Equiptment advice please

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by hurriken, Nov 27, 2011.

  1. hurriken

    hurriken Smoke Blower

    I currently have a Cook n Cajun that is a few years old and has a rotting water pan. I have had fun and learned a lot over the past few years. Now I'm getting frustrated. I cannot control the temperature very well at all. I'm thinking about getting something else. I don't mind building or modifying but I can't weld, nor do I have access to anyone that does. I could do some metal work but limited to the basic tools in my garage.
    • This is for home use only once or twice per month year round
    • I live in Chicago I'd like to be able to succeed year round
    • I need convenient/easy temp control
    • No need for anything too big.
    • It would be nice to try different methods
    • I prefer charcoal but I will listen to other ideas
    • medium to low price range
    Any help would be appreciated. I have no qualms buying new and modifying. I have been searching Craigslist and did see some guy selling 50 gallon drums he converted...are those any good?
  2. so ms smoker

    so ms smoker Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    One option is electric. The MES 40 for about 300  or the cajun injector for about 200. To make things easier, get the AMNPS to go with it for about 50. Something to look into.

  3. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Ugly Drums ( UDS) are awesome! Simple, and they smoke a long time on a little fuel. Just make sure the guy builds them out of food-grade drums. Or make one yourself for very little $ and minimal tool & skills. do a UDS serach for plans, tips, and tricks.

  4. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    A WSM is probably the easiest charcoal smoker to use. 
  5. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    If your primary goal is ease of use you need to look at electric or propane.  Anything charcoal, especially small smokers will require some attention to keep temps fairly even.  If you still want charcoal I understand people have good success with a Big Green Egg smoker with a Stoker or similar air control. 
  6. smokininidaho

    smokininidaho Smoke Blower

    What about a GOSM propane smoker? Easier to control your temps in bad weather, you can also convert to charcoal with a few simple mods when the weather is nice, about $128. Also a Brinkmann vertical would be a cheap way to go at around $70 if you just want charcoal and can be a pretty decent little smoker with a few simple mods.
  7. michael ark

    michael ark Master of the Pit

    I'd say a uds or a GOSM.Both are so poplar they have their own groups.[​IMG]
  8. hurriken

    hurriken Smoke Blower

    To clarify, by easy I mean that I don't have to fight or wrestle to use or maintain temperature. I don't mind the normal working and stoking, that is part of the fun of this hobby. My little brinkman Cook n cajun was not too bad but it burned through coal like a dog and was hard to maintain temp.

    UDS - Looks very cool and I can get one from Craigslist delivered to my house for $150 built. My question, how is this different than a Weber Kettle? Do I need a water pan? How do you re-stoke the fire once its going?

    WSM - define the acronym please.

    GOSM - same

    AMNPS - same

    Thanks for helping.
  9. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    WSM - Weber Smokey Mountain

    Considered by many as one of the best under $400 charcoal smokers you can buy. They make two sizes 18.5" and 22.5", both are really easy to use, clean, and maintain (I call mine "smoking for dummies easy"... lol). If you are only using it a few times a year then the 18.5" is probably just fine, you can usually pick one up with free shipping for $260-$300.

    As for having to stoke it.... not gonna be a problem... lol. I have ran for 20+ hrs. on my 22.5" on one load of charcoal, and the 18.5" is even more efficient! The WSM's only take about 15 min. to assemble, have a very small footprint (size of a webber kettle or less), work really well, and are backed by Webers outstanding customer service. If you don't have the tools or the know how of making something then the WSM is a great no hassle smoker.

    Do a search for the WSM and you will see many folks here have them and love them.
  10. larrym

    larrym Meat Mopper

    I take it by omitting the MES in the list,, that electric is out of the question ?  For the amount of use that you posted,, it is similar to my usage.  I am not up on all the new fangled versions but my old analog now after a simple air flow mod,, with an AMNPS does all I could ever want for our small family and group of friends.  AMNPS is a modified chip tray that uses sawdust or wood pellets, once lit properly,, it will burn for at least 5 hours in my setup.  I cant control air intake right now so it is probably burning hotter then it should,,, but other then that, it works like a charm.  I even add small twigs of maple or cherry to the tray, it burns through them, leaving me with just ash after,, that is a good burn :)  From what I have read though,, the newer MES's max out at 275,, a little disappointing to me,, I love my high heat availability for turkey.  Any whooo,, depending on what you want,, the MES is always an option too.
  11. big twig

    big twig Smoking Fanatic

    If you want to stick with charcoal a UDS is a good idea for $150. The WSM is probably the easiest charcoal smoker out of the box if you want to spend around $300. MES (Masterbuilt Electric Smoker) is preferred by many being that is is insulated and is set and forget, most people use the AMNPS to generate a better smoke for the MES. I have heard good things about the GOSM but I do not have any experience with gas smokers.

    Good luck!
  12. michael ark

    michael ark Master of the Pit

    Great outdoors smokey mountain or GOSM.Here is the mid size wide body the largest walmart sellshttp://www.walmart.com/ip/Great-Out...gMethod=Recommendation:wm:RecentlyViewedItems  They also make a big blockhttp://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/109777/new-landman-gosm-big-block-review.AMNPS http://www.amazenproducts.com/  WSM weber smokey mountain is a smoker not a kettle which is a grill .UDS is larger than a wsm but the same style of smoker.http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/110518/my-new-uds-build-video-documentary-of-build

  13. kielbasa kid

    kielbasa kid Smoke Blower


    MES analog 30 with a 1500 watt element RULES!!![​IMG]

    stainless steel

    insulated (double wall and door)

    cheap to buy $160

    Cheap to run (electric)

    holds heat STEADY & UNATTENDED'

    no charcoal to buy

    no LP to run out of

    Smoke with chips, dust, twigs, charcoal, chunks, old socks

    Stand it on a table and save your back

    takes up little space

    use it anywhere (I'll bet I can even use it indoors in my fire place)

    Goes beyond the low heat range of the MES 40

    Poultry ......no problem

    STBS (SACRED thin blue smoke) no problem

    easy to clean

    easy to operate

    plenty of cooking space

    no widget to break down

    If the element ever fails (unlikely), replace it with $29 and a philips head screw driver, using the same 2 bolts.

    easy 3 hrs smoke with shredded chips from a garden chipper.

