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Old 06-26-2016, 01:28 AM   #1
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Join Date: 06-23-16
Location: In the hot Zambezi Valley
Default Thinking of buying a wsm 14.5"

Sofar I have mainly be grilling and dabbled a bit in indirect cooking and low and slow.
I was going to buy a stacker for my kettle bbq, but after reading a couple of awesome threads about indirect grilling on a kettle, I decided I could do without.

So, I saved me some money

I am now considering buying a 14.5" wsm.
I normally cook for about 2-4 people, occassionally more (up to big groups, but that is lamb and pig on a spit and a total different story).
Would this wsm be sufficient?
Or would I regret not buying a size up?
Problem with that is the price (the wsm 14.5" is around 200 U$, the 18" is more than double at around 450 U$. Yes, where I live stuff is expensive).

The 14.5" would also be easy to take with and I do have several other bbq's.

Am I just trying to convince myself?
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Old 06-26-2016, 01:48 AM   #2
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I would love to have one, I say go for it. What kind of foods do you normally cook.
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Old 06-26-2016, 02:14 AM   #3
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Well, instead, try to make an ugly drum smoker from a 16 gal drum. Much cheaper.
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Old 06-26-2016, 02:53 AM   #4
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I actually cook a bit of everything.

I like ribs (both pork, beef and lamb).
Steak, roasts, turkey (when requested to do so), chicken (whole and pieces), sausages & burgers (home made) and actually almost anything, except for intestines.

I have some form of a drum smoker, but it's heavy (not made out of a drum, but out of the coil that contained roofing sheets) and I am just busy adjusting and fine tuning it.
Not totally happy with it though.
It works good for cold smoking though in combination with a cold smoke generator.
By the way: I can only cold smoke in the winter and at night as we are normally too hot.

I quite like the idea of the wsm enabling me to grill (on the bottom section) and slow cook.
And it would be easy to transport.

I am slowly moving to the 18" as it can also take a rotisserie. Just need to convince myself if it is worth the price.

What are everyone's experiences with the 14.5 (as compared to the 18")
Is it easy to maintain a low temperature for long enough?
Is the capacity high enough for something like a family meal (say 4 people)?
Built quality?
Does anyone have negative experiences?

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Old 06-26-2016, 03:27 AM   #5
Rusty Kettle
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I have two 14.5" wsms and I love them. I can cook a lot of food in them. They need to use a water pan. Without it IMO the temps aren't stable enough but a water pan keeps the temps in check. Don't know about grilling in one as I have never done it. Not saying you can't just I have never tried it.

Long cooks are possible at 12 hours plus. You have to use lump charcoal as the briquettes make way to much ash. It fills up the bottom with briquettes. If you want to cook about 8 hours briquettes are fine but beyond that lump charcoal makes a lot less ash and will get you a longer burn time. It burns hotter so you have to close your bottom vents way down. I have run it with only one bottom vent slightly open but the top wide open. I prefer lump charcoal for everything but if you want briquettes an 18.5 would suit you better.

The 14.5 takes time to get use to it but it is a fantastic cooker. I also have a 22.5 and I prefer my 14.5 wsm.

Low fuel consumption with two cooking racks and if you throw in a brinkmann rib rack you can fit 2 full racks of ribs in the top rack or 4 racks trimmed down to fit. Just watch how their positioned as if they touch the rub won't set properly. I have cooked half brisket in the smoker just fine also. Its a good little cooker. If you cut chicken legs into lollipops you can fit about 20 standing on the meat end bone straight up. You can take the top rack out and stand a whole chicken up on a beer can, pop can, or chicken sitter.

Its a pretty good smoker.
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Old 06-26-2016, 09:41 AM   #6
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Thanks for the info Rusty,
I am swinging back to the 14.5"
Going to make some phone calls tomorrow to see how I can get it delivered to Zambia
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Old 06-26-2016, 09:56 AM   #7
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I have a WSM 18.5 I love it for what it is! is that $450 USD you have to pay for a WSM 18.5? Holy crap!!! Honestly for 2-4 people a 14.5 should be enough.

Someone mentioned "grilling" in their post, Didn't read anything on your post about grilling but I'll share my input. Is one of my cook threads on "grilling" on the WSM. It's a real Pita to break it down and You don't get proper grate space. Worked very well for what it is, but If you have a dedicated grill for grilling then its pointless to try to grill on a WSM.

