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Weber Smoky Mountain cooker questions

boblloyd91

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So I'm trying to convince my wife to get me this for Christmas, and I initially had my heart set on the 18 inch model. However I'm getting the impression she might be more persuaded to get me this if I take it down a size and look at the 14.5 inch version (which is $100 less). My questions are this:

-is it possible to cook a rack of ribs in the smaller model? I'm guessing I'd have to cut them in half but has anyone here had a successful time cooking ribs on a model this small?

-I'm thinking of trying out my skill in a few competitions this next year, has anyone entered a competition with a model this small?

-how much cooking capacity would I lose if I did the smaller version compared to the regular 18 inch version?

- I don't usually cook for large crowds (mostly my family) but I do occasionally cook for 10-20 people at extended family get togethers. What's the most meat I could put in a smaller version of the wsm?

I'm doing all the research I can, and need some help knowing if the smaller version can still get the job done.
 

mike5051

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I've got the 18" and love it!  A rack of BB's will fit in the center on each grate.  They would have to be cut to fit in the 14, but that's not the end of the world!  I would think two Boston butts would fit in the 14, a whole brisket would have to be cut.  I would go big if possible, good luck.

Mike
 

SmokinAl

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If I were you I would chip in on your gift & get the 22.5.

It will last you for many years & will give you the capacity you are looking for.

Al
 

mike5051

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If I were you I would chip in on your gift & get the 22.5.

It will last you for many years & will give you the capacity you are looking for.

Al
I was thinking the exact same thing Al!  Chip in to go bigger.  I was scared of causing trouble on the home front...


Mike
 

tbrtt1

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If I were you I would chip in on your gift & get the 22.5.

It will last you for many years & will give you the capacity you are looking for.

Al
Yep, you're going the wrong way. Start working on her for the 22 and only settle for the 18 if you have to. Hell, its for Christmas!
 

dward51

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I would go with an 18.5" model. 

14" is not wide enough for full rack of ribs.  The 18" usually requires you to roll them or trim the ends also. It really depends on the length of the ribs you buy. I usually just cut mine in half and use a standing rack to hold them.  Rack hold 6, so I get 3 whole ribs when halfed and can do the same on the other grate if necessary.  But you can just trim a few ribs off the small end to make a better looking presentation.

IMO the 14 would be too small if you ever wanted to expand and cook for a larger group. You need to leave a little room at the edges of the racks so a 14" rack leaves you 12" effective cooking space in the center (with 1" on each side at the edges).  All the WSM's will run hotter in that 1 to 2" band around the edge because of the way they work with the water pan or some other mass in the bottom water pan position.

The 22 can cook huge volumes of meat, but unless you do it often, you are going to burn more fuel to heat air that is just not being used to cook food (ie, heating a large volume of air to smoke food for 2 people).  The 18" falls in the sweet spot. It is much more fuel stingy than the 22" and it can still cook for a crowd when needed.  I often do 4 eight to ten pound pork butts in my 18" and recently did a 22lb chuck roll on just the top rack (so in theory I could have put two of these in there using both racks).  I also made a electric mod for my 18" so I can smoke snack sticks at low temps that are hard to maintain on charcoal alone.  I've been running an 18" WSM since 2005 and there have been thousands of pounds of meat on my grates over the years.  Like I said, the 18" hits that sweet spot in the middle, but if you will be smoking for a crowd often,  go larger.

Here is a photo of that 22lb chuck roll from last week's smoke on my 18"



4 large pork butts in the 18" WSM (2 on each rack - can't really see the lower rack)


Trimmed Ribs in the 18" (rack cut in 1/2)


Oh, and plan on getting a power draft like the BBQ Guru (say birthday or fathers day gift?).  It makes a WSM a true set and forget smoker.  It will reliably hold the set temp as long as there is fuel to burn.  Worth every penny.  I've had mine 10 years and still use the original probes.  Yes, the WSM is still a stable smoker without a Guru, but it's a smoking machine with one.
 
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dirtsailor2003

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I'll weigh in. The smokers that I use the most, multiple times a week are my homebuilt mini-WSM's. Efficient, perfect size for cooking multiple days a week for a family of 4-6.

No they can't do a a full rack of rib easily, or a full
Packer brisket. But for a daily smoker/grill a great option.

I did break down and buy a 14.5" WSM during the annual Walmart bailing out of summer sales. It's great too and will be used for daily cooking.

I also have the 18.5". It's great for cooking larger meals. I use mine 3-4 times a year. We don't do large cooks much anymore. It's a waste of fuel to fire it up for our normal dinner cooks.

So I guess I'd say look at what you need for daily cooks. Get that size and go from there.
 

wade

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Another vote for the 18" or 22". I have an 18" and as you can see from dwards photos above you can fit some serious meat in it. I do sometimes wish I had gone for the 22" though. Personally I would not want to go smaller than the 18". A 4 pound bag of briquettes will last me 10-12 hours in it and there will still be some left at the end.
 

tbrtt1

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I would also second dward51's suggestion temp/draft controller. I have an Auber that is a no frills set a temp and go type of controller but it works flawlessly and is worth its weight in gold. Overnight smokes are a breeze. The Guru is a nice unit and has a few more bells and whistles. There are other's too, but I recommend one of some sort. 

The Auber:


 
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danbono

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I would also second dward51's suggestion temp/draft controller. I have an Auber that is a no frills set a temp and go type of controller but it works flawlessly and is worth its weight in gold. Overnight smokes are a breeze. The Guru is a nice unit and has a few more bells and whistles. There are other's too, but I recommend one of some sort. 

The Auber:


Hi Which Auber did you go with?.I have WSM 22". Does it hold the temp?

Thanks Dan
 

tbrtt1

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DanBono,

It works flawlessly. I think the controllers are the same they just package different blowers and thermo couples. 

Go to their website and look under Smoker Controllers and look at Charcoal smoker controllers. 
 

jakester

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I have the 14.5 WSM and I would strongly recommend going 18.5 or 22.5. 14.5" does an awesome job but sometimes too small. 
 

danbono

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DanBono,

It works flawlessly. I think the controllers are the same they just package different blowers and thermo couples. 

Go to their website and look under Smoker Controllers and look at Charcoal smoker controllers. 
Hi Did you go with the 6.5 fan or the 10? I see that you have it set up on PBC, not a WSM?

Thanks Dan
 

dward51

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I have a 10cfm fan on my 18.5" WSM.  It's plenty and not too much as it is controlled by the Guru.  From what I have read, the 10cfm would also be fine for the 22".
 

mdboatbum

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I too use a mini wsm. While it's fantastic for just about everything I need it for, it's sometimes a bit small. I don't really have the space for a bigger smoker, but if I did I'd no doubt go with at least an 18.5" model. You don't have to use all the space you have, but you can't use space you don't have.
 

tbrtt1

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I use it on my UDS. Thought about using it on my PBC, but haven't yet.

It's the 10cm fan. They have a WSM kit. They recommend the 6.5 or 10 fan depending on the Size.
 

lemans

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My vote is for the 18... I have the 22 and I love it.. but if the 18 is going to keep you married... then I would do it...
 

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