  14. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have a Big Green Egg, MES 30 and a WSM.

    The WSM is my favorite and gets used the most.

    The 18.5 is very economical and you can feed more than 12 people from it.

    Easy to operate and doesnt take up much room.


    I also use good spelling and grammar.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2011
  15. kielbasa kid

    kielbasa kid Smoke Blower

    Yo Craig,

    Quote: "I also use good spelling and grammar."[​IMG]    (doesnt)    Hee hee hee.[​IMG]     Put an apostrophe after the N and before the T.[​IMG]

  16. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The WSM is next on my list of toys

    Lots of chioces, but you really gotta decide how much time you want to spend learning

    Each smoker has a learning curve

    IMHO...Electrics are the easiest to operate, and most forgiving

  17. ellymae

    ellymae Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I've never used a UDS, but understand you can make them yourself with basic tools and no welding. The trick is finding a food quality barrel. WSMs are a good choice too and are good to go right out og the box. Good luck!
  18. hurriken

    hurriken Smoke Blower

    I was hoping to get back to this sooner but I just have not had the time…and I knew this post would take some time! I have a few more questions.

    WSM: After some research this thing looks like a great smoker. It’s a little more than I was hoping to spend but it should last awhile. I have a Weber Kettle that I’ve had since 1993. It’s kind of beat up but it works great.  I watched some videos on youtube and it seems to work great. Everyone recommends those Weber starter chimneys. As long as I remember I used to make those out of coffee cans! I only started using an electric starter a few years back.

    I like the Weber quality and the way it seals and the vents. The charcoal holder…thingy…is genius. A few questions:
    1. Will an 18”er hold a Turkey?
    2. Are there any modifications needed?
    3. Does it come with a temp gauge or a warm/medium/hot gauge?
    4. To be clear I can adjust it to the temperature I want and it will maintain?
    5. My Brinkman eats charcoal, how is this one?
    UDS: This is defiantly less expensive and there is more cooking space. The one I’m considering is here. http://chicago.craigslist.org/nwi/for/2741791702.html It would save me the time of tracking down parts and building it. I could possibly add a second rack myself. A few Questions:
    1. Can I assume modifications are needed?
    2. Do I need a water pan? (I don’t think it has one).
    3. How do you think this will be on charcoal?
    Thanks again for all your help. I’m going to post some questions about some other smokers mentioned here in a few days…I need to go wind down!
  19. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have the 18" WSM at my camper and use when we go to the lake. I have owned this unit for quite some time I'm thinking some where around 12 years. It works just as good now as it did new. I have had no issues with rust. It gets well cleaned every year when we winterize the camper, and I coat it with a thin coat of oil to prevent rust during storage.

    I'll try and answer your questions.

    1. Will an 18"er hold a turkey?  

    I have smoked 18+ pound turkeys in it no problem.

    2. Are there any modifications needed?

    The mods I did were; 

    1. Replaced the water pan with a Brinkmann charcoal pan, it holds almost 2 gallons of water. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

    2. Added 2 thermometers; 1 in the lid on the other side of handle opposite the vent[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica][/font]and 1 in the middle section just above the grate opposite the door. NOTE: There is not allot of temp difference between the 2 grates somewhere around 20 degrees if I remember correctly. So in hindsight 1 thermometer in the lid would be sufficient in my opinion. However 2 make it look really cool.

    3. Added a 3rd cooking grate in between the original 2. 

    4. Added handles to mid section. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 

    5. Added a grate that fit inside charcoal ring. This grate sits 90 degrees to original grate creating small grid work allowing charcoal to totally burn up and not fall threw the grate. Recommend

    6. Added 2 long U bolts threw the charcoal grates. This allows me to remove the grate if needed, and aids in shaking coals to let ash fall threw, as well as holds the charcoal ring in place. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

    7. Replaced door latch with longer wider piece. This helps hold the door in place, I use the door upside down, seams to fit better.

    3. Does it come with a temp gage or a warm/medium/hot gage?

    No mine did not I added them. The newer ones may I do not know.

    4. To be clear I can adjust it to the temperature I want and it will maintain?

    Yes, to a point. I have to adjust the air vents every so often to maintain temps, its not a constant adjusting by any means. As you use it you will learn when and how often you need to adjust. I might adjust them around 4 times in an 8 hour smoke. I shake the ash off the coals before I adjust the vents, and more times then not this fixes the lower temp.

    5. My Brinkman eats charcoal, how is this one?

    I have done 18+ hour smokes on it using 1 load of charcoal using the minion method, and still had coals left. That's some where around 1/2 to 3/4 a 20 pound bag of charcoal.

    Here is a link to a very useful page on the WSMhttp://www.virtualweberbullet.com/tipsfaq.html    Hope this helps you out.
  20. hurriken

    hurriken Smoke Blower

    Thank You that helps a lot.

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