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Fritz's mini WSM build

Discussion in 'Mini-WSM' started by fritzmonroe, Dec 9, 2013.

  1. fritzmonroe

    fritzmonroe Smoke Blower

    I'll start out saying that this will be a fairly long build time.  I can't start on the actual build until after Christmas since the kids want to give me some of the parts.  So I'll wait.

    But in the mean time, I'm sure that I'll have some questions along the way.  Here's my questions so far.

    First question has been discussed many times before, silver or gold.  From what I've read, the silver is better if the Smokey Joe will be used as a smoker and as a grill.  However, the Gold has that nifty handle that holds the lid on when traveling.  This is a good feature for me since I'll likely take the Smokey Joe in the camper when we camp.  But I've seen others use a strap system to hold the lid onto the grill for travel.  Any strong opinions one way or the other?

    Next is the tamale pot.  It looks like the "recommended" pot is either no longer made or has changed to a slightly different diameter.  Either way, it is also about 2x the price that it used to be.  So anyone have any recommendations for a different pot to use?  I won't have the grill until after Christmas, so I don't have any measurements for it. Is the actual diameter of the grill 14.5"?  The pot actually sits inside the rim of the grill and the lid of the grill sits snugly on top of the pot?  Is there any real need for the steamer insert that can't be done with another grill grate?  I'm sure it is more convenient for the steamer insert to sit on the rim, but it can just sit on more screws put in the pot, correct?

    As for the thermometer, I have the transmitting part of a wireless grill thermometer but can't seem to locate the other part.  I also have a spare Weber dial grill thermometer.  Will these be good enough to get me up and operating?  I plan on getting a Maverick at some point, but not quite yet.

    Last question for now.  Can the mini WSM be used for cold smoking?  Or is there not really the space in there to keep the temps where they need to be?

    Thanks in advance, and hopefully I won't bore you all with the long drawn out build process.
  2. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    I'd recommend using the steamer insert as your diffuser.  There have been so many people copying plans of ones that don't and use a teracotta pot but it's not necessary and your drippings will still be able to feed the fire (better flavor)

    Too bad you missed a cyber Monday sale on the Vasconia pot but it can still be found for about 35 dollars and fits great with no modifications. 

    There are a bunch of thermometer options but i'm sold on River Country..accurate and adjustable.  Look on Amazon for those.   Feel free to PM me with any questions and dirtsaylor will be glad to help as well. ( I volunteered you Case) ;)
  3. fritzmonroe

    fritzmonroe Smoke Blower

    Wow, that was quick. 

    I've seen mention of the terra cotta diffuser, but there's been several threads where people have issues keeping the temperatures up.  At least that's the way that I remember the threads.
  4. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Howdy, Fritz!

    WRT the silver vs gold, one of the advantages I read about for the gold is that with its multiple vents you don't have to worry about the ash clogging up and putting out your fire. Of course, the vented tin can over the bottom vent on a silver works like a charm. I have the silver but don't camp although I have occasionally taken the unit to the park in good weather. A small bungee cord takes care of business for me.

    Here in Texas, tamale steamers are about as common as cattle. The IMUSA 32-qt is still about $30 unless you catch it on sale. I really don't know if the dimensions have changed, but this is the unit I bought when I made my WSM. Because tamales are a traditional holiday treat food, now is not the best time to try to snag one on sale.

  5. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    I cook very high heat with the mini for chicken primarily and the temps get 350-400 on those cooks. I can also cook low heat say 200*.

    The best part is the steamer makes a great diffuser because it's easy to scrap off if it gets dirty and drippings make incredible flavor. Why people want to catch all of that potential flavor is beyond me. 

