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Access Door Modifications

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Here is an easy modification to improve the access door of pre-2009 Weber Smokey Mountain Cookers, plus why you might want to try using an upside down access door to boost cooker temperature when cooking over high-heat.

Marking The Door Knob

Note: In 2009, Weber changed the access door knob to a new design that indicates when the door is latched properly. This modification applies only to Weber Bullets made prior to 2009.

Have you ever latched the access door and walked away from the cooker, only to come back later to find the door on the ground and the cooker at 450°F? You latched the door, didn’t you? At least you thought you did.

Sometimes it’s hard to know when the door is latched properly because there is no visual indication on the knob of the fully latched position.

To solve this problem, remove the door from the cooker and turn the knob so the latch on the inside is pointing straight up in the 12 o’clock position, as shown in the photo below.

Access door latchNext, mark the knob in the 12 o’clock position using any of the following methods:

  • A small strip of colored tape.
  • A symbol from a sheet of adhesive vinyl lettering. The top portion of the exclamation symbol “!” makes a nice little arrow. You can also use an * or ^ symbol.
  • A thin line or dot of paint.
  • A flat spot or notch filed on the edge of the knob.
  • A shallow divot drilled into the knob, filled with paint or white crayon.

Here’s an example using a top portion of a vinyl “!” symbol.

Marked access door knob

Thanks to Rob Gazzo for this suggestion.

Upside Down Access Door

There are a number of WSM owners who insist on using the access door upside down, with the knob on the bottom.

The first person I ever met who did this was Rob Kelso, shown here at a cook-off in Nile, CA in 1999. Rob said that the upside down door was his “secret weapon” in barbecue competitions. His reasoning: Less smoke escapes around the door when upside down, and if necessary he can place something under the door to prop it open to increase air intake into the cooker.

Rob Kelso and his upside down access door

I’m a little dubious about less smoke escaping being a competitive advantage, but it’s true that you can prop the door open to increase air flow and therefore increase the cooker temperature.

The photo below shows a time when I did this while cooking a turkey and wanted to boost the temp. A pair of tongs wedged under the knob held the door ajar. A stick or a short length of broom handle will also do the trick.

Propped open access door using tongs

If tongs or sticks aren’t for you, here’s a simple modification you can make to the access door so that it stays propped open by itself. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Measuring tape
  • Screw driver
  • Wrench
  • Electric drill and 5/32″ metal bit
  • Center punch
  • Scribe tool, scratch awl, or sharp object capable of scratching a line in the aluminum access door
  • Two 10-24 1.5″ stainless steel machine screws with slotted pan heads
  • Two 10-24 stainless steel machine nuts

Put the access door on the cooker upside down. Scribe a mark on the inside of the door where it meets the bottom of the opening in the middle cooking section Measure in 1″ from each side of the door and mark at the scribe line.

Hit the two spots to be drilled with a center punch. Place on a block of wood and slowly drill each hole.

Insert screws from the outside of the door and fasten with the nuts. Put the access door on the cooker upside down, using the screw threads to hold the door open at any position up to 1.5″.

Thanks to Lonnie Mac for sharing this modification on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board.

Round Access Opening Prevents Upside Down Door

Note: This is an issue with the 22.5″ WSM only.

22.5" WSM rounded access door opening

In 2010, Weber changed the shape of the access door opening on the 22.5″ WSM, making the top corners round instead of square. This change was made to prevent the area above the opening from flattening as the middle section is formed into a cylinder during manufacturing. As a result of these round corners, the access door cannot be placed upside down on a 22.5″ Weber Bullet..

Adjusting The Access Door

If you’ve come here looking for information on how to adjust the fit of the access door, see the Parts Troubleshooting page.

Upgrade Your Door

If you want to upgrade your stock access door, Cajun Bandit makes high-quality, 18-gauge stainless steel replacement doors for the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker.

Access door modification photos: 2008 by Lonnie Mac
22.5″ WSM rounded access opening photo: 2010 by Chris Thorp

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