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New Mini-WSM build, question about a feature addition... - Page 2

post #21 of 38
OK... here's my 2 pennies... I have the SJS with no extra vents... first off I suspect your bent vent is not helping matters any.. take that off and straighten... As far as your ash catching bowl goes... I'm still on the fence about that... I just have a SS pet dish turned upside down with 1/2" holes drilled in it... no basket ... I cut the bottom out of my pot and made a smaller grate to go down in past the steamer insert lip so it sits on the bottom of the pot (the lip left from cutting the bottom out) ... I then cut a piece of 1/4" plate to sit on that grate leaving about a 1/2"-1" gap around it for the heat and smoke to come up through.... on top of that I have a 12" cast iron skillet with the handle cut off (wrapped in foil for easy clean up)... this all still sits down in lower than the steamer insert lip which allows me to put a grate on the insert lip plus 2 other grates higher up.... all that steel works as a heat sync/diffuser/drip pan....

For lighting... I fill with unlit briquettes and wood chunks mixed throughout leaving a hole in the middle... lighting 6-10 briquettes in the chimney... but here's where you control the heat from the get go... If wanting low and slow... only let briquettes get about 1/4-1/2 way lit.. not screaming red hot... for a hot smoke from the get go.. let them (6-10) get ashed over... dump them in the hole left in the unlit and put pot on... leave all vents wide open until you get to about 25` from your target temp... close intake WAY down (!/8-1/4 open) when climbing temps start slowing down then you can open intake a little at a time until desired temp.... I set mine at 225`and it stays there without adjustment for hours...

But I agree your bent intake vent is causing problems... should be able to leave exhaust open and close intake and the fire will go out (if pot is sealed into the SJ)... we'll get you straightened out.. hopefully before Sunday....
post #22 of 38
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by rabbithutch View Post

Two things.

First, I think you are still using too many briquettes. Less fuel means less heat. Start counting the number of briquettes you use with each cook and the temperatures you get. Unless my results are far different from yours, you should find it easier to hold lower temps with fewer briquettes.

Second, I start a few briqs in my chimney by placing it over a tuna can with a shot of rubbing alcohol in it. Lit with a butane torch, I have red hot coals in about 5 minutes. Pour those lit coals on your basket and you should be good to go at 225 in only a few minutes.

Keep notes. Take pics. It'll come together for you.


(mind you, I don't have Case's experience with the mini, but I've used mine considerably without the extra side vents, but I do use a flower pot saucer diffuser with sand in it and wrapped in foil.

 

When you say number of coals, you mean unlit correct? I'm a bit torn there, as a low heat cook will generally go for a long time, so the extra fuel would be needed. Guess I'll need to find that sweet spot. That said, I think your terra cotta diffuser is really helping you keep temps down. I just don't have that kind of mass in my mini.

 

I like the alcohol trick. I only have iso on hand, not sure if that's a good substitute. Years ago I used a sterno can, might give that another try.

 

One of the things that's been aggravating is reading all these build threads where guys are like "I dumped a half chimney of lit coals in the middle and am keeping it at 250 with no problems!" A lot of people were going with heavy diffusers back then which is definitely a factor, but that kind of fuel would have me pushing 400.

 
Originally Posted by JckDanls 07 View Post

OK... here's my 2 pennies... I have the SJS with no extra vents... first off I suspect your bent vent is not helping matters any.. take that off and straighten... As far as your ash catching bowl goes... I'm still on the fence about that... I just have a SS pet dish turned upside down with 1/2" holes drilled in it... no basket ... I cut the bottom out of my pot and made a smaller grate to go down in past the steamer insert lip so it sits on the bottom of the pot (the lip left from cutting the bottom out) ... I then cut a piece of 1/4" plate to sit on that grate leaving about a 1/2"-1" gap around it for the heat and smoke to come up through.... on top of that I have a 12" cast iron skillet with the handle cut off (wrapped in foil for easy clean up)... this all still sits down in lower than the steamer insert lip which allows me to put a grate on the insert lip plus 2 other grates higher up.... all that steel works as a heat sync/diffuser/drip pan....

