Cutting "Notch" In WSM Drum For Temp Probe Wires

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by squatch, Sep 3, 2013.

  1.  I like the idea of being able to remove meat from the smoker without having to remove the temp probe from the meat so I am planning to cut a notch in the top edge of the center section on my 3 week old 22.5" WSM, but the thought of messing it up does make me a bit skeptical!

    Has anyone here done this mod? I am curious what tool would do the best/cleanest job... ?
  2. I would not notch it. It will make the powder coat more likly to peel.

    Happy smoken.

  3. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    It's a porcelain coating, so it's not likely to peel, but rust is a small concern. It also might "shatter" leading to a larger area of the porcelain than the notch coming off. This won't spread, but it'll look bad and would bug me. If you are going to do it, I'd tape over the are with masking tape and use a Dremel tool with a diamond wheel at the highest speed setting. To be clear, you'd be cutting your notch through the tape. A dab of a rust inhibiting paint like POR15 on the cut edges would keep rust at bay, as would seasoning it with oil and heating to 350˚.
  4. Thanks for the replies... but I already went ahead and did it!

    copied and pasted from my "first fatty" thread found here -

    As the chimney full of coals were getting ready I decided to do a quick mod I had read about and really wanted to add to my setup... it involved some tape, a 4.5" grinder, and some liquid courage! Up until now my 2 previous smokes required me to feed the temp probe wire through one of the holes in the lid vent which worked out okay, but was a big pain in the @$$ every time I needed to lift the lid (2-man job)! Well, 45 seconds with a grinder fixed that issue. Now I can pull the lid and even remove the upper or lower racks with temp probes still installed into the meat or grill rack if I need to!  [​IMG]

    Close up of "notch" viewed from the inside

    A couple quick light passes with a file and I was in business... just in time to add the chimney full of coals which are now ready

    WSM assembled and coming up to temp

    Once temp stabilized @ 225* I threw the FATTY on along with a rack-o-ribs

    Here's a shot of the new mod with 2 probe wires run through and the lid in place. Works great and I still have plenty of room for another pair... wish I had done this right away before my first smoke!

  5. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I would spray those exposed metal edges with high temp grill paint to prevent rust.  After that, a normal buildup of smoke should keep it sealed up nice and tight.  That's what I did when I drilled my old model WSM dome for a thermometer.  The old ones did not come with a thermometer and you had to mod your own.  Did it 2005 and nary a sign of rust on the formerly exposed metal edges. I would put some tape along the outside so the paint would not over spray onto the body of the smoker.
    tjkoko likes this.
  6. flyweed

    flyweed Smoking Fanatic

    either that or some of that liquid rubber "tool dip" painted on to the exposed metal will seal it, and also provide some padding for the wires.
  7. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Ohhhh..... Just had a McGyver idea.

    Spray it to prevent rust and then head to the local pet store.  They make black silicone air line tubing that would make a great bumper for the edge.  Cut a piece longer than what you need, then take a razor and slit it down one side. Slip it over the edge of the notch and trim to length.  Silicone should handle the temps with no problems and it's black. A McGyver grommet to prevent wire chaffing.

    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
  8. I did it years ago and there's no rust because the smoke comes out and seals the metal.

    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
  9. tgraham62

    tgraham62 Newbie

    BBQ Guru makes a grommet you can install in place of one of the screws. No drilling, no cutting installs in minutes. I put it on my WSM
    You can put two probes thru it.
  10. Why folks insist on cutting notches is beyond me. Grommets or 3/8" threaded lamp pipe works even better.  Per a suggestion on another WSM website, I used a drilled-out, double-female coax connector that replaced one of the bolts that holds the top rack in place. A buck or so at HD or radio Shack. 

    All of my temp probes (straight and curved) fit through just fine. A much "cleaner" way to do things than cutting a notch!  
  11. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    myself... I cut the notch in the lid....
  12. I used a 4" angle grinder with grinding wheel. I wasn't concerned with the cosmetics on my 20 year old Brinkmann  electric. It made a nice clean notch about 3/8" wide. The cable from my Maverick and the thermocouple from the Auber fit nicely through the same notch. Ernie
  13. The main reason I decided to go with the notch mod instead of using grommets is simple... It allows me to temporarily move my entire upper rack off the smoker (with meat still cooking and temp probes still installed) in the event I should need to access items smoking on the lower rack. Thumbs Up

    Looking at Bama BBQ's photo I think a person could likely fit 6 probe wires through the single, easily accessible notch. That could allow a person to cook 6 good sized pork butt's (or any variety or combinations of items) at the same time, each with their own temp probe installed, 3 per lower rack and 3 on the upper rack. Now imagine one of the butts on the lower rack is the first one to hit your targeted I.T. and you need to pull it off the smoker before the rest are finished... :grilling_smilie:

    Several months have past since I decided to do this mod, and I am very happy I did, no regrets whatsoever. I would (will) fearlessly do it again with any other future WSM I may acquire without hesitation :yahoo:
  14. dougmays

    dougmays Limited Mod Group Lead

    I took a much simpler approach and just run the wires up through the door and you can put on top or bottom rack. i couldn't imagine cutting into my baby :) Not the best picture but you can see the wires coming out of the door and probe on top rack.

  15. dougmays

    dougmays Limited Mod Group Lead

    This might be a little better ....
  16. q-less

    q-less Newbie

    Noooo! drill a hole for probes(one above each grate), use black engine paint to seal, use a brass threaded grommet (sized to fit your probes) seated with Red High temp silicone.
  17. tgraham62

    tgraham62 Newbie

    The grommets go in in place of the bolts. Very clean install can fit two probes in one grommet.
  18. q-less

    q-less Newbie

    and what about handles? I got the Charbroil ones(cheap), and the weber cover still fits...used 1 already drilled  bolt (racks)for each handle. offset but work great.

    oh getting hinge this year
  19. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    And see post #13 why the notch is a miles better way to go. I have a grommet on my WSM and once the wire is trapped in the grommet , you are out of options. The notch allows the probe wire to come out and be removed with the rack and set aside with no disturbance to the meat probe. Not trying to cause an argument , just saying that thru painful experience the grommet is more trouble than help. Is that too harsh?
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2014

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