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Determing The Age Of Weber Charcoal Grills
From 1952 to 1978, Weber charcoal grills were not marked to indicate date of manufacture or model year. Age can be estimated by certain features and physical characteristics of the grill itself.
In 1979, Weber introduced a one-letter alphabetic code representing the model year of Weber charcoal grills. The code was stamped into the lid damper of each charcoal kettle; for the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, the code was stamped into the lid damper and all three charcoal bowl dampers.
Note that in 1987, Weber skipped the letter I and used the letter J instead.
The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker was first introduced for the 1981 model year, so most of the oldest cookers have a C code. A few have a B code, indicating they were manufactured in 1980 in the run-up to the 1981 introduction. There are also a few smokers that have no date code; it's assumed these smokers are the result of manufacturing errors or they may be pre-production models.
Starting with the 1994 model year, Weber switched to a two-letter alphabetic code representing the model year of Weber charcoal grills, using the word "AUTHORIZED" as the key. As with the previous code scheme, this two-letter code was stamped into the lid damper of each charcoal kettle. For the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, the code was stamped into the lid damper and all three charcoal bowl dampers. On some Performer grills, the code can also be found on labels on the rear panel of the grill or on bar code stickers under the control panel or stainless steel charbin cover.
Things got a bit more complicated in 2013 when Weber started laser-etching a nine-character alphanumeric code onto the lid damper alongside the two-letter alphabetic code. The code consists of two letters + seven numbers—two letters represent the model year using the word "CONSUMABLE" as the key and seven numbers as a serial number.
Dual coding occurred during the 2013-2014 model years only. In 2013, grills were stamped with AT and laser etched with CNxxxxxxx; in 2014, with AH and CSxxxxxxx.
In 2015, Weber stopped using the two-letter alphabetic code on almost all charcoal grills in lieu of the nine-character alphanumeric code. The only charcoal grills still using the two-letter alphabetic "AUTHORIZED" code are those with gas assist, including certain Performer grills and the Summit Charcoal Grill and Summit Charcoal Grilling Center.
The code schemes described above represent a grill's model year, not a January-December calendar year. Weber's model year runs from October 1 to September 30. For example, a grill with date code DE is part of the 2009 model year and may have been manufactured anytime between 10/1/2008 and 9/30/2009.
It's also possible that, for any given year, a few remaining vent dampers from the previous model year were carried forward and used-up after the start of a new model year.
You may have noticed the dot stamped into the damper of the dual-coded 2013 AT/CN 14.5" WSM shown above. That dot indicates that this smoker was a pre-production version not intended for retail sale.
Determining The Age Of Weber Gas Grills
Weber's first gas grill was the Gas Barbecue Kettle, introduced in 1971 and sold until approximately 1985 when Genesis gas grills replaced them in the product line-up. The gas kettle came in three versions: a stand-alone kettle, a post-mounted kettle, and a cart-mounted kettle. These early gas grills had serial numbers, but we have no information to indicate that these grills were coded to indicate date of manufacture or model year.
In the early 1980s, Weber introduced a portable grill called the Hot Shot Table Top Gas Grill, the same grill we know today as the Go-Anywhere Gas Grill. We have no information to indicate that the early versions of these grills had serial numbers or were date coded.
In 1985, Weber introduced the Genesis series of gas grills and in the early 1990s the Spirit series of gas grills. From 1985-1993, Weber gas grills were assigned serial numbers to indicate grill type/model and fuel source (liquid propane or natural gas), but they were not coded to indicate date of manufacture or model year. Without a sales receipt or a handwritten note in the Owner's Manual indicating date of purchase, the age of these grills can only be estimated.
Starting around 1994, Weber gas grills adopted the two-letter alphabetic code used to represent the model year of Weber charcoal grills, using the word "AUTHORIZED" as the key. Many popular old Genesis, Spirit, and Summit gas grills utilized this date code scheme, as do today's Summit, Weber Q, and Genesis II LX grills made in the USA.
Simply locate the grill's serial number and compare the first two letters to the values in the table below. The serial number is usually found on a sticker found on the back of the grill or inside the enclosed storage cabinet, or sometimes on a bar code on the chassis under the control panel. Also, the serial number can often be found on the cover of the grill's Owner's Manual, if available.
In 2007, Weber introduced the Spirit E-210 and E-310 grills, and with them a new two-letter alphabetic code specific to these grills, using the word "DECRYPTION" as the key. Spirit grills used these codes until 2011, when a new scheme was adopted. However, in 2017 Weber also started using this code scheme on some Genesis II grills made in China.
In 2012, Weber started using a different two-letter alphabetic code specific to Spirit grills, using the phrase "GIVEJOYNUW" as the key. However, in 2017 Weber also started using this code scheme on some Genesis II grills made in China.
