OK Joe Highland Horizontal versus Brinkmann Trailmaster Vertical Offset Smokers

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by gavin16, Nov 17, 2014.

  1. Oklahoma Joe Highland Horizontal Offset

    0 vote(s)
  2. Brinkmann Trailmaster Vertical Offset

    0 vote(s)
  3. Other (Please name)

    0 vote(s)
  1. Good Morning Everyone! 

    I come to the community today looking for advice on a new smoker.  For the past couple months I've been doing research on here and through the web on a charcoal smoker that is economically friendly to me.  I've narrowed it down to just 2 smokers, both are near the same price..  I do like my electric smoker but I think I am ready for a new challenge - learning how to build/control a fire and temps.  Here's the low down, good/bad of each, and mods they will need (or I plan on doing anyways).. Would appreciate some input on either smokers and/or suggestions.  

    Subject A) Brinkmann Trailmaster Vertical Offset Smoker - $270 @ Home Depot 



     - Good Build

     - Light Weight

     - Lots of Cooking Space 

     - Hooks for Sausages

     - Fair Price

    • Door Latches (Several comments on how they don't seal tight)
    • May not handle Large cuts of meat
    Intended Modifications:  
    1. New Latches
    2. 2x more temperature gauges
    3. Gasket seal
    4. Charcoal Basket
    5. Drill Holes to insert Meat Probes?
    B) Oklahoma Joe Highland Smoker - $270 @ Walmart



     - Good Built

     - Fair Price 

     - Light weight

     - The small working table on front to set things (like the meat probe stand)

     - Double as just a grill (I guess the vertical technically could to...[​IMG])


     - Cooking space?  

     - Mods - Or the costs of modding to make it ideal


    Intended Modifications:
    1. Charcoal Basket
    2. Convection Plate 
    3. Lowering Exhaust (Takes away some cooking space)
    4. 2x more temperature gauges on either end
    5. Drill Holes for meat probes?
    6. Gasket Seals (Not as important at first)
    I am also curious if anyone has tried cold smoking with either - or similar type smokers? Or does that only work best with smaller electric smokers?  

    Another point, I stumbled upon an OK Joe LONGHORN smoker on craiglist nearby my hometown.  It has the convection plate, charcoal basket, and.. Unless he sold it off separately - a stoker system?  I haven't emailed him.. because it looks like he made a new post a week or 2 ago with the same Smoker, MINUS pics of the stoker system... for $475.  I'm half interested in it with or without the stoker system just because it has the plate and basket already.. [​IMG]

    So to sum it up initial price of the smokers is mute.. But just looking at the mods it appears the vertical offset may have a big advantage.   Cooking space also favors the vertical.. even though I'm typically not smoking large volumes of meat.. YET... likely just holidays atm..

    Thanks everyone for the help.  Like I said I have done some research on the forums as well as reviews on other sites for each smoker. If I'm missing a pro/con lemme know and I'll add it to the list. Just getting into the last stage of my decision making, and would like to know..

    What would YOU do?? 
  2. yraen

    yraen Fire Starter

    I didn't vote as I have both a horizontal and a vertical and I like both of them.  I did want to comment on this though.  If that stoker is good, has probes, fan and firebox attachment this is the one to get.  I run a stoker on long cooks and love it.  The cost of a new stoker system is almost the cost he wants for the smoker and the stoker.


    If you go with the vertical listed here see if you can find it at Tractor Supply, theirs comes with a cover that the others do not.
  3. Thanks for the reply Yraen.  I have not emailed the seller yet but I will probably this week.  The other plus to that is the fact he lives not very far from my home.  

    I checked up Tractor Supply's website but couldn't find the vertical smoker.  If I can get the longhorn on craigslist for a decent price.. I may side with it just because it has the most of the mods already (even if it doesn't have the stoker), grants it is heavier than I'd prefer. 

    Curious if you have ever tried cold smoking in either Yraen?  Something I want to try this winter.  If I get a new smoker I plan on leaving my electric at home, bringing the other back to school with me.  
  4. yraen

    yraen Fire Starter

    I've cold smoked in my large horizontal, in a vertical propane and even a cardboard box (years ago).  To cold smoke I just take a wood chip container, fill it with soaked chips and add 1 lit piece of charcoal.  This has always worked well for me in the past.  If I think the sun might be getting the smoker too warm I'll move the patio umbrella over the smoker to shade it.

    Edit:  It appears Tractor Supply doesn't carry them anymore.  That bites as a free cover is a good thing.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014
  5. I was also looking at both. I have a horizontal right now that needs replacing. The way I look at it, a verticle smoker has nature working for it. Heat and smoke rise. More cooking space also. And you have the hooks to hang ribs, sausage, and fish.

    As far as cold smoking goes, there is suppose to be a post somewhere here with and electric pellet smoker that you can pipe into the smoking chamber and get cold smoker. I do like the idea of a single coal put into wood chips.
  6. I have the OK Joe's Highland smoker and I really like it.  Instead of spending money on a charcoal basket I just took the charcoal grates from the smoking chamber and set them sideways in the firebox.  It sits higher so I get great airflow and no buildup of ash.

    I'm going to set up the convection plates as well, but instead of dropping the height of the smokestack I'm going to actually run a duct over to the firebox side along the top of the grill to basically convert it to a reverse-flow smoker.  Once that's done it should help with my biggest problem with the grill, and that's the speed with which it runs through charcoal.

