Live and Learn


M Merrill

TVWBB Member
I made a mistake last year and bought a cheap sidebox smoker. I did every mod on it and still blew thru a ton of charcoal, just to attempt to maintain 225.

Although I own, love & use my Genesis B every week for grilling, do you have any suggestions for a first time buyer of the new 18" WSM?

How warm should I allow it to get outside for me to do my first smoke? I live in Minnesota.

It looks like the new WSM is complete. Where should I install a probe? What's your favorite?

I'm gonna guess - it's warm enough.

Seriously - I've seen a lot of posts on this board where folks were BBQ-ing below zero degrees. The WSM does a great job. Give it a go.

As far as the probe goes, look into the eyelet mod using the eyelets from BBQ Guru. In fact, I think they're offering shipping for a buck on them right now.

Good luck, and let us know how your first smoke goes.
ok! i feel like typing!

starting off, your first one or two sessions may run a little crazy (not much) in the temp dept until the smoker becomes "seasoned" -that nice layer of soot and grease and flavor and who knows what else will even that out temp fluctuations. I've never cleaned my smoker other than dumping ashes, brushing grates, and wiping out the water pan with whatever is in the recycling bin. No magic, nothing special.

For your 1st one or two outings, do short cooks. a boneless skinless turkey breast for about 3 to 4 hours, maybe ribs the second time.

in fact, i want you to cook this saturday the 21st: a boneless turkey breast, butterball. Seriously. Don't get fancy -there is no need to b/c it'll taste fab.

for probes? if you are starting out and aren't as hardcore as these other guys (i'm not!):

*if you are using a classic 18 WSM just get a standard weber stick thermometer and stick it in a wine cork. Whittle the cork down so it stays somewhat upright in the upper vent hole of the lid. it doesn't have to be that snug or seal anything.

*new 18, forget above.

do a minion method/variation on the theme.. about 40 to 50 briquettes ashed over on the charcoal grate and then just about fill up the ring with cold briquettes. put about 5 fist size chunks of hickory on the top, fill the water pan. -old water pan all the way, new water pan 1/2 way.

bottom vents open 100%, top 100%.. get up to about 300degs. during all this time, let the turkey breast get up to room temp.

when you get to 300degs, put on the meat (top grate.. this is your first foray and it's only that breast) with a probe. close 2 of the bottom vents all the way.

i use the standard weber meat probe stuck in the meat, thru the top vent, and into the remote sender. if you use an old skool meat thermometer, that's cool too, but you will open the lid a lot to see the temp -though i've been known to use a flashlight to read mine.

don't rush or anything when you are putting the meat on the grate. once you get the lid on, leave it on! I know, i know.. even oscar wilde said he could resist anything except temptation..

every 15 minutes to half hour, glance at the temp of the lid. Too hot? think C -Closed=Cold. so nudged it down. Too cold, open a vent a little. And really it doesnt take too much.

To make the example: if it's too cold and you want it hotter, opening one of the closed vents 1/3 will be enough to see a temp difference. mind you after adjusting, wait 15 or so minutes.

once your meat is up to temp, finally open that lid. Wrap it in foil while you finalize place settings and side dishers -about 10-15 minute. Enjoy.

i think the main thing is relax and enjoy the whole process. everyone makes steaks and hamburgers at home, be it grilled or in the kitchen. But smoking, esp in the urban areas, is kinda unique. don't get too wrapped in exacting methods and equipment at first -or ever if you don't want to.

I expect a full report monday! And leftovers!


Sent via my Weber Bug zapper.. who has one of those?
Thanks for the generous reply!

One small problem... I don't have the WSM yet. My wife is still getting over the amount of time & money I wasted last year on the CG I bought. She is skeptical that this will be another waste of time. But I think I "bought her off" on Valentine's Day. So I should be ordering my new WSM by the end of the month.

With the experiences I had last year on the CG, I learned quite a bit of technique and patience. I found that monitoring the temp at "meat level" was more important than at the smoker top. So, if I buy a Maverick Wireless Thermometer with 2 probes, is there a hole big enough to get those thru? Or, do you have a suggestion on where (on the WSM) to drill and install an eyelet gasket? Or, is it not important to monitor both meat grates?

I would run the probes thru the vent hole of the lid for the first few go arounds until you are getting good results. One for meat, one for lid.

I could cause quite a stir and say grate temp, water temp, whatever temp.. it's not necessary. Many people don't use any thermometers and its fine.

As long as you sit between 225 and 250 until the meat is up to temp, that's all you need.

I've seen the Maverick and it's a good product.

We still want left overs.