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Help?!?!?! Somewhat lost here.....

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I have been grilling since I was old enough to stand up to the grill. Have wanted to learn about smoking meat for quite awhile, just been too busy with my 4 kids and their activities to do anything else. I do not own a smoker and I am looking for advice on what type and brand I need. Not even certain what questions I need to be asking. I have signed up for the 5 day course. I need help deciding what direction to go, just looking at the various smokers on the market, can be intimidating and confusing.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Muldrow OK
post #2 of 26
First off welcome to SMF. Glad to have you aboard. Let's see if we can get you started off...

Give us some background. What kind of price range are you looking at? I am assuming a family of 6 since there are 4 children. Are you wanting convenience or do you now have the time to babysit wood or charcoal? How much space do you have? Just a few things to consider.

If you are wanting the convenience then maybe an electric unit may be your direction or if you want gas then the ever popular GOSM or other gas style may be the style you need.

Fill us in on what has struck you as a maybe and we can direct you to a unit that may best suite your needs.

Keep Smokin
post #3 of 26
Well, like anything else, the type of smoker you get will depend on your needs and budget. If you have a large budget and are serious about smoking, you might want a middle end type smoker and see how you like it. If you don't then you really haven't lost anything. There are plenty of inexpensive smokers out there that will serve you well as well. Some guys here use large flower pots. It's all personal preference.

I think signing up for the 5 day course was your first step. You will learn what kind of smoker that will satisfy your needs and budget.

Welcome to SMF and don't hesitate to keep asking questions. We have pros here that have won championships and we have backyard smokers that just love the experience of smoking meat. But, you also won't find a more friendlier place on the net that you don't have to pay for either. Everyone from the old pros to the newbies will jump in to try to help..
post #4 of 26
Welcome Chirs. You are in the right place as there are a lot of friendly and knowledgeable people availalble to help.

Sounds like the kids are keeping you busy, a lot of us are in the same boat :)

As was said, a charcoal smoker takes more work and more minding the store. Some people love that; nothing better then tending a smoker with your favorite cold berverage as the thin blue smoke comes out.

My choice was a vertical propane because it requires a little less tending and it is easier to regulate the heat. A couple remote thermometers make it even easier to monitor your smoke.

Size of the unit depends on your budget and how many people you will be smoking for. If it's just your family once in awhile you can get a smaller unit. Beware though, smoking can be very addicting and once your friends and neighbors have sampled your results you may be getting a lot more use out of your smoker then you dreamed you would.

The great Outdoor Smokey Mountain (GOSM) and the Camp Chef's Smoke Vault are porpular with the folks on this forum. I'll let others who know give you advice on the charcoal and electric models.

Almost any smoker can turn out great Q. It's all about the chef, not the smoker.

post #5 of 26
Welcome to the board, Chris! Glad to have you.

Just to echo what others have mentioned, the type of smoker you purchase should fit with your needs. I started with an upright water smoker that burned charcoal and wood years ago. That worked well enough and was easy to tuck in behind the garage, out of sight. Years later, when I really started to smoke food a lot, we began tinkering with the idea of building one. About the time my brother-in-law and I had finalized our trailer model plans, the one in my Avatar came up for sale, quite out of the blue. We bought it and we've never looked back. While that trailer works great, it isn't practical to fire up for a family meal, so I bought a smaller, backyard version of it a few years ago. So you see, what you get needs to be something practical for you. If you enjoy the results, you can always punt later and dive off into something more elaborate. The main thing is to enjoy, ask questions here because you'll get a wealth of information, and take lots of pictures to post of your accomplishments. Before its over, you'll be using the high dollar stainless gas grill for a warming oven on the patio.

Enjoy, and welcome again!
post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 
Well as I mentioned, my kids keep me fairly busy. So less tending would probably be a plus. Although I personally would rather be there tending the fire and all that, sometimes my hectic life doesnt permit that. As far as budget goes, I am not really sure what I NEED to spend on this. Let me clarify, I dont want to buy a "cheap" smoker only to get hooked and be compelled to go out and buy another larger or better smoker. However by the same token I do not want to go out and buy a nice smoker to find out I dont care for smoking it as much as eating it, and it sit and collect cob webs. I am fairly open on the amount of space that I have. I am "dickering" with a guy about buying his house and if he sees reason icon_smile.gif I will have plenty of room for a large smoker or even a smoke house. But like I said, I want this, I love smoked food and want to do it myself, because with 1 exception I really think I can do better than the smoked food available around here commercially. ( the one exception is the smoked turkey legs at the local drag strip, dont think a turkey leg CAN taste any better than that)

Alot of people learned through trial and error, but that has a couple of draw backs, The Expense ( which doenst bother me as much ) the smoked foods that the dog wont even eat ( bothers me tremendously, us fat guys dont like to see wasted food LOL) With a wealth of information available here, I see no reason in trial and error. Experimenting later is a definite, but I have already learned an unbeleivable amount just browsing around this site and forum.


Thanks To Everyone.
post #7 of 26
welcome to smf. these guys purty much got it covered already.
post #8 of 26
So I assume that since you stated you don't really have the time to keep a close eye on the charcoal that you will be leaning toward a gas or electric unit. Why don't you check out the Smoking Meat Store and get an idea of what style strikes you.

