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In 1979, Weber began using an alphabetic date code to represent the model year of each Weber charcoal grill. The code was stamped into the lid vent damper of all Weber charcoal grills. On the Weber Bullet, you'll also find the code stamped into the three vent dampers on the charcoal bowl.
Initially, the date code was a single letter, starting with the letter A in 1979 and ending with the letter P in 1993. In 1987, the letter I was skipped and the letter J was used instead.
Since the WSM was first introduced for the 1981 model year, most of the oldest cookers have a C date code, but a few have a B date code and even fewer have no date code whatsoever. Uncoded Weber smokers are probably the result of manufacturing errors or they may be pre-production models.
Starting in 1994, Weber switched to a two-letter code using the word "AUTHORIZED" as the key, where A = 1, U = 2, T = 3, H = 4, O = 5, R = 6, I = 7, Z = 8, E = 9, and D = 0. For example, the code EZ is 98 for 1998, DD is 00 for 2000, AU is 12 for 2012, and so on.
Starting in 2013, in addition to the two-letter date code, Weber introduced a new alphanumeric serial number consisting of two letters + seven numbers. The serial number is laser-etched into the lid damper and printed on the barcode on the box. The two letters represent the year of manufacture using the word "CONSUMABLE" as the key, where C = 1, O = 2, N = 3, S = 4, U = 5, M = 6, A = 7, B = 8, L = 9, and E = 0. For example, CNxxxxxxx is 13 for 2013, CSxxxxxxx is 14 for 2014, and so on.
It seems likely that the older two-letter code will be discontinued at some point in the future, given that it duplicates the function of the newer alphanumeric serial number. At the time of this writing in 2014, both continue to be used together on Weber grills.
Here's the list of alphabetic date codes and their corresponding years:
Here's the list of alphanumeric serial number date codes and their corresponding years:
Note that Weber's model year is not a calendar year. The Weber model year runs from October 1 to September 30. For example, a grill with date code AT or serial number CNxxxxxxx is part of the 2013 model year. It may have been manufactured anytime between 10/1/2013 and 9/30/2014.
Of course, this is not a hard and fast rule. The case of a B date code WSM indicating 1980 when the WSM was first introduced in 1981 is an example. Another case is the pre-production 14.5" WSM that Weber provided to me for evaluation in September, 2013. It came with an AT date code and CNxxxxxxx serial number indicating 2013, even though this new cooker was part of the 2014 model year.
Also, we have long suspected that over the years, it's been common practice for leftover vent dampers to be carried over from the previous model year and used in production in the new model year until they ran out. It will be interesting to see if we can discern a difference in the years moving forward, given the new alphanumeric serial numbers that appear to be laser-engraved on each lid damper.
Here are some examples of date codes and serial numbers.
Photo 1 shows the two-letter code EE on a 18.5" Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker manufactured in 1999. This code appears on all four WSM vent dampers.
Photo 2 shows the two-letter code AT and the alphanumeric serial number CN1794048 on a pre-production 14.5" WSM manufactured in the summer of 2013 in anticipation of the 2014 model year.
Photo 3 shows the two-letter code AH and the alphanumeric serial number CS0395314 on a 22.5" Weber kettle manufactured in 2014.
Photo 4 shows the alphanumeric serial number CS0987432 on the carton barcode of a Weber Smokey Joe manufactured in 2014.
If you call Weber Customer Service for a warranty claim or to purchase a replacement part, the phone representative may ask for the "serial number" stamped into the lid damper. If you have a Weber grill manufactured prior to 2013, the "serial number" they are asking for is really the one- or two-letter alphabetic date code.
Some people have reported Weber smokers without date codes. This is likely a simple manufacturing error or perhaps a pre-production model, but it makes warranty claims difficult because you cannot provide your "serial number". However, if can you remember the year in which you bought your grill, you can find your "serial number" in the Code Values List.
Note that Weber grills manufactured prior to 1979 do not have date codes. The age of these grills can be estimated by certain characteristics of the grill itself, including handle material (metal vs. wood), patent numbers on the lid vent damper, and the wheel/triangular base design.
I don't have superior code-breaking skills...I just know people who know things.
In 2001, an insider divulged the alphabetic date code over dinner and drinks at the Weber Grill Restaurant in Lombard, IL. In 2014, an insider passed along the secret of how the date code was embedded in the alphanumeric serial number.
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 Brinkman 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 4). One shows a bottom vent with very visible 'C' and 'D' stamps (Photo 5). 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 Brinkman 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."
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