Is this smoker a total waste?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by jjdomingo, Jun 30, 2016.

  1. jjdomingo

    jjdomingo Newbie

    Big hello from Wisconsin! First post here and wanted to get an opinion on a first smoker. I have been BBQing on a charcoal Weber forever now and made some fantastic meals but wanted to get more into smoking. I have searched the market over and read all sorts of reviews on every type of smoker imaginable but decided since I was not sure I would enjoy or have the patience for long haul smokin' I decided to get a Kingsford Water Smoker for $40 from good ol' Walmart. The reviews honestly didn't look awful but I am starting to second guess my decision. I am yet to fire it up (this weekend will be a test run) but wondered if anyone had any experiences with this budget rig.

    My main concern is that it wont go well (its an open bottom smoker, like the charcoal pan is literally exposed to the ground below) and I will get upset and toss it in the garbage. Is there any hope for this smoker or am I better off forking out the money for a more quality setup?

    (you get what you pay for is what I am expecting)  
  2. uncle eddie

    uncle eddie Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I have not personally used this particular smoker, but I know a couple of guys that do.  It seems OK for shorter smokes but maintaining the right temp was a challenge and they often got frustrated.  I used to use a Brinkmann electric smoker (similar to that Weber - see link below) for several years before I broke down and and bought a Masterbuilt 40" (MES 40 - 2.5)

    The Brinkmann - I think - is about $85.  There was no control of temperature aside from on/off and a full water pan.  It also took longer in winter than in summer for similar smokes (no insulation at all) - but for $85 - it was hard to pass up as a starter and it made some great ribs and turkeys for me.  Also - the element is easily and inexpensively replaced.

    If it was me - and I was staying under $100 - I would probably go with the electric powered Brinkmann over the charcoal fired Weber because of the difficulty maintaining a good fire.  But if you like "dinking around" with the fire - go for it with the Weber.

    Good luck and let us know what you decided.

    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
  3. netnetnet

    netnetnet Newbie

  4. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Maintaining the fire in a Weber kettle is not difficult at all, I've been BBQing on a 22" Weber for a few years.

    If you already have a kettle then you do not need a cheap smoker from Wally World IMHO.
  5. jjdomingo

    jjdomingo Newbie

    Thanks for the info guys.  I will give it a try this weekend and see how it goes (1 rack of ribs maybe) and if its bad I'll just toss it. It was only $40. I might just pop for the WSM (14 inch maybe). Plenty of way better reviews and its a proven smoker. Being cheap never works out. 
  6. uncle eddie

    uncle eddie Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

     I almost mentioned using a Weber kettle and indirect heat...I agree with above.
  7. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Lot's of folks start with that style smoker. They are frustrating to maintain temp for more than a few hours. They work fine for Chicken or Seafood. You could do ribs but it will end up a hot and fast smoke. Not bad but you will struggle with 3-2-1. Try to stay between 275 and 325°F and the the ribs will be tender in 3-4 hours...JJ
  8. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    I echo Eddie's comment on the Brinkmann electric. It's a relatively low entry point and it will give you the opprtunity to smoke a variety of things. That was my first smoker and I did brisket, ribs, whole turkeys, butt, you name. Although not huge, had decent compactly to hold 3 racks of ribs or 2 brisket flats or a whole bird.

    Temp was one size fits all so you had to work with that but it wasn't the end of the world. It was a great intro into the world of smoking and help me get hooked.

    I'm afraid the Kingsford unit would be too much like your Weber and you'll go "why did I buy this. In fact there are accessories for you kettle that would probably help you achieve what the Kingsford unit would do.
  9. Stick with the weber kettle. They are work horses and like other have said there is a lot you can do with them with the right set up.
  10. You'll have to look long and hard for a new Brinkmann anything:  they went TU and filed bankruptcy the end of '15.  Big orange box was their main retailer, and they didn't re-up with them, and the slow death spiral began.  You may find it in some place who specializes in buying discontinued merchandise in your area, but Brinkmann's toast.  Used ones are out there, you'll just have to look.  Unfortunate, because I'm trying to find a new vertical Trailmaster that orange box used to carry.
  11. jjdomingo

    jjdomingo Newbie

    So I did a 5.5 lb pork shoulder on it and it smoked no problem for approx 4.5 hours. At that point it started to get hard to keep heat as the ash tray was totally full and new coals being added (semi-lit) didn't last as long or fully ignite. I think if I drill some holes into the charcoal pan and raise the grate 1.5-2 inches it will drastically improve the results. I built a little wind barrier around it with cardboard as it was windy and the bottom is wide open on this thing and that seemed to help it hold temp better. It was 10+ mph winds so on a calmer day I think it would cook better. I got the shoulder to the stall area (160s) and then foiled and put it into the oven @ 350 to finish her off. approx 1 hour later we hit 200 and it pulled apart perfectly. I was able to get the bark formed and get my smoke ring on this budget smoker so overall its not a TOTAL waste but still not great. What do you expect for $40? I plan to keep it as a "tinker toy" and see if I can mod it out to make it better but I plan to just upgrade to a WSM for a more serious setup. I think for shorter smoked 2-4 hours you can def "get away" with using this smoker but overall its not ideal for long smokes. 
  12. jjdomingo

    jjdomingo Newbie

    I know you guys like pics so here you go! 
  13. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Try using lump charcoal instead of briquettes, it produces less ash.

    You should always add fully lit charcoal to keep the fire going.

    Drilling holes may improve air flow, if they are about 1/2" diameter and a couple of inches apart.

    Good looking meal, too.[​IMG]  
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016

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