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Help selecting a smoker (first post)

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hi all this is my first post, I'll introduce myself, I live in the great Northwest, smoking for a year, and I have been creeping around this and other forums for the last 6 months. I have been using an electric 30" smoker. I want to get in to the charcoal offsets. I have been looking at the Brinkman Trailmaster and im doing my research. It seems highly rated after being modified and is in my price range of 400 with mods. I was wondering what else is out there in that price range that's more solidly built and I would like to hear from those who have the BTMLE what they think. I don't mind if the smoker is smaller than that though as the most I will be doing at a time is maybe a pork butt and a chicken so that way I go smaller size I can gain on quality and gage of metal?. I would like something of heavy duty steel I don't mind having to make mods but as a first time charcoal user something that is easier to control would be a big plus. I am pretty set on horizontal offsets so no WSM for me as I'd like to smoke the same way the pros do in the circuit with indirect heat and smoke etc. Thanks guys I look forward to your advice!
Edited by SmokeyMcGee - 6/10/14 at 3:27pm
post #2 of 20

For $400 just by a 22.5" Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) it works right out of the box without any mods and produces constant great BBQ with very little input from you. I have loaded over 80 lbs. of meat on mine in one go!


The WSM is hands down one of the best sub-$500 charcoal smokers you can buy.

post #3 of 20

I used a Brinkman to start with because I needed something inexpensive.  When I decided to go with an offset, I chose the New Braunfels Silver Smoker that is now made by CharBroil.  It was an excellent first smoker for us and worked just fine for pork butt, ribs, turkey, brisket...and the list goes on.

post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Awesome ideas I just am not interested in the wsm though I have one that's exactly like it I've never used don't care for it nothing against it but just not for me im really set on a offset I may just have tunnel vision but I think I'm going to be happiest with an offset
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
So for that price is char broil or brinkman better known for quality?
post #6 of 20
Originally Posted by SmokeyMcGee View Post

So for that price is char broil or brinkman better known for quality?


Well, that question could get you a ton of different responses.  The best way to answer is that both have been around a long time.  Both make low priced units as well as better ones.  Are they the best around?  Eye of the beholder on that!  Looking up reviews from various sources will give you some good, as well as confusing, information.


My process was fairly simple: Low budget, but wanted something decent.  I looked at a lot of smokers at the big box stores before settling on my first - the New Braunfels Silver Smoker.  While it was similar to other brands, it was obviously better quality than most - and fell in my budget.  I never did any modifications on it and cooked a lot of good stuff!

post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Interesting and you said that is now a char broil? I saw home depot long horn style. I just need a model that will last me 3 years since at that time I'll be able to get a nicer unit that will last me a life time( If there are still any quality products still being produced that is) But in the mean time, I don't mind doing modifications to save money. The other side to that is if I have to spend 100 dollars and my time which I value on doing mods I could just use that time/ money to get a quality unit now.
post #8 of 20

Over the past few years, CharBroil bought Oklahome Joe and New Braunfels to eliminate competition.  I haven't seen newer models to see if they maintained the same quality.


For something to last 3 years, you could get the cheapest thing you can find.

post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Oh really okay well my Gf was at wall mart saw a Oklahoma longhorn for Only 168 maybe that could be a option
post #10 of 20
Originally Posted by SmokeyMcGee View Post

Oh really okay well my Gf was at wall mart saw a Oklahoma longhorn for Only 168 maybe that could be a option


I just looked and I see Walmart has an Oklahoma Joe Highland for $268.  If you like it, go for it!


Walmart lists the Longhorn for $428.

post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 

Yes theyre selling the highland for 168 fathers day sale

post #12 of 20

In the ad for the stores down here, it's the Char-Broil® 1280 Smoker that's listed for $168 In-Store only.  Interesting thing is the same smoker is listed online for $159.

post #13 of 20

If you are dead set on an offset the two main things to focus on are thickness of the metal and quality of the build. Buy the thickest metal you can afford and make damn sure it seals up well, if you see gaps or poorly aligned pieces don't buy it. I started with a char-griller years ago, spent $150 on it plus another $50 modding it, got mediocre results and after 1 year sold it for $80. Bought my WSM and have never once regretted it - it works better, takes up less deck space, and holds as much or more than my char-griller did. The only mod I made was to make some eyelets for the probe wires to pass through.

post #14 of 20

A review from amazon




1,523 of 1,542 people found the following review helpful By Harry Soo on August 17, 2010
Size Name: 18-1/2-inch-Wide Cooking Grates Verified Purchase
My BBQ team Slap Yo Daddy BBQ from Diamond Bar, California, has been competing using these smokers which I bought off Amazon with free Prime shipping. They work flawlessly and are easy to use and clean up. Our WSMs regularly allow us to win Grand Championships even when we go up against other smokers costing over $15,000.

