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Are budget smokers any good ?

Tonyb835

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Joined Jul 22, 2019
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 ?
 

Nole4L

Meat Mopper
164
100
Joined Jun 6, 2018
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!
 

Tonyb835

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Joined Jul 22, 2019
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
 

Tonyb835

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Joined Jul 22, 2019
I'll hopefully be testing it out this weekend if I have all my temp equipment ready, I was thinking about some pork maybe.
 

bluewhisper

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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

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Joined Jul 22, 2019
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
 

JCAP

Meat Mopper
SMF Premier Member
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Joined Jun 12, 2019
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.
 

Nole4L

Meat Mopper
164
100
Joined Jun 6, 2018
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.
 

pit of despair

Meat Mopper
266
84
Joined May 18, 2011
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.
Teddy
 

Tonyb835

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Joined Jul 22, 2019
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)
 

Tonyb835

Newbie
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Joined Jul 22, 2019
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
 

Tonyb835

Newbie
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Joined Jul 22, 2019
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 !
 

Bearcarver

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
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Joined Sep 12, 2009
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.
Enjoy!!

Bear
 

bluewhisper

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
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Joined Apr 1, 2014
Many offset people here have some kind of heat deflector plate, to help spread the heat evenly across the cooking chamber. I made one, but I can't run it and the charcoal tray at the same time.

Don't be surprised if the paint becomes scorched. Can you store it out of the sun and rain?

Consider installing some teacup hooks in the underside of that wooden shelf, so you can hang utensils or whatever.
 

Nole4L

Meat Mopper
164
100
Joined Jun 6, 2018
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 ?
I had plenty of leaks on my old cooker. My new one has one very small one. I never tried to seal it up because I don't know what's in that stuff.

As far as the bricks I did it more to hold heat. Sort of like the effect you get around large bodies of water. The temperature holds more steady because the water holds heat longer than air.
 

Tonyb835

Newbie
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Joined Jul 22, 2019
Good point I'd have to look into if the sealant is odourless but even so I'd prob apply it externlly. You can buy strips of gasket material as well ? Or add a fixed clap on either side of the main door, few options I'll prob go for the most cost effective as I don't wanna spend a fortune on a entry level cooker. Got the thermometers ordered anyway decided to get 2 to give a good reading at both ends of the grill, don't mind spending a bit more on decent ones as I'll be able to reuse if I ever upgrade. Again thanks for all the help guys keep the tips coming, can't wait for free weekend to experiment now ha
 

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