Hi – I live in Houston and several years ago I bought a well-used Cookshack (Model 105 circa 1995) smoker when the historic downtown Houston Club closed/moved. Back in the day, the H Club was THE place for business(men) to lunch and talk 'bidness'. I believed the Club used the smoker primarily for smoking salmon. That cold salmon was a pretty famous part of the lunch buffet!
I grew up in Florida and we had one of those cheap, aluminum Little Chief smokers (WOW, not so cheap any more) and as a teen I smoked fresh caught fish. After I moved to Houston, my neighbor gave us a charcoal fired Brinkman – big enough to smoke a brisket - that seemed like a big step up. The problem was I never was good at getting up all night to tend the fire so I thought the electric smoker would be just the thing. BTW – I’m totally aware that electric smoking is considered sub-par. (And along the way I had an Orion steamer/smoker which I thought was pretty cool in design but I wasn’t crazy about the results. That is/was the only time I used self-starting charcoal though.)
But it turned out that the Cookshack’s controls were a bit tired and the heat loosely calibrated. Definitely good for volume though. Set for 225 degrees, it would turn out from one to a flock of perfect chickens in exactly 2-1/2 hours. I learned to work around its heat issues but with time it became more and more iffy/random. Finally it just quit. A check of prices revealed that a new motherboard alone was north of $1,000 and an upgrade was $1,800.
About that time my son moved back from Lubbock with his new IT degree and a passion for a micro-mini-computer called a Raspberry Pi. And so he set forth to build me an optimized, WIFI enabled, controlled from my phone, er, controller. Alas, the renamed “BBQ Pi” remains somewhere in the breadboard stage.
Realizing the Cookshack's mind was going, I did some research and put an Auberins controller on my Christmas list last year but Santa didn’t deliver. Being back-ordered by both Santa and my son - and tired of just grilling - I looked to see if there wasn’t an inexpensive alternative. And so based on some prior searches and some threads on here and other forums, I await Amazon’s delivery tomorrow of a TA4 PID, SSR with heat sink and a couple of thermocouples.
Hoping to be smoking next weekend! (Or maybe crying out for help). Grady
First smoke - I quickly learned to roll it off the back porch before firing it up and to line the bottom in foil!
And that's only with 3 shelves in!