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Installing Adjustable Toggle Clamp Latches
Some folks like to add wheels to the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker to make it easier to move around. After doing so, especially on the big 22.5″ WSM, they find that when rolling the cooker around, if they hit a crack or a seam in a sidewalk or patio, the cooker wants to topple over and fall apart into pieces. There can also be stability issues after installing a lid hinge; when opening the lid, the shifting weight can make the middle cooking section feel unstable.
To solve these problems, some WSM owners install latches to fasten the middle cooking section to the charcoal bowl.
In March 2016, Scott Tomaier from Eau Claire, WI shared photos of the adjustable toggle clamp latches he installed on his 22.5″ WSM in a post on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board.
“I added three latches to latch together the base and center section,” wrote Scott. “They have really sturdied up the whole unit. I got four of them for under $10 on eBay. I riveted the parts on and they are all working great.”
Scott attached the clamp latches next to each leg on the charcoal bowl, with the other half of the latch riveted to the bottom edge of the middle cooking section.
A six-pack of zinc-plated adjustable toggle clamp latches similar to the ones used by Scott are available at Amazon.com for under $10 at the time of this writing. Stainless steel latches are also available at a higher price.
Here are two photos of the installation of adjustable toggle clamp latches on each WSM leg.
Jake from Iowa shared this photo on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board of how he fastened the business end of the latch to the leg, not to the charcoal bowl. This aligns the latches with the legs and makes for easier drilling, since the legs are aluminum.
Garret Komjathy shared this photo on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board of a latch installation he’d seen online. The business end of the clamp is attached to the middle cooking section and the other half is fastened to the leg using the top bolt hole.
JungWoo posted on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board that when attaching latches to WSM legs, alignment of the middle cooking section to the legs is important. “I installed these on my 22.5″. Apparently, all the legs are not spaced evenly. I have to make sure that my latches are connected to the exact leg that they were drilled on. If I rotate the mid section at all, some of the latches do not line up.”
Bill Kraven shared these photos on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board of his installation of a different style of clamp latch that fastens to the middle cooking section and clamps over the lip of the charcoal bowl, resulting in a neat appearance.
As you can see, there are multiple ways of doing a latch installation on your WSM. There are also other styles of toggle latch clamps you might consider, as well as butterfly latches that I’ve seen used on Weber smokers.
Cajun Bandit Cylinder Lock
Cajun Bandit offers a WSM “No Drill” Wheel and Cylinder Lock Kit that sells for $94.99 at the time of this writing. The locks are connected to the charcoal bowl using the top bolt hole in each leg, with a clasp that grabs the rounded edge at the bottom of the middle cooking section.
A member of The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board who purchased this kit was not a big fan of these locks, writing, “Just not a great design. Loosening the locks would sometimes loosen the bolt. Sometimes the locks also get in the way when putting the cylinder in place.” Another member wrote, “The Cajun Bandit style clamps allow the mid section to be rotated in any position since they only mount to the base. I found they get in the way sometimes when setting the mid section down on the base though.”
Hunsaker Retainer Clips
Hunsaker Smokers offers a retainer clip that holds the middle cooking section and charcoal bowl together at the access door opening. Its intended use is to stabilize the cooker when using a lid hinge. Following the simple instructions provided by Hunsaker, you customize the clip to your smoker by bending it to fit—no drilling or tools required. At the time of this writing, the clip sells for $7.99.
Photos of latch installation on WSM: 2016 by Scott Tomaier
Photo of latch installation on WSM: 2021 by Jake in Iowa
Photo of latch installation on WSM: 2020 by Garret Komjathy
Photos of latch installation on WSM: 2018 by Bill Kraven
Photo of Cajun Bandit cylinder lock: 2023 by Cajun Bandit
Photo of Hunsaker retainer clip: 2023 by Hunsaker Smokers