In 2013, Weber started using the same nine-character alphanumeric code on the Go-Anywhere Gas Grill as it uses on Weber charcoal grills. The code consists of two letters + seven numbers—two letters represent the model year using the word "CONSUMABLE" as the key and seven numbers as a serial number. The code is laser-etched on the gas burner.
The Smokey Mountain Cooker made its debut as part of Weber's 1981 model year. Most of those first-year grills were stamped with a "C" date code, but a smaller number were stamped with a "B" because they were manufactured in 1980 leading into the 1981 model year.
The "C" Club was established as a fun way to recognize the proud owners of these first-year Weber smokers. Unfortunately, the club was named many years before we understood that there were some "B" smokers out there! Oh well, too late to change the name now! We're sticking with The "C" Club.
To join this exclusive club, send me an e-mail including your name, city/state, some background on how you got your WSM, and a digital photo of your cooker with "B" or "C" clearly stamped on the vent damper, and I will add you to the list below.
Scott Zoellner, Sandwich, IL
Searching Craigslist one day, Scott says, "I came across this beautiful 'C' code 18.5" WSM. It's in great shape with just a little rust on the legs and missing the access door knob. It was being sold as part of a pre-estate sale by a great guy. He sold it to me for $30. Needless to say I'm very happy with the find and the condition."
"I was driving past my neighbor's place in Wyocena, WI on Memorial Day weekend 2006 while they were having a garage sale. I saw what I thought for sure was a WSM sitting in his driveway. It was a little rusty, the access door and legs anyway, but appeared to be in excellent condition otherwise.
"My neighbor had a price tag on it of $20.00. He said, 'Don't buy that because then you'll have to cook!' I told him I used my Brinkmann to cook all the time. Since I am his neighbor, he said $10.00 would take it away. I couldn't pass up that deal.
"So I came back with my truck, loaded it up, took it home and gave it a good cleaning. All of the porcelain was in really good shape. The grates were all rusty, but a wire brush took care of that. Since it did not have a thermometer, I searched the Web for retrofit ideas, which is how I happened on your site and learned about the date codes."
Clark cleaned up the old steel legs as best he could, but took a wire brush to the steel access door and sprayed it with black barbecue paint to make it look better.
Clark Hodgson, Wyocena, WI
"Last year (2012), I picked up a 'C' WSM from Craigslist and finally got around to cleaning it up and getting some pics. Of course, I can't just find any 'C' WSM. No, it has to be one with anomalies.
"I have attached three pics for your viewing pleasure. One shows the top vent with an unmistakable 'C' stamp and a partial 'D' stamp (Photo 11). One shows a bottom vent with very visible 'C' and 'D' stamps (Photo 12). The other is just a shot of the WSM out in the yard.
"It has some condition issues, porcelain chips, a little rust on the legs, banged up water pan, but all in all it's in good shape, and now has a good home."
"(My WSM is) currently serving vacation duty near Yosemite," says Michael. "I think I paid $150 for it back then. Over 20 years, and still a friend."
"I bought mine at the Ace Hardware store in Lake Forest, IL at the end of the season for around $100. It was their floor model, which was already assembled."
"Here is a picture of my old bullet. My wife seems to think we bought the smoker in Spring 1982."
John Wells, Overland Park, KS
"I had to laugh when I saw the note about the 'C' club on New Years Day 2005. I was smoking a turkey and realized when loading the charcoal, that I need a new charcoal grate. It's FINALLY giving out. I was checking your website and saw the thing about the letters stamped into the vents.
"This has been one great smoker, consistent and easy to use! I can't remember where I got it or what I paid for it, but I'll buy another for sure—when this one can't be used anymore!"
Edward Dannewitz, Overland
"Although it's not in top shape, my 'C' model WSM still cooks up a storm. My father found this gem for me approximately 12 years ago sitting in a moving sale. Asking price was $15.00 and he talked them down to $5.00. Didn't fully appreciate what he had gotten me until I found out what it was and what real Q'ing was about. I now own three, and all are being used in competitions yearly."
"Just joined TVWB and thought I’d send in my application for the 'C' Club. I inherited it several years ago from a friend going through a bad divorce. She was just going to put it out with the trash, getting rid of all his stuff. She gave it to me for free, just had to go and pick it up. Since then I've put it to extremely good use."
Jim Pfefferle, Pewaukee, WI
"I rescued this badboy from the back porch of my sister's place, where it had gathered dust since my father's passing five years ago. Before looking, I was pretty confident it would be a 'C' model, since my Dad was always trying out new grills and loved Weber products. I now consider this WSM a family heirloom."
