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Pics of Backyard Traditions Smokers at Fred's Super Dollar Stores: A cross between the ECB and the WSM

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

At the Fred's Super Dollar Stores I visited in Greenwood, MS and Indianola, MS, I saw a Backyard Traditions smoker that retails for $75  that looked like a cross between the ECB (Regular and Gourmet) and WSM smokers. If you aren't familiar with Fred's, they are a chain of discount stores like Wal-Mart but on a smaller scale with stores mainly in the Southeastern US and is headquartered in Memphis, TN. The store also had a grill with smoker box with the Backyard Traditions brand that is distributed by Char-Broil. I have a feeling these smokers I am about to show you may or may not be distributed or made by Char-Broil.

 

It is built like the ECB but it has a lid with a chimney, adjustable vent, and rods for hooks (which are included) for smoking sausages, jerky, salmon, etc. The lid also has a detailed numeric thermometer instead of the "WARM/IDEAL/HOT" the ECB's have. On the sides there are metal handles and has a door with a latch.

 

Don't worry about adding vents on the bottom of the smoker, there are three adjustable vents (like the WSM, except they have black handles) and the legs are located on the outside of the smoker instead of the inside that the ECB has. Another bonus feature is a small grate that goes on the bottom of the smoker that you can put the charcoal bowl on so that more smoke can circulate. It also has the water bowl and two large grates. As earlier mentioned, it also has hooks for the top of the lid.

 

Here are some pics to look at to see that you think about the smoker.  

 

First, here are pics of the smoker:

 

 

Next, pages from the instruction book, including one for the address for Fred's.

 

 

In short, I'm leaning between this one and getting an ECB Electric Smokehouse converter so it can be used for charcoal or electric, or getting a Char-Broil grill with smoker box, or do like my sister and brother-in-law did, get a Char-Griller (I think they got a Wrangler) and add a smoker box.

 

Any reviews, comments, or questions are welcome.

post #2 of 10

I don't get the Water Pan between the two cooking grates??? The bottom grate will be directly over the hot fire like a Grill and the top grate will be the only one available for smoking. If some of the supports can be moved or modified so both grates are over the water pan it would be a nice unit at that price...JJ

post #3 of 10

And a charcoal bowl will never work as well as the grate and fire ring in a WSM.  They hold the ash and there is no air supply to the charcoal at the bottom like you get on a grate.  Looks like more of a ECB clone than a hybrid IMO.

post #4 of 10
We'll for my two cents, at $75 you can mod that thing to work pretty good. I have a bit more into my UDS ( cause I powder coated it). I'd ditch water pans. Make one into a charcoal basket and roll! If it's what you can afford, and have time to tinker with it, you can smoke!

If you can't get it producing good food post everything and lots of pictures so we can
post #5 of 10

I like the ECB because it's ridiculously cheap and gets people (like myself) who wouldn't pull the trigger on a more expensive unit into smoking. I find the whole "mod culture" that surrounds it a little puzzling, but I do get that the modding in and of itself is a hobby, so to each his own.

Thing is, the ECB will actually work out of the box. It may not work perfectly, but at the end of the day, you'll have smoked food.

This thing, I'm not so sure.

The completely irrational grate, charcoal bowl, water pan arrangement is my first clue that it's a rushed attempt to market something to capitalize on the current trend toward BBQ and smoking with zero R&D involved. The "made in China" logo is my second clue. The price is my third clue.

If it were me, I'd take that $75 and get the parts to build a Mini WSM. From the looks of it, there is probably actually LESS assembly required for the Mini, and we know the Mini works. And works well.

Don't mean to sound like a downer, but that really just looks like a cheaply made knockoff that will likely never work well. And I kinda wonder what's used in the coatings. Toxic paint? Mercury? I'd leave that one on the shelf.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice. However, is the ECB also made in China or is it American made?

 

Also, the Lowe's Master Forge Charcoal Smoker, has a charcoal bowl with holes in it, but all they have now is the 20.25 inch high model. They also have a 36" high model, but their website says it is out of stock and I have a feeling it may be discontinued.

post #7 of 10

I have no idea where the ECB is made. I'd be fine if it was made in China. If an established, reputable company contracts to have goods made in China that's one thing. They generally specify the materials and manufacturing processes and the end result is usually a fine product. I'm typing this on a Macbook Pro that was made in China. It's the knockoffs that get me. When unscrupulous Chinese outfits "borrow" technology and/or designs to make their own product, I'm usually pretty skeptical of the materials and processes used. They tend to cut every possible corner.

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

I was thinking that during the seasoning process, the mercury could be burned off inside the smoker but it would probably still be on the outside, correct?

 

Also, I think the order of putting the grates and bowls in the smoker are as follows: small grate, charcoal bowl, water bowl and large grate on the lower brackets, 2nd large grate on the upper brackets, lid. (I guess you could also reverse the order of the charcoal bowl and grill).

post #9 of 10

Mercury vaporizes at about 675°F. Will it ever get that hot beyond the fire bowl and maybe the bottom of the water pan? Those parts will be Merc' free after the seasoning. Your food is not going to be in direct contact with any painted surface, inside or out so where is the issue. Maybe I am missing something? My first comment was based on the Assembly pics in the manual. If you can load it in any format you wish, give it a shot! That's a small amount of money to figure out it's Junk. Look at all the people that spent $400 on the Gen 2 MES...th_dunno-1[1].gif...JJ 

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

In other words, avoid this like the plague, correct? Maybe I can save up for a WSM or Masterbuilt, but right now I'm leaning towards either a ECB (which I can convert into an electric with an Electric Smokehouse Kit), a Master Forge Smoker, the Char Broil electric smoker, a Landmann smoker, an Old Smokey electric smoker, a Smoke Hollow smoker, or a Char Griller with Smoker Box. 

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