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Old 09-24-2012, 02:10 PM   #1
JonM's Avatar
Aug 2010
Posts: 8,442
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So I got a bit of an education over the weekend. I had to abandon a smoke and cook a brisket in the oven because I couldn't get the temps up.

I use an 18.5 WSM with a DigiQ controller and the 10 cfm pit viper blower. Empty water pan. I built the fire with the minion method and a 3/4 full chimney of fully lit coals. Temp went up to 250 and then dropped steadily over the next 2 hours. When it got to 216, I gave up and put the brisket in the oven.

So I think I figured out what to do next. Do I: start the fire as above and open all vents, put the meat on and let the temp get to or above the target temp, then close the bottom vents and let the DigiQ take over? I think my problem this weekend was depending on the digiQ to bring the temp up to the target temp.

Any suggestions? Thanks all!
Who is this Rorschach guy? And why did he paint so many pictures of my parents fighting?

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Old 09-24-2012, 08:41 PM   #2
May 2011
Gardner, Kansas
Posts: 70

There are alot of reasons why really..for me in cold weather I go through WAY more fuel especially if it's really windy also. I cooked about 16lbs of Pork butt and started with a coffee can with bottom cut out right in the middle of the charcoal ring (emptied of all ash) and poor unlit Kingsford Blue all the way around the coffee can to the top of the charcoal ring. light about 1/2 chimney of lit inside the coffee can and remove coffee can leaving lit in the middle. make vent adjustments (in my case)/controller. I can usually get 5-8 hours of steady temps in the cold and wind when usually on a summer overnight cook it would hold temps for 12 + hours no additional coals needed. When cold I have to watch the fire a bit more (gently stir coals after temps start dropping and add more fuel as needed). Make or find a windblock if needed and I wouldn't use lump charcoal in this situation. I'll try a water heater jacket once the temps start dropping in the coming weeks.

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Old 09-25-2012, 12:22 AM   #3
Oct 2010
Waukee, Iowa
Posts: 229
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I smoked over the weekend in the 40s on my WSM. I just run standard minion method with the bottom vents all 1/3-1/2 open and the top vent all the way open. Kept the smoker at 230 for 10 hours on one load of competition briquettes in a stiff wind. I had to start it with a full chimney to get the temp up though.

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Old 11-25-2012, 06:28 PM   #4
Nov 2012
Peoples Socialist Republic of Chicago
Posts: 49
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I hate reviving a dead thread but it seems appropriate with the colder temps now. Here's a few things I learned over the past few years with my WSM and smoking in the midwest.

The first thing I do is take foil furnace tape and seal the side door from the inside. There's a pretty good amount of heat loss through the gaps on it to make anyone cringe. I never use the door anyway. For charcoal changes I lift the top 2/3's of the smoker off carefully and resupply the charcoal. I get a minimum of 5 hours of charcoal burn no matter the weather with consistent smoking temps of 225.

Always use lump charcoal. I find any sort of briquette leaves a lot to be desired in many areas. Temp, taste, and quality are at the top of the list. Lump is pretty cheap, burns hotter, and gives better flavor. With the colder weather I fill my charcoal grate 3/4 full then dump a full chimney of lit on top of it. I leave the bottom grates fully open for the first hour then close down to 2/3's open for the rest of the smoke. I leave the top grate fully open. Always. No matter the weather.

Make a wind break or use a hot water tank blanket. I used some left over pink foam board insulation and made a surround for the smoker. It keeps the wind off it and I'm able to keep my smoker at any temp I want. I know a few folks that use the tank blanket and swear by it. Remember to keep a minimum 8 inch gap from the foam board to the smoker.

I've smoked in single digit temps and never had an issue doing it this way. Just remember YMMV and adjust as necessary.

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Old 11-26-2012, 04:28 PM   #5
headbanger's Avatar
Apr 2011
The Hill, KY
Posts: 2,905
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These work very well, even at higher temps...

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