Well, since I came up with the idea for the e-WSM mod a while back, I have used it several times for smoking cured sausage and snack sticks. It works great, but.... (there is always a but).
The electric element has an analog dial control. Just like using natural air flow and fiddling with dampers to get a charcoal smoker dialed into that perfect temperature, using the analog dial control on my electric element is somewhat of a similar process. You have to fiddle with it to find the perfect spot for the set point you want. Nothing wrong with this, it is just the nature of analog electric controllers.
This is the analog control for the element.
Here is the original thread on the design and build of the e-WSM mod.
Now in smoking over charcoal, once you find that sweet setting, you can leave a WSM alone and it will pretty much be rock solid at that temp unless you change something (open lid, add meat, etc...). No so with smoking sausage and snack sticks. You generally will dry the casings at one temp for a while, then crank up the temp some while adding smoke, and finally crank it up to a finish setting to cook the meat to the final temp. Some smokes call for raising the temp by 10* every hour during the smoke process. Which leads me back to that fiddling with the analog temp dial. Every time you change the setting, you end up chasing that desired set point until you find it. And by then, you are probably due to change to the next higher set point. So herein lies my one gripe about any analog electric element control and sausage making.
Soooooooo....... Time for an upgrade to the e-WSM.
I was going to make a PID controller box. But Auber Instruments recently introduced a single channel model at such a low price I don't think I could make one as well for less. I'm talking about their model WS-1500 "plug and play" PID controller kit. They have them on sale for $130 right now with a RTD sensor. I picked mine up this week and I'm really impressed with the quality of the build. It has a good heft to the case which is metal. There is a decent heat sink on the bottom, and yes this model uses a SSR for switching the output (unlike a prior similar model which used a mechanical relay). Rubber feet and two tilt down front supports to raise the front of the case if you want. Buttons are integrated into a smooth face so there is nothing to get grease behind if you change something while working on the food. It's rated for 1,600 watts and is marketed as controlling Bradley, Brinkmann and other similar electric element smokers (the e-WSM element is 1,300 watts). This one also has the 6 step programmable temperature/time profiles so you can literally set snack sticks & sausage once and not touch the PID until they are done (x time at 120* to dry the casings, then x time at 130*, then x time at 140*, etc... up to six steps).
Here are photos of mine new Auber WS-1500 PID controller.
I've got it set up on the e-WSM now doing an auto-tune run to calibrate it for my pit. It comes set up with a profile for a commercial rice cooker. I see that being very different than what I will need for the e-WSM so I'm not even going to try it with the stock program. I put the clay flower pot base in my empty water pan for some mass to simulate a full load of meat. 100% accurate simulation? Probably not, but it should be close enough. I see the pit responding very differently when empty vs when loaded with cold meat so that is why I figured some mass was needed during the auto-tune cycle. I'll report back later on how this worked in the real world.
I'm going to make some kielbasa again this weekend, so I will post the real world report on how the Auber WS-1500 unit worked on that smoke. Auto-tune pit temp is set for 165 (may need to be higher?). I'll see what the PID picks for the settings and compare it to the recommended Bradley settings (which has a smaller element).