Buying first smoker

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by rodc, Jun 9, 2009.

  1. rodc

    rodc Smoke Blower

    I've read a few threads on here about smokers & it's clear they're a lot cheaper in the US than over here in Scotland,[​IMG] with most offsets coming in at $400+ for the basic smoker.

    However I've foung this one, but am worried it'll be too small. At $138 (at current rates) I can afford to do some mods on it & as we seldom get the weather & this'll be kept at my folk's place in the country I won't get to use it too often.

    Opinions and hopefully some reassurance gratefully received.


  2. the iceman

    the iceman Smoking Fanatic

    It is tough to tell from the pic but it looks like it uses a light gauge steel which means it won't hold the heat as well as some other units.

    As far as the price goes it looks comparable to similar units here in the US, such as a Char-Broil. Although there are many here that are quite happy with their smokers of similar design.
  3. old poi dog

    old poi dog Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Aloha Rod,

    I use a propane unit, however there are others here who use an off-set horizontal smoker like the one pictured. I'm sure they'll come along shortly and answer your questions better than I can. However, that smoker looks like the size many of our fellow SMF members use. Good luck. I hope you'll be smoking soon and posting pictures also.
  4. txbbqman

    txbbqman Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I agree it does look like it is made of rather thin gauge material....HOWEVER, it would probably make an awesome first smoker, especially since you won't be using it much.

    Besides, you can always use the cheaper one and do a few so so cooks on it and then tell the wife, hey if I had the $400 smoker, this stuff would taste so much better [​IMG]

    You never know it may work

    Good Luck and Happy Smokes
  5. I use one basically like the one shown on the picture. Mine is just a little bigger. You will be very happy with the offset smoker as your first smoker. And as for the size, If you aren't cooking for a really large crowd then you should be okay. You can probably put 3 - 4 pork shoulders on it or 2 or 3 sides of pork spare ribs on it. It does a very good job using either charcoal or wood. Personally I like to use wood on my small smoker. But get it and learn and then tell the wife you need a bigger one. I am starting to work on me a larger one.
  6. rodc

    rodc Smoke Blower

    Thanks folks, that'll do for me. I'll buy the smoker & then start playing - I'll be sure to post some pics & how I get on. I might even have to try some Scottish specialities... smoked haggis or smoked black pudding? [​IMG]

    The cuts of meat we get here are either different cuts or known by different names, so I'll need to have a chat with my local butcher and take him some printouts from here. At least I know I'll get top grade meat.
  7. old poi dog

    old poi dog Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Good to have you on board. If you have any questions, just ask. There are a lot of good folk here.
  8. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Good luck with it. IMHO......

    You may be better off with a bullet style smoker. The smoker you're buying will surely need some modifications to make it run smooth. A good quality bullet smoker (Weber) won't need mods. A cheaper one may (like a Brinkman) but the smoker is much cheaper, the mods are very simple and cheap, and the results are great when you're done.

    Maybe (??) you could find a used Weber in that price range.
  9. bigbaldbbq

    bigbaldbbq Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I agree and once you get to that point you might be able to just build one for cheaper then you can buy it.
  10. smokin' dick

    smokin' dick Smoking Fanatic

    That smoker looks like it is the American Gourmet Smoker by CharBroil. I have its larger sibling the Silver Smoker and with a few simple modifications you will have a very serviceable unit. Good luck with your new toy and ask all the questions you want, we like to help out as best we can. Oh and don't worry about the paint burning off the fire box and other places, just apply a little cooking oil or shortening and the rust will be kept at bay.
    Nice to have someone from Scotland here too, welcome to the club.
  11. rodc

    rodc Smoke Blower

    Well I bought it, assembled it this evening and then fired it up to get it seasoned....

    Good bits:
    • Keeping a temp between 225 & 250 in the smoking compartment seemed reasonably easy.
    • It went together pretty well - apart from 1 problem which I can probably ignore.
    • The Chimney exits at the side at just above grill level - so there's a mod I don't need.
    • I found where Faither has been chucking his offcuts from the plum tree - 3 or 4 decently seasoned branches - threw a few twigs on & the smell was great.
    • Seemed to manage a thin blue smoke quite quickly. May have been luck though.
    Bad bits:
    • Doors to both chambers are very loose fits. Some sealant required methinks.
    • The thermometer they sent, while seemingly pretty accurate (tested it in a cup of boiling water), was a totally different size from the bracket that was supposed to hold it in the lid. Will just seal the hole anyway - so no bigee.
    • Forgot to put a drip-tray below the grease drain hole in the smoker box - so the patio now has a nice pile of lard which the dog's been trying to lick up - may have to clean that tomorrow.
    • Temp is varying by about 75 degrees from 1 side of the smoker box to the other. I was expecting this though & will have a mess around with baffles & loaf tins with water to see if I can sort it out.
    Neither good nor bad, I only drew blood once assembling the thing & only burnt myself twice rubbing lard on the outside when it was hot.

