What exactly DOES make the WSM better than a modified kettle?


 

Jeff Beitinger

TVWBB Member
I think about this a lot.

As someone who has both a 22 WSM and a 22 kettle, I look at the WSM and wonder what about it makes it so much easier to use, and more "set it and forget it" than a kettle with a stacker midsection. Even a WSM that is modded (i.e., better door, deflector vs water pan, etc) to the point where it essentially no different physically than a kettle with a middle section and a diffuser is proclaimed to be "set it and forget it" and holds temps better than a kettle would.

But why?

The only thing that stands out the most to me is the lower vents on the WSM being off the bottom of the bowl vs the kettle where they are right at the bottom of the bowl and will be much easier to get clogged and cause temp control issues long-term.

So it would SEEM that a kettle with a stacker (or even just the midsection to an old WSM) equipped with a smoke port like on a SnS kettle should be just as easy and consistent with temps as any WSM.

When I made that suggestion to someone else who was wondering the same thing about a kettle vs WSM, I was basically told by some others that I didn't know what I was talking about or that they've never ever had clogging issues on their kettles. One is a smoker, and the other is a grill. End of story.

So what am I missing?
 

timothy

TVWBB Olympian
I would call it equal or close if your kettle had the old three wheel daisy vents.

Those are very useful if dealing with wind, either up or down wind.

One touch kettles are just that. One touch controls all three vents, compared to manually controlling one at a time.
 

TimA

TVWBB Pro
I’ve not ever had clogging issues myself, but I’ve also never used a kettle to smoke super long. Think I’ve done a 14-16 hour cook but since the coals were around the edge of the grate, no clogs.

A WSM can hold more fuel and like stated gas the three vents. I’ve never smoked in my Sequoia with three vents, and don’t yet own a WSM (my area is absolutely lacking anything used or new) but have smoked plenty in my kettles.
 

timothy

TVWBB Olympian
So it would SEEM that a kettle with a stacker (or even just the midsection to an old WSM) equipped with a smoke port like on a SnS kettle should be just as easy and consistent with temps as any WSM.
It's also more miserly with fuel IME.
And that's just stock, no stacker or what not.
 

Jim C in Denver

TVWBB All-Star
I think the looong distance between the fire and grate is a fundamental difference between wsm and kettle. Just makes low and slow easier. Especially when you add a water pan or other diffuser.

I don’t think the adjustability is the key thing. I think the basic dimensions just make a wsm much better at smoking for low slow.
 

Jeff Beitinger

TVWBB Member
I think the looong distance between the fire and grate is a fundamental difference between wsm and kettle. Just makes low and slow easier. Especially when you add a water pan or other diffuser.

I don’t think the adjustability is the key thing. I think the basic dimensions just make a wsm much better at smoking for low slow.
But my question was about temperature control as it essentially pertains to the differences between a kettle bowl and the WSM bowl. That's why I said a kettle modified with a stacker kit
 

Jim C in Denver

TVWBB All-Star
I still think it is the overall design more than anything else.

Unless you work really hard, a wsm is just going to run basically between 200 and 300F. Fairly small operating range. It is designed to run at low temps. Then add the better bottom vents for finer tuning.

Kettle has a much bigger temp range. And less effective (imo) bottom vents.
 

Joe Anshien

TVWBB Emerald Member
I think (and have done this) that a kettle with a charcoal ring out of a WSM, a defector setup (I used pizza stone and pan), a rotisserie ring did a fantastic job smoking a brisket. If / when my MB Gravity feed dies I will most likely go back to a kettle, viper, Aura kettle zone, and rotisserie ring instead of a WSM and Kettle. In that setup there is a lot of versatility and capability for someone that wants just one charcoal appliance.
 

Rick P

TVWBB Pro
I have an SnS as a full-time resident in my 22" Performer kettle and older ('91) 18" WSM.

They're both pretty easy to use for smoking, with a slight edge to the WSM, but not by much.

I've never had an issue with the WSM vents clogging with ash but, admittedly, I'll tap on the legs about 5-6 hours into a cook, and the temps will raise slightly.
 

Jeff Beitinger

TVWBB Member
I have an SnS as a full-time resident in my 22" Performer kettle and older ('91) 18" WSM.

They're both pretty easy to use for smoking, with a slight edge to the WSM, but not by much.

I've never had an issue with the WSM vents clogging with ash but, admittedly, I'll tap on the legs about 5-6 hours into a cook, and the temps will raise slightly.
Not the WSM vents, the lower vents on a kettle. People have told me that a kettle would likely clog during a long cook and would need more maintaining which is what's making me go back and forth
 

Jeff Beitinger

TVWBB Member
I think (and have done this) that a kettle with a charcoal ring out of a WSM, a defector setup (I used pizza stone and pan), a rotisserie ring did a fantastic job smoking a brisket. If / when my MB Gravity feed dies I will most likely go back to a kettle, viper, Aura kettle zone, and rotisserie ring instead of a WSM and Kettle. In that setup there is a lot of versatility and capability for someone that wants just one charcoal appliance.
And THAT, is the grail which I seek lol.
Thanks!
 

Rick P

TVWBB Pro
Not the WSM vents, the lower vents on a kettle. People have told me that a kettle would likely clog during a long cook and would need more maintaining which is what's making me go back and forth
Never had that issue and I've done plenty of long cooks on the kettle with the SnS.
Performers have the one touch-system, for cleaning ashes, so you can sweep it during the cook, if necessary.

I marked up the ash catcher with a Sharpie, so it's easy to keep the vents adjusted for the desired temp, after sweeping. I rarely need to sweep and, when I do, it's really late in longer cooks.

Not much maintenance with the SnS. It holds temps well, and for a long time. I love the WSM, but it's not as versatile as a kettle SnS combo.
 

Anne M.

TVWBB Pro
I use my small wsm as a kettle most of the time. Just a nice size for me.
No mods necessary, just gotta be a little careful as the grid is loose on the charcoal ring. I don't know if that is the case with the bigger sizes as well.
Anyway, if I could just get what I want, I would go for the 18.5" wsm and a rotisserie ring.
But I love my 14.5".... (wish I could get a roti ring for it)
 

Joe Anshien

TVWBB Emerald Member
I use my small wsm as a kettle most of the time. Just a nice size for me.
No mods necessary, just gotta be a little careful as the grid is loose on the charcoal ring. I don't know if that is the case with the bigger sizes as well.
Anyway, if I could just get what I want, I would go for the 18.5" wsm and a rotisserie ring.
But I love my 14.5".... (wish I could get a roti ring for it)
Maybe @Garvin R can help you out. https://tvwbb.com/threads/not-a-lot-of-attachments-for-the-14-wsm-but.90188/
 

Anne M.

TVWBB Pro
Thanks!
One day I will get around to making one.
I got the ring, motor and all for the 18.5, so with a bit of mcgyvering I should be able to make something.
Unfortunately ordering from the states or canada will be prohibitive because of transport cost
 

 

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