Ok so school me on some new stuff.

Josh V

New member
So I recently acquired a 2011 WSM 18.5 from a family member that hadn't been used for a while so the cooking grates were pretty rusty so I replaced them. Other mods/replacements were the dome thermometer, planning on drilling a hole for the probe gasket, and a Brinmann charcoal pan.

My ultimate goal is ease of clean up and such and that brings me to the water pan and mods. Ive read a ton about using foil on the pan or using it on the cover or using a terracotta saucer or even a pot on top of or inside the water pan.

I've seen posts on this site about foiling the pan and such but I can't seem to find any when people talk about just foiling the top etc. Is this a flat foil or is this like you foile the top but dip it down like a bowl with a gap? If using a terracotta saucer is it deep enough for the fat and garbage and you just foil it and put it on top of the water pan?

Sorry I'm just confused.
 

Lynn Dollar

TVWBB All-Star
Don't drill a hole for a probe, cut a small slot in the edge of the top rim. Something like this , but not as deep , I cut mine about 2 X too far. You only need to go as far as the " curled ' edge .

 

BFletcher

TVWBB Wizard
I can answer one of your questions and even at that it's based on my personal preference. I foil my stock water pans and I do not use water nor any other liquid while smoking. I only foil the top so that drippings do not enter the bowl and I accomplish this by leaving a dead air space between the foil and bottom of the bowl (which also reduces the amount of foil that is used). I do not foil the outer edge of my bowl but some folks do and I believe part of that decision process comes down to how clean you want your bowl. It doesn't bother me that the outer bowl isn't pristine and I want to perform the minimal amount of work when I use my smokers. The correct answer is one that satisfies our individual preference.

Some folks also use this: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01DE6NC0Q/tvwb-20
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
My advanced course on WSM water pan: https://virtualweberbullet.com/using-a-water-pan-in-weber-smokers.html

I do not recommend terra cotta saucers, steel plates, filling the pan with sand or rocks or whatever. Use water in the pan if you want guaranteed low & slow temperature control, otherwise cook with an empty pan. You'll have to cook with an empty pan if you're shooting to high temps of 300*F or more for any of your cooks. All the other junk you could put into the pan won't make a difference...my opinion after 20+ years of experience and watching pros on the competition circuit use the WSM.

As for your Brinkmann pan, it's a good thing to have. The stock pan that came with your 2011 cooker is way too deep and bulky. I would store it away somewhere and just use the Brinkmann pan.

As for foiling, regardless of water or no water in the pan, use 18" wide heavy duty aluminum foil to line the inside of the pan. In almost all cases, the foil should follow the contours of the pan (touch the sides and bottom of the pan). Optionally, you can also wrap the outside of the pan if you want to keep it really clean. I usually wrap the outside first, then the inside. It will look like this, only a different shape since this is not a Brinkmann pan:



The only time you need to leave an air gap between the foil and the bottom of the pan is when you want to use drippings to make turkey gravy. An air gap between foil and pan prevents the drippings from burning.

There's no need to drill a hole or cut a slot for probe wires. I've used my WSM for 22 years, have run probe wires under the edge of the lid on numerous occasions, and never had problems with damaged probe wires, temperature control, etc. Get yourself some experience using the cooker. You can always do either of these mods later. If you insist on doing one or the other, I think the slot makes more sense and frankly works better. You can read more here: https://virtualweberbullet.com/cutting-a-probe-thermometer-slot.html

Good luck, and welcome Josh!
 

Lew Newby

TVWBB All-Star
I can only second what Mister A told you. I tried a terra cotta saucer, foiled it, and grease still got to it. Try cleaning oil soaked terra cotta. Now I conpletely foil my Brinkmann pan. My WSM's have a slot.
 

Josh V

New member
Thanks for the tips guys. Yeah Chris I read your awesome thread on the water pan but was a bit confused on the extras that people post about like the terra cotta and stuff like that. I look forward to really using this smoker. It's going to be a lot of pork, chicken, and fish (my wife doesn't eat red meat) but will have fun trying out lots of stuff.
 

