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Here's My Mini-WSM Build - Longish with Qview

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
(Before starting, I wasn't sure what the proper etiquette and protocol would be for this post. I didn't want to jump into someone else's smoke, so to speak, by tagging along on their post; so I'm starting a new thread. I trust the mods will move it if it's in the wrong place.)

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across this thread: MDBoatBum's mini-WSM. That was the first time I had ever seen the idea. In reading the thread and following links in it, I went to another web-er site and read 48 pages of posts about this build. I was intrigued for 2 reasons: 1) I could do it for cheap ($20 for a tamale steamer and use the SJS I've had for years); 2) I could use the SJS without destroying it as a grill. Well, I've spent more than $20, but not a lot more. And I've burned in the Smoker Joe and done a first smoke on it.

Here are the results of the first smoke:
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Going back to the beginning, I went to Wal*Mart to see if they had the IMUSA 32-Qt. Tamale Steamer, made in China, that everyone said was the right size. I took the top to my Smokey Joe Silver (SJS) in the back of my truck and took the newly purchased pot out to check the size before ever leaving the parking lot. I HATE returning things - especially at wally world! It fit perfectly.

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I tripled check when I got home to be sure the top and bottom of both the SJS and the IMUSA pot fit. They did; so the next issue was cutting out the bottom. I decided that I would take most of the bottom out after reading the posts at the Weber thread. I needed to make a reasonable reference line and planned to cut the bottom out with a Dremel and a cutting wheel. Here's how I marked it. 480

These shots show the cut-out line ~ 1.75" from side and my first attempts to cut it out with a Dremel. My advice is to forget the Dremel. It lacks sufficient power and made ragged cuts. The last shot shows that I used my jigsaw and got far better results.

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Next, I had to decide where I wanted racks. Again, after reading the many posts on the Weber site, I decided that I wanted a maximum of 4 cooking surfaces, but I wanted enough height from one of them to do a chicken and boston butts. After measuring the depth of the top dome and the distance to the indentation on the steamer pot, I decided that I first had to determine the height of my diffuser. I bought a 12" terra cotta flower pot saucer and decided that it must be no higher than the indentation ring. This would allow my lowest rack to rest there. I chose 4.5" for the distance from the pot rim to my second rack then divided the distance between in and the top of the diffuser for the third rack. The first rack rests on screws in holes just below the curled rim of the pot. This gives me a top rack even with the top of the smoke chamber, another 4.5" lower, another at 7.375", and the last at 11".

What size screws to use to position the racks? I wanted to be able to place multiple racks without having to remove screw; so I thought small. I wound up using .75" #32 SS machine screws and nuts. I had thought that I might have to grind them down, but it turned out that they are the perfect length. My grills will slide past one when tilted and drop enough to rest on the next set of screws. I put 3 screws at equal distances around the pot which turned out to be the 14.5" that the threads I read said it would be. I marked a piece of string at 14.5" intervals, wrapped it around the pot and used the marks to put a mark at each point on the pot. I used a ruler marked for the depths I wanted the screws to be, squared the end up with the rim, and marked places for holes at each depth. I repeated this for each of the three marks I had made in the pot's circumference. I drilled the holes with a bit fitted to the screw (sorry, I didn't make note of the bit size and I've slept more than twice since then). I didn't bother to knock down the burr left by the bit cutting through the inner wall. The nuts tightened up and flattened the burr. The aluminum is soft.480

I decided to follow the advice to make an ash diverter to cover the bottom air holes. First, I measured the general diameter that would be needed. 480

A 28 oz. tomato can turned out to be the perfect size. I sometimes save them to keep extra parts in in the shop; so I had several on hand. Next I needed to figure out how much to cut off the can. A quick check with the tape measure and I transferred the cut line to the can. I used the jigsaw to cut it down but left it about a quarter-inch taller than needed. I snipped some tab to the right depth and bent them over giving me a tin can without a sharp edge to test my tetanus shots. I think the 2" depth is perfect. Then I used a beer can opener (remember "church keys") to cut 5 air vents around what had been the bottom of the can, now the top of the ash diverter. Put in place with the charcoal grate in place and all is perfect. Diverter is max height and grate is stable. I didn't get any pics of the can cutting process or its placement, but I'm sure you get the idea.

