Can gasket make WSM22 TOO air sealed?

Paul Dalbey

New member
Ever since I installed the gasket on my WSM22 on the door and both ends of the center barrel, I feel I've had a lot of difficulty getting my smoker to run hot enough. Case in point was last week's Thanksgiving turkey.

It was chilly during the morning so I lit a full chimney or KBB and got it piping hot. Dumped it on the WSM grate and then added another full unlit chimney of KBB. I let all the charcoal get lit, threw on a couple hunks of apple wood and oak, and assembled the WSM. The grate probe quickly shot to about 290° but then lowered itself to about 225°. After it sat there a while, I disassembled the smoker, let the coals breathe a bit, and gave them a little stir. Reassembled and temps went to about 260. It held there for quite a while so I thought maybe the cold and a little wind just required a bit more juice. So I lit another full chimney of KBB and dumped it in. The grate probe again immediately shot up to about 295-300 and then settled back down to about 265. I couldn't wait any longer so I had to throw the turkey on at that point.

For about 90 minutes, the temp held rock steady between 265-270, and while I was pleased it was holding a temperature nicely, I felt it should have been MUCH higher with all bottom vents and the top vent running wide open. In a last ditch attempt, I did something I've never done before by opening the access door and trying wedge it a bit to allow more air in. The temp rose fairly quickly up to about 300, which was better but still not where I wanted. As the turkey temp was rising nicely, I wasn't terrible concerned and figured that would be good enough.

A short time later, I was watching the grate temp from inside and saw it had suddenly jumped to 335°. When I went out to spray the turkey one last time, I noticed the door (that I thought I had wedged in well enough) had fallen off completely and was lying on the ground. I could see the coals were now all fully engaged and red hot. "About d*** time," I thought!!

In the end, the turkey was done right on time and tasted delicious, but with the lower cook temps, the skin never got crispy and was pretty chewy. Not the end of the world, but a touch disappointing nonetheless.

So this whole story is just a set up for my question.... is it possible that the gasket on my WSM22 has sealed up TOO much and there simply isn't enough air getting to my coals? It seems I've had problems getting high temps ever since I installed the gasket earlier this year. I don't ever use water in the pan so it's not losing heat there. I am planning to buy a Fireboard with Drive and a Pit Viper so I can control temps easier (and make overnight smokes much easier to sleep through), so I'm really hoping having a system pushing in additional air will help.

Has anyone else ever had a problem like this?
 

Dustin Dorsey

TVWBB Platinum Member
I think you're on to something. I have a harder time with reaching higher temps after installing the gasket. That's fine though. My reason for doing it was to have more control at lower temperatures. One way to cheat the system is to stick a skewer under the lid as Dwain Pannell suggests. This suggests that having more exhaust would help. I know some people have gone as far as to install another top vent. I don't know if that's answer. A blower might help get more air though the system.
 

J Grotz

TVWBB Pro
I am planning to buy a Fireboard with Drive and a Pit Viper so I can control temps easier (and make overnight smokes much easier to sleep through), so I'm really hoping having a system pushing in additional air will help.

Has anyone else ever had a problem like this?
That will solve your problem. My 22 leaked so bad, my Stoker ATC had trouble keeping low temps. After I sealed it with gaskets, it holds low temps, and with the ATC I can get it up over 400.
 

Jim Strickland

TVWBB Fan
I haven't thought about it that way but it is plausible. I'm about to do the necessary mods to seal mine up thanks to Mrs Clause. I will let you know if l detect a noticeable difference in operating temperatures.
 

Robert Rousley

New member
I haven't thought about it that way but it is plausible. I'm about to do the necessary mods to seal mine up thanks to Mrs Clause. I will let you know if l detect a noticeable difference in operating temperatures.
Buy a Hunsaker Vortex Charcoal Basket, start off with minimal air intake for fowl i remove the charcoal grate and water pan
 

W Tyler

TVWBB All-Star
I may have missed it in your post, but did you have the water pan in the smoker while cooking the turkey?
 

Geo S

TVWBB Fan
It's funny, sometimes you need to run it with vents more open, and sometimes it takes off with the vents almost closed, I think it depends a lot on outside temperature, barometric pressure, amount of charcoal started, water pan, or not, ...maybe the phase of the moon, :cool:

I have no gaskets on mine and yes it leaks, but not severely , it never runs the same every time but thats ok, I dial it in the best I can and it's fine, there's more wiggle room in the process then some make it out to be.
 

W Tyler

TVWBB All-Star
Yes, the water pan was in the smoker (and wrapped in AL foil) but I didn't run any water in it.
I think that was a large part (if not all) of your temp problem. The width of the 22s water pan acted as both a thermal barrier and airflow restrictor, both of which have a direct impact on temps.

In the future use NO water pan, keep everything else the same, and you’ll reach the temps you want.
 