No matter which route you go the whole WSM family is a fantastic set of smokers! Building a drum smoker might be your best bet though at the prices you have to pay for a WSM.

Edit: I was suppose to say for 2-4 people a 14.5 was enough. typed it wrong and fixed it
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Last edited by blazinfire; 06-26-2016 at 10:28 AM..
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Old 06-26-2016, 10:01 AM   #8
is One Chatty Farker
Join Date: 03-29-15
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I have a 14.5 & love it. It's a great little cooker. Very stable temp control. Seems to be the go-to around here because there's only two of us. Feeding 6 people from a cook should be no problem. I've made a stacker, hanging rack, rotisserie ring & gender bender for it. It can cook almost anything these days. Have done a small full packer, hung chickens, smoked bacon & etc. Can even grill with it.

Uses very little fuel compared to my 18.5 WSM. I never use the water pan. Have gone 10 hours using Kingsford lump briquettes. I haven't used "regular" lump in it.
18.5/14.5 WSMs, 26.5 XL, 22.5 Performer, JJ & SJ Kettles, OKJ Highland, Genesis 330

Last edited by robert-r; 06-26-2016 at 10:47 AM..
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Old 06-26-2016, 10:24 AM   #9
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At that price I'd make time to build a drum.
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Old 06-26-2016, 10:46 AM   #10
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I don't know how handy you are but you could always build a mini. 3 lbs of charcoal will go at least 12 hours. Total cost to build one is around $100 after thermometer, extra rack and paint if needed.
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Old 06-26-2016, 11:14 AM   #11
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You wouldn't regret it. Wsm is a great cooker!
500 gallon homemade smoker. Maverick ET-733. Brinkmann smoke n grill. *NEW ADDITION 22.5 WSM.
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Old 06-26-2016, 12:45 PM   #12
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Buy the 18", better too big, than too small. If you find you outgrow the 14.5", sure you can buy another, but now you're tending two cookers instead of one.
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Old 06-27-2016, 12:58 AM   #13
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Thanks for the replies.
Much appreciated and lots of info.

As for the price level here in Zambia:
It is easy to sum it up. Everything is expensive!
I was born and raised in the Netherlands (NE Europe) and Zambia is at least as expensive and quite often more expensive (but the climate is better and meat is actually cheap).

Drums are very popular here and are used for almost anything: from police road blocks, to grills, to dustbins and whatever else you can think of.
Getting one in a decent condition is not easy. Neither is getting parts.
It doesn't help that we are a land-locked country.

I am still a bit torn between the 18.5 and the 14.5, but definitely leaning to the 14.5.
My experimental drum cooker is about 18", and will eventually work OK, but as said, is very heavy and as such not moveable.

As for direct grilling on the WSM: we recently did this on the 22.5 WSM on a sandbank (with elephants lurking in the background).

I am going to check how difficult and expensive it is to get stuff up from South Africa and I will keep you all posted.

Again thanks for all your help.
You guys make me feel welcome

Oh, and almost forgot, We use lumpcharoal. It burns very long but very hot.
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Old 06-27-2016, 08:27 AM   #14
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You can cook a lot of food on a 14.5 WSM. I had one and could easily cook for a half dozen people or more. Easily do 6 racks of baby backs coiled. 4 pound meatloaf, two whole chickens, 10 pound pork butt etc. The best thing about the little guy is that they are miserly on fuel and very easy to control. I used the water pan in mine but only when I was cooking on the bottom rack.
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Old 06-27-2016, 09:59 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by grillinguy247 View Post
I don't know how handy you are but you could always build a mini. 3 lbs of charcoal will go at least 12 hours. Total cost to build one is around $100 after thermometer, extra rack and paint if needed.
if you can get a Weber Smokey Joe and an extra grate cheap enough the mini is a nice way to save about half of the cost of the 14.5" wsm. several of us have built them and they work very well. i believe a 32qt tamale pot fits perfectly. only tools you need are a drill and a jigsaw to cut the out the bottom of the pot. this will allow you to smoke (pot in place) and grill (pot removed). if it sounds like a tough project don't worry...drill a few holes, cut a circle and you are basically done. i like it so much i made a bigger (Jimmy) out of the Weber Jumbo Joe. i never use my mini since building the Jimmy.

wonder what shipping would be to Zambia??? i would be glad to send it to you if the cost wasn't too crazy. it's kind of a shame to have it just sitting there when someone could be using it.

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