Smoker purchase advice sought

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by sidpost, May 27, 2013.

  1. sidpost

    sidpost Fire Starter

    I'm want a "good" smoker.  Pay once, cry once, no regrets on money wasted on the wrong inferior smoker. I have looked at the Lowes, Home Depot, Bass Pro, etc options and I'm not going to throw good money away on one. I'm considering an Electric Smokin-It #3 but, it's ~$1K when its all said and done so, I'm reconsidering a stick burner smoker.

    Right now, I use straight charcoal on a Lodge Sportsman grill/hibachi for straight grilling and a Weber kettle which I start with charcoal and stuff to the gunnels with dry Pecan from downed limbs to grill-smoke meat.

    I want to cold smoke fish and cheese so, the Weber method is out.  I also want more then the smoke "perfume" I get with the Weber kettle.  I'm thinking I want to keep the price in the $1K~$2K range but, a small trailer rig is an option too.

    Bell Fabrications seems to be a better entry level starting point at about twice what the big box starter units cost.  Then you move into Horizon, Lang, and Yoder smokers from the references here along with others like Gator Pits to further complicate the choices and decisions.

    What I think I want/need is a 1/2 firebox and 1/4 (or thicker) main body.  For cold smoking, I need the upright "box" but, I also wonder if it is too hot for cold smoking.  I don't want something so large I won't use it to cook for 3 or 4 people but, it also needs to be big enough for ~12 (or more).  I don't see any whole hog in my future but, 4 or 6 big pork butts, 2 large turkeys, 2 big briskets, etc. are all expected in my future.  I have had a 36" diameter 36" long or 24" diameter 48" long main chamber recommended to me.

    Where do I go from here?  At what point does the small trailer option come into play?  I must admit being able to move it easily for family reunions and similar functions makes a trailer attractive but, that is sort like buying a station wagon for the once a year family vacation.

    Help please!  I'm on forum thread overload .....  [​IMG]


  2. kathrynn

    kathrynn Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Could get a nice Lang for that amount....but smoking hanging sausages would be out.....

    Will be interesting to see what the folks here have to say!

    So I'm in to see too.  [​IMG]

  3. buttburner

    buttburner Meat Mopper

    you dont have to hang sausage to smoke it

    I never do, I just lay it on the grates like anything else
  4. beefmeister

    beefmeister Smoke Blower

    I'm gonna raise a stink, but here goes....

    I luv my Smokin'Tex 1400 (on a cart).

    That said, I will get another stick burner someday.
  5. I was interested to read this thread.  I also went back and read your previous threads to get an idea of your experience.  Was interested to learn you went from wanting an electric smoker to a "trailer rig" in such a short time.  You also mentioned loving the taste of real wood smoked BBQ but that finding wood in Arizona was hard?  Any wood is available all over the world, just a matter of price and shipping.  If I read this thread correctly you are willing to spend $1000 - $2000 on a smoker but you object to paying for wood? [​IMG]  I would suggest starting MUCH smaller and cheaper just to give it a try.  Check out this thread:   I have produced some pretty good eats from a hole in the ground , 2 bricks and a rack from the oven.  As I welded for bunches of years I was interested in your query.  I assume building your own smoker is not an option.  I am not sure where they come from but you seem to have some specific requirements and ideas for your smoker.  Innovation and creativity is a good thing as we all learn from trial and error.  If you a sure of these requirements you may never find EXACTLY what you want.  My advice would be to go to your local fabrication shop and have them build your smoker to your drawing / specs.  I have built several of my own and am about to do another.  Some of my ideas work and some "work but were not absolutely unnecessary". [​IMG]  That; I believe, is the only way to get exactly what you want.  Just my 2 cents.  Hope it is of some use.  Good luck.  Let us know what you decide.  Keep Smokin!
  6. 36" diameter or even 24" diameter is a pretty big smoker for the amount of people you stated you want to cook for. ( 3-4 but sometimes up to 12)

    A 16" to 20" diameter, 32" to 36" in length sould be plenty for that.  Lang, Horizon, Meadow Creek all all great smokers,

    As far as going to a trailer size, If you have a need for one, then get a big one, but the one you use at the house should be sized to the amount of people you want to entertain at the house.  Bigger the smoker, more wood you burn, etc.

