S J. Gold Mini WSM Smoker

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LDean

TVWBB Member
I have a WSM, but wanted a Mini for travel with my RV. After reviewing posts by the Kevinator and others on WSM mods, I modified a SJG, using a Chinese IMUSA 32 qt Tamale Cooker, purchased at Wally World for $20. Total time after gathering the material was about 1.5 hours.The top of the cooker is an exact fit to the SJG lid. I used foil folded around the bottom edge to get a tight seal of the bottom. The Cooker is 13.5" high and I cut the bottom out of the cooker, using a skill saw, being carefull not to cut into the curved edge of the bottom, staying at least 1/2" from the edge. I then attached 4 L shaped aluminum hangers on the inside, 9" from the top. I used a 12" ceramic planter base, foil wrapped, rather than a water pan. Then, I cut the ends out of 3 small evaporated milk cans, using the cans as a spacer, sitting the cans on top of the ceramic base, placing the grill on top of the cans, it is a tight fit. For the charcoal holder, I raised the grate about 1.5 inches, using aluminum crossbars, screwed together in the center, bent on the ends, wiring the grate to the top of the bars. I have found that 1/2 to 2/3rds weber chimney using Kingford, is plenty for a 6 hour cook, at 250 degrees. Temp controll is fairly easy, but the side vents on the SJG are not real tight, so it is difficult to keep at 250 if using more than 1/2 chimney. I used the Minion method, putting down a base of unlit Kingsford, piling 20 lit briquettes on top. It is up and running in less than 15 minutes at 250. It will maintain 250 degrees for hours, with the vents almost closed. Total cost, including the SJG($29.95 delivered from Amazon), glazed planter base($6.95)and aluminum for L hangers, was less than $60. I elected not to paint the tamale cooker center section, it looks "purdy" Carefull with the amount of smoke wood, 1 medium piece is enough with the small area.

LDean, Mesquite, Texas
 

Todd Randall

TVWBB Pro
That's a heck of a FIRST POST!!! Welcome to the board.

Pictures, pics, visual candy please??? Got any any pictures of your work?

Todd
 

Hank B

TVWBB Pro
This is exactly what I was looking for. I have a WSM, large kettle and SJ. The WSM is recent and I love it, but I would like something smaller to try out different smoking woods with. It seems like the SJ with a center section would be just the thing to smoke up a couple pieces of chicken and pork without using 1/3 bag of charcoal.

I was looking at round duct sections at the local home improvement store and it looked like I could combine a 6" and 8" to make a 14" diameter piece that might work. But I'll have to look at some large pots to see if any of them could be easily adapted.

-walt
 

LDean

TVWBB Member
Walter: Just saw your post.
If you will google IMUSA Tamale Steamer, you will find vendors selling the 32 qt. steamer that I used. In Latino areas, Walmart likely has, but I note that Target also has them on their website. I have used mine for more than a year now, works great, even with the SJG. I did not modify the charcoal grate, just pile it on both sides, opposite the vent holes on the SJG. I rarely smoke longer than 4 hours on the Mini. I normally cook a single chicken, small pork roasts, or loin, rather than firing up the big Cajun Bandit conversion. Look at my posts regarding the Cajun Bandit, and you should find a photo of the Mini, next to the CB. Stay away from galvanized material, if you make out of duct rather than the aluminum steamers.
LDW
 

Hank B

TVWBB Pro
Originally posted by LDean:
Walter: Just saw your post.
If you will google IMUSA Tamale Steamer, you will find vendors selling the 32 qt. steamer that I used. In Latino areas, Walmart likely has, but I note that Target also has them on their website. I have used mine for more than a year now, works great, even with the SJG. I did not modify the charcoal grate, just pile it on both sides, opposite the vent holes on the SJG. I rarely smoke longer than 4 hours on the Mini. I normally cook a single chicken, small pork roasts, or loin, rather than firing up the big Cajun Bandit conversion. Look at my posts regarding the Cajun Bandit, and you should find a photo of the Mini, next to the CB. Stay away from galvanized material, if you make out of duct rather than the aluminum steamers.
LDW
Hi LDean,
Thanks for the reply. We have one of the largest Hispanic communities in the Chicago area in the adjacent town and yet our local discounters do not carry that large pot. I did find it at one Mexican grocery for $67.
I just ordered it from Target where it was about half that, even with shipping and tax included. Then I just need to find an appropriate size stainless bowl - about 10"-12" diameter - and run some screws through the pot at the correct height to support the bowl and grate. Maybe I'll use some L brackets for the bowl.

I plan to use it for small quantities of meat like a chicken or small amounts of pork or beef. My plan is to use it to try out different smoking woods without having to fire up the relatively larger WSM. Of course, if I want to make something smaller for a meal or two, it seems like it would be pretty convenient. We're empty nesters so unless we're cooking for company, the quantity of meat that fits in the WSM is a *lot* for two.

