Temp Difficulties WSM 18

ChristopherC

TVWBB Super Fan
Having trouble getting the bottom rack to get down to temp on the WSM 18. Have never had trouble with the top rack dialing in around 250. But getting the bottom rack staying around 280-290. Even with a water pan.

Have top vent open and 1 bottom vent open half way.

Any ideas?
 

ChristopherC

TVWBB Super Fan
Yes. Water in the pan.

I think what was happening was the position of the probes. Because I have my pork belly on roasting racks, the probes were off to the side. Therefore the tip of the bottom rack probe was over the gap between the water pan and the side of the WSM. That must be where the heat is coming up and through the tip of the probe.

Now that I have moved the probe to the center between the pork belly cubes, I am getting the reverse - about 25-30D less on the bottom.

This is quite a sensitive game of math!
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
Yes, a little time consuming to learn but, it’s just about as much an art as well as a graduate level course in patience.
Don’t worry too much, it will all be fine.
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
Yep, you figured it out. Carry on.

I never measure temp on the bottom grate, it is what it is. I rarely measure temp on the top grate. You do this long enough, you can just get a high quality lid thermometer and know all you need to know from it. Grate temp is highly overrated, IMHO.
 

ChristopherC

TVWBB Super Fan
My lid thermometer is so way off the temps at the grate - about 50d lower...but it varies. Doubt the temp up there is that much lower than the grates. Great for Sushi though...as if I went by the lid thermometer, my meat from last weekend would still be uncooked!

Will eventually upgrade - for now I use the probes on the grates.

Chris - I would figure many would debate your point re:
Grate temp is highly overrated, IMHO.
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
Chris - I would figure many would debate your point re:
Yes, no doubt! :D

From our respected member Kevin Kruger:

None of it matters. If you get used to temping in one place or another and you get used to turning out good product then you're fine. A significant number of problems that outdoor cooks have -- or outdoor cooks think they have -- relate to a fascination (read: anxiety over) cooktemps, temp differences between grate and lid, temp differences between where they cook and where others cook, and so on. An attachment to this sort of stuff has prolonged reaching what individual cooks would likely define as success very often, as we've seen on this board alone for years.

From Bryan Mayland, the brains behind the HeaterMeter DIY auto temp control device:

I'll tell you, I used to just put a bunch of charcoal in the Egg, light it up, and check on it every hour or two or three but now that I have built HeaterMeter I have definitely spent 100x more time watching graphs, running experiments, and trying to correlate data to control models than I ever spend actually eating. This whole "where is the RIGHT temperature" thing was the biggest revelation I had, I thought the temperatures would be much more consistent overall. Something like, Dome is always 10 degrees cooler than center. Center is always 5 degrees cooler than 3 inches to the right of it. The fact that even given the massive ceramic mass of the Egg, temperatures can flip flop was a revelation and I realized that I should really just relax and stop trying to get perfect uniformity because it just wasn't going to happen.

Read this thread, especially my posts here and especially here where I post WSM lid and top grate temps measured using my high quality lid-mounted stem thermometer and ThermoWorks Smoke air probe on the grate while cooking a brisket. Not much difference, and in fact lid vs grate temp flips at a certain point during the cook.

Temps inside the WSM are highly dynamic and can change on a dime. Such a complicated subject, I gave up trying to understand it and have fallen back to Kevin's position. None of it matters if you like the results of your food.
 
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Mark Foreman

TVWBB Member
It’s funny. Over the years I was taught 250 to 275 is a good range to smoke most things on a smoker. I also have an analog Smokin-it #3 electric and it swing +/- 25 degrees. I have, in 40 of BBQin’, never have I had a final product that was ruined due to temperature swings. I constantly read about people trying to hold within 1 or so degrees of the desired temp (mostly the electric guys) and they spend lots of money to get that. Heck my 14 and 22 will settle on different temps every time I use them and I could not be more happy to have bought them. I guess I always chalked it up in the interest of experimentation but now I am not so sure.....
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
It's almost like there's no right or wrong when it comes to BBQ cooking temps. People win awards cooking brisket at 225*F. People win awards cooking brisket at 350*F. You just need to pick a technique, practice it, and "master" it to the extent one can ever really "master" barbecue.
 

BFletcher

TVWBB Wizard
This is the approach that I use--not because I'm a smart chef like Chris or Kevin--but because I just fell into it. My lid thermometers are my references; I don't measure the grate but I'll place a thermo in my meat, when applicable. But when I bought a couple automated pellet smokers I did use a thermo at the grate for the first few cooks so that I could perform controller temp offset adjustments if necessary.
 

JWorden

TVWBB Member
I suggest picking a method of measuring temperature and sticking with it. For me it's the side of the WSM through the side grommet. I choose this method to avoid running extra wires. It is a matter of convenience.
 

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