My Version Of The "Mini WSM"

Discussion in 'Other Builds' started by jckdanls 07, Jul 7, 2012.

  1. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    OK... So I tried my hand at making the "Mini WSM" Kinda disappointed with it so far,... Done 3 or 4 runs and can't seem to get even temps between top rack and midway down (2nd rack).. I have 4 racks in it with a 10" black iron skillet in the bottom for a Heat Difuser, Heat Sync, and Drip Pan, all in one... Here's some pics of the set up...

    Here's all the parts... I made the racks with 1" sq. Stainless Steel mesh from a screener we have at work...


    This is the Ash cover over the intake with the charcoal grate on top. Not happy with it, dig dish is to big, grate sits on top and raises it about an inch or two, taking away room for charcoal


    I cut the bottom out of the steamer and made a smaller diameter rack that goes all the way down in pot and sits on the lip that was left after cutting... I set the cast iron skillet (with handle cut off) on this rack


    The first rack sits on the indent ring towards the bottom and then I have 2 more racks above them... I used pop rivets (1/2' long) for my racks to sit on, If they go bad I'll use bolts... I still have to install pop rivets for the very top rack ( 4 total)...


    Here's my fuel set-up...


    Here's my stand for my chimney.. allows for air to flow from underneath



    I light 8-10 briquettes and dump in the center


    So here's where I get frustrated, with 2 Mavericks in (yes they are freshly calibrated) Temps are 40+ degrees different from top rack to the bottom rack.. The top rack being hotter obviously...


    I am gonna do a beer can chicken tomorrow (Sunday) and am looking for any ideas how I can even the temps out ?
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
  2. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Really could use some thoughts from the pros....
  3. I am no pro on the mini WSM but I do have a suggestion: Head over the the virtual weber bulletin board where the mini WSM is like a passion.   That's not to say there's not expert advice here... it's just what those guys do.
  4. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    So I am gonna try the 12" clay saucer in place of the skillet and see what happens...
  5. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    That load of charcoal was still going strong at 11 pm (although it was near the end of the burn)... started it about 3.30... So I guess it gets pretty good fuel mileage... get'n ready to fire it up for today's smoke and see if the 12" difuser works better than the 10" iron skillet...
  6. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Howdy, JD07!

    I have a mini-WSM that I made several months ago. I've used it to cook chickens, ribs, and one butt; so I don't consider myself an expert. I have learned a few things that might help you, though.

    First, I think you have a heat sink that is too big. I started with a 12' terra cotta flower pot saucer and found I couldn't get enough heat; so I switched to a 9" pie pan but found I got too much heat. I then switched to a 10" terra cotta flower pot saucer and that seems to be 'just right'.

    Second, your ash cover for the bottom vent could be improved. I have tried several different things but found that a 28oz. tomato can is the perfect diameter. You can cut it down so that it sits below the coal grate without raising the grate. With the ashes clear, put the coals grate on its supports and slide a ruler down to the bottom to get the distance from the grate to the grill bowl. Cut the tomato can about 1/4" shorter than your measurement. Yes, I learned by trial and error. Finally, use a church key type opener to make 4 or 5 holes in the side of the tomato can without puncturing the solid bottom (or top as it will be used). Set the can over the vent holes, replace the coal rack and you will have every bit as much room for coals as you had to begin with.

    Third, I made a charcoal basket the same diameter as the charcoal grate with sides that reach to just beneath the steamer pot when in use. This leaves a ring outside the basket into which I place my smoke chunks along with a few hot briquettes. The basket is lined with unlit briquettes leaving a ring in the center about the diameter of a 2 lb coffee can. I place lit briquettes in that area touching the unlit ones. This gets me up to 225*-250* pretty quick and will go even higher if you leave the vents all open wide. I limit the bottom vent openings to hold the heat down. If the heat rises too high too quickly, you can always lift the lid for a few seconds and the mini will catch up the heat lost pretty quickly.

