Help with my 22” fire breathing dragon


 

Robert Terry

TVWBB Fan
Got an 18.5 more than a decade ago. Used it a lot, mostly overnight 12-14 hour butts and 4-5 hour daytime rib/sausage smokes. It was super dependable and always stable. Sold it recently and got someone else hooked. I bought a 22” and my first two smokes have been troublesome.

I used the Hunsader vortex plate, no water pan, original charcoal ring. Stoked with 12 lit coals on top. The heat climbed steadily to 330 the first time even with all three bottom vents nearly closed. Second go was worse since I did ribs and sausages and was lifting the lid to spritz and pull sausages after 60-90 minutes. That climbed past 350. There was a good deal of smoke egress at the door which I bent/formed and eliminated most of that, but the lid rocks back and forth and there is a gap around one half of the lid no matter what I do. After I pulled the ribs I closed all vents and the temp was close to 400 until all coals were exhausted. Is there simply too much air leaking in?

Are the 22’s that much more difficult to moderate? Should I skip the vortex plate and use the pan with water? I have a feeling I need to contact Weber and make sure I can get a seal between the middle and top sections to eliminate air leaks. My 18 would extinguish pretty quickly when I shut it down.
 

Mark Foreman

TVWBB All-Star
When you first light it, look for smoke leaks and make sure the center is tight to the base and lid. When I got my 22, the door was bent and leaked a lot but I got it pretty straight thanks to a gallon paint can and lots of Virtual Webber member help. I also put a gasket on the door. i can run 225 all day with or without water And the fire goes right out with vents closed.
 

Lew Newby

TVWBB Gold Member
Contacting Weber is a good idea. Have you set the lid and center body (upside down) on a flat surface to see if one or both have a warp in them? If they don't sit flat Weber will probably replace the faulty part or suggest a way to straighten out the warp.. My 22 ran hot until I put a gasket on the door and on the center body where the lid sits and got some gunk built up inside. If something is warped a gasket won't solve your problem. Hope this helps. Good luck.
 

John K BBQ

TVWBB All-Star
"The lid rocks back and forth and there is a gap around one half of the lid no matter what I do. " this is definitely the first thing to fix. I agree with Lew's comment. If you have a nice flat and smooth section of concrete, that's the place to check the lid and middle section for warpage. My garage has a nice flat concrete floor, so if I had the problem that's where I would go. I'd kill the lights and put a flashlight under the lid or in the chamber and start off by looking for light leaking between the floor and the smoker lid/middle section. Any big gaps will really stand out that way.

I would mark the sections where the gaps are w/masking tape so you know where to build up the RTV sealant a bit more. Gasket w/RTV sealant. You might be able to correct small gaps (say, < 1/16" of an inch) with gaskets and such, but much more than that and you may struggle to correct the issue. You can use the flashlight method on the door too. In the end, you may have to rotate the lid on the body to find the sweet spot, however, sweet spot doesn't allow the side handle on the lid to wind up somewhere over the door, I wouldn't be good with that.

My first mods to my 22" WSM were lid gaskets, and a cajun bandit door w/gaskets. I think the hunsaker vortex should be fine after you address the lid problem, and any potential issues on the door. Weber's doors on the 22' do require a fair amount of trial and error (bending/unbending, cursing, kicking things, then bending again). I think I had the same issues on the Cajun bandit door. I bought it because it's thicker metal, and all stainless and looks cool. It has a different style of latch on it that closes up a little tighter. I never leak smoke from the door now. The downside to the Cajun bandit door is the that you can't prop it open the same way you can the original Weber door. I just take it off and set it off to the side while adjusting the fire, so no big deal if you ask me.

Link to Cajun Bandit Door

Good luck
 

Robert Terry

TVWBB Fan
When you first light it, look for smoke leaks and make sure the center is tight to the base and lid. When I got my 22, the door was bent and leaked a lot but I got it pretty straight thanks to a gallon paint can and lots of Virtual Webber member help. I also put a gasket on the door. i can run 225 all day with or without water And the fire goes right out with vents closed.
Where did you obtain the door gasket? You kept the original door? I mostly stopped smoke egress there by bending and resending but some still escapes.
 

Robert Terry

TVWBB Fan
Contacting Weber is a good idea. Have you set the lid and center body (upside down) on a flat surface to see if one or both have a warp in them? If they don't sit flat Weber will probably replace the faulty part or suggest a way to straighten out the warp.. My 22 ran hot until I put a gasket on the door and on the center body where the lid sits and got some gunk built up inside. If something is warped a gasket won't solve your problem. Hope this helps. Good luck.
Will reach out to Weber. If memory serves me correctly they replaced the bottom section of my 18 for this reason. It then ran perfectly 11 years and someone else is enjoying it now.

Where can I get lid gaskets?
 

Robert Terry

TVWBB Fan
"The lid rocks back and forth and there is a gap around one half of the lid no matter what I do. " this is definitely the first thing to fix. I agree with Lew's comment. If you have a nice flat and smooth section of concrete, that's the place to check the lid and middle section for warpage. My garage has a nice flat concrete floor, so if I had the problem that's where I would go. I'd kill the lights and put a flashlight under the lid or in the chamber and start off by looking for light leaking between the floor and the smoker lid/middle section. Any big gaps will really stand out that way.

I would mark the sections where the gaps are w/masking tape so you know where to build up the RTV sealant a bit more. Gasket w/RTV sealant. You might be able to correct small gaps (say, < 1/16" of an inch) with gaskets and such, but much more than that and you may struggle to correct the issue. You can use the flashlight method on the door too. In the end, you may have to rotate the lid on the body to find the sweet spot, however, sweet spot doesn't allow the side handle on the lid to wind up somewhere over the door, I wouldn't be good with that.

My first mods to my 22" WSM were lid gaskets, and a cajun bandit door w/gaskets. I think the hunsaker vortex should be fine after you address the lid problem, and any potential issues on the door. Weber's doors on the 22' do require a fair amount of trial and error (bending/unbending, cursing, kicking things, then bending again). I think I had the same issues on the Cajun bandit door. I bought it because it's thicker metal, and all stainless and looks cool. It has a different style of latch on it that closes up a little tighter. I never leak smoke from the door now. The downside to the Cajun bandit door is the that you can't prop it open the same way you can the original Weber door. I just take it off and set it off to the side while adjusting the fire, so no big deal if you ask me.

Link to Cajun Bandit Door

Good luck
I will do my due diligence to check for squareness, address with Weber, and obtain gaskets if necessary.
 

John K BBQ

TVWBB All-Star
Where did you obtain the door gasket? You kept the original door? I mostly stopped smoke egress there by bending and resending but some still escapes.
I ditched the original door and bought one from cajun bandit (this door is a "nice to have" not "must have" in my opinion

I bought the gaskets and sealant from lava lock via amazon
https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01LWEJXOD/tvwb-20

Good luck!
 

 

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