Super Mini-WSM build with different pot for more height.

Discussion in 'Mini-WSM' started by addertooth, Aug 1, 2014.

  1. The mini-WSM is a solid performer. Even at a higher cost, it would be a great value. 

    There is always room to make a great product even better. 

    This build asks the question: How far can you take the mini-WSM? What additional gains could be seen?

    Who will be interested in this build?  Those who want the "ultimate" mini-WSM.  Those who already own a smoky Joe and want to perform a hard-core upgrade for smoking.  Those who want to upgrade their existing mini-WSM.  Those who want to increase the cooking height in their mini-WSM

    A lot of people perform the conversion with the tried and true IMUSA and Vasconia 32 quart tamale pots.  There have been some fitment problems with the IMUSA pots, depending upon whether they are the Chinese pot, or the Brazilian pot.  These pots are economically priced, and are fabricated with a very thin-wall aluminum. 

    Certainly other pots exist, but many people don't want to risk the money on a pot which may not fit.  I have stepped off the deep-end, and have started searching on different options.  Any option would not be worthwhile, unless it provides features which do not exist with the current IMUSA/Vasconia options.  I found two pots which should fit, and are 15 and 5/16th inches tall (more height).  It is available in two models.  A thick-walled (6mm) version, with lid, for about $100 shipped, and a less expensive thin-walled version (no price quote yet). 

    The tall flower-pot diffuser will not be used.  Instead, a pizza stone (from Target) will be used as the diffuser.  (similar to my Cuisinart build).  The pizza stone has less problems with cracking, is more heat resistant, and is vertically more compact. 

    Although the mini-WSM is known for excellent temperature management, I am adding the Pitmaster IQ120.  Air will be injected from both sides of the firebox at once.  This should encourage a more consistent burn of the charcoal within the basket. 

    The grill I start with will be the Smoky Joe Gold.  The gold already has holes which accept a standard 3/4 NPT fitting, so drilling through ceramic-steel will not be needed. 

    Current state: The Smoky Joe Gold is on hand, the IQ120 is enroute, and the pot will likely be ordered today (I am trying to haggle a good price for the mini-WSM crowd). 

    Possible future additions: I am looking at making a fitted pot blanket for reduced charcoal consumption.  The fabric will be aluminized Ironing Board fabric, and should hold up to the heat quite well. 

    More Updates as the items roll in.
  2. Thick walled (6mm) Aluminum 40 quart pot with lid on order. It is 15 and 5/16ths inches tall. A couple inches taller than the standard IMUSA pot.  When it arrives I will post pictures and talk about the fitment.    Extra Weber Smoky Joe grill surface on hand.
  3. welshrarebit

    welshrarebit Master of the Pit

    I'm in on this build...

    Don't forget pics!
  4. bobank03

    bobank03 Smoking Fanatic

    I'm in for this one too. Should be an interesting build. 
  5. Pitmaster IQ120 arrived today.  Now I am just waiting on the Pot to arrive.  Once it is here, I can start working on the fitment.  I will post bunches of pictures once the parts are all here.  I am considering putting rack hanging points up the pot in 1.5 inch increments.  I will use short screws to fill the holes where the racks won't be, and long screws in where I want the racks.  This will make it adaptable to different sizes of meat.  Because the pot is 6mm thick (just a bit under a quarter inch), I should be able to drill and tap the holes for 1/4-20 bolts.  All of the stuff above will make it so the rack placement is highly adjustable. 
  6. Well, the pot finally arrived.  It came via FedEx ground; took right at a week.  I was sweating it when unboxing, it had a very rough transit via FedEx.  It was even double boxed (box inside a box).  It came with the (optional lid).  I thought the lid might need to be used to make an adapter flange to improve how it fit, so I covered my bets.  The 6mm thick pot is very stout, but the shipping put it about 3/8 inch out of round at the top.  A soft-faced rubber mallet should be able to restore it to true.  I test fit the pot with the weber smokey joe gold.  It was a good fit (it mates with the curved radius at the bottom of the pot.  The lid rests without binding on the top with slightly less than an 1/8 inch of side play.  It measures out 2 and 1/2 inches taller than the standard IMUSA pot.

    Link which includes Pot, Lid and Shipping:

    The people at First Ingredient went out of the way to make the sale.  They provided me dimensions on a variety of pots until we found a winner.  For those who want a stronger and taller option to the IMUSA or Vasconia pot, it is a winner.

    First Picture, The box condition on arrival

    Second Picture, Pot sitting on Smokey Joe Gold, mocking up placement.

    Third Picture, Side by side comparison of the IMUSA pot and the 40 Quart pot

    Fourth Picture, The IMUSA pot, nested on the new pot. The IMUSA pot has it's lid bolted on the bottom, provides a nice fit!