For lighting... I fill with unlit briquettes and wood chunks mixed throughout leaving a hole in the middle... lighting 6-10 briquettes in the chimney... but here's where you control the heat from the get go... If wanting low and slow... only let briquettes get about 1/4-1/2 way lit.. not screaming red hot... for a hot smoke from the get go.. let them (6-10) get ashed over... dump them in the hole left in the unlit and put pot on... leave all vents wide open until you get to about 25` from your target temp... close intake WAY down (!/8-1/4 open) when climbing temps start slowing down then you can open intake a little at a time until desired temp.... I set mine at 225`and it stays there without adjustment for hours...

But I agree your bent intake vent is causing problems... should be able to leave exhaust open and close intake and the fire will go out (if pot is sealed into the SJ)... we'll get you straightened out.. hopefully before Sunday....

 

I found a guy on a weber specific forum who did the same thing when making his handle and reached out to him to see if he had any luck with a vent fix. Either half or more of the problem is that the bend caused the rivet to loosen quite a bit. Simply replacing that with a bolt may do the trick, or a combo of that and reshaping. However, since I have a piece of pork in the fridge for tomorrow, I'm not going to tempt fate by messing with the cooker today.

 

I'm loving the basket so far and even thinking about making one for my kettle. Longevity of burn hasn't really been a factor yet, but shaking ash from used coals and retention of small pieces has been great.

 

I'll keep your briquette tips in mind, I think there's something to that. I believe there's a lot of bad info out there regarding when to dump a chimney/when coals are ready, coming from cooker and chimney instructions, forums, youtube, books, etc. For hot grilling and indirect stuff, I stopped waiting for everything to fully ash over a while ago, as the coals at the bottom would be much more spent than the ones at the top. I get way better results now: hotter coals that last longer.

 

Like rabbithutch, you also have a lot more mass in the cooker with your CI skillet. Considering that, I'd probably go with less lit fuel that you to get to 225ish.

 

 

Originally Posted by dirtsailor2003 View Post


No foil will get you the bark, cooking either hot and fast or slow and low. I have never foiled any of the shoulders I cook. Excellent bark everyone. I do not use sugar in my rubs.

 

You know, my quest for low temps might be a battle for another day. I have a cooker that wants to be hot, and a piece of meat that will tolerate it. Why not go with the flow? Leaning towards a 300ish cook now. It will certainly save time. My picnic is 7.7 lbs pre trim/skinning. Without foiling through the stall, what do you think I could be looking at in terms of max cook time in the 300 range?

post #23 of 38
Thread Starter 

Got a later start this morning than I meant to. I tend to underestimate how long setup is going to take me. Also, it was pretty cold, upper 40's, so it was tough to gauge the changeover from heavy smoke to TBS.

 

I'm aiming for 300-325. May or may not foil, depending on how things go.

 

Pork Picnic. Was 7.7 lbs before I removed most of the skin and fat. I left a small collar of skin around the hock end for insulation and to hold things together. Pre-salted yesterday afternoon, rubbed last night. Heavy on the black pepper, with garlic and onion powder. Was going to stop there, but ended up adding a little bit of cayenne, chili powder, and cumin:

 

 

Basket setup. 3 large chunks and a couple tiny pieces of hickory, coffee can in the middle for my 6 lit coals:

 

 

Smoker assembled. Using the steamer insert as a diffuser, with a spare grate sitting on top of it to raise up my pizza pan and disposable pie pan. 7:22 am EST:

 

 

Up to temp, but smoke still heavy. 8:00 am:

 

 

Finally thinning out at 8:09am:

 

 

Pork on at 8:13 am. Misted with water before closing up to pick up more smoke:

 

 

At this point I'm watching temps and enjoying the weather. 3 or 4 hours in I'll take a look and insert my meat temp probe.

 

Will update along the way. So far I'm holding temps OK, but vent adjustments are pretty frequent. Note that I didn't mention any settings above, as they're pretty meaningless at this point. I'm varying between 1/8-1/3rd open, but who knows what that really means. The loose rivet is a huge complication. What happens is that you accidentally make adjustments simply by grabbing to handle. It's easy to see how you might grab it, accidentally move it to the left, then make your adjustment to the right, and end up exactly where you were pre-adjustment. it definitely needs to be fixed or replaced.

post #24 of 38
For a temporary fix you could ping the rivet to tighten it up. Since your vent is bent the best solution is to drill it out and replace the vent cover.

