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Pacific Northwest Newbie

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Good day all,

I am new to the smoking arena and am trying to decide what smoker to start with. I went to a couple of local shops and they had alot of different types of smokers (electric, propane, charcoal) and I didn't know what would be the best to start with. My main plans are to make my own jerky, and then move onto different venisen cuts. This is probably a dumb question, but any suggestions what smoker is best for beginners? Taking into concideration that I will want to expand into other meats and cuts.

post #2 of 16
Welcome to SMF Dale! Didja sign up for the 5 day ecourse yet? Full of goodies newbies need to know! And all those links at the left side of the main page are chock full too! Read a bit, and you'll glean some choices from there, but one thing I will say: Buy as big and as versatile a unit as you can, because you will most likely end up needing it.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Yes, I did sign up for the course, plus I have been reading the links. I am one of those guys that just can't wait to get started. I have been looking up recipes and ideas since seeing the smokers the other day. I guess I was just looking for some more personal testamonials. I have read a lot that state "this is the best smoker in the world." and then you ask a couple of people who actually use the equipement and they state "that was the worst piece of ^$% I have every used." Maybe I am just being overly worried about buying something that is not what I need/want.
post #4 of 16
Welcome to the forum Dale, we are glad to have you join us.

The opinions on which smoker to get depend more on the amount you want to spend, the amount of time and effort you want to devote and the quantity of food rather then what is going in the smoker.

For the low budget there are the vertical charcoal water smokers like the ECB which can be had for $50.

The vertical gas units like the GOSM or CCSV are good if you don't want to mess with charcoal although you will pay more upfront. A narrow GOSM can run as low as $99 and the larger CCSV is over $300.

There are also electric units if you don't want to worry about gas or charcoal. Any smoker is capable of turning out good Q!

For personal testimonial I own the 24" wide CCSV and like it very much. A common thing I've heard people say is when they buy the smaller size of something they quickly regret it and wish they bought the larger one. Keep that in mind.
post #5 of 16
Welcome from another Northwest Newbie! Well new to the site at least, not so new to smoking. Seems like around the northwest everyone used to cut their teeth with the Luhr-Jensen Little Chief/Big Chief smokers. They are a relatively easy and cheap way to get into it, however they do have some drawbacks like being a little small, non-insulated and with rather small heating elements they have a hard time getting up to temp to do some of the larger items. They will do fine for smoking salmon (kippered), or making jerky or things like that, and I've even used a big chief to smoke a turkey, but if it's cold or especially windy it will have a hard time of it.

My brother got a smokevault about a year ago (propane fired) and I really like the design of that, however it seems to me that it lacks fine heat control, especially at the lower end of the temperature scale. It just seems to get too hot to true smoking and borders more on barbecue with smoke. Though it does turn out some great meats.

I personally just bought a masterbuilt digital smokehouse after years of using the little/big chief. I've only done one test run with it, but so far I'm really liking it. People do report that it has problems making smoke at lower temps (below 200) when the outside temperature is warmer, but I haven't run into that one yet. I guess I'll have to wait and see this summer.

Seems like every option is going to have it's ups and downs, but nothing that'll keep you from turning out some good food. Good luck with whatever you choose!
post #6 of 16
Welcome Dale!
What Ron50 said!
I use a GOSM gasser and really like it. Easy to maintain temperature. Easy on fuel. I recommend a gasser.
Electric smokers use a lotta juice and make that little wheel really spin.
Charcoal smokers are also easy to use, but take a bit more attention. I have a GOSM charcoal smoker also, and a trusty ECB, and two drum smokers.
The trusty ol' ECB is cheap and cranks out some good que, it will surprise you. It is the ultimate "entry level" smoker. Doing jerky, it might not have as much capacity as you want.
Remember, this smoking thing has a way of growing. Buy more smoker than you think you need right now. Later you will be happy you did. wink.gif
post #7 of 16
PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif Welcome to the SMF PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif Lotta great info the guys have given. If ya say "that'll do" ... buy the next size bigger. The heat source is up to you ...
post #8 of 16

welcome to the site if you got the time go to sportco in fife and look at the smoke hollow smoke vault it is a nice smoker i own the gosm 18 inch it is nice but a little on the small side both these units are gas units walmart has a wide body gosm gas smoker a gas smoker will run at a higher temp around 170-400 degrees there are the electric units like the masterbuilt and bradley these are nice units my thoughts are if you are gonna go electric you are better off to make your own smoker what ever you decide to go with you are gonna enjoy the art of smoking food everything tastes great good luck

oh by the way i live over in forks again welcome to smf

post #9 of 16

Welcom to SMF. As you are already seeing, there are many, many brands and several models of each. So many variables to consider. Different types of heat source and the like.

I wouldn't begin to tell you what to do. I would, however, advise that no matter how much of a hurry you are in and how bad you want to start smoking "Yesterday", now is the perfect time to slow down, think, and read all the different threads in each of the smoker Forums. Read about each heat source(Propane, Electric and Stick). Read all the individual posts, reviewing their pleasure or disappointments. Just take a little time and don't rush into it. If you have to make a mistake, do what has already been shared, "Larger and more versatile and flexible is better, over smaller and more restricted usage". If you are like most of us, you will end up with several different smokers, over time.

Huey(Salmonclubber) is from Pacific NW(Forks, WA). I was a Portland guy until 1999 when I relocated down to Newport. A couple more PNW people have joined lately, as well.

Once again, welcome and ask a lot of questions before you hand out the cash.

post #10 of 16
Welcome to the SMF, and take your time researching smokers. Don't worry if you change your mind later... almost all members add/replace a smoker somewhere along the road. You already have some good clues from members, so enjoy. It's all good.
post #11 of 16
Hi Dale, and Welcome!!!!

It is a personal preference, as to what heat source one decides to use. I came from the ranks of a professional meatcutter/sausage maker. I worked with 1000 pound Voltron smoke houses all the time. Electrically heated, and liquid smoked atomized into the chamber, for the smoke.

This environment led me to build my own smoker, from a "free" refrigerator, using an electric element, and purchasing a nice thermostat to control it. Then after discovering that the house temp got too high, when I made smoke , (sawdust in a cast iron skillet directly on the element)
I decided to build a smoke chamber from a file cabinet I got from my work. (it was going out in the scrap truck - FREEBIE) Then all I needed was a hotplate, and some duct work to channel the smoke into the house. Check out the gallery, lots of nice pics in there.

SO, it comes down to what you are planning on doing, how often you plan on using it, and how much $$$$ you have for it. Like cajun1 said, if you think a certain size looks good, go one size larger, unless funds are a major issue.

Once again, welcome and happy smoking PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
post #12 of 16
Welcome to the SMF Dale!smile.gif
post #13 of 16
Welcome to the SMF from yet another PacNW resident. Lots of good info on this site. Take you time and read up on the pros & cons of each.

I prefer a charcoal fired smoker myself (SNP here). There are a few good places to get wood, meat, & lump. Lump is getting tougher to come by because it is out of season at the moment. Cash & Carry is about the only place I have found it so far. Makes for one stop shopping though.
post #14 of 16
Welcome to SMF! As you're already finding out, the folks here are willing to share their experience so we can all learn a little more. Make yourself at home and look around.
post #15 of 16
Welcome aboard!!!
post #16 of 16
Welcome to SMF D1BigDog!!! Glad you found us.
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