Personally I have a GOSM gas unit that has yet to turn out bad food. I have had over 40 lbs of meat in it at one time with a little room to spare. I know there are some here who have an like the MES electric units. Although I can't personally speak for the performance of the MES, they can be a good unit to work with.

Anyway browse through the store and get an idea of what the price ranges are and get a couple of styles that perk your interests, then we can help guide you to what will suite your needs.
post #9 of 26
I started with the gourmet ECB from Lowe's for $49, did some mods and have turned out great food with it. If I had know then what I know now I would have started with the GOSM and I will have one in about 2 weeks. I'm just going to get the 20" wide model from Walmarts (I only cook for two) Sounds like you have a bigger family so if you get a GOSM I would consider the wide
body model. I was one of those that thought you had to use charcoal to get great flavor till I found this forum. The propane would take less attention and you could get a remote thermometer were you could be away from the smoker and still keep track of your meat temps
post #10 of 26

Wecome aboard

Hello and glad to have another eager smokin' person join the SMF. Don't be intimated, but keep your eyes and ears open on this site, you'll learn a lot of things that can help you make decisions. Remember, you have to start somewhere, and almost evryone ends up with an upgrade down the line.
post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
You guys have no idea, how much I appreciate all your help so far. I am sure that the deeper I get into this the more questions I will have. Now if you will excuse me I have some browsing to do.icon_lol.gif
post #12 of 26
Check things out. When you have it narrowed down a bit you can search the site to see if there are any major problems or mods that will need to be done to make the unit more efficient. When you have questions, ask away. Someone will be along shortly to give ya an answer. Take your time lookin... hurry backwink.gif

Keep Smokin
post #13 of 26
Howdy Chris and welcome,
One other consideration the others haven't mentioned, is where you live. Apart from the electric and gas options there is also the first and truest method of smoking, and that' an offset Texas style stick fed smoker, you start with a little charcoal and then start feeding sticks of hardwood to the fire to produce heat and smoke. This is an item you need to spend some time tending but to my mind it can produce superior results. Nothing against the bullet's and GOSM users out there, those both work well too. All of them will require attention until you learn just how much charcoal, or wood, gas or power it takes to get the results your looking for. But if you go with a stick fed smoker then you have to have the wood to feed it. I'm from Oregon and have been in Texas for the last six years. I can get all sorts of oak, pecan, hickory, mesquite, etc here. But not so in Oregon, plenty of alder, and fruit woods, but no post oak or pecan at all. If you go the bullet or GOSM route you will be most likely be buying wood chips and sawdust in small expensive bags. If you go with a stick burner then you need a source of firewood, and that is most available in the southern parts of the country.
Again, welcome to the site, there is more info here than anywhere else out there.
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
There is a ton of information here and I am slowly soaking it all in. This is a shock to me. I am also into drag racing, and very few people in the pits are willing to give up anything that will make you faster. From what I have seen here today, that is not the case here. Not sure why, but I figured smoking would be as competitive and secretive as racing is.
post #15 of 26
Hey Nitrous,
I can't believe that you live in Muldrow, in the Great State of Oklahoma, and you don't have any mention of Wild Horse BBQ, 3 miles south of Sallisaw on 59 Hwy. I've always said that It's one of the few Q joints worth walking in to.

I would like to suggest that you consider a Chargriller. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=chargriller

You can use charcoal, wood, or both. they don't require too much babysitting, and if you decide that smoking's not your thing, they are just a great all aroung grill. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a better deal for the money as well.

post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
Oh yeah, Wildhorse gets a weekly visit from me. Bolins isnt bad either, they are up north of Sallisaw.
post #17 of 26
Never been to Bolin's. What road is it north on? Well, I'll probably never go there, If I get anywhere near I-40 and OK59, my truck goes on auto pilot and heads south.

post #18 of 26
NI -

Smokers are kind of like cars. They'll all get you there but some of us like to shift and run though the gears - others prefer to sit and let the car do it.

You can get a moker you have to do everything manually, add the coals, the wood, check the temperatures etc. or you can get one that is fully automatic. It up to you. Personally I think there's alot to be learned from a basic charcoal smoker like the Brinkman line or the Smokey Mountain line. And despite of the inexpensive price tags they make some great BBQ!
post #19 of 26
I'm new here myself, and after lots of research I went with the Big Block GOSM gas unit.

I have two little girls that keep me busy so gas makes it much easier.

I didn't think I was smoking for that many people, just my wife and two little ones. As it turns out it seems like 10 people or so show up at the door every time I get the gas started, so I am very thankful I was talked into the big block here by all these great people.

I also went with the maverick ET-73 digital thermometer. It lets me sit in the house, pop open a beer, and socialize, while keeping track of the chamber temp and meat temp at the same time... what a great toy.

If you decide to go this route, the smoking store will route you to Amazon, which is offering free delivery right now, or at least it did back in June...

Good luck to you
post #20 of 26
Welcome to SMF, Chris. Like Blackhawk, I started out with an ECB and after doing the mods, prouduced some good que. My daughter has it now since I primarily use the GOSM Big Block. Find a smoker that you like and get the next size up. That way, once everyone knows that you're doing 'que you'll have the room to smoke more meat if needed.
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