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Comparison Pot Mini-WSM and actual WSM 14.5

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

This goes into feature and size comparison between a home-made mini-Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) and an actual WSM 14.5 model.  There will be two sets of size information given for the mini-WSM.  One set is for the standard IMUSA 32 quart tamale pot.  The second set will be with the William-Rose 40 quart pot.  The base of the mini-WSM is the Smokey Joe Gold.  The measurements for the WSM 14.5 is without any modifications.

Number of briquettes held:

mini-WSM: 74 without a ring, and without a pot circle cut out to allow ring to extend upward.

WSM-14.5: 110 (according to owner's manual).

Distance the first rack is from the coals:

Mini-WSM: 4 inches above top of coals.

WSM-14.5: 8 inches above the top of the coals (WOW).

Distance above the bottom rack, before you make contact with the top rack:

Mini-WSM with IMUSA32 quart tamale pot: 5.75 inches.

Mini-WSM with Williams-Rose 40 quart pot: 7.5 inches. (WOW).

WSM-14.5: 5.0 inches (smallest).

Distance from the top rack to the lip the lid rests on:

Mini-WSM with IMUSA32 quart tamale pot: 4.0 inches.

Mini-WSM with Williams-Rose 40 quart pot: 4.5 inches.

WSM-14.5: 0.5 inches.

Dome Height of lid (provides extra room for meat on top rack):

All mini-WSM: 3.0 inches.

WSM-14.5: 7.0 inches (WOW).

Diameter of grill surfaces:

All mini-WSM: 13.625 inches.

WSM-14.5: 13.5 inches (smaller than the name 14.5 would lead you to believe).

Summary:

Vertical rack clearance on the top rack is enhanced by the huge dome on the WSM-14.5.  It has 7.5 inches for the top rack and 5 inches on the bottom rack.  On the mini-WSM with the IMUSA pot, the top rack has 7 inches on the top rack, and 5.75 inches on the bottom rack.  On the mini-WSM with the Williams-Rose 40 quart pot, the top rack has 7.5 inches and the bottom rack has 7.5 inches.  The mini-WSM units have a grill surface which is an eighth of an inch greater diameter than the WSM-14.5. 

More to come: Temperature range, stability, fuel consumption, temperature differenced between racks and burn duration.  Preliminary data looks like the mini-WSM gets more burn time for a given amount of briquettes, but more data is needed.  It also looks like the WSM-14.5 can hit higher temperatures with greater ease.  The stock thermometer on the WSM-14.5, which is in the dome, reads about 15 degrees cooler than the top rack, and 30 degrees cooler than the bottom rack.  

post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 

Unique features on the WSM-14.5:

A silicone rubber port which allows thermometer leads to be run into the smoker without using the exhaust vents. 

A side door which give you access to look at meat in the lower rack without removing the lid.  It also gives limited access to the coal bed for adding coal or wood chunks.  A water pan which further diffuses the heat, and acts as a drip pan.  Stronger legs which support the smoker. 

The flip side to these items:

The legs, although stronger, do not extend as wide as the legs on a Smokey Joe Gold.  The side door has some gaps, which can be reduced with some delicate hammering with a soft-faced hammer, but still will have a small gap at the bottom.  The water pan uses a lot of vertical space, which some people would prefer used for increased spacing between the racks (to smoke taller meat).  The silicone rubber thermometer hole has no apparent drawbacks.

post #3 of 11

If the WSM 14.5 can get over 1000* then it can get as hot as the  mini.   If it can smoke 275* for 12 hours then it burns as long as the mini.   

 

The WSM doesn't have a basket but only a ring.  The mini let's drippings flash into the smoke for better flavor (using the steamer)  My mini has a bail that let's me carry it around as a grill and the mini is also a grill!

 

 

Oh the mini costs over $200 less than the WSM !      

 

Advantage:  The Mini WSM!

post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by FWIsmoker View Post
 

If the WSM 14.5 can get over 1000* then it can get as hot as the  mini.   If it can smoke 275* for 12 hours then it burns as long as the mini.   

 

The WSM doesn't have a basket but only a ring.  The mini let's drippings flash into the smoke for better flavor (using the steamer)  My mini has a bail that let's me carry it around as a grill and the mini is also a grill!

 

 

Oh the mini costs over $200 less than the WSM !      

 

Advantage:  The Mini WSM!

I've had the Mini-ZA over a 1000°!!!  It also has a side door, but I don't think that feature is good on any of the WSM's just one more place to leak air. If I need more charcoal, I just remove the pot and add. No need for water when smoking, so the water pan in the 14" WSM would be useless to me. Suppose I could turn it into a water dish for my dogs. I find no need for the silicone therm port either, the brass ferrule fittings that I use on my mini's work perfect, and I can locate them where I want, not where the manufacturer thinks they should be. As far as rack heights I can adjust the racks in my mini's in 2" increments if I want. Giving endless height options and multiple rack options. And all of this for under $100!