Ereplacementparts.com carries replacement Weber parts.
post #25 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtsailor2003 View Post

For a temporary fix you could ping the rivet to tighten it up. Since your vent is bent the best solution is to drill it out and replace the vent cover.

Ereplacementparts.com carries replacement Weber parts.

 

I'm going to take a look later this week. Unfortunately it looks like the damper I need is marked discontinued on those sites, so we'll see. I'll check out eBay too, and I'm still watching for cheap SJ's on craigslist.

 

As for Sunday's cook, things were looking okay for a while, but temp issues popped up. I'll skip most of the pics, as I know 10 pictures of a temperature gauge aren't exactly thrilling.

 

At 11:37 am, I noticed that temp dipped to 275, so I opened the vent a bit, to about half open. By 11:49, it was closer to 260, so I went WFO on the intake. At 12:03, it was still 260ish.

 

At this point I guessed that I was running low on fuel, so I lit additional coals in the chimney and planned to refuel when I added the meat temp probe. Now was not really the time to be a charcoal miser, but I didn't really light enough, partly because I was thinking this cook was going to finish in the oven.

 

At 12:24 I found this:

 

 

After a shake. Yikes!

 

 

Added my fresh coals and looked at the shoulder. Not too bad, probe said 172:

 

 

I reassembled and kept vents open, but never really recovered my preferred temp for this cook. Only got back to 250 and stayed there, so I preheated the oven to 300. Pork still at 172 at this time.

 

Pre-foiling, about 1:15 pm:

 

 

See the circled areas, not sure why that fat/membrane didn't really render. Next time I do a picnic I'll probably remove all the skin and trim a little more aggressively:

 

 

 

Into the oven at 1:21 pm, hit 203 at 2:13 pm. I opened the foil for a few minutes to probe for tenderness and wiggle bone, buth wee good. Let the excess steam out, resealed, wrapped in a towel, into a cooler.

 

Removed at 5:22 pm:

 

 

Looking pretty good! Bark still pretty crusty, though the bottom was soggy. In the future I'd sit on a rack before foiling.

 

I went muscle group by muscle group, removing sections and shredding and removing fat. Whipped up a cup of finishing sauce similar to JJ's. Final result:

 

 

Nice flavor, decent ring. Cooker issues aside, I was very happy with the results.

 

As mentioned earlier, the intake vent is clearly a problem. later this week I'll take a look and see what can be done. At the very least, I'll probably be replacing the rivet with a bolt. Crossing my fingers that does the trick, otherwise the hunt for a damper begins. Thanks all!

post #26 of 38
Glad you got some good Q ... I've had to do surgery on my vent.. straightened the bent vent and used a stainless bolt (1/4") to reattach it...
post #27 of 38
Isopropyl alcohol and rubbing alcohol are the same. You do not need to get the high count stuff.

Try ereplacementparts.com to find your vent.
post #28 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbithutch View Post

Isopropyl alcohol and rubbing alcohol are the same. You do not need to get the high count stuff.

Try ereplacementparts.com to find your vent.

 

Unfortunately they're showing the part as obsolete/discontinued. There's a guy selling them on ebay for $15.99 plus shipping. Too rich for my blood, especially when complete SJ's can be had for $10 or less on craigslist.

post #29 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by kettlemetal View Post

Unfortunately they're showing the part as obsolete/discontinued. There's a guy selling them on ebay for $15.99 plus shipping. Too rich for my blood, especially when complete SJ's can be had for $10 or less on craigslist.

That's too bad! Contact Weber direct. They used to be $5-$6 plus shipping. Which if you can grab one of CL would be cheaper. Use the new base and keep th old one as a spare. I haven't been lucky enough to find a SMJ on CL now for a couple years. They were really popular here for a while now not so much.
post #30 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtsailor2003 View Post


That's too bad! Contact Weber direct. They used to be $5-$6 plus shipping. Which if you can grab one of CL would be cheaper. Use the new base and keep th old one as a spare. I haven't been lucky enough to find a SMJ on CL now for a couple years. They were really popular here for a while now not so much.

