ThermoWorks Billows


 

John Brewer

New member
Has anyone used the billows system from ThermoWorks with their Smokey mountain 22? If so, what is your impression? What seems to be the best heat controller for 22 WSM?
thanks
John
 

Bob Bass

TVWBB Gold Member
I do. Runs excellent. A set it and forget it operation. Prior to the ThermoWorks Smoke & Billows fan, I ran a Rock's BBQ Stoker for 8 years on the 22" WSM.
 

GaryP

TVWBB Super Fan
I also use the billows on my 22. I actually prefer it to the flame boss I have for my 18. Only issue I have had with it was when it wanted to update the morning of a comp. It wouldn't complete and I had to call tech support to get it fixed. Had to borrow a buddies iphone to fix it! It has updated a couple times since then with no issues. I might be weird but I leave one vent cracked a little along with having the blower hooked up. I figure it makes it run less and might help the bed burn more evenly. Probably just in my head though. Also seems pretty tough. I even got it pretty "damp" one morning and it was fine. I'd recommend it for sure.
 

Bob Bass

TVWBB Gold Member
Hi John,
I agree with Gary. I generally leave the other two vents closed. If running (very) high temperature, ie 400+ degrees, opening either and/or both vents allow the Billows to operate in quasi "make-up combustion air" controller rather than supplying 100% of the combustion air.
 

AlanM

New member
I've been using the Signals/Billows since they were first launched. Had previously used an Auber which did get the job done but was inconsistant and it took forever to find an acceptable PID.

The Billows works great but I did make one mod for it's attachment. I made a manifold which clips on one of the lower ports. This was necessary for incorporating a sliding gate to control the force of the air. I basically throttle the blower output to about 30%. This permits me to run a very stable and consistant temp with the top vent at 100% open. No proof but I believe the smoke is cleaner with the top vent wide open.

Bottom line... the Billows product is very good and well made. Works as stated. Also, no playing with PID algorithms as with other products. Whats there simply works and I don't think you can change it anyway. Software also works as advertised. The Bluetooth can be quirky at distance, but hey it's bluetooth.
 

John Brewer

New member
I've been using the Signals/Billows since they were first launched. Had previously used an Auber which did get the job done but was inconsistant and it took forever to find an acceptable PID.

The Billows works great but I did make one mod for it's attachment. I made a manifold which clips on one of the lower ports. This was necessary for incorporating a sliding gate to control the force of the air. I basically throttle the blower output to about 30%. This permits me to run a very stable and consistant temp with the top vent at 100% open. No proof but I believe the smoke is cleaner with the top vent wide open.

Bottom line... the Billows product is very good and well made. Works as stated. Also, no playing with PID algorithms as with other products. Whats there simply works and I don't think you can change it anyway. Software also works as advertised. The Bluetooth can be quirky at distance, but hey it's bluetooth.
Alan
Thank you very much for your information could you send a picture or instructions for the manifold you incorporated
You can just text me the info if you don’t mind
901-907-9513
 

AlanM

New member
Well, it's apparently more difficult than I thought and I have searched.

Can anyone point me to directions on how to post a picture with a response on this forum?
 

GaryP

TVWBB Super Fan
I just click the box right under the reply box that says attach files and then find the photo I want in my files and attach. I thought there were directions somewhere but cant seem to find now dang it.
 

Bob Bass

TVWBB Gold Member
John,
You really do not need to go overboard with a manifold.
What I found, as did others, was to reuse our Rock's Stoker WSM adapters. It allows you to use all 3 holes on that single vent for the air. I did it in an attempt to reduce the air velocity into the WSM.
The adapter is nothing more than a stainless steel dog water/food bowl. You add a hole to mount the Billows and a hole to take the long attachment machine screw. Super easy to do and very effective.
 

MKovach

TVWBB Member
Ok you guys are obviously doing something different than me, I had trouble getting it up to the right temp.

Was a 76 degree day (was supposed to be 86 but an unexpected storm moved through), filled the chamber about half way (for ribs), put about 30 lit coals on top, set the Signals to 225.

Struggled to hit 210. Added 30 more lit coals, did a little better but still struggled.

Tried exhaust fully open, and almost closed, still playing around with that.

Any help would be appreciated!

