WSM 22 1/2 vs 18 1/2

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by flyfishn, Jul 24, 2014.

  1. Newbie smoker here sourcing opinions on these two smokers from people that know what's up.

    Currently running a 22 1/2 One Touch Gold with the Smokenator and additional rack. 

    I have no immediate plans on purchasing another cooker. I'm just sourcing opinions from people who have lots of experience with these Weber cookers.

    Being Weber's I trust their durability. I guess what's really making me ask about them is that looking at the Pit Barrel Cooker priced at $289 delivered makes me wonder if it's not the better deal. I realize the PBC is not really low and slow smoking as it's average run temp is around 325-350 vs the 225-250 I'd rather be cooking at but for the price I just can't seem to wonder if the trade off isn't justifiable. More so since I'm really looking at the WSM 22 1/2 running $400.

    So any input anyone could offer me would be greatly appreciated. 

    Thanks ahead of time.
  2. welshrarebit

    welshrarebit Master of the Pit

    Build yourself a mini wsm for less than $75...
    flyfishn likes this.
  3. resstealth

    resstealth Smoke Blower

    Best I can tell you is, if you're going to be doing huge cooks go bigger. I have the 18.5 and I've done a pair of 18 pound whole pork shoulders at the same time, also a 17 pound brisket, so it can cook a lot of meat for it's size
  4. Nice. I like this. I had to google it but now I like it. Either way I'm sure I'll pick up something bigger but this little guy seems like the prefect companion for those week long camping and fishing trips. Thanks for the heads up I'll be building one of these for sure !
    Agreed. I'm looking at the 22.5 I'm just wondering if the 400$ isn't a bit on the high side when I can get the PBC delivered at 289$. That's my main dilemma here. The trade off of course being the cooking temp adjustments I loose with the PBC. Which of course is absolutely a critical aspect of all of this. But I've heard no complaints about the increased heat and shorter cook times the PBC is putting out.

    Decisions decisions.
  5. resstealth

    resstealth Smoke Blower

  6. resstealth

    resstealth Smoke Blower

  7. resstealth

    resstealth Smoke Blower

    Top pic is the 17 pound brisket, it was a little long so I propped it on a metal can to make it fit. Bottom pic is one of the 18 pound shoulders, the other one was on the grate under it. I cook regularly for 10 to 14 people on my 18.5 and I've never had an issue fitting everything I needed. Don't waste your money on that other cooker though man, you don't want to do anything but poultry at those temps in most cases.
    flyfishn likes this.
  8. Looks like that thing can hold some big meat for sure. Makes a good case for the 18.5. Thanks for the pics Appreciate the visual. If I needed more space I've got the 22.5 Gold Kettle with the Smokenator to pick up any slack smoking I might need to do. My gut has been telling me that the temperature control the Webber gives you sells it over the PBC any day of the week. This pretty much confirms it. Thanks.

    That little Mini WSM build will have to come first though. I've got a camping trip coming up in a few weeks and that little guy looks too sweet to not bring along.

    Thanks for the help guys. Appreciate it.
  9. welshrarebit

    welshrarebit Master of the Pit

    I followed bdskelly's build. I'll bump that thread...
  10. Hah ! 

    Thanks for the bump.

    Prior to your bump however I had already subscribed to it about 30min prior to use as my baseline for the build as well.

    bdskelly thanks for posting your build ! Whoever you may be thanks a ton ! 
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014
  11. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looks like the decision has been made.  Good for you.  I too have an old Weber One Touch Performer with a Smokenator.  My 22.5" WSM gets all the smoking action these days though and its just my wife and me, plus friends, coworkers, and visiting family.  The Kettle is back to grillin' burgers and steaks, but is a good back up if I need the extra space for smoking sides.  You can also smoke in the WSM like the PBC by removing the water pan.  I've promised tri tips for some friends and that's how I'm going to do them.

    Enjoy your new build and your mini and maxi WSMs.   
  12. Nice.

    Do you feel over gunned with the 22.5 ? Looking back would the 18.5 have suited your needs well or are you happy you went with the bigger model?

    If I pull the trigger on one it won't be until next year's Summer/4th of july sales to save what I can on one.
  13. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I went through the same 18.5" vs 22.5" debate when my wife said "get any smoker you want" last Christmas.  She was flat out of gift ideas and I had got her something she'd been wanting for years.  I didn't really feel I needed another smoker but man oh man, the WSM gives a LOT more flexibility for easily smoking things than the Kettle/Smokenator could offer.

