I got the idea about the C-CLamp from the Walmart.com site.
The guy claims to be a BBQ experthttp://www.walmart.com/catalog/allRe...uct_id=3342508
5 out of 5
Great smoker for the price, 05/27/2009
I have been smoking meats for 30 years but have always built my own smokers. Mine were the size of a coffin and could handle 500 pounds of meat. When I moved to Florida for retirement, my wife suggested I might want to scale down my smoking somewhat. After reading the many posts about the Smokey Mtn. Cooker I chose the larger of the two. I like the idea of gas as it took way less monitoring than my traditional wood fire approach.
First impressions were favorable. The unit was put together well and had no problems on startup. As I was seasoning the smoker, I had a c-clamp handy as I read so many posts saying the lowest temperature was still too high. It was. Mine wanted to hover close to 275 degrees. I added the c-clamp to the line and closed it almost all the way down. I can now get temps as low as 180 degrees and maintaining the 200 degrees I prefer to cook with is a snap. Even with a wind, the burner does not blow out.
As far as the small water pan, I did not find this to be a problem. I always shuffled things around in my old smokers and used the same concept here. Every couple of hours, rotate the shelves top to bottom and/or front to back to ensure even heat. While I am in there, I refill the water pan.
I looked at the smoker box and decided it was pretty but not very usable. From reading other posts, I packaged my wood chips in tin foil and placed over the burner. Then when I was rotating the meat, I changed out the chips for new ones.
Cleanup is quite easy and after 9 months of use, it still looks pretty good.
Other uses: I also use the smoker as an outside oven with no smoke added. I can get the temperature up to almost 500 degrees and that handles just about any type of baking. I have used it for standing rib roasts many times. Put the roast in the smoker with an external temperature probe in it and set the smoker temp for 200 degrees. Just let it go until you hit 125 degrees internal temp in the roast and you're done.
Other thoughts: Always use an external temperature probe on your meats. It is much more accurate.
If you clean the smoker after use and store in a shed or garage, this unit will last a long time.
Even the large unit is none to big. Don't even think of buying the smaller one. Two racks of baby backs will fill one shelf.