The key step once your smoker arrives is to ensure you season it properly. New WSMs will tend to overheat until you are able to get grease and gunk on the inside and around the rim where the lid sits to ensure an air tight seal. The fastest way to season is to do the following: Phase One - cover the water pan completely with aluminum foil and run a full load of lit Kingsford briquettes and let it run as hot as it can with no water in the pan (over 350 degrees) to burn off any manufacturing residue. Clean out the ash and proceed to phase two.

Phase Two - fill the charcoal basket 1/2 full of unlit briquettes. Then put in a 1/2 chimney of lit Kingsford briquettes in the middle. This will allow a slow burn for 3-5 hours at 72 degrees outside temperature. Adjust the vents to get 275 degrees on the dome thermometer. Put bacon strips, chicken parts, pork fat, or any other scrap meat you don't plan to eat. The key is to get fatty meats to generate lots of grease. Toss in a couple of tennis-sized wood chunks to generate smoke. Repeat Phase Two at least twice before you cook meat that you want to eat.

Phase Three - When you cook meat you plan to eat, take a tip from me and don't use any water in the pan. When I cook, I just cover the water pan with foil top and bottom. I foil it twice so I can remove the second layer after the cook and refoil it. That way, I don't have to clean my pan. It works just as well, AFTER YOU SEASON YOUR WSM, when you cook without water in the pan. Dry heat allows the crust to form faster on the meat (called the bark). Once the crust forms on the meat, you can introduce moisture. I just spray water with a regular spray bottle to encourage bark formation after the initial crusting (Maillard reaction) has begun. To test for properly formed bark, use your finger nail and scrape the meat surface. If the crust has formed, it will not come off when you gently scrape it with your fingernail. If the crust comes off, the bark has not set (still wet) so don't spray until it sets. Let it cook longer and check back in 15 mins. You'll get much better results this way. We've won many awards with this technique.

When it comes to cleaning your WSM, never wash the insides. Get a good grill brush and scrape down the insides and dome. You need the "aroma" which takes several years to build up. I NEVER mix my meat WSMs from my seafood and hotdog WSMs. Nothing destroys the aroma faster than cooking fish/seafood/hotdogs in a WSM used to cook chicken, ribs, pork, brisket, and tri tip. That's why you should buy a pair if you plan to cook seafood/fish/hotdogs. Better yet, get a Weber Kettle for those meats. Remember to always empty the ash from the bottom and grease on the foiled water pan to avoid fires and any rancid old oil smell before you cook. When you need to clean the grates, put the grates in a big plastic trash bag, put on gloves, and spray oven cleaner on the grates while in the bag and let sit for 1/2 hour. Hose off the grates. It's as easy as that. To clean the outsides, I use Simple Green spray.

Enjoy your WSMs. They are awesome and built to last.
post #15 of 20

If you are looking for A smoker that is cheap you could always whip up a UDS. You can do much worse for a lot more money. Plus they are fun to build. I personally would not buy one of those cheap offsets. You will just end up wanting to upgrade. I do agree with the post about the Weber smoky mountain. Ok I reread all of your posts and now I realize you are dead set on it. Just remember you get what you pay for except when it comes to a UDS. You get alot more. I also noticed you live in western washington. You might want to consider that those cheap offsets do not have an enamel coating on them like the weber smokers do and therefore you might make it 3 years before the bottom falls out from rust.

post #16 of 20

By the way, what kind of bullet smoker are you refering to that you don't like. If it happens to be a brinkman smoke and grill. I can see why you don't like it. But don't compare that to a WSM. Big difference.

post #17 of 20
Originally Posted by SmokeyMcGee View Post

Awesome ideas I just am not interested in the wsm though I have one that's exactly like it I've never used don't care for it nothing against it but just not for me im really set on a offset I may just have tunnel vision but I think I'm going to be happiest with an offset

I have the chargriller outlaw. It's a pretty big unit. It requires some time to do all the mods, but I enjoyed tinkering around and learning from this site. Cheap offsets take a little while to mod and learn, but once you get it down, there great units. Good luck with your search.

post #18 of 20

Jbili and timberjet both make good points - listen to them!  As I have said, I started with a Brinkman (back in the 90s) and loved it for what it could do; cooked a lot of great stuff on it; and it was inexpensive.  I was dead-set on an offset for my next smoker - well, just because they look sexy (or whatever).  I still like my offset - don't get me wrong.  I remember how well the vertical arrangement of my Brinkman worked, so I can certainly understand the favoritism for the WSM.  Heck, after reading what I have here, I might get one just for the heck of it!

post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks all I went with the BTMLE sealed it today I ran out of time so I chose the brinkman since I have a big smoke to do this weekend and a bunch of mods to do
post #20 of 20

Smokey you might check out the Lang 36" patio, this unit is like a tank,all1/4 inch steel, I went to the factory(big garage) on my way to Florida,I will own one some day but cant afford it right now. $1095. and the unit is totally sealed when your ready to cook. That's the difference between little kids in factories in China cranking out grills with American names ,and Georgia artisans that are into making a grill that they are PROUD to build. Amazing offset!!! This is a side box reverse flow smoker that you would will to your next of kin!!

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