While I was about it, I decided that I really, really liked the idea of putting a handle on the top and bottom air vents. I bent up the tabs on both sides of the bottom vent and used and awl to prick a starting point for a .25" drill bit. There is but one tab on the top vent and it was already bent at 90 degrees.
I used some long carriage bolts for now, but will eventually dress the handles up using quarter-inch and knobs. Even if you don't build this smoker, MAKE THE HANDLES FOR THE AIR VENTS! Why wasn't I smart enough to think of that YEARS ago!

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I bought a 13.5" circular grill from Academy Sporting Goods (Texas-based chain) and dropped it in the bottom of the pot spanning the hole cut in the bottom. Then I placed the 12.5" terra cotta flower pot saucer, foiled, on the rack and was ready for a dry run, burn-in; but my new Maverick ET-73 was due to arrive the following day; so I put it off waiting to see what sort of temps I'd reach.
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Here you can see my old grilling table set-up.
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When the Maverick arrived - and after I'd RTFM'd - I loaded 24 Kingsford briquettes in a circle around the charcoal grate. At this point I didn't have basket shaped out of EM. I lit 7 briquettes till they glowed and formed an ash, them dumped them in the middle of the 24. I wanted to see how the quasi-Minion would work, how much heat I'd get, and how long they would burn.
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I left the vents wide open and watched the temps rise quickly from the 93* ambient straight up to 245* in about 20 minutes. It stopped at 245* and held that for an hour before I intervened. I assumed that the temp had peaked, that it was as low as it was because I had relatively few coals and because the terra cotta was really absorbing a lot of heat. At this point, I started closing bottom and top vents until I could see temps drop to see if I could force it back to 200* and hold it. I ain't that good - YET! I kept temps above 200* for about 4 hours then started to cool but not as rapidly as I would have thought. I had the vents about 75% closed after the first hour and half. More coals, a charcoal basket and better attention paid, I will be able to get better control of the temps.

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Here's a shot of the cold coals the next day. Notice that about a fourth of the coals did not burn, and that the ashes stacked up around the can protecting the air vents without any of the keyed holes being covered. I think you can see this in the second pic.
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With this experience behind me, I cobbled together a charcoal basket out of EM AND I took out the 12" terra cotta diffuser and put in a 9" pie pan before I did my first real smoke. (Ribs at start of post). My plan was to do a 3-2-1 on the St. Louis cut ribs, but the temp quickly jumped over 300* before I put the ribs in. I removed the lid to cool it and closed the vents. When the Maverick read 225*, I put the ribs on. I used Jeff's rub and his sauce, substituting local honey for the molasses in his sauce recipe. (If you haven't already, buy these recipes! They are a great deal, Jeff know his stuff, and the little he makes off them helps keep SMF going.)

The temps stayed ahead of me for the whole smoke; so I only got about 2.5 hours, then 45 minutes then 30 minutes . . . just under a 4 hour smoke. I don't remember how much the rack weighed. I DID have to cut it as you see in the pic to get the uncooked rack into the smoker. They were placed at 4.5" from the smoker top rim. I was getting smoke leaks around the rim of the pot and the top of the SJS that I didn't get on the burn in. I twisted the top and the smoke followed a spot on the top so I might have to tweak it at some point. This concerned me that I might not be getting enough smoke; so I took the top off briefly to see.'480

Ribs were great. Not tough. Perfect flavor thanks to Jeff. Finger lickin' good with just a twinge of pepper. Feeling cocky, I decided to try my first ABTs. I had picked some up for $1 a pound. I used cream cheese and colby jack 'cause that's what I had and wrapped 'em in thin sliced bacon. I used a half a strip for each ABT. I was very careful about removing seeds and veins 'cause this wasn't my first rodeo. I got pepper oil under my fingernails. That was a treat for a few hours. I put the ABTs on when the ribs came off. Remember this was first for me and I didn't expect them to turn out. I added a few coals, but I never got the heat above 200*. It took a lot longer for the bacon to crisp at all, and even then it's not quite what I wanted; but I learned more about the smoker and more about ABTs. I only ate 2. (That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!)