Jim Strickland

TVWBB Fan
Yes, the water pan was in the smoker (and wrapped in AL foil) but I didn't run any water in it.
I did the gasket mods and put a new Cajun Bandit door on it and by my best estimate I my temperature was "normal" to what I like to run my high temperature cook (360 F.) I put my water pan in without water and it was tightly wrapped in foil. I had a thought and my question is when wrapping your bowl did you wrap it tight around the rim of the water bowl? There's room around the water bowl to allow for air flow but if you get a lot of loose foil around the bowl there is a possibility of choking off some air flow. Anyhow just a thought.
 
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Paul Dalbey

New member
Well my hopes of my WSM holding hiring temps with a FireBoard + Pit Viper have failed to come to fruition. The FireBoard does a fantastic job of holding temperatures, but I can still only get my WSM22 up to about 285 degrees, even when it pushes the fan to full power. If I crack the access door, though, the temps will run all the way up to at least 350. However, once it goes to 350 and I close the access door, temps drop right back down to about 260-280. It’s so frustrating and makes cooking things like turkey and this top sirloin for Italian beef very frustrating.

I think my next job is to try to remove some of the gasket. It could be a tough job, but I just can’t see what else could be causing my problems.

This whole frustrating thing is making me want to pull the trigger on a REC TEC even more. Sure would be nice to set it and forget it.
 
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J Grotz

TVWBB Pro
Well my hopes of my WSM holding hiring temps with a FireBoard + Pit Viper have failed to come to fruition. The FireBoard does a fantastic job of holding temperatures, but I can still only get my WSM22 up to about 285 degrees, even when it pushes the fan to full power.
How many cfm is your blower?
 

J Grotz

TVWBB Pro
What size opening are you using for the blowe? The dog bowl method seems to work really well. I’m using a 10cfm blower mounted to a dog bowl that covers one of the three bottom dampers completely. I had a 5cfm fan on my old 18.5 WSM. The 5cfm fan could not get the 22 up to anywhere near 300. So I bought a bigger blower.
 

MartinB

TVWBB Pro
Well my hopes of my WSM holding hiring temps with a FireBoard + Pit Viper have failed to come to fruition. The FireBoard does a fantastic job of holding temperatures, but I can still only get my WSM22 up to about 285 degrees, even when it pushes the fan to full power. If I crack the access door, though, the temps will run all the way up to at least 350. However, once it goes to 350 and I close the access door, temps drop right back down to about 260-280. It’s so frustrating and makes cooking things like turkey and this top sirloin for Italian beef very frustrating.

I think my next job is to try to remove some of the gasket. It could be a tough job, but I just can’t see what else could be causing my problems.

This whole frustrating thing is making me want to pull the trigger on a REC TEC even more. Sure would be nice to set it and forget it.
Start with more lit coals......if you have right amt to start, it will be there in 5 min. If it cools off from there...blower may be too small
 
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Paul Dalbey

New member
What size opening are you using for the blowe? The dog bowl method seems to work really well. I’m using a 10cfm blower mounted to a dog bowl that covers one of the three bottom dampers completely. I had a 5cfm fan on my old 18.5 WSM. The 5cfm fan could not get the 22 up to anywhere near 300. So I bought a bigger blower.
I use the Pit Viper from BBQGuru.com. I believe it’s rated at 10 CFM. It’s the one that recommended for the WSM22 and should be enough to power it.

Can you point me to some more info on the “dog bowl” method?
 
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Paul Dalbey

New member
Start with more lit coals......if you have right amt to start, it will be there in 5 min. If it cools off from there...blower may be too small

I used a full chimney of lit KBB, put it in the WSM, dumped another chimney of unlit KBB on top of that, let it burn in open air for about 10 minutes until about half the unlit charcoal was engaged, and then assembled the WSM. The temp read about 345 when I assembled the WSM, fell to about 300, and slowly fell to 286 even as the Pit Viper was blowing as much as it could. I finally had to crack open the access door and temp went back to 345. Once I shut the access door, temps dropped down to 325 for a while with the fan going full speed before falling again to about 300 by the time the cook wrapped up.
 

Jim Strickland

TVWBB Fan
I don't have a blower but l believe the dog bowl method involves cutting a hole in the bottom of a dog bowl that will accommodate the pit viper or other blower. The bowl itself must be able to cover one of the vents completely to allow air to pass through all three holes of that vent. How to attach the bowl something another person who uses this method will have to answer. Hope this helps, from what l've read in the past it's supposed to work very well.
 

J Grotz

TVWBB Pro
I use the Pit Viper from BBQGuru.com. I believe it’s rated at 10 CFM. It’s the one that recommended for the WSM22 and should be enough to power it.

Can you point me to some more info on the “dog bowl” method?


