Results: 14.5" WSM Satisfaction Survey

Mike Durso

TVWBB Super Fan
Outside of the ash pan, what was re-designed? I was under the impression that they just started making them again.
The original in production design up into the early 80s was lost -they didn't many, if any, original drawings, blueprints or details. Weber has many of the grills they produced in a large warehouse (along with a lot of classic cars) but they didn't have the original 14 WSM. There was a lot of brain picking with Eric Schlosser, the originator of the WSM. From there I duplicated what could be remembered into SolidWorks (CAD) around 2007.

We had 6 prototypes made up. One I received as a gift, another was given to a person in the model shop (to be used for burning his mother's legal papers, bills, etc.. ) Then one or two were used for testing and then scrapped.

The redesign had some sizing and fittings and features of what was in production around 2007, not the original run. The thermometer, water pan, ash, the legs, straps, etc..

I pushed hard for its release at the same time as the 22, but they said no one would buy it From there I guess it just sat until long after Weber and I parted ways.
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
We actually gathered a lot of information from this:

http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/history.html
What's kind of funny but kind of sad about your comment is that you say in 2007, Weber didn't have a 14" WSM in the warehouse, but I acquired a pristine Model 1880 in 2004, had documented it on the WSM History page, but no one from Weber ever reached out to me about it. Granted, I put most of the key measurements online, but if I had been asked to send it to Palatine so you guys could pour over it, take measurements, etc. it would have been a privilege for me to let Weber borrow it for a while. I guess it says something about the mindset at that time.

Having said that, my visit in 2009 to go over the 22" WSM with Ernie and Gary and you (!) and Tony and Erich and Ben was a highlight of my barbecue career!

P.S. Is this you with the long hair behind the umbrella pole? :D

http://virtualweberbullet.com/weberhqvisit_photos/lunch2-1024.jpg
 

Mike Durso

TVWBB Super Fan
What's kind of funny but kind of sad about your comment is that you say in 2007, Weber didn't have a 14" WSM in the warehouse, but I acquired a pristine Model 1880 in 2004, had documented it on the WSM History page, but no one from Weber ever reached out to me about it. Granted, I put most of the key measurements online, but if I had been asked to send it to Palatine so you guys could pour over it, take measurements, etc. it would have been a privilege for me to let Weber borrow it for a while. I guess it says something about the mindset at that time.

Having said that, my visit in 2009 to go over the 22" WSM with Ernie and Gary and you (!) and Tony and Erich and Ben was a highlight of my barbecue career!

P.S. Is this you with the long hair behind the umbrella pole? :D

http://virtualweberbullet.com/weberhqvisit_photos/lunch2-1024.jpg
Haha! That IS me but my hair was much shorter at the time. I don't think my long-haired, energetic enthusiasm ever went well with my direct boss (not a Stephen family member). LOL.

Even back then I had been lurking on this and a couple other forums for a long time. Jim Stephen, Erich, myself, we had read up on this "minion method" and cooking with sand and foil and Jim set me out to "try it all" and look into reviving the WSM.

Weber (at least at the time) was very concerned and secretive of this invention called "fire" and didn't exactly know how to harness the power of forums, connections, the Internet and at the same time maintain and develop private, ethical, trusting non-disclosures, etc. It was the weirdest thing since I already possessed Secret Service clearance (when I designed currency counters and counterfeit detectors for Cummins-Allison) and FBI/Gaming commission clearance (when designing slot machines for WMS Gaming). I knew there was a great wealth of information that was available if done correctly. Instead it was a "we invented it so we know more and we don't need them" mentality.

Your visit was definitely a highlight for me as well because many people had been developing their own 22s, I had been following this forum, clearly there was The BBQ Movement "Hey Weber, just because YOU don't know about it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist!" To see your face and excitement as a true fan and expert and be on location, I know it was something special for you after all your hard work. Certainly it had really meant something to all of the people here, so having you at Weber... well -You were there!

Once in a while someone would show up with an old grill in an odd color, a first gen Genesis -something. Weber would offer them a new grill in exchange for a old one just to complete the collection. While the various names like The Statesman, Caribbean, Galley Que, there seemed to be those examples in the "museum" and around the office, it was things like the 1880 and the electric Kettle of the early 70s and the more oddballs that they never kept. I was never in the inner, inner circle, so I never was in the "museum" beyond looking through the door. I think they had someone maintain the cars and dust things off once in a while. So perhaps they had one in there buried next to the Sequoia. Maybe it is cataloged.. I don't know.

While the cooking was fun, many of the people were very nice like Erich, Ted, Gary G., Stan G., it was also odd in many ways and a throwback in time. As a motivated individual, it was aggravating and frustrating, HIGHLY micro-managed, politics and well... That's why it's called work and they pay you to come in. In contrast, that's why you pay to go to Disneyland! I'm much more suited to the tech industry and with those who are more current and progressive.

I've had a lot of good fortune being an engineer and worked on some really cool stuff. Every time I get a piece of mail with that skinny white barcode label, that goes back to a machine I designed for Bell & Howell going back to 1995. I've done tons of microphones for Knowles who sell MILLIONS in a month -cellohones, headphone drivers, hearing aids. In all likelihood your cellphone has one of mine inside -not to mention the joystick of the Nintendo 3DS.

