Things to consider when building a Mini-WSM, its not alll about the hardware.

Discussion in 'Mini-WSM' started by dirtsailor2003, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Having looked at threads on building Mini-WSMs for the past 5-6 years and having been using my Mini's now for a little over 4 years now I have noticed that there is a lot information on the how to build and that everyone has their opinions on the best set-up.  A lot of times there isn't much background information, such as Altitude where you use your mini. Average outdoor temps, weather conditions, humidity you smoke in. Type of smokes you are doing (hot and fast, low and slow). All of these things effect the performance of the smoker, its not just the modifications. I think posting a database of this information may give prospective builders a better idea of what they need to do for their specific location. It will also give users a good idea on how their mini will behave when traveling.

    So please post here your set up (SMJ type,all mods made, and any external (fans, pid's, mailbox smoker etc) equipment you use), include a picture or two of your mini and mods as built. Then post the following information:

    1. Region, state, town you use your Mini the most

    2. Altitude above sea level where you use your mini the most

    3. What months of the year do you smoke. (Year round, Summer only, Spring to fall, etc).

    4. Average median outdoor temp, extreme high outdoor temp, extreme low out door temp.

    4. Average Humidity

    5. Average wind speed

    6. Types of fuel burned
  2. bigtrain74

    bigtrain74 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I like where your head is on this one Case. Especially because this everyone's set up can be so different. I personally would like to think that the way the mini is built would have something to do with it. For instance, people have tried cutting several holes out of the bottom of the pot and others take out one giant hole. I think it's important for the database to note things like this.

    I hope this thread gets the attention it deserves.  
  3. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Exactly. I will be posting up my set up and info in a bit. When I started my build I went with the minimal required and then modified it from there for the way I like to smoke. I added one mod at a time and experimented until I got the unit I needed. Now with my other mini's I build right to what the first prototype ended up. Still end up modifying those a bit here and there.
  4. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Okay so here it goes. I started my original build super simple. Smokey Joe Silver and a 32qt tamale pot. I attached the lid of the pot to the bottom of the pot and drilled a bunch of holes that mimicked the steamer insert. I used a 12" terracotta planter tray wrapped in foil for a diffuser. I sat that on the bottom of the pot with a few small spacers. With this set up I had a really hard time getting up to the temps I was looking for. I like to smoke most items around 265°-285°, and poultry at 325°+. I was lucky to get 250°. So began the modifications. I tried one new thing each time to see how things improved until I reached the set up I have today. Here's a list of the mods I did:

    1. added ash deflector for lower vent. Made temps more stable but still no real increase in temp range

    2. added one 3/4" valved side vent. Was now able to hit 300°f and still maintain lower temps

    3. added second 3/4" non-valved side vent. Was now able to hit 400°+f and still maintain lower temps

    4. Quit using the 12" terracotta diffuser. Switched to using a 8"x9"x1" thick foil wrapped chunk of granite.

    5. purchased new pot attached lid to bottom and removed bottom of pot fully.

    6. built first charcoal basket out of expanded steel the charcoal grate, and rebar wire ties, and then basket #2 which I welded.

    7. added expanded steel to the bottom of the charcoal baskets to allow for more complete burn of charcoal.

    My current set up:

    1. Central Oregon

    2. 3,625 feet above sea level

    3. Year round, 2-4 times a week

    4. Average annual temp 60°f, Average Low 32°f, average high  77°f.

    4. Relatively low, annual precipitation 11" per year, Humidity is around 20% for annual average

    5. Average wind speed is 9 mph.

    6. Kingsford blue, 365 brand lump
  5. welshrarebit

    welshrarebit Master of the Pit

    For my first build I followed BDSkelley's build except didn't put bolts for lower rack. Instead I wired some expanded metal together to make a three inch high grate support.

    This is my second build:

    1. Kona, Hawaii.
    2. 2100 above sea level.
    3. Year round. Professionally 2 or 3 times a week; personally 2 or 3 times a month.
    4. Average temp is 76 degrees year round.
    5. 80 to 90 % humidity (I live in a tropical rain forest!!!). 40 to 60 inches of rain.
    6. Rarely any wind. Slight breeze off jthe ocean during the day; slight breeze from the mountain at night.
    7. Kingsford blue or competition. Occasionally kiawe lump.
  6. bdskelly

    bdskelly Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great idea Case.

    I too used BDSKELLY's build instructions! Ha!!!!!!!!!!

    Link to the build instructions:

    1. Dallas area, Texas.
    2. 700 above sea level.
    3. Year round. 2 to 3 times a month. It's my go to wing cooker. 
    4. Average annual temp is 68
    5. Average humidity 65% 
    6. Average annual windspeed 11mph.
    7. Royal Oak Briquets or Lump. Not a Kingsford Fan. 

    The following is first test run data I posted some time ago. I only achieved a temp of 335. I was using  a terra-cotta saucer as a heat deflector.  I now use disposable pie plates with a bit of sand in them to stabilize the temps. With the aluminum pie plate the smoker temps can go above 400. I am not sure that the change in deflector made the difference. But it is an easier clean up with disposable pie plates! Achieving the higher temp may just be due to me going though a learning curve with the operations of the unit.  

    This MWSM is rock solid and a serious piece of cooking equipment. Thanks to folks like Case that gave support for the build. 

    Test Data below from a previous post. 

    For seasoning, all vents are wide open at this time. It took the MWSM 45 minutes to reach a temperature of 335. I held that temperature for i hour before making any vent adjustments.  Needless to say I was very pleased at how quickly the unit went to high temp.

    Durring this test cycle only the side vents of the lower unit were adjusted. The top vent remained wide open. Fuel = 36 briquets 

    Hour 1. All vents wide open. Maintaining temp at 335. 

    Hour 2. Side vents both half way. Within 15 minutesTemp lowered to 302 and maintained.

    Hour 3, Side vents open 1/4 way. Temp lowers to 285 and maintains. 

    Hour 4. One vent 1.4 one closed. Temp lowers to 258 and maintains. 

    Hour 5. Both vents closed. Temp lowers 237.

            *At this time I loaded 4 more briquets into the hopper. 

    Hours 6-7 Both vents closed. Temp maintained between 237 and 222. ...Showing to be very stable for 2 hours. 

    Hour 8. One side vent open half way. Temp lowering to 218 as the unit runs out of fuel. 

    Once the temps were lowered from seasoning to cooking the units was very stable needing little attention to keep it at the 235 - 220 range.  It is remarkable how little charcoal the unit needs for a long smoke. Remember I only used 40 briquets for over 8 hours of heat. And I'll point out that most of the fuel was spent seasoning the unit at much higher temperature than I usually smoke at. 
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014

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