    Charcoal basket is essential...3" high expanded steel i believe

    Reflectix makes a great insulator for wind and or cold. 
  6. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Well lets see, I use the steamer as a diffuser, the terracotta planter tray, and currently a 8"x10" piece of granite. Both of my mini's use the Silver as a base, why, because I got them both off Craigslist dirt cheap! I would have to order a gold as all the stores here only carry the silver. No problem I added two 3/4" vents on each side with ball valves. I also use an inverted stainless pan with holes to keep the ash from clogging the bottom. Definitely make a charcoal basket out of expended metal. Use the charcoal grate for the bottom of the basket.

    I have used two different brands of pots The last was made by Hoffritz (32qt) fits perfectly, only complaint with it is that the handles are metal and get hot. The imusa has rubberized plastic handles. On both of my builds I attached the lid to the bottom of the pot. This forms a neat lip that seals really nice to the SMJ base. The first one that I built I drilled holes all over the bottom using the steamer tray as a template. Waste of time in my opinion. On the second pot I cut the bottom out. Way better lets you overfill the charcoal basket if needed. Anyways Christmas is just around the corner so your build isn't all that far off! any questions feel free to ask here or PM myself or any other Mini-WSM users! Smoked a bottom round roast last night, was 3 degrees when I finished, that little mini kept on chugging along still had a ton of fuel left.


  7. fritzmonroe

    fritzmonroe Smoke Blower

    Yeah, I had read through both of your threads, along with a bunch of other threads about the mini.  I'll be using them, along with the other threads, to help me with my build.
  8. fritzmonroe

    fritzmonroe Smoke Blower

    Well, I picked up a Smokey Joe Silver for the kids to give me.   I also ordered a Maverick ET732 thermometer for myself for my birthday.  I'll shop for the pot once I'm allowed to open the grill.

    BTW, I also ordered Jeff's book.  I figure I'm getting an education here, I want to support the site. 
  9. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Sounds Like you are on your way! I highly recommend adding (2) 3/4" side vents with valves. Makes a big difference in heat control.
  10. fritzmonroe

    fritzmonroe Smoke Blower

    I'll add the vents, but I'll likely wait until I use it a time or 2 first to see how it does without.
  11. little smokey

    little smokey Smoking Fanatic

    OK so give me some instruction on how you did the Logo on the pot, I have the basic idea but wanted to from the horses mouth.
  12. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    You'll definitely want to make an ash guard then. Without it you'll spend a bunch of time clearing the ash from the lower vent with a screw driver or a stick or something. Also you will find that you can't get super high temps. You'll be able to smoke up to 300° easily but not much more for long periods of time. Just observations I made building mine and adding as I went.
  13. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Second the vote for side air...you'll want it
  14. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    My mini-WSM is built on a SJ silver with an Imusa 32 qt. tamale steamer.  My steamer has aluminum handles with no covering.  I haven't looked recently, but I think the ones so common in our supermarkets are the same - aluminum handles, no plastic, etc.

    I have not put any side vents in my SJ.  I bought a set of them from Weber, but have procrastinated on making the mod.  I'm not certain that I can get holes drilled properly to use them.

    dirtsailor2013, can you post a pic of the valves you put in your set up?  I assume you are talking about the same kinds of valves used in making a UDS, but a pic sure would help.  And, while I've got your ear, why didn't you just drill holes and use magnets to control air flow?  What advantage is there to using the valves?

  15. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Just using standard 3/4" ball valve on a black iron nipple.
  16. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One valve or more? Where did you position it/them?
  17. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Just put it toward the middle of the charcoal basket  would be fine. 
  18. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Two valves on opposite sides. For whatever reason I can't post photos right now. Look at the photos in my mega mini thread in yhis forum.
  19. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    You really did a job on the mods on the mini! I'm gonna copy some of them unashamedly!

    I REALLY LIKE the second steamer to make a cold smoker. That is just brilliant!!

  20. fritzmonroe

    fritzmonroe Smoke Blower

    So I picked up the ET732 in red.  I got it the other day.  I just checked it out with the boiling water test.  I'm very happy with how it performed at 212F.