    Im building a 16" dia. 32 " long cooking chamber. 16" long firebox that will also have propane burner to use as a gas grill. Im thinking this will be just about perfect for the back yard patio.
  7. You can not go wrong with a horizon, Yoder, Lang ect....all are well built and heavy duty steel.  I have been seeing people cold smoking with the amazing tubes and such..they make smoke but no heat.  I have a 24 inch diameter by 4 ft cooking chamber offset, with the second rack  and it weighs 925 pounds.  It will hold 10 pork butts. It can be heated  by charcoal, but would guess that it would take 40 lbs or so for a long cook.  I use wood and charcoal together for the heat.  An option if wood is scarce. 
  8. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    You can cold smoke cheese with an Amazen Smoker and a cardboard box or about any smoker. I have a Lang 84, two GOSM wide body's, a smokehouse, and an old electric ECB. I use the GOSM's, Smokehouse, and the Lang and if I had a MES I'm sure I would use it too. In my opinion each has it's advantages and disadvantages. Again in my opinion for a regular smoke my Lang turns out the best product but it also requires the most tending to and if I had to buy wood yikes. The GOSM's are pretty easy and don't require a lot of attention and the smokehouse suits me best for sausage, bacon and cheese smokes since I always do large batches. I honestly don't think there is any perfect smoker for all jobs so buy the one that fits how you smoke the most then adapt to those other smokes and maybe add to your arsenal over time if you find the need
  9. sidpost

    sidpost Fire Starter

    Yes, my search has educated me some more and corrected some initial erroneous thoughts.  I can buy downed limbs from a pecan grove about 30 miles away at a reasonable price.  I have also found a commercial source for mesquite that is very reasonable in larger quantities (no 50# bags, think full ricks).  Further considerations about theft and smoker security suggest a trailer stored in a monitored and secured lot is a viable option and the piece of mind about theft is worth the minor monthly charge.  I'm only going to do "big" smokes on the weekend so, the inconvenience of a trailer mounted smoker stored off-site isn't too bad.  It also offers flexibility for work functions and out of state family events.  I will still probably do a small cold smoker (thinking about a small college dorm fridge with a smoke pump or small cabinet smoker with a 5K BTU window unit to keep it cool).
  10. sidpost

    sidpost Fire Starter

    Everyone suggests getting bigger then you need to allow room to grow.  I won't be feeding 100's of people but, I can live with a little more wood burn to allow some future flexibility, within reason.  24"x48" seems to be about the limit on the upper end which is probably overkill for two Turkey's and some Ham for Thanksgiving but, filled to it's potential it could really rise to pretty large one-time non-commercial event.

    I still have my other stuff for small everyday cooks and a small electric model after this purchase is not totally out of the question.  I don't see a Big Green Egg in my future but, who knows when an unloved Weber Smokey Mountain will turn up on Craigslist while searching for a large Kettle.  [​IMG]
  11. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Sidpost , check this out if you intend to burn wood :

    I have a large BackYard Smoker I was suggested to pruchase and a smaller one I' ve have for years and they both are Stickburnsrs. The small reveres flow and works great . The other I have baffeled and Plated (a optional way to transfer heat).

    For learning to burn wood , try a pre-burn barrel:

    Using this will give you a true TBS ;

     like this and your meal will be absolutely Delicious.

    When you learn to control the heat better , you can graduate to pre-heated stick ,

      give you an instant TBS smoke. trick is a small hot fire. This is 30sec. after introduction to the fire, and no Thick White Smoke :

      this about as white as it will get...

    Have fun and as always . . .

    Cold smoking is easy in the Upright chamber in winter or late night Smoking. Grab an AMNPS from Todd Johnson (Here on the Forum ) for the unit, the best cold smoke product I/ve seen. The Smoke Daddy and Smoke Pistol will still create Creosote(so say those using them ).

    Look at the BassOro Shop for thier Horizon Models, one has an upright like mine and the cost is about $800. and no shipping,

    Have fun and as always . . .
  12. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  13. SQWIB's post should be really helpful as far as allowing you to see the potential of that size smoker and how much food it will hold. Its really hard to estimate how many ribs, butts, chicken ect, a certain size will hold with out some kind of reference.

    And ones person needs are different from an-others, but for me, I prefer to have two smokers, a large pit on a trailer and a small one for the patio.
  14. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Can't beat a stick burner for taste, also consider a WSM or a UDS.  You can cold smoke and hot smoke in a uds (cold smoke if you get a AMPS or AMTS.... UDS's are the closest to true stick burners as you can get when all the wood chunks that don't burn are wood fuel the next round and you cook directly over the fire which give you more flavors. 
  15. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Also remember Bigger = more fuel. So if you are not cooking for large groups or filling the smoker every time you fire it up, then you might want to look at something like the WSM or a UDS. It's not fun if you have to fire up giant smoker just to cook a 4 lb. chicken. Even my 22.5" WSM is sometimes almost to big -  but then there are the times I am cooking for 20-30 people and it is almost to small.... lol.
  16. JIRodriguez, 's is right, sometimes you just want to cook a chicken or one rack of ribs with out going all out.

    Thats why I built these little ones,

    This one is 12" dia, does two buts or chickens, and really does cook great.


    This one has a rotisserie, kicks but for a Turkey

  17. But when its party time, you got to break out a pit!

  18. This one is going to be 16" dia x 32" long cooking chamber, adding gas burners so it will be a gas grill as well as a reverse flow smoker.

  19. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That's a clever chamber bottom.
  20. sidpost

    sidpost Fire Starter

    Awesome post by the way and VERY helpful!!!!    [​IMG]

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