My wife and I went down to visit her parents not too long ago and shortly after arriving, my father-in-law said "come outside, I gotta show you something". A local bar in town had shut it's doors, so they gave him their 2 smokers, and sold him a Weber Performer for something ridiculous like $20 (this thing is nice!). One of the smokers was a Brinkmann Gourmet Electric, and the other was a Masterbuilt GrandMAC Triple Crown charcoal smoker.
Here's what a new Masterbuilt GMDCS Triple Crown looks like
He said he had tried both of the smokers but had little success with either. I figured the electric would be tough to maintain because of the wind and weather where they live, so I was more interested in the Triple Crown. Both of the smokers looked pretty beat up. The Gourment Electric had the classic Brinkmann warped lid, so all the heat escapes out of one section where the lid and body meet. My father in-law tried smoking something in the Triple Crown, but didnt have much luck getting it up to temp, and maintaining the heat.
So I started to pick it apart. The grates in it looked like they had never been used. Both handles on the body were broke in the middle, as well as the plastic handle on the lid. The damper was inverted/warped a bid (you can see in below pic). The intake slide covers were a little stiff and warped as well. They needed to be opiled and slightly bent back into an arch that would seal when closed. The water bowl was in it, but no fire basket/bowl. Come to find out he had just been putting the charcoal down on the bottom of the smoker (he was told it was all there). So not enough air was getting under the coals and his intakes were all the way open. After he double checked, he verified it didnt come with one so it must have got lost in the move.
Here you can see our ingenious fix of the handles. About a 7-layered wrap of duct tape on each handle
I looked around his backyard and saw an old off-brand Smokey Joe. I asked if he ever used it, and he hadn't. It was his sons at one point in time, and he had left it there. The handle was broken off the lid, so I decided to salvage it, and turn it into the fire basket for the Triple Crown. We got out his drill, and found the largest drill bit he had and I started drilling holes through it. Once I set it inside the smoker, the lid's lip rested perfectly inside on the leg bolts.
When I go back down, I'll take my step-bit to increase the size of some of these holes
Here it is sitting perfectly on the leg bolts. Match made in heaven
I asked my mother-in-law if she had anything in the fridge or freezer we could test out on the smoker. She found a bottom round roast, and figured it was worthy of the test run. She seasoned it up, as we started up some Kingsford blue bag in his new charcaol chimney (the bottom half of the old smokey joe).
His new charcaol chimney
We threw in the lit coals, and watched the temperature rise. The gauge looked to be in good shape, and although I didnt calibrate it, it was in good shape so we trusted it was accurate
We threw on the bottom round roast when she hit 225, and let it run. I added some hickory chips and pistachio shells through the side door every 45 mins or so. This was something I wasn't used to since I've grown so used to my UDS. No water pan, no side door. But it did prove handy for stirring the charcaol after a couple of hours.
2.5 lbs bottom rib roast. From here, you can see internally that the smoker hadn't been used much
Waylon, our Sous-Chef for the day
We went back in the house and relaxed, only checking the smoker every hour or so to make sure we didn't lose heat. This thing held heat like a champ. Only stireed coals twice over the course of about 4.5 hours
Pistachio shells and hickory chips smoking
Here's the finished product.
Nice smoke ring
Like I said, this was sort of a last minute experiemnt, so we already had Champagne Chicken (which was awesome), corn, and potatoes scheduled for dinner, but I had to try a piece or two.
My dinner plate
I was extremely pleased with the performance of this smoker. It seems that Masterbuilt has sort of become synonymous with electric smokers and I dont see too many people on here with this model. But other than the handles and maybe the quality of the intake covers, I would recommend this smoker to anyone and what's a better price than free. Lookin forward to my next trip down there to see what all we can throw on next.