Josh V

New member
I can only second what Mister A told you. I tried a terra cotta saucer, foiled it, and grease still got to it. Try cleaning oil soaked terra cotta. Now I conpletely foil my Brinkmann pan. My WSM's have a slot.
I thought the purpose of the terra cotta and fire dial and such things were to help diffuse the heat when not using water so you could keep temps down. Granted that cleanup would suck
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
I thought the purpose of the terra cotta and fire dial and such things were to help diffuse the heat when not using water so you could keep temps down. Granted that cleanup would suck
When using no water in the WSM, temperature is kept down by keeping the fire small and under control. That's done by using the vent dampers to control the amount of air entering the cooker. Less air entering, lower cooker temps. It's not done with saucers, steel blanks, empty water pans, or pans filled with rocks, sand, etc.
 

Josh V

New member
When using no water in the WSM, temperature is kept down by keeping the fire small and under control. That's done by using the vent dampers to control the amount of air entering the cooker. Less air entering, lower cooker temps. It's not done with saucers, steel blanks, empty water pans, or pans filled with rocks, sand, etc.
Gotcha. Makes sense.
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
The saucer does provide some mass and will initially be a small heat sink but, once it comes to temperature, it (theoretically) should maintain a certain amount of thermal balance. Not much but, some, shouldn’t it?
As for cleanup, yes, the terra-cotta is so porous it’s virtually impossible to completely clean so, I don’t bother much, I’m on my third year with this saucer and yeah, it’s a little cruddy but, foiled each time, I don’t see any reason for much concern.
 
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Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
The saucer does provide some mass and will initially be a small heat sink but, once it comes to temperature, it (theoretically) should maintain a certain amount of thermal balance. Not much but, some, shouldn’t it?
Yes to all that, but virtually a zero heat sink compared to water. So small that IMHO it does not matter and does not aid in the operation of the WSM vs. just an empty water pan.
 

J Grotz

TVWBB Pro
My ultimate goal is ease of clean up and such
Chris has an "operating tips & mods" page on TVWB covering coal grate mods. Coal grate mods are all about ease of cleanup. I recently added another coal grate rotated 90 degrees to the original (because I switched to lump charcoal) and used stainless steel zip ties to bind the two grates and coal ring into a single piece, essentially making a coal basket. After a cook, I pick up the "basket," knock it against the bottom bowl of the WSM to cause any ash to drop into the bowl, set the "basket" aside, and then dump out the bowl. It's much easier than dealing with a separate coal grate and ring.

https://www.virtualweberbullet.com/charcoalgrate.html
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Yes to all that, but virtually a zero heat sink compared to water. So small that IMHO it does not matter and does not aid in the operation of the WSM vs. just an empty water pan.
Absolutely agree, maybe I should simply not bother with the saucer either? Just use more foil! One less thing to break or find storage for. Hmmm...
 

timothy

TVWBB Hall of Fame
The thing with terra cotta saucers is, once they absorb a certain amount of heat, they start releasing it, and for me that magic number was 275.
You get above that number and you get serious heat spikes. ( I had one go nuclear)
So after a year, I learned my WSM in my backyard liked to settle in @ 275 with no muss or fuss with just an empty foiled pan.
So I ditched the saucer ( well repurposed it to the garden) :)
The water is the ultimate heat sink if you want to run at sub boiling temps, but any thing higher, try a foiled pan and play with the vents.

Tim
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
The water is the ultimate heat sink if you want to run at sub boiling temps...
Sub boiling temps is below 212°F and no one I know does much cooking in the WSM at those temps. :wsm:

Maybe you mean "run at sub-275°F temps". It's hard to get much higher than 275°F with water in the pan, but easy to maintain 225-250°F with water.
 

timothy

TVWBB Hall of Fame
One of the first BBQ cookbooks I bought was Smoke & Spice and they always preached on smoking in those temps.

I never did.:wsm:

Tim
 

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