    Fifth Picture, Shows how thick the pot metal is, this is not a rolled lip, it is the actual thickness of the metal!

    Construction begins this weekend, photographs to follow.

    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
    welshrarebit likes this.
  7. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Very nice, I think you will love that pot.

    Maybe 3 racks in it?
  8. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Good deal....hope that pot works out for ya. 

    I wanted a super sized mini which is why i built my Jimmy...The 18.5" grates come in handy for sure and no way i'd want to juggle 3 grates in the regular mini, 2 is bad enough. 
  9. Last week I did two racks on my Cuisinart mini, which uses the IMUSA pot.  Each rack held an 8 pound pork shoulder.  Unfortunately the kettle legs are the Achilles heel of the Cuisinart mini.  Another project in my future is strengthening up the legs a bit on that older project. Fortunately I was able to prop it up against my grill.  The meat turned out great.

    With only 14 to 15 inches of space above the bottom rack (on the current project), I won't have more than two racks in most the time.  I am considering getting a couple rib holder racks.  This way, two racks of ribs can easily be smoked at once.  (once they have their length cut down into smaller sections).


    Is that the fabled 80 quart pot? What model of pot is it, and where is it purchased?
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
  10. The plumbing hardware to connect the Pitmaster IQ120 to the Weber Smokey Joe Gold was purchased today.  The air hose exiting the IQ is one in internal diameter (1" ID). It will go to a barbed connector, screw into a 1" "T".  From there, the two branches of the T will go through 1" to 3/4" reducers, and then to a barbed connector.  Flexible tubing with a 3/4" ID will carry each of the two branches of the "T" to another Barbed connector, into a 45 degree elbows, and through two of the four existing holes into the base of the Weber Smokey Joe Gold.  Conduit nuts will secure the threaded connection coming into the Joe.  Should the air distribution not be good enough, and elbow will be put on the inside of the Joe, one each of the two inlet points.  A short length of pipe will run downward with a cap on the end.  The end of the cap will be drilled to push air downwards, and the right-most side will be drilled to push air around the side of the charcoal box.  The opposite side will be worked in the same fashion should the coal bed show signs of incomplete combustion.  The remaining two holes will have easily removed plugs.  During start-up the two plugs will be removed.  Once the smoker is close to temperature, the IQ will be switched on, and the holes plugged.  This will avoid the dreaded overshoot many people may experience with a stoker.
  11. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    It is a 80 Qt that i got off Ebay...Concord.  I love that big mini, it comes in handy for sure.    

    Oh i did the hookup for the IQ also, used a black nipple to screw in on of the holes w/ a pvc connector on that, then the hose adapter screwed into that.
  12.    The nut bolt hardware was picked up today.  The pot is going to be drilled and tapped 1/4-20 for the rack screws.  I was concerned the threads which stick through might get a thick smoky coating and be hard to remove later.  The solution, 1/4 inch long set screws to plug the holes which racks are not on, 1/2 inch long set screws for where the racks are located.  The 1/2 inch set screws will stick through about 1/4 inch.  The exposed portion of the set screw will have stainless steel "acorn" nuts screwed over the threads.  This way, there will be no exposed bolt heads inside or out of the pot (except where the rack is for the current smoke), and nothing for the racks to get hung up on when moving up or down.  The little 1/4 inch set screws will be flush with the interior and exterior of the pot. 

      The next big decision is whether a mechanical thermometer will be installed.  Normally, the answer would be an emphatic YES.  But, with the IQ120 pit thermometer and meat thermometer; the Maverick ET-733 remote dual thermometer, and the ChefMate remote thermometer, I think the whole temperature measurement gig is fully covered.  I also do not like the way the "probe" of a bolt-in thermometer sticks 2 to 3 inches into the pot.  It can make grill movement tougher, you have to work around something which sticks into the pot a couple inches. 

      Actual real drilling and tapping assembly will start tomorrow morning, with it's first smoke in the afternoon.  I want to give "Auto Chicken" a shot.  Configure the IQ-120 to smoke at 225, and automatically boost the temperature to 350 when the breast probe reaches 120.  Yank the bird at 165 and rest it.  This will (hopefully) give the maximum smoking time, and yet provide a crispy skin (with no human intervention).  It will likely be a charcoal/Apple chunk smoke. 
  13. The plan:

    Pizza stone will be elevated off the bottom of the Pot by 1/2 inch on bolt heads.  The 1/4-20 by 1/2 inch bolts will be screwed into the pot until starting end of threads are flush with the bottom of the pot. This way, the bottom of the pot sits flush when rested on the ground to retain heat while adding coals or wood chunks to the base (Maximum heat retention).

