did double 11 lbs birds... couldnt get smoker to temp... what did I do wrong?

Hey everyone...

I bought 2 11 ish pounders... brined and ready to go. I have a 22 and use the digiq blower temp controller

I fired the cooker, one full chimney ashed over, put another unlit on top of that, waited for it all to ash over and then put on smoke wood and assembled the cooker like in http://virtualweberbullet.com/turkey3.html

I put the turkeys in and set the controller to 330... I figured it would be low for a bit... but then would get to temp... but I couldnt get it to anything above 280.

I fired another chimney and added it... that got me close, and then a bit later added ANOTHER lit chimney... but still couldnt get above like 310...

It was cold ish, 50 or so... with some wind... but nothing BAD... I was cooking in a t shirt...


I let the birds go a BIT long to make sure they cooked and got to temp... tasted great... skin wasnt crispy... but with the low temps... thats to be expected.

My only thoughts are

1. DigiQ cant get enough air to get high temp cooking...
2. I did NOT assemble the cooker empty and preheat it before adding birds.

anyone? I loved having my ovens free for other things... so I will definitely do it again... but need to get my process dialed...
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Did you have any other intake vents open? If it was ONLY the digique, I would guess the poor thing was blowing its brains out trying to get enough intake. Was it running constantly?
Sometimes the debriefing of these cooks is as much fun and informative as the front side of the curve!
I also wonder, if maybe given the massive addition of lit coals, you might have ended up with an ash build up?
 

NAR_Simpson

TVWBB Fan
Could the charcoal be bad? I had a bag that got moisture in it and it was only good for my kettle burning hot a fast (less than an hour). It would lite, but go out quickly when I used it in the WSM.

Ryan
 

BFletcher

TVWBB Wizard
I am totally just guessing here, so take it with a grain of salt; I've only done one HH cook in a WSM and if memory serves I used the 18". You stated "I fired the cooker, one full chimney ashed over, put another unlit on top of that, waited for it all to ash over and then put on smoke wood and assembled the cooker." By waiting for the second chimney to ash, I would guess that much of your first chimney was well-spent before your turkeys and controller hit the fuel. When following the recipe did you also click and read the link discussing how to fire-up your WSM for the standard method? Here are a couple highlights from that link: "It takes some experience to learn how much charcoal to use for the various types of barbecue you cook in your WSM. Make sure to use a cooking log to keep track of fuel usage from one cooking session to the next." and "Of course, if you have two chimney starters, you can shortcut this process by lighting all of the charcoal at one time in the previous step."

Someone here please correct me if I'm remembering incorrectly but I think Chris A noted that most of those recipes and methods are based on using the WSM 18 and, therefore, may need tweaks on other sizes. In my opinion, as massive as the 22" is, I would start with 2 full lit chimneys and dump them when you see a few top coals develop a hint of ash. And I would count on needing to had additional unlit throughout the cook.

Good luck!
 
I think you might be right... I followed his page to the letter... except possibly pre heating...
that is exactly what Mine looked like... maybe even LESS ashed over...

BUT with a big cooker... who knows. Obviously I needed more heat burning more fuel... I am just trying to put a finger on WHERE in the process I tripped... appreciate the input.
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
I think you might be right... I followed his page to the letter... except possibly pre heating...
that is exactly what Mine looked like... maybe even LESS ashed over...

BUT with a big cooker... who knows. Obviously I needed more heat burning more fuel... I am just trying to put a finger on WHERE in the process I tripped... appreciate the input.
From the “clear area” in the ring, you could have increased fuel by maybe 30% to fill the ring. Under fueled is the thing which I see right off, you want heat immediately, double chimneys on top of a partially filled ring makes much more sense for the technique for me, the double on top of a partial ring unlit should (might) allow for a little longer burn time without lost time in later refueling.
Just speculating but, that’s how I’d try the next one. Especially on the granddaddy WSM.
I’m not versed in this particular method and was “underwhelmed” with my kettle bird this year, family was almost all sick and disinterested in food for the whole week so, I felt like it was just a bird of un interesting character. As grandson is fond of saying...”Meh”
The next cook will be bettter!
Sorry, now that I have re read your post for a third time and see that the image you posted was from your initial link, maybe Chris needs to weigh in with a little perspective?
But, I still think you need more fuel for that much product at that kind of heat and start full on. I’m going to mix a cocktail and think about this.
 
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thats not mine... that is from the article.. but it is probably pretty close. I think underfueled for cold food load is the issue...

If I had fueled more would the DIGIQ be able to fuel enough air to that fire? or does a 330 cook require an open vent?
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
High heat =greater oxygen, simple answer is what I’d said earlier on (post 4), more intake (still full exhaust) it’s all about making a convection oven when high heat is involved. Try again with some of the “blow out” turkeys which will be available this week!
 

Dustin Dorsey

TVWBB Honor Circle
I would have thought a blower would do the trick. I went without a pan and mine topped off at about 330. Having a lot of lit helps. I don't run ATCs but I've put a skewer under the lid to get more air flow. I didn't need to this time.

I think you are spot on in that you needed more lit fuel in the beginning and what works for the 18 might not work for the 22.5.
 
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JayHeyl

TVWBB Pro
I had issues last year getting the WSM up to 350F. I don't remember it being colder than it was this year, but it just didn't want to go over 300F until I offset the top to allow for less restriction on the overall air flow. That did the trick. You wouldn't think letting some of the hot air out would result in higher temps, but the problem was obviously getting enough oxygen to the coals and greater air flow did that. Now, I'm not using any kind of ATC, just gravity air flow, but I think the principle is the same. Restricting the exit of the air will increase the pressure inside but not the flow of oxygen over the coals.

For some reason this year the WSM maintained just a bit under 350F at the lid so I didn't mess with propping it open. I did add more lit charcoal at one point and gently stirred what was already in there. It got the job done even after several hours of low and slow for the ABTs.
 

BFletcher

TVWBB Wizard
For some reason this year the WSM maintained just a bit under 350F at the lid so I didn't mess with propping it open.
IMO, part of the fun is that you sometimes need to utilize varying techniques. It adds an element of necessary skill :)
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
IMO, part of the fun is that you sometimes need to utilize varying techniques. It adds an element of necessary skill :)
The drive to experiment is strong in the world of grilling and smoking, amassing the “Skill” can take years! Interesting how experience builds the confidence to get “brave or crazy”!
 

Nick Hall

New member
I used the exact same method with two 11(ish) pound birds, also in a 22". I put two unlit chimney fulls on top of one lit in order to fill the charcoal chamber to what I thought was enough. It seemed to me that one would not be enough. I also did not wait until all the coals were ashed over, I assembled my smoker when I had a good glow from the lower coals, but the top of the pile was still partially black. I wanted the heat to still climb some with the smoker assembled. This way, I knew I would have good heat inside the smoker before I put the birds on. I had the water pan full.

I pulled the turkeys out of the fridge about ten minutes before I got my smoker and chimney ready. the process of lighting and assembling probably took me about 40 minutes or so. Then I put the turkeys on. Everything was ready in about 2 1/2 to 3 hours with internal temps measuring about 165 at the breast.

The birds came out delicious, but I think I used too much garlic in the apple brine. I am never cooking a bird in the oven again!
 

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