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Buying a New "good" Smoker

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

So I am in the market for a good new smoker. Over the past several years I have bought a series of cheaper smokers from various local places (Wal-Mart, Rural King, etc. etc.) having each only last a couple years before rusting out or succumbing to the long cook times and heat. They have been thin, cheap units and I want to get a good one that is going to last me for quite a while, if not outlast me in general.

I have done lots of research and have narrowed my choices down to a few and just thought I would throw out a post here asking for anyone's suggestions, experiences, or thoughts on these models.

First, I looked at the Lang 36" Patio[1] . Quite a nice unit and have read tons of great reviews on it but one of the things I am looking for in my new unit is something that I can also grill on... kind of one way for me to justify the high cost of such a unit... replacing a grill and a smoker with something nice that I won't ever have to buy again kind of thing. The Lang's are nice looking and I love the idea of the reverse flow but with the reverse flow plate in the cooking chamber and the shape/design of the firebox, it isn't a unit that would make for good grilling on... The only way I see grilling on a Lang is to get the Hybrid model, which when paired with the cost to ship it, takes cost up over $2K and just beyond my budget.  

Next I looked at an Old Country Brazos Smoker[2] . About the same price range, more of a traditional offset smoker. Description and reviews I have read state it has a heat management plate built into it for aiding in keeping the "hot" side of the cooking chamber closer in temp to the far side. I have not yet confirmed this but have a local Academy Sports I will be visiting to take a further look at, hoping they actually have one in stock for me to see. 1/4" steel specs I like, should last and hold in heat well. Found a few reviews on this one referencing shoddy welding in some places resulting in leaks and what not but overall consensus is it is a good model. One of the things I like about it is that it is one of the few models I have seen with the stack at cooking surface level vs. being near the top of the cooking chamber.

Next in line I am looking at the Yoder Cheyenne model[3] . So far, this is the one I really have my eye on. I have spoken with a rep there, looked at all the specs and reviews and it seems to be a good solid unit with a lifetime warranty on it.

I have also looked at a few others, Klose, Meadow Creek, etc. etc. and while a few I found I like most are either out of my range in pricing, cost of shipping puts them out of my range, or back to the requirement of wanting to be able to grill on it from time to time as well.

I have one other that I am looking at and it is just a guy locally here that makes them out of his garage. He is a retired gentleman, very nice, and I have stopped a few times and looked at the various ones he has outside for viewing as well as seen the ones he has been in the process of testing with fires going in them and see the quality of them. Price range is competitive, if not slightly cheaper than the name brand models

Open to any thoughts, suggestions, or experiences that anyone may have to offer, thanks in advance for any responses I may receive

post #2 of 12

Lets start with what is your price range? It looks like you want wood or coal fired. Is that all you are interested in? How many people will you be cooking for?

Have you looked at the WSM or the BGE or a knock off of?

Spend some time reading the reviews and maybe something will call your name.

I see this is your first post. When you get a chance will you drop by roll call so everyone can give you a proper SMF welcome?

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the quick response!

 

My budget is around $1,000, give or take a small amount.

 

I currently don't want a BGE or WSM... I like/prefer the offset smokers.  The amount of meat cooked varies.  Most of the time it is just for my family and I but on occasion I will cook larger amounts and want to ensure I have plenty of room available. 

 

I have read a great number of reviews and have looked around quite a bit of different models and have it narrowed down to pretty much the 3 listed, with the exception of a local guy that builds them... I have yet to stop by and see his units but fully intend to prior to making a final decision.  With a purchase like this I guess I just wanted some other opinion/reassurance on my choices... this will be my first large, good quality smoker and my intent is to have something that will outlast me and not have to make this decision again.

 

I am leaning towards the Yoder but with having an Academy locally to see/pick up an Old Country I am still kind of on the fence between the two.  Posting around elsewhere I have been told the Yoder is of higher quality, but don't have resources available to put my hands on one to compare.

post #4 of 12
I have a Yoder offset. I love it. I would highly recommend it. I live here in Wichita area. They are great people. Here is a pic of my Christmas day brisket. If you have a question let me know.
post #5 of 12
I have a Lang and u can get it hot enough to grill on.
post #6 of 12

If I had a guy in my area building custom smokers at a competitive price, I'd research the specs of a smoker that met my needs and have him build it like I wanted. you wouldn't have to worry about shipping or bad welds, etc.

 

I will get the Lang myself (one day), because the only thing I grill anymore is an occasional chicken for my wife, and hamburgers and steak for the immediate family. My grilling is done on a 22" Weber kettle, that will last a lifetime with reasonable care. Everything else gets smoked on my cheap side firebox smoker (which will end up just like yours have), or on rare occasion my ECB.

 

Shipping on a Lang for me is just the cost of gas in my pickup truck since I'm less than 2 hours away from him.

 

Good luck on whatever you decide. My 2-cents (and it's only worth about half that)=local guy.

post #7 of 12

I have the Old Country Brazos and really enjoy it. I sealed with high temp sealant for the cooking chamber and stove rope on the firebox side. I have no complaints about it but you do have to inspect all the ones they have in stock for a quality smoker. Some welds are questionable but I got lucky with mine and it seems to be well made. I've cooked everything on it except brisket, and that will probably be the Saturday before the Super Bowl. Good luck on whatever you purchase. 

post #8 of 12

You can’t go wrong with a Meadow Creek either. It has a slide in shelf that you can use to grill on that you were looking for. I have had my TS 250 for 3 years now and absolutely love it.  You would be looking at the TS 60 , TS 70 or the TS 120 by the sounds of what you’re looking for. They are built very well and I don’t think you can find a better built one. They have nice paint, stainless steel racks and good welds.

 

post #9 of 12
I am in the market also. I am looking at the Brazos or the Horizon 20" Classic. They are both within my budget and still good quality. I like that I can look at them at Academy or Bass Pro and save the freight. Where I am the freight can be a deal breaker. You might want to look at the Horizon. Can anyone give me some first hand info on either of these?
post #10 of 12

I believe I paid $99 for the freight on my Brazo. I don't regret my purchase at all. 1/4" steel all the way around and a grate level stack. The only "mod" I did was putting sealant on the food chamber and stove rope on the firebox side. If you're looking for "pretty" or "brand bragging", you won't get it with a Brazo. If you want old fashion wood smoked BBQ that you'll love eating and a durable smoker, I find that for $1000 I couldn't beat it.

post #11 of 12
How are your temps from side to side? Do you think that the top shelf is too close to really be useful? Thanks for your responses.
post #12 of 12

The top shelf is suitable for wings, thighs, or half chickens. Sausage and baby backs too. So yes, it's a limited shelf for sure. Temperature fluctuates from side to side on this smoker. It's hotter right at the firebox side for sure. I had a dude cut some 1/8 thick plates for me, 4 1/2" wide, and that helps. But 90% of the time I use the pit as is and use the hot end to my advantage. None of them are perfect from side to side that I've ever heard about. Maybe a Jambo, which I'd kill to have. In the end it's dead animal, heat, smoke, and eat it.  Put all the advantages on one side of a sheet of paper and all the disadvantages on the other for each smoker you're thinking about.  You'll make the best of whatever smoker you decide to purchase.

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