Just bought first offset smoker to learn on! Help me fix it...She's a cheap one

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Another question:

I was planning on going off the thermostat that is on the lid. Is that not acceptable?

You're thermometer in the lid is going to be analog. A remote with a probe will be digital.

Digital temp gauges react almost immediately to temp changes while analogs are slower. So the two will never agree, or rarely agree.

And managing the fire by the digital gauge is a bit more difficult because of how fast the temp moves, it will get you chasing temps and over reacting.

I use both in my Franklin offset, but I only used the analog until I got familiar with the smoker.
 
This thing is an absolute hunk of crap. I mean honestly for $100 I got exactly what I paid for.

If I were to do it over I wouldn't go this route again. It's basically made from sheet metal and I'm sure it will not be easy to cook with. I guess we will find out in 1 week!

Looking back I think a Char-Griller would have been a better option for a little more. But then again you could go down the rabbit hole of "Well for just a little more than that you could have..."

My next one will be around $500. I think that is where my limit is going to be spending wise.
 
The analog gauge on the lid tells you just the current cooking temp. You want a probe in your meat so you know when it's done. If you splurge for two remote probes, you can go do something else while you're smoking. If you want to just sit and watch the smoker and drink beer (a very pleasurable activity I'll add) the analog gauge and a $10 Ikea wired thermometer for the meat would be fine.

Temperature stability is over-rated in my opinion. And the difference between 30 pounds of steel and 600 pounds is not that big a deal compared to learning to tend your fire well. Granted, thin metal will rust out in years instead of decades but it's fine for learning the technique and seeing if you enjoy this hobby.

Get a charcoal "chimney" or electric element to start some charcoal, then add small wood splits for the bulk of the fuel and smoke flavor afterwards. And if obtaining hardwood splits is difficult in your area (Home Depots sell them in a bag however) good ol' "lump" charcoal gives a fine flavor too.

Enjoy. Your first car needn't be a Porsche either.
 
Did a smoke test for leaks.

Boy...
 

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How was the smoke generated ??

Also... when using heat though it's gonna create a draft and kinda make the smoke flow more rather than just building up in the CC and then coming out all the cracks...
 
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How was the smoke generated ??

Also... when using heat though it's gonna create a draft and kinda make the smoke flow more rather than just building up in the CC and then coming out all the cracks...

I just balled up a few pieces of paper, lit them on fire, and closed off all vents. I hadn't thought of the heat and draft. Is it worth closing up these leaks? I have the LavaLock strips and squirt out stuff at home.


Dont see any leaking from the firebox.

Jim

Amazingly you are right, 0 leaks from the firebox.
 
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Well I cleaned it with soap and dawn inside and out, used leaf blower to dry it, and wiped it over with a light coat of vegetable oil. I'm looking on the bright side and have decided to embrace this finely crafted Chinese masterpiece as a learning tool.

Took a whole 8lb bag of Kingsford original and lined the fire box and smoking area. Brought her to 500 for an hour then shut down shop.

Found this old wood. Burned clean and smelled good. I was wondering what it might be.
 

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tbh i started on a char griller - $500 at the orange box store on sale. i liked it well enough, was able to dial in temps pretty well and made some amazing food on it. i usually use charcoal for heat and splits for smoke, and just buy the original kingsford pack. i might spend a little more than lump after all is said n done, but it's convenient. 2 things you'll need is probe thermometers -- inkbird i've heard are good... i have thermopro i got off amazon... cheap and good range, and replacement probes are readily available. also get yourself an instant read thermometer to jab into the meat to check for doneness. thermapen are pricey but popular. i have a kizen or some chinese knock off that has worked well for me for the last ... 3 .... years? i think i paid like $30 for it or something.
 
Late to the party but welcome. I was in a similar situation when I bought my first smoker on clearance from HD many years ago. I had the same problems with fire management, controlling heat and temperature swings. It took me awhile to dial it in but I was able to produce some pretty good BBQ while building a new smoker.

Not sure of your resources, but here is what I did. I found a local metal supplier and bought some heavier metal from their remnant bin. Here are some pics of my mods on my el cheapo and they helped even out the temps throughout.

I bought a couple of pieces of angle and some 3/16 or 1/4 sheet, whatever they had or the cheapest.
IMG_2099.JPG
Put a piece over the fire in the fire box for mass and so all the heat didn't escape out the thin top.
IMG_2101.JPG
Same in the cook chamber
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And I added some mass to the bottom to heat up and flow to the center and back of the cook chamber. If I had to do it over again, I would make the pieces smaller and more akin to tuning plates so I could control where the heat and smoke would rise, but these worked well enough.
IMG_2104.JPG

You have received some great advice and just take some time to learn the smoker and the hobby. This was in 2007 and I am still learning and enjoying.

Mark
 
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