Bill Nipe, Birchwood, WI -
"I was attending an estate auction when I came across a box which appeared to have a small charcoal grill in it. Upon further inspection, I noticed it was a Weber smoker.
"I was sure someone was gonna outbid me, but I won at $18. When I got home, I removed the smoker from the box and found out that it had never been used. I did not know much about the art of smoking or about these smokers until I stumbled across your site.
"Well, I have been smoking this little guy every weekend since and the whole family loves the meals this thing turns out. This smoker has been a blast to use along with your site, and it will be smoking for a long time to come."
Craig Smith, Chattanooga, TN
"I was talking at work about building a drum smoker and a girl I work with overheard me. She said her husband had an old smoker that doesn't get used at all and offered to call him to see if it was something he wanted to get rid of. Turned out that he was, and this smoker has the date code of "C".
"Thanks for putting a website like this up and thanks for all the info to use my new to me old Smokey Mountain."
Clay Houser, Topeka, KS
"I was looking at Big Green Eggs online, but I was appalled at their price and weight, so I was searching for a better alternative when I came across The Virtual Weber Bullet. The site convinced me (pretty easily) that a WSM was what I needed, so I started searching Craigslist and found one for sale about 60 miles away in Kansas City. The pictures looked great, and when I got there the next day I found a well-used but wonderfully maintained WSM, so I paid the man and took it home!
"The previous owner was a BBQ enthusiast and he'd already changed to a Brinkmann water pan and installed a Tel-Tru thermometer, so I was ready to go as soon as I got home and I haven't slowed down since. It was a huge surprise to find out that this WSM left the factory two years before I was born and it still cooks like a dream!"
Lu Bennett, IL
"We found your website after
we had the pleasure and excitement of finding a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker at
an estate sale. We love our Weber Performer but have always wanted to have a
Lu contacted Weber about this pristine WSM and agreed to trade it for a new 2009 WSM. Lu says that "it just feels right" for this "C" WSM to return to Weber headquarters in Palatine, IL where it will take its place alongside other historic Weber charcoal grills. Way to go, Lu!
Frits de Jonge, Nijmegen,
Netherlands - Model 1880
"Today I saw an advertisement for a WSM on a second-hand website in the Netherlands," writes Frits. "From the pictures, it was clear that it was a small Model 1880. When I phoned, they told me that the letter C was stamped on the top vent. I immediately closed the deal and jumped in the car to collect it.
"Although it has some imperfections—the enamel on the bottom rim is not perfect, the bottom grill is missing, and it's not perfectly round anymore—the rest it still looks great. The original booklet was present as well.
"The owner told me that he had received this smoker from his sister in Scotland, but they never used it. As you can imagine, I am very pleased to own such an old, special WSM."
Roger Fecher, Cincinnati, OH
"After deciding that a Weber Smokey Mountain was the best bet for great BBQ at a reasonable price, I set off to find a smoker. I found this smoker through an online estate auction. The colored manual pictured in the auction led me to believe that it was an early model. As I read more, I got excited that I could be looking at an early 1980s model of the WSM. A few others drove the price up to $80, which I was glad to pay.
"When I picked up the item I was pleased to find that the only parts that needed to be replaced were the food grates. It even came with the original teak wood handle in good condition as well as the original assembly guide and full color manual. I got excited when I saw the C date code stamp. I opted to purchase a new door since the original had obvious air gaps and was rather rusty due to its time in the elements. (Uncovered on a patio for who knows how long.) I was amazed at the wonderful condition of the rest of the unit. The legs are rusted over, but the porcelain finish is still in great condition. The charcoal grate is a bit rusty, but perfectly usable."
"I bought this from a relative for $40.00. It belonged to my late brother in law, he was the one who got me hooked on grilling and smoking. It's in great shape except for needing a new handle."
Marcus Hsia, Austin, TX
Marcus writes, "I have a Craigslist search for all things 'Weber' and this unit popped up one day for $10! Even though I already had two WSMs, I immediately texted the seller to see if I could pick it up. He said, 'Well, someone is already coming by after work to pick it up...' to which I said, 'What if I were to come NOW and give you $20 instead?' Apparently that was too good of a deal to pass up, so he agreed.
"I installed a thermometer, installed handles on the side of the unit, replaced the legs, and used the door from my other WSM. I changed out the grill grates and replaced the pan with a Brinkmann water pan. The unit itself was in tremendous shape—it looked like it had never been cooked in before.
"I didn’t realize the treasure I was blessed to discover until I found this page on the site to figure out why this unit had a wooden handle instead of a plastic one. Now that I know this is such a special WSM, I’m going to make it my main smoker."
Photo of 2007 NT code on a Spirit E-210: 2017 by Bruce
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