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Unique features on the Mini-WSM

Limited only by imagination and wallet. (As my super-mini-WSM build demonstrates).  Different diffuser choices (or no diffuser at all).  Unlimited choice of grill heights. Easy mounting of multiple thermometers or thermometer ports. 

The flip side to these items:

A motivated WSM14.5 owner could make all of the same modifications (different rack heights, more thermometers and ports, choices in diffuser).  Many purchasers of the WSM-14.5 simply enjoy the turn-key function of the smoker.  Mini-WSM units have a lot of variety, sometimes suggested fixes do not uniformly apply to all.  Example: Not all mini-WSM units will hit a thousand degrees.  With a melting point of 1221 degrees for Aluminum, perhaps that is a good thing. 

 


Edited by Addertooth - 8/25/14 at 1:37pm
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtsailor2003 View Post
 

I've had the Mini-ZA over a 1000°!!!  It also has a side door, but I don't think that feature is good on any of the WSM's just one more place to leak air. If I need more charcoal, I just remove the pot and add. No need for water when smoking, so the water pan in the 14" WSM would be useless to me. Suppose I could turn it into a water dish for my dogs. I find no need for the silicone therm port either, the brass ferrule fittings that I use on my mini's work perfect, and I can locate them where I want, not where the manufacturer thinks they should be. As far as rack heights I can adjust the racks in my mini's in 2" increments if I want. Giving endless height options and multiple rack options. And all of this for under $100!

So Case it's safe to assume you prefer the mini?

 

Quote:

 Example: Not all mini-WSM units will hit a thousand degrees.  With a melting point of 1221 degrees for Aluminum, perhaps that is a good thing. 

 

 

 

 

Oh all the mini's are capable of those high temps..... Just so happens I didn't intend for it to happen when my steamer diffuser melted. I just forgot about it for 20 minutes while warming it up when i came back the grill grate was white hot and the steamer was destroyed.

 

 With the right mixture of certain sized lump, spacing of the lump and air mixture almost any smoker can get hotter than you intend by several hundred degrees. 

 

It's all good because the aluminum steamer can be replaced with steel and I'd recommend that anyway now that i have experienced using it.  The steel is a better heat sync...here's the piece i used.

 

The steamer concept lets more direct heat through which gives a better Maillard Reaction and texture (better flavor!) let's drippings hit the fire (IMO better flavor) along with diffusing and evening out the temps..that's why i like it. 

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

FWIsmoker,

The mini builds which do not use direct radiant heat, and instead favor indirect convective heat, frequently struggle to hit 500 degrees (assuming minion method with 8 briquettes to start).  I build for convective heat in my smokers and use direct radiant heat with my grill. If you dump in a chimney full of glowing coals, I am sure the smoker can get hotter, for a little while.  The highest working heat I tend to us in my smoker is 350 (for crisping chicken skin).  

post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Addertooth View Post
 

FWIsmoker,

The mini builds which do not use direct radiant heat, and instead favor indirect convective heat, frequently struggle to hit 500 degrees (assuming minion method with 8 briquettes to start).  I build for convective heat in my smokers and use direct radiant heat with my grill. If you dump in a chimney full of glowing coals, I am sure the smoker can get hotter, for a little while.  The highest working heat I tend to us in my smoker is 350 (for crisping chicken skin).  

Yes I'm well aware some people build theirs for indirect heat.    I will tell you that you're missing out on not doing the what i call a blended heat (indirect with some direct)   You'll turn out better food ...but don't take my word for it, experiment on your own.   OBTW 350* doesn't really crisp skin unless direct heat is involved...It will help with bite through though. 

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hmm.. If I swap out the diffuser on the WSM-14.5, I can play with a mixture of heat.  Something on my must-try list.

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by FWIsmoker View Post

Yes I'm well aware some people build theirs for indirect heat.    I will tell you that you're missing out on not doing the what i call a blended heat (indirect with some direct)   You'll turn out better food ...but don't take my word for it, experiment on your own.   OBTW 350* doesn't really crisp skin unless direct heat is involved...It will help with bite through though. 

One thing I've found out, Keith correct me if I'm wrong, I can get my mini down to 170 and run that way or up to 1000, with or without a diffuser, or forced air and maintain those temps without much interaction.
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtsailor2003 View Post


One thing I've found out, Keith correct me if I'm wrong, I can get my mini down to 170 and run that way or up to 1000, with or without a diffuser, or forced air and maintain those temps without much interaction.

Yea i agree you can.  I am glad i got my steamer diffuser back in I must say,  but there's times i pull it out say if I'm cooking something where i want to "grill" from a distance or if i'm cooking a pizza.

 

 

The other day I was cooking some really fatty chicken thighs and the flames were raging when i pulled the lid.... no problem with the new improved steel steamer though!  :biggrin: 

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