    I took a few pics & will try and post them tomorrow. First real smoke Sunday - a chicken and some ribs, wish me luck!!

  12. dirtman775

    dirtman775 Smoking Fanatic

    Good luck Rod. looks like a fine starter rig.....[​IMG]
  13. cajunsmoke13

    cajunsmoke13 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You will be fine with that one. Just have to tend to the fire a little more and keep the temps right. You can make some fine smoked meat on it. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
  14. old poi dog

    old poi dog Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Aloha Rod,

    Chicken and Ribs....Sounds good to me. Have fun. You'll do well with them!
  15. dmack

    dmack Smoke Blower

    Welcome Rod. Sounds like you can handle the mods that will make that smoker work for you.It will be interesting to have someone from across the pond on board. I'm looking forward to getting an idea how smokers from other places enjoy this great hobby.

  16. rodc

    rodc Smoke Blower

    Tried some mods - only ones that I could change back, covered one of the charcoal grills with foil to make a baffle, it came to about 1/2 way up the the hole from the fire compartment so I blocked the hole above it with foil.

    Filled drip trays with water - but had hell getting the heat up - so maybe used too much water. Will experiment a bit.

    I'll definitely need to get some fire rope - there's way too much heat & smoke escaping the gaps in both doors.

    Still - this was an experiment - and I certainly managed to regulate the heat far more than the seasoning burn last night.

    Smoked some hamburgers, hotdogs and corn (apple smoke) for about an hour - finishing up the corn by wrapping in buttered and peppered foil and putting it in the fire compartment. The meat was finished off on the hibachi.

    Didn't notice a huge difference with the hotdogs (but then they're smoked already), but the burgers had a definite smoke ring & the taste was great.

    So, tomorrow's the big day - 3/2/1 ribs & beercan chicken. I'll have to do a q-view as well.

    Hopefully the midges (tiny scottish mosquitos) will have a night off - the outside of the smoker is covered in them.....

    Thanks to all for the encouragement - I'd have been stuck just grilling without it![​IMG]
  17. Welcome aboard.
    Please be sure to take Jeff's 5 day course. I learned quite a few things from this. Good luck on you new adventure and believe me you will be hooked.
  18. trashcan

    trashcan Smoke Blower

    Post pics of your baffle. Inquiring minds want to know.

    Seriously my cookie sheet sucks.
  19. rodc

    rodc Smoke Blower

    Well, first real try at smoking went OK - some good things, some not so good & some lessons learned....

    • The smell of a smoker at work is fantastic - the neighbours were across having a nosey at it.
    • The smokey flavour in the ribs & chicken was definitely there & very tasty.
    • At the start got the heat up to 240-250 & found it reasonably easy to keep there for quite some time.
    • Made my rub a bit too hot & spicy for my taste (or the parents' tastes), some calming down in the rub required.
    • After the first couple of hours I opened a new bag of lump & it was all tiny bits - which fell through the fire grate & smothered the thing - impossible to get the temp above 205 after that.[​IMG]
    • There are too many leaks around the doors iin the smoker - fire rope will be required.
    • Experimentation will be needed to keep the fire going and the temp up long enough for the traditional hour at the pub at lunchtime with my Dad.
    • Chicken, while tasty was dry - but it had fallen over a few times off the beercan, so I think the basting wasn't enough. I may try a trick a TV chef over here did - roast a lemon & an onion, then use them to stuff the bird before starting to cook it - as they're hot already they shouldn't prevent the bird getting to temp.
    After I started experiencing the temp problems I eventually gave in and moved everything into the oven, but the smoke flavour was certainly there already so nothing suffered too much for that. Would have liked to do the whole thing on the que - but I'd rather not have ruined the meat.

    I've got a few days off coming up - so the experimentation can and will continue.[​IMG]

    Anyway - a few pics.....

    Que with q-dog Kerry:

    Foil blocking top half of hole to fire compartment, foil covered charcoal grill to make small baffle, POS thermometer that came with the Que, and drip trays - all looking very clean:

    Thin blue smoke & the view from the Que - it's a great place to be outside (when the rain's off):

    Ribs, Chicken, Beer - What more can you want?
  20. rodc

    rodc Smoke Blower

    Took the course a few weeks back when I decided to have a go at this smoking thing, will do it again now that I've had a try as I'm sure I'll get more out of it now that I've had a try (TBH I think I'll keep going back to it - it's a great first stop reference as I'm learning). It's certainly a worthwhile exercise & stopped me coming on with too many predictable dumb questions - I prefer my dumb questions to be more unusual [​IMG]

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