 

On this board or another I saw someone from outside of the US who needed one that said Weber doesn't sell it individually anymore. Can't hurt to try though!

 

SJs pop up regularly on mine, but I'm in a pretty densely populated area. Everything right now is either father than I care to drive, or more than I want to spend. CL auto email alerts are a godsend though.

post #31 of 38
Thread Starter 

I called Weber today. The good news? They have the damper. Bad news? $15.94 with shipping! Since that's half the cost of a new SJS, I'll definitely be trying to fix on my own, and/or watching CL for a deal.

post #32 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by kettlemetal View Post
 

I called Weber today. The good news? They have the damper. Bad news? $15.94 with shipping! Since that's half the cost of a new SJS, I'll definitely be trying to fix on my own, and/or watching CL for a deal.

That's crazy! drill out the rivet, pull the vent. Over bend the vent towards the concave side, then bolt it back on. should fix it right back up.

post #33 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtsailor2003 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by kettlemetal View Post

 
I called Weber today. The good news? They have the damper. Bad news? $15.94 with shipping! Since that's half the cost of a new SJS, I'll definitely be trying to fix on my own, and/or watching CL for a deal.
That's crazy! drill out the rivet, pull the vent. Over bend the vent towards the concave side, then bolt it back on. should fix it right back up.


yeahthat.gif Just make sure you still have the little tabs bent up that will stop the vent at full open and full closed ...
post #34 of 38
Thread Starter 

Did some surgery yesterday and have things about as good as they can get. I really did a number on that original tab when I bent it. The "circle" part of the vent actually extends into the tab a bit, which I didn't really notice initially. My sloppy bend made that edge raise off the bowl, which was largely to blame for my temp issues.

 

I reshaped as best as I could, but the bolt made the biggest difference.

 

I do have one minor issue, hoping someone with more of a mechanical background can chime in. What would be the best setup to both keep things tight and allow vent adjustment, without loosening the nut? It's easy to simply tighten it up before I start cooks, but it would be nice to solve. Right now I have a 1/4 x 3/4 hex bolt, 2 flat washers, 1 nut keeping things together, nut outside the kettle.

post #35 of 38
A couple of options you have...

1. adjust the nut tight enough so the vent still moves (slides) and then give a little tack weld on the nut to keep from loosening ...
2. Use a longer bolt and then use 2 nuts.. Tighten one nut up against the other to create a lock nut.... will have to play with tightness to get correct movement of vent after nuts are locked together...
3. Go to a good hardware store and buy a Lock Nut... problem here is... most lock nuts have plastic for the locking part of it... this will melt off when it gets hot... You have to find the lock nuts that have indents on 3 sides of the nut....

The good thing about options 2 and 3 are... The nut and bolt will still be removable as to where option 1 is welded and will not come of without breaking the bolt...
post #36 of 38
The double nut is your best option. They also make a lock but that uses a washer (one piece and the washer spins and looks like a sprocket.
post #37 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JckDanls 07 View Post

A couple of options you have...

1. adjust the nut tight enough so the vent still moves (slides) and then give a little tack weld on the nut to keep from loosening ...
2. Use a longer bolt and then use 2 nuts.. Tighten one nut up against the other to create a lock nut.... will have to play with tightness to get correct movement of vent after nuts are locked together...
3. Go to a good hardware store and buy a Lock Nut... problem here is... most lock nuts have plastic for the locking part of it... this will melt off when it gets hot... You have to find the lock nuts that have indents on 3 sides of the nut....

The good thing about options 2 and 3 are... The nut and bolt will still be removable as to where option 1 is welded and will not come of without breaking the bolt...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtsailor2003 View Post

The double nut is your best option. They also make a lock but that uses a washer (one piece and the washer spins and looks like a sprocket.

 

Thanks guys!

post #38 of 38
If the nuts are on the outside, use a bit of loctite on the the threads.

I used nylock nuts on the Minitisserie mounting bracket on the pot. The temps at the location I used them won't melt the plastic.



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