    The holes in the drawing are 1 inch.  They are placed away from the forced air inlets, to cause air to go over the coals the maximum distance before it enters the pot.  This way the blower is not injecting much unheated air into the pot. A modified minion method will be used for the coals.  Lit in the center, with one lit coal in front of each air inlet.

    Pot may be rotated 22 to 45 degrees counter-clockwise (to the base air inlets) to encourage complete burn if no coal basket is used.

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014
  14. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    One thing to consider is that without full support pizza stones like to crack. Take a look at the ceramic plates used in kilns instead. Or make sure your pizza stone is ceramic.
  15. The Pizza stone is the 13 inch "Nordic Ware" Pizza Stone Set from Target (less than $17). It is about 3/8 inch thick and appears to be ceramic.  It leaves about a 1/2 inch gap around it's outer edge for convective air and smoke flow.   I used this exact same stone in my other mini build.  It is supported by the heads of 6 pan-head 1/4-20 bolts. I have had no problems with cracking on my other mini build, it is much sturdier than the classical flower pot base. It is also more vertically compressed, which save more of the pot space for meat!
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014
  16. The Pot is drilled and tapped now.  PAM for the Grill makes a great drill and tap lubricant.  It keeps the bit cool, and reduces stress on the drill.  I didn't snap a single tap, in spite of the soft metal. 

    Now for the less-than-good news.  The pot is over 6mm thick on the bottom; it is 6mm thick on the lip where the lid rests.  It is only about 2.5mm thick on the sides.  It had been my plan to rely upon the threaded holes on the side to support the grates without a lock-nut.  It looks like a lock/jam nut will be needed to properly support the rack now.  It was just a bit disappointing to learn this.  I never would have known it was less than it's publicized 6mm thickness on the sides had I not drilled and tapped it for the racks. 

    I decided on a rack position every 3.75 inches.  The bottom rack will clear the Pizza Stone diffuser, and a foil drippings catch pan.  If the first and third rack is used, each rack will have 7.5 inches of space above them.  This allows beer can chicken to be on each rack with clearance (assuming a 5 pound bird). If only the bottom rack is used, there is over 15 inches of space above the rack.  This is sufficient for a small/medium turkey. 

    Photo of the final drilled (yet uncleaned) pot.

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014
  17. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    This is looking great so far... for my heat sync/diffuser/drip pan.. I used a piece of 1/4" steel cut to a 12" circle.. this sets down in the bottom of the pot (bottom cut out) on a grate.... and then I took a 12 " cast iron skillet (old one) and cut the handle off it and set it down in on the 1/4" plate (you can buy 12" skillet without handle) ... i wrap the skillet with foil for easy clean up.... bub... once all that steel gets heated up you can take the pot off the fire and it still cooks while your tending the coals... and it all sits below the steamer lip so i can still put a grate on the steamer lip....

    I hope this all works out for ya... but I'm thinking the holes are going to restrict the heat and smoke... might not though with forced air... I'll be sitting on the sidelines watching...
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014
  18. Fully assembled at this time.  The pot is set up with two of it's potential racks for the initial burn-in.  The two forced air entries have been plumbed to the Smokey Joe Gold base.  I am still looking for some 3/4 inch tubing which is a bit more pliable. 

    Pictures of some of the assembly and final shot of first burn in with the IQ-120 plus associated dual forced air entry.

    I picked up a battery boost box and a cigarette lighter cable to power the IQ-120 when tailgating or camping.  I can run it without AC power.

    Damper is currently set to the "2" setting, and temperature is climbing to the set 225.  I went with a lot of damping to reduce the risk of overshoot.

    During ramp-up from cold, blower duty cycle is about 30%.

    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
  19. For the test burn the IQ is set to 225.  Temperature is at 225 and stable.  The blower is currently at a 15% duty cycle to maintain the temperature, which is a nice wide safety margin.  I am going to let it roll all night long and check the duty cycle and regulation in the morning.  About 2.5 hours so far, very stable, looking great.  There are 8 holes which are 1 inch wide in the bottom.  Keep in mind all of the incoming air is delivered via a 1 inch hose from the blower.  All of the outgoing exhaust is via 4 holes of 5/8 diameter. 

    Update: A rainstorm rolled in, some cold rain struck the smoker.  It had an initial temperature drop of ten degrees. It is currently bumping the duty cycle to 60% to compensate for the heat loss.
  20. welshrarebit

    welshrarebit Master of the Pit

    I'm curious how much money do you have invested in that smoker? I followed your link for the pot and that was $99. Ouch!

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