    It's a great nearly-midlevel smoker, good quality for the price and even using cheap modifications will improve its performance.

    Good luck, let us know what you choose and how it works for you!
    davidreynolds likes this.
  7. I have an AMNPS for my MES analog, am curious to see how it would work in either - considering the amount of smoke it's able to put off.  
    That was my thoughts on the vertical.  Air flow is more natural per say, and potentially less modifications that may be needed for the smoker to work at an ideal level.  
    Hey that's a great idea! Either smoker I will have to play with the fire box a bit if I do a charcoal basket or that.  Like the idea of using the ducts, let us know how it works! 

    Sorry I'm a bit delayed on the response.  After much thought and consideration I think I've decided to lean towards the vertical offset.  For reasons stated above, in terms of natural air flow, maybe less mods, and bottom line.. The amount of cooking space for the exact same cost, is just hard to pass up.  Even though I may not be cooking large volumes of meat often, it will be a long term investment to last for a long time.  I also never really thought about it until now using the firebox as a grill on the vertical.  

     Hope to see it around Christmas time... Thanks everyone for the feedback!  Certainly helped in my decision hearing for current owners of both smokers.  I will let ya'll know how it turns out.  [​IMG]  
  8. Gavin16, the changed to get performance out of this vertical are fairly cheap compared to a horizontal. You will need to buy seals for all the doors. If needed, you can buy extra latched for the CC door later on. As for the firebox, I am going to make a charcoal boxholder out of expanded metal 3/4". But to raise it up a few inches, I plan to use SS Bolts nuts and washers to put it up on legs to give it air flow for a long cook.
  9. z-man

    z-man Fire Starter

    I don't have either however I do have the Brinkman Trailmaster LE which is close to the OK Joe.  I did the chimney extension, expanded steel minion box, 2 River Country thermo's, and tuning plates for about $100.  I did not buy the convection plate since 16 ga steel worked just as well and I could cut and bend the plates as I needed to tune my cooker.  As far as leaks went I used 3m fire block sealant since it was readily available at home depot and RTV on the firebox and cook chamber lid.  It worked very well for plugging up any leaks.  I also have purchased stackable baker's cooling racks that fit inside the cook chamber to give me double and triple the cooking area depending on what I am cooking.  They work great for small meats (chicken, ribs, fish etc) and since they stack I can rotate the trays from top to bottom and side to side during the cook if need be. The stackable racks work really well for chicken wings when company is coming over.    Either way I think you would be happy but the horizontal has a ton of cook space if you are willing to add the extra racks. 
  10. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Ok ok, I know but i vote WSM[​IMG]

    No mods needed not ever.
  11. WSM's are good little units. But they can not put out the volume that a horizontal or a vertical smoker can.
  12. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    true dat. just joshing ya anyway..... Now my two UDS's put out a lot of grub two racks each. Love my Webers more though. Weber should come out with a rancher size WSM now that would be something to behold.
    davidreynolds likes this.
  13. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    just out of curiosity how many cubes of cooking space does that vertical have? 
  14. 1390 square inches of cooking space. I would not mind seeing a 4-5 ft tall WSM. And about 30 inch across. Large door in the side.
  15. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I am going to go with the vertical for your stated requirements. I am also going to caution you about rust, lack of customer support... Made in china. etc.... The best Q I have ever had was off of a Penzoil 55 gallon drum. Just saying. Sometimes You get wrapped up in numbers but what do you really want to do? Make good Q. 
  16. Roger that! I take care of things. It will last for a decade or two be for it is done.
  17. Heck, I can't afford or justify the Lang 48".
  18. Could you post up a pic of and/or a link to those racks?
  19. z-man

    z-man Fire Starter

    try these but you can locate them at walmart, kmart, target, Bed bath and beyond as well.

    Last edited: Dec 10, 2014
    remmy700p likes this.
  20. Well everyone judgement day is upon us!  Christmas morning has come and gone, and I am the proud owner of a new Brinkman Trailmaster vertical offset!!  I am so excited and thankful for my family!  I spent the day on and off putting it together.  Tomorrow I will rub it down in vege oil and season it!  I also got a sweet igrill2 to go with it. [​IMG]

    Unfortunately more pics of testing my first stick burner may be delayed until I return to school.  I have limited internet at home, but I will try to take plenty of pics.  There were a few minor things I'll note about the condition of the smoker when I opened it up.  When UPS delivered the box (Mom was shocked they delivered such a heavy package) the back of the box was beat up some.  The back of the smoke chamber had a dent in it, was able to use a rubber mallet to beat it back normal.  The thin metal on the inside by the door latch was also warped.. but I was guess that was from welding, and won't be a problem.  Also, the firebox lid was tweaked and I had to bend it around some to get the lid to close normally.  Other than that, everything seemed to look just fine! 

    At this time the only major modifications will be drilling 2 holes and adding 2 grill thermometers down the cooking chamber.  Elected not to find rope gasket seal YET, but if I do it will be where the firebox goes into the chamber (there is some gaps there, but may help intake anyways).  May or may not build a charcoal basket... that, or somehow shimmy up/left the charcoal grates higher so the heat easily goes to the cook chamber.  We will see what happens! 

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