Should I upgrade to a WSM and ditch my vertical offset Brinkmann?

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Original poster
Dec 23, 2016
Southwest Virginia
I've been smoking ever since December with a Brinkmann trailmaster vertical offset. My girlfriend's parents from Alabama gave it to me (it was their old smoker, as they'd upgraded to a horizontal offset smoker in order to fit more meat on it, and well, their new one works amazingly well and I love it) as a present after I fell in love with their smoked food that we eat down there.

Ever since, I've fell in love with smoking. It's a passion bordering on obsession to be honest. Smoking food should be considered a form of art. At the very least, it's a science.

With that said, I do love the smoker. I really, really do and I greatly appreciate that they gifted it to me. They painted it and even brought it up here to me! However, the issues are vast. I guess everybody knows it, but Brinkmann no longer exists as a company (as far as I know?), so trying to fix/modify things is iffy. Heck, I'm not engineer minded, and despite looking at/for mods, I haven't found any decent solutions to my problems. My problems with this vertical offset smoker? Smoke leaks and, in the fire/charcoal chamber, charcoal ashes very quickly and gets under the charcoal grate; I have no way to get these ashes out of the way. I know I could invest in a charcoal basket, but in stores around here I haven't found anything that would fit nicely into the fire chamber.

And another thing, the vent/damper on the side of the fire chamber is rusted and is virtually useless at this point. I can't use it. I have no idea of how I would replace it, anyhow.

I've been saving up money for the last six months, just setting some aside in case I find the next big 'toy' I want. I'm not a big materialistic kind of guy... I'm simple... I like food, caffeine and simply being outdoors, but sometimes big cost items tickle my fancy. I just bought the grill I've wanted for years two weeks ago! The STOK drum charcoal grill! (I'm a cast iron freak and this grill has cast iron grates.)

On Mother's Day, I smoked two pork shoulders, two chuck roasts, about eight skewers of thick cut bacon, bacon-wrapped cheese stuffed jalapenos, 15 potatoes, a pork sirloin roast, 16 country pork ribs, 16 chicken thighs and two whole cornish hens (I used my STOK grill in the process as well as the Brinkmann vertical offset smoker.....)

With that said, I had temperature control issues all morning, which annoyed me to death. I stayed up late the night before with my little lady and some friends watching the UFC 211 PPV and got up that morning eager to smoke. My biggest annoyance with the smoker, asides from the smoke leaks, is simply (which it is definitely related) the annoyance of keeping the temperatures high. I don't even bother closing the top vent, even if I see the temperatures racing past 300+ degrees, because I know they'll drop within 25 minutes.

I want the 22.5" WSM. Want. My girlfriend says, "You don't need it!", but... she's kinda tired of smoked food (yeah, I can't believe it either!) since she claims her family only ever wants to smoke food (maybe I should just move in with them, eh?)... she likes to joke that, when she moved in with me last June, she was "finally away from smoked food!" until her family gave me the Brinkmann.

Anyway, she says I don't need it, but.... but.... buuut.... I really, really, really want it. I'm like a hyped up kid in a candy store after he's eaten three bags of Sour Dude sour belts candy! I have the money set aside for the 22.5" WSM... but SHOULD I invest in it? I want to say YES! YES! YES! but maybe some rational, sane and level headed person on here might have a differing opinion? Weber >>> Brinkmann from what I can see and tell... but should I just keep my Brinkmann? It does the job, but it's a ton of work. I actually think it has made for a fantastic first smoker, because it's made me work so hard at trying to hone my "abilities" and learn the fine tuning of smoking. Any input is greatly appreciated. Thanks guys, my fellow smokin' brethren.

Cliffnotes because I'm a long-winded feller:
~ My main squeeze's parents gave me their old offset vertical smoker.

~ Smokes OK, but temperatures are inconsistent, smoke leaks and is an aggravation.

~ Searched for mods, but don't see any viable solutions.

~ Badly want a 22.5" Weber Smokey Mountain cooker... 

~ Girlfriend says I don't need the WSM...

~ I want one insanely badly anyway

~ Do I really need one? Or should I suck it up and keep my Brinkmann and save my $400 like a responsible human being?
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Based upon a former side job as a drug and alcohol program coordinator, people say I know how to listen.  As a result, I can't tell you how many times people just open up with personal problems when in my presence.  Folks started calling me "Father Ray" because they could tell me anything, get sound advice, and know it never left my office.  Well, that last point is kind of moot here.

Probably everyone here in the forum has learned on one smoker, then moved on to something else that better fit their needs.  It's a natural progression. 