Funny story. When I started Weber, Erich showed me where to go to the outlet store on the property for some parts. We're waiting for a break in the customers that were there and at the time Kevin K was still working behind the counter (he was such an enthusiast, this was before he was moved to marketing). He was trying to count some bills from the cash transactions but something was amiss. I asked him to hold on, I popped open the device, made an adjustment and all that and it worked fine. He asked how I knew what to do and I said, "Oh I designed that about 4 years ago..." So Weber was just a blip in my crazy career. Good times!

Ok.. I just totally hijacked this thread.
 

Mike Durso

TVWBB Super Fan
I'm loving this! Chris & Mike.... you rock... real hard!!!! Great info & history.
Thanks. Chris does rock. As for me, I'm a little out of date now and just have a story here and there. These days I keep my BBQ more basic and really enjoy all the custom creations of grills/smokers/recipes etc that everyone else comes up with. So keep it coming!
 

Mike Durso

TVWBB Super Fan
Wow, great article. Thanks for the links.
Yeah.. Except Chris never mentioned me in the article. LOL!! KIDDING CHRIS!! You know I <3 you!

I just re-read that article and the updates. Funny in the funny sense and the peculiar sense. Seems like the changing in the guard at Weber proved to be a good thing.
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
Yeah.. Except Chris never mentioned me in the article. LOL!! KIDDING CHRIS!! You know I <3 you!

I just re-read that article and the updates. Funny in the funny sense and the peculiar sense. Seems like the changing in the guard at Weber proved to be a good thing.
I went back to my handwritten notes from that meeting and found your name there. I remember there was some sensitivity on the part of Weber about the article I wrote, in fact they insisted on reviewing it before publication, so I think I kept the names pretty high level and didn't mention everyone I met that day.

If I remember correctly, the lack of notes after your/Tony's name indicates that you guys were asking all the questions, not me! :D

 

Mike Durso

TVWBB Super Fan
I went back to my handwritten notes from that meeting and found your name there. I remember there was some sensitivity on the part of Weber about the article I wrote, in fact they insisted on reviewing it before publication, so I think I kept the names pretty high level and didn't mention everyone I met that day.

If I remember correctly, the lack of notes after your/Tony's name indicates that you guys were asking all the questions, not me! :D

I was only kidding about being mentioned. But that's pretty hilarious with the notes and everything. I likely "knew" everything from lurking here and Tony liked to talk about himself a lot, lol. I was concerned about starting my hair on fire or thinking about beer.

Gary is the packaging guy who is an A-1, top notch gentleman. If you own a riveted wooden handle kettle from the early 70s, Gary likely installed it. He's very green-conscious regarding recycling and packaging (and in general). Cool dude.
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
Gary is the packaging guy who is an A-1, top notch gentleman. If you own a riveted wooden handle kettle from the early 70s, Gary likely installed it. He's very green-conscious regarding recycling and packaging (and in general). Cool dude.
I was impressed with Gary. Before our meeting, he read the stuff I had written about the new packaging and he was psyched that I was interested in the subject. He was very enthusiastic when talking about it! :D
 

Mike Durso

TVWBB Super Fan
Also.. I found this old picture of me hard at work at Weber with an early form of the 22 WSM printed out on my desk. Looks like there was a one touch on the bottom –alas, it can’t hold all the ash of a long smoke.

Photo by my friend Bill who worked in the test lab. There was another one of me with the heat camera, I need to locate that.

Note that the photo date is Jan 2007, but the 22 was released in Fall of 2008. just goes to show how long the 22 WSM had been kicking around. If you look to the lower left of the photo, there is a 22 "bomber" as I’ve always called it standing there -as the 18 had been known as the bullet. I called the 14 “the bb” so there’s the sizing nicknames…



 

Rusty James

TVWBB Guru
Also.. I found this old picture of me hard at work at Weber with an early form of the 22 WSM printed out on my desk. Looks like there was a one touch on the bottom –alas, it can’t hold all the ash of a long smoke.

So Weber entertained the idea of an ash sweeper for the WSM?

I've often wondered if one would be a good idea for long smokes, but then again, an ash sweeper could possibly introduce more air flow and elevated heat levels even if it was closed.

On the other hand, early ash buildup could seal any tiny air gaps in the bottom of the bowl, and moving the sweeper blades to the open position would be ideal for hot & fast cooks. Sounds like a good idea to me.
 

Mike Durso

TVWBB Super Fan
I have a bowl with stubby legs for an 18 that I now use as a fire pit. The amount of ash from an average overnightcook will fill the ash catcher a couple times. Add the fact that you'd have to wiggle that thing out when the grill was hot, operate the sweepers and stir up ash, etc.. It was a mess and certainly not worth it. Plus you'd need vertical clearance to lower the catcher off the bowl, that would raise the overall height. And, you know.. cost, cost, cost....

They never liked the idea of people taking it apart with it hot (as some do to add charcoal, wood, water, stir, empty ash -so things like probe grommets, handles on the midsection, etc were all unacceptable.
 

RyanS_MN

TVWBB Member
Honestly I love my 18.5 but if I knew how great of a deal a 14.5 was at $150 I’d go back in time and buy it when I saw and debated it a few years ago
 

Rusty James

TVWBB Guru
Now that I've my 14.5" unit for a year now, I like it much, but I almost wish Weber would introduce a 16.5" model. I've seen times when the 14.5 was too small, and the 18.5" smoker was too big.

I'd be willing to bet a 16.5" model would sell. Isn't that about the size of the Brinkmann smokers?
 

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