Today, I checked the fire results. The basket really helped. (I'll have to build a better one, though). I had used about 30 briquettes and about 10 lit this time with 4 chunks of pecan about 3" cubed. Pecan as burn completely. Briquettes were burned completely, and the can kept my air vents ash free without clogging. Including the ribs and the ABTs, that was about a 6.5 hour smoke. I have shots of the ashes but I'll have to upload them later.

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post #2 of 8

Wow this is a great job my Friend.

post #3 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by africanmeat View Post

Wow this is a great job my Friend.

 

 

X2Looks-Great.gif

post #4 of 8
Like you, I ran across the thread on the mini WSM . Did not know what it was. So did some reading up on them.
Now I have to have one ! I check walmart they did not have any of the pots. Check walmart website it said that the nearby walmarts
Don't have them in stock but I can order it on line . Going to check a few more stores if I can't find one I will just have to order on line.
Your looks great.
Your post will help me when I start on mine .
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrod62 View Post

Like you, I ran across the thread on the mini WSM . Did not know what it was. So did some reading up on them.
Now I have to have one ! I check walmart they did not have any of the pots. Check walmart website it said that the nearby walmarts
Don't have them in stock but I can order it on line . Going to check a few more stores if I can't find one I will just have to order on line.
Your looks great.
Your post will help me when I start on mine .

Howdy Ed!

If you haven't already done so, I suggest that you read the years' long thread over at the Weber page that I linked to. It will give you many things to think about and decide before you commit to the build. Living as I do in the heart of Texas, the IMUSA pots are available at Wal*Mart and at our local supermarket. I will see if I still have the UPC for the pot I bought because, if it is unique to the supplier, it should help you ensure that you get the one that fits. I believe that Wal*Mart has a policy that allows you to order an item and pick it up in your local store without having to pay shipping. They are selling for $19.99 here at the moment.

rh
post #6 of 8
Howdy Ed!

If you haven't already done so, I suggest that you read the years' long thread over at the Weber page that I linked to. It will give you many things to think about and decide before you commit to the build. Living as I do in the heart of Texas, the IMUSA pots are available at Wal*Mart and at our local supermarket. I will see if I still have the UPC for the pot I bought because, if it is unique to the supplier, it should help you ensure that you get the one that fits. I believe that Wal*Mart has a policy that allows you to order an item and pick it up in your local store without having to pay shipping. They are selling for $19.99 here at the moment.



Thanks. At walmart.com and target.com both say "out of stock" at all the stores nearby.
walmart.com is selling them for $23 and if i spend $45 they ship it to my house for free.
guess i will have to build two of them icon14.gif
Might sell the second one to cover the cost of building both of them
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrod62 View Post

Howdy Ed!
If you haven't already done so, I suggest that you read the years' long thread over at the Weber page that I linked to. It will give you many things to think about and decide before you commit to the build. Living as I do in the heart of Texas, the IMUSA pots are available at Wal*Mart and at our local supermarket. I will see if I still have the UPC for the pot I bought because, if it is unique to the supplier, it should help you ensure that you get the one that fits. I believe that Wal*Mart has a policy that allows you to order an item and pick it up in your local store without having to pay shipping. They are selling for $19.99 here at the moment.
Thanks. At walmart.com and target.com both say "out of stock" at all the stores nearby.
walmart.com is selling them for $23 and if i spend $45 they ship it to my house for free.
guess i will have to build two of them icon14.gif
Might sell the second one to cover the cost of building both of them

Sounds like a plan! I don't know where anyone can buy a smoker this size for less than $300 and it won't be as good as this one is.

The UPC for the IMUSA pot is on the label in one of the photos I posted, but because those were resized smaller, I checked the original file and here's the code:
0 94046 00034 6.

If that code is unique to this supplier and the supplier makes them all the same, this should be what you need. It fit my SJS dang nigh perfectly!
post #8 of 8
Thanks
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