    Hope my observations from experience help you.
  7. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Rabbit.. thanks for the tips.. I just got done doing a beer can chicken in the Mini... I used the 12" terra cotta saucer and just as you have found out the temps wouldn't get high enough... I ran all vents wide open and could only get it up to 245`-250` max... So when the IMT got to about 155` (breast) I broke it down and took the terra cotta saucer out so the temps would come up around 300` and crisp the skin up... next time i think I'll start the crispening at around 145` IMT... I just went and bought the saucer this morning and when I went to take it out it was broke already...

    If you say you went with the 10" saucer and that's working well for ya... I think I'm going to try the 10" skillet deal again, just to see what happens... The 12" will work good for pork and beef since you can't get it to hot...

    Rabbit.. do you put your saucer all the way down in the pot on the bottom where it's cut out... or on the indented lip a few inches up from the bottom ??
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2012
  8. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    still tweaking it.. let me tell you what I did yesterday which helped a TON... I measured the whole that I cut in the bottom of the steamer (12.5") so then I took some 1/4" steel plate and cut an 11.5" disk out of it... I then made a grate that will go all the way down in the bottom of the steamer and sit on the lip that is left after cutting the bottom out... Now I set the 1/4" plate down on that grate and have a 1" opening around the edge of the plate... I took an old cast iron skillet (10") and cut the handle off and set that down in on the plate... The 1/4" plate acts as a "tuning plate" ( I actually wished it was a little bit bigger around so the open gap is only a 1/2")... But anyways... The plate and the skillet together act as a BIG heat sync... I fired it up last night at 1700 and left vents wide open to see how high it would go... I closed the vents back down at 325`... So then I tried to keep it around 225` and let it go ALL NIGHT on what little bit of charcoal I can put in it... It was still going at 0700 this morning and some of the charcoal didn't even light yet... I closed the vents and went to work...

    I first tried the 12" clay saucer deal that others have used... It worked ok... the highest I could get was 240` with all vents wide open... after i was done with it and let it cool... I started tearing it down and come to find out.. the NEW clay saucer I just bought that morning was broke in half already... that's why I tried the 1/4" plate instead... I was trying to get the plate big enough to where it would run around 300` with all vents wide open.. but I cut the plate a little to small... think I might cut another one a little bigger and try again...I'm also gonna add this to my post on the build...
  9. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Howdy, JD!

    Sorry to be so long in responding. I didn't see the post until just now.

    Sounds like you have worked things out - better than I have!

    I had a spare grate left over from an old traveling charcoal grill. I don't know its actual diameter but it sits on the 1-1/2" lip I left when I cut the bottom out of the steamer. The terra cotta saucer is wrapped in foil and sits on that grate.

    I don't have any steel plate - and no handy source for it - but that sounds like a better idea than clay (unless it slips out of your hands and finds your toe :th_crybaby2: )

    I haven't tried an iron frying pan, either; but it sounds like a good idea. You can put water or sand in it. Once all that mass is heated up and levels out, you should be able to hold temps extremely well.

    Tell us more about your charcoal arrangement. I have been able to get some very long burns but nothing as long as you report.

    I cobbled together a charcoal basket the same diameter as the coals grate with sides tall enough to stay just below the coals grate. I usually bank a ring of unlit around the sides and put in 7 or 8 lit coals in the center. I put wood chunks on the outside of the basket - between it and the bottom of the SJS. If I don't see TBS I'll pull the steamer and put some heat to the wood with a bernzomatic or with some lit briquettes.
  10. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Rabbit.. I've read where people are giving up on the charcoal basket... works better just spreading the charcoal out on the grate.. that way it's not all piled up right above the ash can and ashes covering it up prematurely... so that's what I did... just spread the charcoal out... I must say on that all night burn... I woke up about 2 AM and checked it.. temp was only 160` so I opened the vent a little and went back to bed... got up at 6 AM and it was at 210`... so when I left for work at 6:30AM I just opened the vent all the way to let it burn off all the way so when I came home I could check the ash pan and see how it did... half the ash pan was covered and blocked the air to that side and there were a few pieces of briquettes that never even lit... I'm going to do my Maple Bourban ham on it Sunday and see how it goes...
  11. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Don't forget the camera!

