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Are budget smokers any good ?

Discussion in 'For New Members' started by Tonyb835, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. Tonyb835

    Tonyb835 Newbie

    Hi so I'm new to the smoking world but v interested in learning so while out shopping in my local DIY store I saw a smoker on sale and a decent price (£120 to £70) and spontaneously bought it. It seems fine looks like a regular offset smoker but it's v thin gauge metal. Are these things ok to learn with ?
  2. JC in GB

    JC in GB Smoking Fanatic

    What model is it?
    Tonyb835 likes this.
  3. Tonyb835

    Tonyb835 Newbie

    Houston I believe from the range
  4. Tonyb835

    Tonyb835 Newbie

    It's a Houston
  5. Tonyb835

    Tonyb835 Newbie

  6. Nole4L

    Nole4L Smoke Blower

    It's hard to say for certain without knowing more about the actual smoker BUT my experience is that price of the smoker doesn't directly correlate to the quality of the bbq. I used a big box brand offset for a LONG time and it made some really good bbq. I bought a more expensive smoke last year. I think the bbq is better off my new smoker but the biggest difference is the ease of use. My Lang gets up to temp and is relatively simple to keep at temp when compared to the old smoker I had. I attribute that to design and the gauge of the steel used. More steel=more heat retention=steady temps. Have fun experimenting with your new cooker!
    zwiller, Tonyb835 and JC in GB like this.
  7. Tonyb835

    Tonyb835 Newbie

    I get what you mean every smoker is different I guess but yeah the metal is v thin gauge prob 2/3 mm. I put a burn through it to get rid of any paint and oil present inside with charcoal and some cherry wood, tried to practice my "heat management" but I'm pretty sure that was irrelevant as there's so many variables plus I don't trust the crappy looking temp gauge on the front that's getting changed asap. Thanks for the reply appreciate any help an info
  8. Tonyb835

    Tonyb835 Newbie

    I'll hopefully be testing it out this weekend if I have all my temp equipment ready, I was thinking about some pork maybe.
  9. bluewhisper

    bluewhisper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome to the board! Yes you can do a lot with that basic configuration. Do you have a tray for charcoal in the cooking chamber? If so, it can serve as a really big grill if you have some big event.

    I'm guessing it has grates for the firebox, so you could run that alone like a little Hibachi.

    Always run the exhaust vent wide open, and control the heat by the airflow into the firebox. Expect a learning curve. Offsets require more frequent fire attention.

    Edited to add, nobody trusts the factory temp gauges.
    Tonyb835 likes this.
  10. Tonyb835

    Tonyb835 Newbie

    Hi buddy yeah it has trays in the main compartment for normal BBQs there isn't any adjustment on them tho so I'll probably use my normal BBQ for that kind of thing, and yeah there's a small tray in the fire box. The picture I posted is a bit deceivng the main chamber is roughly 80-90 cm wide with the fire box roughly 30cm. I found when I was playing with it that once upto the desired heat it would hold steady for roughly a half hour before it started to drop. One thing I noticed straight away was when I opened the fire box to add more wood there was a slight temp drop in the main chamber, I can see why the better models have a door on the side too for adding wood rather than the opening the huge door on the front. Gonna order a new thermometer this evening and some probes etc. Thanks for the advise appreciate it dude
  11. JCAP

    JCAP Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Echo what others have said so far. I have a cheaper charcoal bullet smoker and even though I've only used it a few times so far, it's been pretty awesome. You probably also want to see if/where there are heat-leaks in the smoker and seal those up for better heat control.
    Tonyb835 likes this.
  12. Nole4L

    Nole4L Smoke Blower

    One thing I used to do was put some old bricks in the cook chamber. This added mass and helped keep the temps more steady. Keep in mind that regardless of the smoker it usually takes some time to learn temp control on it.

    Also I'm not a huge believer that you have to keep temps strictly in a tiny window. I did spare ribs yesterday and although my temps were generally around 225 there were was a short period where it dropped to 195 (because I deeply involved in a card game) and another period where it jumped to almost 300 (wood was drier than I thought). If you're trying to keep it within 10 degrees the whole time that's a tough goal unless you have a fan or something to help regulate temps.
    Tonyb835 likes this.
  13. Tony
    Welcome! I'm a believer that equipment doesn't make a good cook. You will have to learn how she smokes but once you understand her good "Q" wont be far behind.
    Tonyb835 likes this.
  14. Tonyb835

    Tonyb835 Newbie

    Thanks pal that's a good point you make I did notice while burning it out that smoke was coming from alot of diff places mainly the joints and seals, i do alot of fire cladding at work so I might try using a high temp sealant around these areas to address that problem and maybe something to get a better seal on the main doors as these were the worst areas ?? What do you think ?
    Cool idea so the bricks just reduced the air volume of the chamber ? (Ha god help me if there was a poker game the food would never cook)
  15. Tonyb835

    Tonyb835 Newbie

    Thanks Mr Mopper gotta say so far I'm really enjoying the forum ! Super friendly and helpful looking forward to learning from you all. I won't lie I have a new found respect for you smoking enthusiasts, I thought it'd be relatively straight forward
  16. In my view no but that's only after having gone that route myself. I got a cheap offset then after building one fire in it to season it I could tell it wasn't going to work as it was. So I hauled it into the garage and went to work on it to beef it up and seal it up with a little redesign worked into the mix. After I got done I had a useable smoker but I would have been time, money and effort ahead just to have gotten a decent unit to start with.
    I recently went the pellet route and couldn't bring myself to just throw it away. So I found a new home for it and gave it to a guy who was interested in taking up smoking. Last I heard it was still turning out great barbeque for a happy owner.
    Tonyb835 likes this.
  17. Dont forget to season it before you cook food in it.
    Tonyb835 likes this.
  18. Tonyb835

    Tonyb835 Newbie

    If by season you mean blast it at high heat for a few hours then yeah thanks I've done that already should have seen the stuff it burnt off, not what you want on your food !
  19. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    You got good advice above already.
    All I can add is to try to keep it dry.
    Cheaper models with thin skins seem to rust through a lot quicker than the heavier models.

  20. Right.