Meet Drogon - 22.5'' WSM Mods & First Cook


 

YYang

TVWBB Fan
I'm finally done with the first round of mods on my new 22.5'' WSM. Its name is Drogon, after a dragon character in George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series that's black with red accents. The aluminum dampers, legs, and bolts are all painted with black rustoleum hi-temp ultra grill paint, and VHT engine enamel was used for the Cajun Bandit door and thermometer bezel.

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I made a "dolly" out of zinc-plated steel punched angles and threaded bolt total-lock casters. I did it this way because I wasn't confident I could center the holes properly if I were to drill into the legs, and I wanted the ability to easily remove the smoker from the dolly if I wanted. The legs happen to nestle perfectly inside the frame, and they're secured with zip ties:

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I replaced the lid handle on the side with another Weber-manufactured handle that has integrated hooks and dyed both handles black with hair dye. I like that I don't have to worry about paint chipping off, and I can still see the Weber logo. The handles took on color easily, but the silicone grommet was too stubborn to soak up the dye. Here's a before/after shade comparison:
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Next came the worst part: painting the Cajun Bandit door. I first laid down the colored underlayer with VHT anodized red, which I also used to cover the thermometer bezel. I then printed out a stencil of the House Targaryen sigil (nerd stuff... nevermind...) on stiff photo paper and carved it out with an X-acto knife. After applying painter's tape over the stencil, I carved the design out a second time.
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Below is the masked design. The final step was covering the entire door in VHT gloss black engine enamel and removing the stencil.
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Here it is after curing in the oven. The paint has an orange-peel texture to it, which may or may not be the result of operator error :)
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If I were to do it all over, I would have used a different method that didn't chip the underlayer so much. Because I was carving over the red layer, I cut into the paint in a bunch of places and had to do a lot of touchups. So far, I've found the rustoleum hi-temp ultra grill paint less abrasion resistant than the VHT engine enamel.

Finally, I replaced the OEM thermometer with a Tel-Tru BQ250 and installed a Tel-Tru BQ300 above the door. The BQ250 has a 2'' dial face that fits inside the OEM thermometer bezel and a stem that attaches with a wing nut, so you don't have to modify the stock holes in the lid. To prevent smoke leakage, I taped over the two slits in the bezel with aluminum tape. The 4'' stem of the BQ300 sits just below the top grate, as seen at the bottom of the photo below. You can sort of see the black Nomex gasket around the lip as well:
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I was able to fit 3 racks of baby backs without having any of the meat sit directly above the probe, where drips might throw off temp readings.

For my first cook, I made baby backs 3 ways:
rack 1: "The Best Ribs in the Universe" Rub and glaze
rack 2: Meathead's Memphis Dust
rack 3: "Malta Rub," an impromptu rub with 5-spice, celery salt and Szechuan peppercorn to complement a glaze made from reduced malt beverage.
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Cleanup was pretty easy - I used an empty foiled water pan and placed an empty aluminum drip pan on the lower grate with a bowl of hot water inside it. None of the drippings made their way onto the lower grate or the water pan. I plan to add handles to the center section and the Unknown BBQ hinge. I might also add a couple of exhaust vents if I ever find the courage to drill into the lid. Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek!
 
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Tommy B

TVWBB Pro
I love the dolly cart you made. I love it because you didn't have to drill a hold in the legs. It looks real sturdy. I may steal your idea! After the first cook would you change anything about your cart design?
 
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YYang

TVWBB Fan
I can't take credit for the design. Here's the youtube video I based it on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuDOCTLp0-s

There was no hole drilling, but there was some elbow grease involved in cutting the punched angles with a hacksaw. So far, there's nothing I would change, but I've yet to see how well it works with a lid hinge installed. It's possible that the weight distribution would make the whole assembly unstable. However, the guy in the video gives his Unknown BBQ-hinged WSM a spin and a shove with its lid sitting in the open position, and it seems to stay nicely balanced (starting at the 1:00 mark)
 

Jeff Holmes

TVWBB Super Fan
I really like the blacked out theme with the high contrast color. Yes, I really like the base too. That's a really good looking setup!
 

YYang

TVWBB Fan
As I made them this time, I would rank them 1. Memphis Dust 2. "The Best Ribs in the Universe" and 3. Malta, mainly because I like a sweeter and drier finished product. The TBRITU rub is more savory while the sauce contributes most of the sweetness. On the other hand, the Memphis Dust ribs will come out sweeter even if you don't sauce, mop or spritz much. They all offer something different flavor-wise, but if I had to use only one for all my ribs, I'd personally go with the Memphis Dust.
 

ChuckO

TVWBB Olympian
For my first cook, I made baby backs 3 ways:

rack 1: "The Best Ribs in the Universe" Rub and glaze
rack 2: Meathead's Memphis Dust
rack 3: "Malta Rub," an impromptu rub with 5-spice, celery salt and Szechuan peppercorn to complement a glaze made from reduced malt beverage

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If anyone wants to know why a 22" vs 18" is better, here's why!

Real nice WSM you've done there and you did it proud with those ribs, excellent cook
 

Trail B.

TVWBB Member
Wow. Impressive mods. Most mods I am not a big fan of as I like the classic Weber look but I really like what you did.

What size steel hole punch angle did you use? What were the dimensions?
 
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YYang

TVWBB Fan
Here's my breakdown (not including paint):

punched angles: 3 x $9.48 = $28.44
casters: 3 x $15.73 = $47.19
lock nuts: 3 x $1.18 = $3.54
TOTAL: $79.17 (now that I'm typing this, it seems kind of embarrassing)

To cut down on the cost, you can go with more affordable casters. I specifically wanted all total-lock ones (locks the swivel and the roll) in black finish. These cheaper ones at $3.88 each from Home Depot would work just as well. Also, you would only need to purchase two 48'' punched angles if you're building a frame for the 18.5'' WSM.
 

 

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