(A friend who does HVAC work also advised to stay away from galvanized material because it contains lead.)

thanks,
walt
 

Hank B

TVWBB Pro
I did it! I ordered the 32 Quart IMUSA pot from Target/Amazon and made the cooker this morning. I used a large stainless dog bowl for the water bowl and 1 1/2" "L" brackets to support it just above the groove that would otherwise hold the false bottom. I also added a smaller stainless dog bowl with the bottom removed for a charcoal ring. That turned out to have about zero clearance with the water bowl so I cut it down further to allow some space. The original grill fits snugly within the pot and rests on the top edge of the "L" brackets. As others noted, the pot fits snugly into the bottom and the SJ top fits perfectly on the aluminum pot.

Then I loaded it with about 20 lit coals and two chunks of box elder. Temp below the lid (by my Maverick) went up to nearly 300° F so I shut the bottom holes to about 1/2 to 1/3. (Hard to tell exactly as they are not readily visible.) When temps dropped to about 260° I added a chicken and proceeded to keep temps about 220°. I had to add some (unlit) coals and more smoking wood a couple times and clear the ash from the bottom vent, but it generally seemed to work pretty well.

Here's what it looks like:


Bird in the hole!


the bird is resting for the moment and I'll test the "proof in the pudding" a bit later.

-walt
 

Hank B

TVWBB Pro
Originally posted by george curtis:
sweet. but why is the grate so far down ? i thought the point was to raise the grate ? did i miss something ?
Maybe I missed something. What would I gain by raising the grate?

I hadn't actually given it too much thought. The grill sits fine just above the water pan - about where the lower grate om the regular size WSM fits. I suppose I could either mount this higher or perhaps get a second grill and have two grills, again like the full size WSM.

One constraint is that the cover is not domed as much as a real WSM cover so there might not actually be enough head space for a second level.

-walt
 

LDean

TVWBB Member
Walter:
Looks good. Something you may want to try is a ceramic planter base, instead of the water pan. I found it easier and less messy, temps are easy to controll and uses less charcoal. I installed my hangers 7.25 inches from the top, set the foiled planter base on the hangers, then the cooking grate set directly on top of the planter base.

A tip for those considering making the barrel out of the tamale steamer. I used a skill saw with a metal cutting blade. When cutting the bottom out, make the cut about 3/4 inch from the bottom edge,instead of near the bottom rim, as it makes it stiffer.
 

George Curtis

TVWBB Olympian
well, not sure but thats the reason for the tallness. most folks use the upper grate in the wsm first. its smokier up there and i suppose that the heat is more consistant ? otherwise you don't need the tall pot. look at all the other ones that were done. course if yer happy then thats what counts.
 

Hank B

TVWBB Pro
Hi LDean,
Thanks again for the suggestions.

Originally posted by LDean:
Walter:
Looks good. Something you may want to try is a ceramic planter base, instead of the water pan. I found it easier and less messy, temps are easy to controll and uses less charcoal. I installed my hangers 7.25 inches from the top, set the foiled planter base on the hangers, then the cooking grate set directly on top of the planter base.
I've heard the planter base mentioned numerous times, but I'm unclear about exactly what it is. Are we talking about the clay saucer normally put under a flower pot?
A tip for those considering making the barrel out of the tamale steamer. I used a skill saw with a metal cutting blade. When cutting the bottom out, make the cut about 3/4 inch from the bottom edge,instead of near the bottom rim, as it makes it stiffer.
I agree! This is pretty thin metal. If you have some snips (like aviation snips) that would probably be better yet.

best,
walt
 

LDean

TVWBB Member
Walt:
The planter base I used is 12" in diameter, used as the base for large teracotta flower pots, available at garden centers, Home depot, etc. They come in glazed and unglazed, I used the glazed, deep enough to catch fat from chicken or pork. Foil wrap the planter base to avoid a mess. Initially, I used spacers between the base and the cooking grill, but have found it is unnecessary, just set the grill on top of the planter base, held by the hangers. I smoked a 4.5lb pork loin last weekend, slathered with mustard, applied rub, smoked cooked at 275 with 2 small chunks of red oak for about 3.5 hours for an internal temp of 160. Turned out great, very moist. I usually smoke single large chickens, marinated in italian dressing, at 300 degrees. I always use the minion method, about 25% lit, using about 2/3rds of a chimney.

LDW
 

Kurt JP

New member
Would a 1 1/2 inch deep by 10 inches wide stainless steel puppy litter dish hold enough water or do I need something deeper and/or wider? Also is there an optimum distance between the bottom of the water bowl and where the grill grate would normally be positioned on the Smokey Joe?
 