    I've got 2 fatties and some brats on in mine as I type this. These are my first fatties and I'm using Stubbs briquettes for the first time and pecan chunks.

    I got pics of the bacon weave wrap and the fatties going on the smoke. I'll take more and do a full Qview post later.

    Remember to show us how the ham turns out.
  12. JD07, Howdy;

    Have you got or would you please take some pix of what it is that you are describeing in the post I drug into this... Havin' a hard time visualizing what it is you are describing.

    Not your fault, my brain has a hard time turnin' words into pictures. And please don't do the stright down the pipe shots hard to guess sizes with them. Try doin' it like on CSI.

    On an angle and with a ruler/tape measure/yardstick next to then for getting an estimate of size..... PLEASE.....and Thank You very much.

    I get the skillet part. Seen one of them REAL close once when I said the wrong thing to ex-wife #3...

    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  13. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I'll have to get some pics of it.. don't have any right now
  14. JD07, Howdy;

    Thanks for taking the time to do this...

    Much appericated...

  15. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    No Problem.. sorry it took so long, but the wife had a spill and crack a couple of ribs.. been trying to take care of her.... I did get it out today and took some more pics... hope these help...

    This is the bottom of the pot showing how much of a lip I left after cutting it out

    It's a 11.75" opening

    The rack I made to sit on that lip is 12.50"

    Now the 1/4" plate I made at 10.50" and it sit's directly on the grate and has about a 1" gap all the way around to let the heat ans smoke up threw into the chamber

    Now the iron skillet (with the handle cut off) goes down in and sits on that steel plate.. I do wrap it in foil

    Here's a look from the bottom..

    And then I made the food grates at 13.50" and they sit in pop rivets that I put in the sides of the pot...

    I fired her up today and this thing chugged along perfect at 335` with bottom vent open a little less than half way...

    Hope this helps ya Hank...
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2012
  16. great pix.  I just did a test run/seasoned mine with a fattie and some fat pieces of bacon in an effort to build up a nice coating inside.  I am using a deep dish pie pan covered with foil and filled with water mounted on some screws in the lower band.  I wanted to emulate the WSM as a water smoker.  I found I had to barely crack the lower vent during the test run to maintain 250* with 10 coals on a full load of unlit. 

    The K blue I used produced A LOT of ash.  I will be looking into other brands that produce less ash from here on out. ...maybe Stubb's as mentioned here.  I used a chicken can for the lower vent ash blocker which is about the right height and perfect diameter.
  17. jd07, Howdy;

    Understand about, family first,. Please relay my best wishes for a speedy recovery, I've had broken ribs, not fun.

    Outstanding pix. Thanks for taking the extra time to do other then straight down the barrel shots. Makes it easier

    to 'see' what is going on.

    As I don't have access to the neat materials that you do, I've been ponderin' and came up with using some of these

    castiron grates;

    they allow the heat to pass give some weight to lower the center of gravity like your steel plate

    then I was thinking about one of those black (or blue), speckled 'campware' plate/bowels for

    catchin' the drippin's.

  18. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Sounds like a plan to me... grates are a lil to costly for me.. tried to keep it on the cheap...

    Bama.. next time try closing exhaust vent down to about half and then see if you can run with bottom vent open about 1/3 or so.... don't forget, It takes a good 10-15 minutes for temps to change

    Have fun y'all
  19. jd07, Howdy;

    Thanks for the vote of confidance.

    I live in an RV (30' 5th wheel), so this gizmo is gonna have to do several things.

    Grill, roast, smoke, and if I get one of the griddle sections it'll also be doin'

    flap-jacks and an egg or 3 as well from time to time. [​IMG]

  20. Wilco...on the next smoke.

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