"-2". I want to control the temperature of the heated air as it arrives at the cooking grates, not after it has been modified by any outside influences such as cold meat. Harry's pit probe location, as seen during my class ('12) influenced my location choice.

    Wishing you Excellent and Enjoyable Cooks !!!
    KCBS, SCA, Operation BBQ Relief

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    So the maiden voyage with the Signals/Billows combo went fairly well. I placed the smoker probe in the silicon grommet and placed the fan on the vent opposite the probe, the top vent was at about 1/4 open.

    I had a temperamental brisket that took 24 hrs and had 2 stalls with a 9 degree temp drop during the 2nd stall. I started with a temp of 230 and was chugging along till I hit the first stall at 150, when I wrapped the brisket in butcher paper and let it go and it broke through the stall after a couple of hours. Then it continued to climb until I hit the 2nd stall at 192, this is when i noticed the brisket temp start to drop, I increased the temp to 250 after a 4 degree drop, but the temp continued to drop and at 8 degrees I increased the temp to 275 and it settled down a bit and then brisket temp finally started to climb after a 9 degree temp drop. This was a couple of firsts for me, first 2 stall brisket and first significant temp drop, but I loved being able to control the smoker temp from my phone. Even though the cook was 24hrs, I still could have gotten another 3 or 4 hrs with the fuel that remained.

    A couple of things that I need to figure out with the Thermoworks app is how to to make the alarm more persistent, right now it is just the typical text sound notification. I need something that will wake me up if there is an issue and the text notification just doesn't work for me. Other than that, I am looking forward to trying this out on my 14" wsm to see how efficient it is with the fuel.
    Last edited by AbeLos; 09-04-2019 at 08:06 PM.
    22.5" ; 14.5" ; ;

  5. #5
    Moderator Chris Allingham's Avatar
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    I'd suggest running at 275F from the beginning. You'll power through the stall to 170F, then wrap and continue to 205F.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Allingham View Post
    I'd suggest running at 275F from the beginning. You'll power through the stall to 170F, then wrap and continue to 205F.
    And save yourself a lot of time!
    WSM 18.5, Inkbird IRF-4S, Kizen Instant Thermometer

  7. #7
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    For temps under 275, i just light the coals in my ring using a long propane torch in 5 places and let the atc take over.

    Need coals from the chimney to hit 300-350 .(chicken)

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