    The Kettle/Smokenator was so fuel efficient though I was concerned about charcoal consumption with the WSM, whether I got the 18.5 or the 22.5".  In the end I decided on the 22.5" just to have the extra volume if I needed it.  I'm REALLY glad I got the 22.5".  Even though I wear gloves the extra space is nice with the handled drips pans I use and when putting a 9x13" pan of beans on the lower rack. 

    The WSM I purchased was LEEEEAKKKY!!!!  I smoked on it fine for several months but it would go through almost 40 lbs of charcoal a month in four or five smokes, and most of that burned up after I shut it down after a smoke.  I was actually still using my Smokenator on some smokes just to conserve charcoal.  Then I installed a $25 Nomex gasket kit and that baby is practically airtight.  When I shut it down after a smoke it snuffs the fire quickly.  In the last month I've done 6 smokes and 2 grillin' sessions and only used 20 lbs of charcoal with lots to spare!  If I used only left over fuel in the smoker and grill I could probably get two more smoking and two more grilling sessions out of what's left out there.

    Part of that fuel efficiency is due to the BBQ Guru I installed at the same time as the gasket kit.  I had some fun money burning a hole in my pocket and my wife convinced me to buy one.  The WSM required VERY little attention without the Guru.  With it, it is absolutely a set and forget type smoker whether wet or dry smoking. Would I buy the Guru again?  Sure.  Is it necessary?  Absolutely not. 

    The gasket kit?  Buy it and install it when you first get the smoker.  I let the kit sit on my desk for months before I took the hour to install it, and more than half that hour was spent cleaning the buildup off the WSM where I was going to install the gasket.  Once I had it clean, it probably only took 20 minutes to install the gasket kit.

    There's enough gasket material left over I'm going to seal my Kettle lid too.  I stocked up on charcoal before I installed the gasket kit, thinking 500 lbs would last me about a year.  Well, that's probably more than two years worth of fuel now.  My wife makes a cute comment like "How long did you have that gasket kit?" every time she walks by the charcoal pile in the garage.      

    Happy smoking!
  14. Appreciate the first hand insight.

    It's a shame to hear that these smokers are so well known for leaking that after market gaskets are standard practice. You'd think they'd solve this issue during R&D over at Webber. When I decide to pull the trigger on one, most likely the 22.5, I'll be sure to order a gasket kit along with it.

    As far as the kettle lid goes, I went out and picked up four XL Sized binder clips from the get go and they made all the difference in the world. Without the clips smoke pours out around the lid, clip them on and they create a great leak free seal.
  15. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I understand the older WSMs also leaked bad at the lower barrel joint.  The new ones don't leak there at all.  They leak at the door and the lid.  If Weber had put the same lid lip on the WSM that they put on the Kettle it would have leaked less.  Instead they reversed the way the WSM joins the barrel from the way the Kettle lid joins the bottom.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand the Weber folks understood that people like me would have figured out I could buy the WSM lid only from Weber and use it on my Kettle.  You definitely can't do that with the design they have on the WSM lid. 

    The WSM ain't perfect, but it is close. Basically you buy the WSM and the gasket kit and you have a smoker that will last you probably 20 years or more.  In Buffalo where you are you'll want to buy a cheap Harbor Freight welder's blanket for smoking in the snow.  Wrap the smoker in the blanket, clamp it shut, instant insulation.  You could smoke fine without the gasket kit, and your WSM might seal up from use.  Mine was never going to seal.

    If you're only smoking two or three times a year, the cost per use on the smoker is pricy, would be for any smoker.  If you're smoking every weekend though, or more, the cost per use drops to less than $10 in a year and only gets cheaper after that.  We pretty much smoke all our weekly allowance of protein now.  If you stock up on KBB during the start of the season when 40 lbs is less than $10 that's pretty inexpensive fuel.  If you happen to have a huge white oak tree in your backyard like I do, wood flavoring is free.
  16. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The 22.5" is definately the way to go, being able to lay racks of ribs flat and having extra room to work is well worth it. I have never once regretted having a bigger size, it works well and has never let me down once... and I have an almost completely unmodded one, only real mod was adding eyelets for my therm probes.

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