I'll share a story you might find helpful.  I learned to smoke on a Weber Kettle, first generation Performer model, that had been sitting unused on the side of my house for ten years.  My wife bought it for me, but she also bought me a gas grill many years later because it was easier to use. 

Once I started smoking, I used the Kettle for six months.  The Kettle required a lot of baby sitting, taking up all day Saturday, Sunday, or both.  Now, my wife loves smoked meat, just not all the time.  She also felt I was spending too much time on weekends smoking protein and veggies.  More than once she asked for a break from smoked meat, which I obliged. 

Now, along comes Christmas.  She's out of ideas what to get me.  Looking for an easy answer she asks, "If you could buy any smoker you wanted, what would you get?"  Although I had looked at a lot of smokers, I had a pretty good idea what I wanted.  The WSM was the best bang for her Christmas buck.  She was expecting me to spend a small fortune, so when I said the $400 WSM, she said "buy it."  It arrived the week before Christmas and she would NOT let me open it or use it until then.  Talk about agony!  I actually finagled my way into using it a few days before Christmas, but that's another story. 

The first time we went to a movie while the WSM was home smoking a pork butt or ribs, she said "Thanks for giving me my weekends back."  Lesson?  I let her know the WSM was all her idea, and I had her in mind when I chose it so we could spend our free time together. 

Moral of that story?  Let patience get you want you want, and let her think it was her idea. 
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Hmmm......I have heard nothing but great things about the WSM. The WSM is more of a set it and forget it smoker that puts out great que. For the off set, I have the OK Joe and recently added the convection plate and it made a world of difference in the temps. Got mine for $90. sound, to me, that you love smoked food, but don't want to have to baby sit to go with the WSM!!
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WSM has been my only smoker. Of course I went with the 22.5 because, well , bigger is better. I don't regret any second of that purchase.
Thanks guys! The wait is on. I have an 11 lb. pork shoulder and two racks of pork loin back ribs ready to season and dirty it up. Only thing is, I'm heading down south with the little lady to see her family on Tuesday for a week. Excited to see them (I know we'll smoke at least once down there), but I can't wait to come home and order the WSM. Guess I'll go through Amazon. I see some other online retailers offering covers thrown in for free. But I think I'll go through Amazon anyway just because they are a reliable online dealer.
SS, good decision on the WSM.  As far as that free cover, don't sweat it.  I used mine for a while but it is NOT water proof.  The WSM will collect water in the bottom when it rains.  Makes for a mess and useless leftover charcoal, after a storm. 

Solution?  I picked up a cheap, waterproof tarp and some bungees from Harbor Freight Tools.  When rain is predicted, I cover it with that.  It ain't perty, but it works.  We had a REAL drought busting, stormy winter here in NorCal.  After a couple months of non-use and the tarp on the whole time, the WSM was mold free and the used charcoal ready to use again. 

Enjoy the trip to the Alabama!

I'll second Ray on that one. The only time I ever got mold in mine was when I used the cover. You will be very happy with your new smoker. I "upgraded" last summer to a "high end" charcoal smoker that I love. It's also a great little stick burner which is what I bought it for and how I use it. Sometimes, however, I don't have the time to sit and feed the fire. This is also why I chose this specific smoker. I can just set it up with a charcoal fire, walk away, and it will still turn out fantastic BBQ. But it's not any better that what I could turn out on my wsm. I am absolutely convinced that no matter the price point, when it comes to what actually goes into your mouth, the wsm can deliver as well as any charcoal cooker on the market. Enjoy
Thanks, smokin' enablers! Guess I'll go through Amazon. Anybody had a bad experience getting their WSM through them? I've also been tempted to buy through BBQ Guys but only because they offer rewards points back on whatever you buy over there.
You're going to love it! My better half surprised me with one a few years ago and I've never looked back.

Having the ability to smoke overnight is huge for me. I can light it on a Friday evening after work and have confidence that it'll hold temp all night. Saturday morning the pork, brisket, etc... is finishing up. I can rest it and do whatever I need to do for sides. Everything is ready just in time for football, nascar, etc... And more importantly, I can get some sleep rather than babysitting a fire all night.

I also love that I can take it on the road with me. I almost always take it on vacations or trips to our cabin.

Great choice!
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Great looking smoke! Nice view too!

I use my WSM's several times a week. Manly the 14.5" but when I need to do more I break out the 18.

I sure do appreciate the nice comments. Thanks, y'all!

@mike5051  I love stuffing a smoker full of food every go-'round! :) I'm a big eater and love leftovers, so I guess, in a way, an army was being fed. Haha. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.