Like Jim said, the blower is mounted to a dog bowl, which then covers an entire damper. The air from the blower diffuses a bit as it goes through two of the three holes in the now-covered damper. (The third hole is partly covered by the mounting hardware, but some air can get through it.) The fan puts out 10 CFM, but the velocity of the air entering the cooker is slower going through 2+ holes (larger area) versus a single hole of the damper and taping over the other two holes (smaller area). The dog bowl gets quite hot during the cook. I think the dog bowl sort of preheats the air before it gets into the cooking chamber, as opposed to directly blowing in 10cfm of cold ambient temp air. It also blows less ash around the inside of the cooker.

Also, do as Martin suggests, start with more lit coals.

If you try it again and the cooker is struggling to get to 350, disassemble the cooker and let the fire in the now-uncovered bottom bowl really get going. Then reassemble the cooker and see if your Pit Viper can maintain the temp.

Let me give you an example; sorry it's so wordy. I made tri tip for our Super Bowl party by smoking it and doing a reverse sear. I dumped a full chimney of unlit lump in the charcoal basket (I used a smaller basket from an 18.5 WSM), then dumped half a chimney of fully lit briquettes on top with a piece of post oak. I assembled the cooker with no water bowl or diffuser and set my stoker for 275. I let the cooker run for 15-30 minutes at this point to stabilize. I put the tri tips on and let it run at 275 until the meat hit 130, then I removed the meat. I disassembled the cooker and put the cooking grate directly onto the lower bowl and waited 5 minutes or so for the fire to really get going. Then I seared the tri tips over the direct high heat. When the tri tips finished searing, I reassembled the cooker and set my Stoker for 390. Because I had the lower bowl uncovered for so long, it hit that temp almost immediately. I wanted 390 to cook the cast iron mac-n-cheese. The stoker then maintained 390 until the mac-n-cheese was finished and I shut down the cooker. I tested the Stoker after my gasket installation and it can run up the temp from low heat to high heat, but it's faster to use an open fire to do that.

I hope this helps.
 

Paul Dalbey

New member
Like Jim said, the blower is mounted to a dog bowl, which then covers an entire damper. The air from the blower diffuses a bit as it goes through two of the three holes in the now-covered damper. (The third hole is partly covered by the mounting hardware, but some air can get through it.) The fan puts out 10 CFM, but the velocity of the air entering the cooker is slower going through 2+ holes (larger area) versus a single hole of the damper and taping over the other two holes (smaller area). The dog bowl gets quite hot during the cook. I think the dog bowl sort of preheats the air before it gets into the cooking chamber, as opposed to directly blowing in 10cfm of cold ambient temp air. It also blows less ash around the inside of the cooker.

Also, do as Martin suggests, start with more lit coals.

If you try it again and the cooker is struggling to get to 350, disassemble the cooker and let the fire in the now-uncovered bottom bowl really get going. Then reassemble the cooker and see if your Pit Viper can maintain the temp.

Let me give you an example; sorry it's so wordy. I made tri tip for our Super Bowl party by smoking it and doing a reverse sear. I dumped a full chimney of unlit lump in the charcoal basket (I used a smaller basket from an 18.5 WSM), then dumped half a chimney of fully lit briquettes on top with a piece of post oak. I assembled the cooker with no water bowl or diffuser and set my stoker for 275. I let the cooker run for 15-30 minutes at this point to stabilize. I put the tri tips on and let it run at 275 until the meat hit 130, then I removed the meat. I disassembled the cooker and put the cooking grate directly onto the lower bowl and waited 5 minutes or so for the fire to really get going. Then I seared the tri tips over the direct high heat. When the tri tips finished searing, I reassembled the cooker and set my Stoker for 390. Because I had the lower bowl uncovered for so long, it hit that temp almost immediately. I wanted 390 to cook the cast iron mac-n-cheese. The stoker then maintained 390 until the mac-n-cheese was finished and I shut down the cooker. I tested the Stoker after my gasket installation and it can run up the temp from low heat to high heat, but it's faster to use an open fire to do that.

I hope this helps.
Thanks so much for the info. I will look more into the dog bowl thing and see what I can find. Your blower and setup look more like those of the Flame Boss blower than what I have. It looks like you have a square connecting port rather than a round one like the Pit Viper so I'm not sure how well that would work. Maybe I could rig something up to fit mine though.

As I said in my previous post, I did start with an entire chimney full of full engaged KBB and then added a full chimney of unlit on top of that. Perhaps I just didn't let the unlit engage quite enough, but when I first assembled the cooker, it was able to hit 280 and then if I left the access door open, it could spike up to 350. But the Fireboard + Pit Viper couldn't hold it there, and had I given it more time, I think it probably would have settled back around 280. That's the frustrating aspect to me is that even when it starts high enough, I just can't keep the temperatures that high once I reassemble the WSM or shut the access door.
 

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