Tried this little project over the past couple weeks, and thought I'd share.
I'm a dedicated WSM guy - but have always wanted an offset, you know, for that big party I'll have maybe every 2 years, lol.
I was at the orange big box store, and I saw a Brinkmann mini-offset on the floor, marked down from $160 to $70. It was a little banged up and looked like the runt of the already crappy looking offset smokers. A manager came over to me and asked if I was interested. "Nah, I know these things aren't very good ..." he replies, "$40 and it's yours." So I took him up on the offer, and decided to try and repaint, reseal and renovate this thing.
I found a great video here that did exactly what I was aiming to do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5Q3zVLhMeI
I bought grill paint and high-heat (blue) brake caliper paint for the lid. I used fireplace sealant in every nook and cranny (there are a LOT). Then I used high-heat gasket seal tape all around every single opening. When I did my first burn-out with veggie oil, there were still leaks, so I could only imagine how bad it would've been untouched.
Here's what she looked like when all was said n' done:
Over the weekend I decided to give it a shot at a real cook: Chicken Wings and Pork Butt. I created a baffle from a baking pan that I cut in half, then 2 more pans that I punched holes in, so the hot air would cover across. In initial tests, the temp difference was over 40 from left to right. With the baffle, I got it down to 15-20.
Once fired up, I threw in some hickory and cherry. It got up to 250 pretty easily, and I threw on the meats. (The Brinkmann thermo read 400, when in reality it was 250) Steady ... steady ... but after about 1 hour, the temp started falling. I added more coals/woods. It was struggling now to stay above 225, as it was windy and cool outside. It eventually fell sub 200 and struggled to stay above. The paint then started chipping off the firebox! This was simply blue bag Kingsford and wood chunks, about half-full - not even the high heat stuff. After about another hour, I noticed the ashes were suffocating the coals, as the bottom is pretty shallow. I used an old paint brush to yank the ashes out and keep this thing going. The temps just kept fluctuating, mostly between 180-215, and the coals burned so fast. I went through almost a whole bag in 4 hours of trying to do this.
I eventually gave in and finished it on my old trusty basic Weber grill. The chicken was just OK. Sadly, the pork was way too dry. I attribute that to the fluctuating temps and then going at 300 on the grill, in-direct. I knew that was a bit too hot, but my patience was as thin as this damn cheap offset smoker by then.
In the end, it was a fun project trying to get something out of this thing. I think I'll use it for a large party or anything that takes two or less hours. Like chicken, dogs or veggies. For anything else, I'm sticking with my beloved WSM. And no wonder Brinkmann is gone! I'd pity anyone new to smoking who tried their first smokes on this puppy, out of the box.