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Original poster
Jul 26, 2018
Tacoma, WA
Hello All, and greetings from the PNW!

Been reading threads on here for over a year, but this is my first time posting anything.

A little bit about me- I'm originally from Iowa, where I worked as a butcher while I made my way through college. That was my first experience smoking where we used an industrial pressure smoker to make our baby backs and pork chops that we sold in the counter. After college I joined the Army and have been all over the place for the last 8 years. Since then - I've gotten to use a friends propane smoker (smoke vault) a couple of times, and while it achieved the intended end-state, it left me wanting in terms of the process and experience.

With that being said, I don't currently own a smoker - I Have been spending the last year trying to decide on which route to go - do I get a a pellet-pooper for ease of use? do I go with a cheap and readily available propane smoker? Well, finally, after much deliberation, I have decided to go with a good ol' fashioned offset stick burner. mostly because I am attracted to the experience of picking my wood and lump, tending the fire, and learning from the rich history and tradition of the art! But also becuase my wife is from TX and thats the only REAL type of smoker in her mind.

So, now I that I finally made up my mind (and my got my wife on-board a little bit) I am turning to you all for guidance as I enter into the search for my first inexpensive starter pit. (I'll post another thread in the appropriate place for that discussion)

Thanks in advance guys!

- Tobin
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Reactions: kruizer
Welcome from Wisconsin. :emoji_cat:

I have found that when it comes to smokers, you get what you pay for. A cheap offset will get the job done but will leave you wanting for higher functionality. That certainly was my experience.

I got a cheap vertical offset charcoal smoker and got a lot of good Q off it but soon the limitations frustrated me so much that I bit the bullet and upgraded to a gravity feed smoker.

Here is what I didn't like about cheap.

1) Manual temperature control. Not bad if you don't mind fiddling with your rig all night long.
2) Leaky. I had to seal several leaks on my smoker.
3) Not off the shelf ready. I had to make modifications to the smoker before it functioned adequately.
4) Temperamental. It was hard to keep temperature stable over 225 degrees.
5) Limited in the cold. With no insulation, it was very hard smoking in the winter.

That said, if I had to do it all over again, I would start with a WMS 22 then save my $$ for an insulated cabinet model.

My $0.02...
Welcome from WI as well..

Unfortunately, I'm not sure what dictates what a good offset stick burner would be. I cheat and use an electric after retiring a cheapo brinkmann.
Welcome from Oregon. I just retired my smoke vault last September after 15 years. I learned to cook a few things really well. I am no help either on a stick burner. I built my own 240V smoker out of a fridge. I have had so much fun the last nine months, it opened a whole new world in smoking. Have your wife on board, makes a big difference. Good luc.
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Reactions: JC in GB
Welcome to the site, save your pennies up and get a good stick burner. Allot of folks use Langs here and they get excellent reviews.

thanks guys!

A Lang or a Yoder would be awesome! But unfortunately that is not even close to my current "wife-approved" budget.. back in my bachelor days my order would have already been placed! My hope is that after a few seasons of feeding my friends and family delicious BBQ, I can get some peer pressure on my wife to let us spend the money on one!

JC, thanks for your input! That's why I'm here, gather all the knowledge I can from guys who have been where I am! I really don't mind having to babysit a firebox, thats part of the experience - maybe one day ill get a pellet grill to set it and forget it. I also know there is going to be a steep learning curve to starting on a cheapo rig. I figure when I do get my Lang in the future :emoji_pray:, I'll appreciate it that much more. I'm also expecting to have to make several modifications to whatever pit I get, just because I am looking mostly at used ones. I have been reading several threads on here about what mods will help - from baffles and firestones, to creating better sealing with the high temp silicone.

I definitely have read a lot about the WSM on here, and they clearly have the following they do for a reason. I have been keeping an eye out for them on 2nd hand sites, but they aren't very prevalent out here - or people just aren't parting with them. Also, I just haven't been drawn to the cabinet or vertical style smokers very much - those of you who have used both, what do you like about them over a horizontal?

I have seen a lot of the Oklahoma "Jokes" for sale around 100$ that are basically new - and have heard that with some modding they can be ok.. also saw an older New Braunfels that needs some restoring for 50$ but I don't really know anything about those. It looks to be just another cheaply built smoker. also found a Brinkmann trailmaster Limited edition that looks alright, just needs a new coat of paint on the firebox and a good cleaning.

Would be ideal to find someone that makes custom smokers around here for 3-400$ but I cant seem to find anyone.
I got a hand me down brinkmann offset smoker and did a few things to help with temperature control, before I did modifications I had to mess with the vents ever 10 to 25 mins to keep a steady temp. Installed big green egg rim seals around the pit door and firebox door and installed clamps to hold the lids down air tight. Put some ceramic grill rocks in the bottom of the pit to hold temp and some baffles to try to dist6 the heat more evenly in the pit. In all I spent maybe 50 or 60 bucks in mods. But now I can just speak in at the temp every 30 mins of so and just small adjustments on the vents needed to regulate the temps. Only down side is it takes a bout 45 mins to an hour to get the pit where I want it to put the meat on where before it only took about 20 to 30 mins.
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