Hank B

TVWBB Pro
Originally posted by Kurt JP:
Would a 1 1/2 inch deep by 10 inches wide stainless steel puppy litter dish hold enough water or do I need something deeper and/or wider? Also is there an optimum distance between the bottom of the water bowl and where the grill grate would normally be positioned on the Smokey Joe?
Hi Kurt,
That's about the size of the pan I'm using. Mine might be a little deeper. The only difference is that the water might boil off sooner. You can deal with that with better temp control or adding more water.

My grill grate sits on the top edge of the 1 1/2" angle brackets that support the water dish. I plan to install 2" angle brackets because it is possible for the water pan to slip off. It sits a bit low - just above the coals. That will bring the grate higher unless I bend the tabs up to raise the water bowl (which I plan to do.)

I've purchased a second grate to mount higher in the middle section, just like the real WSMs.

I would not obsess about dimensions as long as sufficient clearance is left for some air flow.

Edit: Just to be clear - the lower grate no longer sits in the bottom bowl. That would not allow space for the water bowl. It sits near the bottom of the middle section.

HTH,
walt
 

Kurt JP

New member
Hi Walter,

Thanks for the help. In making my Mini Smoker it appears I took more material off the bottom of my steamer pan than what you did as depicted in your very helpful pictures. When I place the steamer pan in the SJ there is a 1/4-inch reveal between the top edge of the SJ bowl and the lowest point or edge of the steamer’s indentation for the false bottom. In the pictures of your Mini there appears to be about one inch of reveal.

I’m now hoping to be able to place an 11 1/2 inch wide x 1 3/4 inch deep glazed ceramic flowerpot base pan directly on the SJ grill grate which would be supported by the steamer’s false bottom. The grill grate would therefore be 5 ¾ inches above the charcoal grate. I would then rest a second SJ grill grate on top of the foil wrapped ceramic base pan. I wouldn’t have any reservations about removing up to an additional ¾ inch more off the bottom of the steamer pan so as to lower the grill grate that much closer to the charcoal grate if needed. I guess I’m trying to get away without using hanger brackets. Do you think this setup has a chance? I’m waiting for Weber to deliver a 9815 replacement thermometer to insert through the lid, so I can’t try it before then. BTW, I’m really looking forward to my first smoke.
 

Hank B

TVWBB Pro
Originally posted by Kurt JP:
Hi Walter,

Thanks for the help. In making my Mini Smoker it appears I took more material off the bottom of my steamer pan than what you did as depicted in your very helpful pictures. When I place the steamer pan in the SJ there is a 1/4-inch reveal between the top edge of the SJ bowl and the lowest point or edge of the steamer’s indentation for the false bottom. In the pictures of your Mini there appears to be about one inch of reveal.
I cut near the bottom edge of the curve. Someone else suggested going inboard from that point leaving IIRC about an inch or so of the flat bottom in place. Probably a good idea. My goal was to have the curved portion sit on the ridge in the bottom bowl for a seal and it does that.

I’m now hoping to be able to place an 11 1/2 inch wide x 1 3/4 inch deep glazed ceramic flowerpot base pan directly on the SJ grill grate which would be supported by the steamer’s false bottom. The grill grate would therefore be 5 ¾ inches above the charcoal grate. I would then rest a second SJ grill grate on top of the foil wrapped ceramic base pan. I wouldn’t have any reservations about removing up to an additional ¾ inch more off the bottom of the steamer pan so as to lower the grill grate that much closer to the charcoal grate if needed. I guess I’m trying to get away without using hanger brackets. Do you think this setup has a chance? I’m waiting for Weber to deliver a 9815 replacement thermometer to insert through the lid, so I can’t try it before then. BTW, I’m really looking forward to my first smoke.
I'm trying to picture this. I think grill grate (cooking surface) on top of the ceramic base is fine. 5 3/4 space between charcoal grate and bottom of ceramic should be good to. I think I have less, and wonder if it is enough to allow space for air to get to charcoal.

Are you using the false bottom or Weber grills to support things? My concern with the aluminum false bottom supplied with the pot is that it would not permit sufficient flow. It's not clear to me that is what you describe, but that is the only aspect of your plans that would concern me.

I hope you get your thermometer soon! I can't imagine tight temperature control w/out one, though I would probably have a go at this and try to maintain just enough heat to boil water in the pan. (Oh... probably not doing that...) You could just do chicken and know that a little extra temperature won't hurt it at all.

Glad to help,
-walt
 

Kurt JP

New member
"Are you using the false bottom or Weber grills to support things?"


Walt - I see now how I wasn't clear. I replaced the aluminum bottom supplied with the pot with a SJ grill grate which rests on the pot's inner rim or what I was unclearly calling the false bottom , but thanks for checking on that. I appreciate all the help. Hopefully I'll have some good eats to report soon. If I get a chance before the thermometer arrives, I'll try that chicken suggestion.

Kurt
 
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