I was thinking of adding the expansion kit and a 2nd billows though seems others have done just fine with 1 so thought I'd ask you all your methods for a little help!
 

Bob Bass

TVWBB Gold Member
Good Afternoon and Welcome to this family !
Will do my best to help you out.

The Thermoworks Signals + Billows is an excellent ATC. But it is not a fix-all if there are any pit operating issues. First off, one must have a pit that is manually controllable and a user that is in control of said pit. With this in mind, let us start at some basics.

Which pit are you using and what size ?
 

MKovach

TVWBB Member
Good Afternoon and Welcome to this family !
Will do my best to help you out.

The Thermoworks Signals + Billows is an excellent ATC. But it is not a fix-all if there are any pit operating issues. First off, one must have a pit that is manually controllable and a user that is in control of said pit. With this in mind, let us start at some basics.

Which pit are you using and what size ?

22" Smoky Mountain

Never had control issues in the past, been using various sizes of these for at least a decade or more (started out with the 18")..

I'm thinking maybe I need to use more hot coals than I'm used to and get it up to temp before letting the billows take over?

And what's the concensus on the exhaust vent, I used to always run that wide open but I see it's suggested to barely open it with the billows.

Thanks!
 

Bob Bass

TVWBB Gold Member
Howdy,
A 22 WSM here also. Contrary to ThermoWorks instructions, I leave the exhaust vent fully open. I also use a SS dog water bowl "adapter" to mount the Bellows to the WSM. Shouldn't really change how the WSM works other than reducing the supply/combustion air velocity a tad bit.

Using the same minion start as I always have. Week before last, was able to get it up to 400 plus degrees with no problems.

I use the Billows fan from the very start. Same as when I ran the Rock's BBQ Stoker ATC. It's pour the lit coals over the top and put it all together with fan running.

Differences in how mine is run verse how you ran your is...
Mine always starts with a full load of unlit charcoal which includes any leftovers from prior cook.
We normally use a dozen or so lit coals at the start, spreading them around over top the unlit.
Only a couple times, over the last 8 years of running an ATC, have I ever had to add lit coals. Each time was my fault for starting with too few unlit.

Curious what you end up finding.

Bob
 

MKovach

TVWBB Member
Maybe it's the charcoal I'm using...I typically use Royal Oak briquettes though I couldn't find any this time and went with Kingsford 100% Hardwood (with just a little leftover RO from the previous use).

Do you mind me asking what you're using?
 

Bob Bass

TVWBB Gold Member
Royal Oak. Their Chef's Select product. Personally, I really don't think the type of briquettes really matters. You should be able to do very well on just about any brand.
 

Jake K

New member
Similar to MKovach- I'm having issues with the billows bringing down my temperature when it runs. It will get close to the programmed temperature, but when it kicks in, it brings the temp down. When I shut it off and open the vents, the temperature climbs right back up. My gut is that I need to add more lit briquettes on startup. I've been adding about a dozen, but billows recommends 1/2 to 3/4 of a chimney. Wondering if anyone thinks my theory of not enough lit briquettes at startup is the issue? I agree that the type of charcoal shouldn't matter at all.
 

MKovach

TVWBB Member
Glad I'm not the only one experiencing this issue!

Is everyone using the "minion" method or the Weber method of lighting coals and tossing more in every 90 minutes or so as needed?
 

Jake K

New member
I got a response from ThermoWorks tech support- they said it’s meant to run with lit charcoal, so I’m going to keep the minion method and add slightly less than 1/2 a chimney at startup- I’m still hesitant on adding 1/2 or 3/4 of a chimney- I want this to work for longer cooks Without adding charcoal all the time. If that doesn’t work, I’ll keep moving up the amount of lit briquettes I add from there. I’m going to do some ribs on Sunday, so I’ll post an update then.

Basically, I think the velocity of the air coming in is too high for a small amount of lit briquettes- don’t ask me why- I have nothing to back this up- just my gut- kind of like when you’re trying to start a fire and you can’t blow on it too hard or it will go out. Perhaps that’s why Bob B’s works with less because the air velocity is lower using the adapter. Who knows, though. I think at some point I’m going to rig something up to cut down on air velocity.
 

Bob Bass

TVWBB Gold Member
Jake, do you start wtih an almost overflowing ring of unlit charcoal or do you start with less ?
 

 

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