Smoker Purchase Advice?

Discussion in 'For New Members' started by mastfalk, May 29, 2014.

  1. As I posted in my intro - I have been using a Brinkmann Smoke n Pit for about 5 years. The elements got the best of it and a leg rusted off. Time for a new one...

    I'm torn on some decisions with a new smoker after reading reviews and seeing some recommended modifications on barrel smokers. I was wondering if I could get some opinions on the best direction to go with the least amount of mods. Price is a factor too.

    I have it down to 4 -

    Brinkmann Trail Master LE
    Oklahoma Joe Longhorn
    Horizon 16 Classic
    And the Vision Classic Kamado

    I did not do any mods to my Smoke n Pit, so it burned through fuel quickly and didn't hold heat. When I tried Beer Can chicken there wasn't enough room to stand them up - so I couldn't do it. Space to do this or a turkey would be nice. This is why I have my eye on the Kamado - Sam's Club has them. But I really like the look and versatility of the offset barrels. Not sure I get some of the mods though.

    Any opinions on a good direction? Does the Oklahoma Joe really need the mods? How is it compared to the Brinkmann in thickness? I don't think there is comparison to the Horizon - that one is solid. The Kamado seems to need the less mods and has some room in the lid to do what I want.

    Just having a hard time to suggestions!
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If a heavy-weight smoker is what your looking for, I suggest comparing the weight in the specs.

    Regarding the need for mods, it will depend on what you really want from the rig, based on experience with smoking in it, and your personal preferences. For example, if you want to load the grates, front to back and side to side, then a tuning plate would likely be in order...this can be tedious to dial in grate temps to achieve a reasonably low grate temp variance, and can cause an excessive amount of fuel usage (been there with my SnP several years ago). Otherwise, a baffle plate, coal basket (if not a stock item) and vent riser from the grate will improve overall performance very nicely while allowing less control over grate grate temp variance...could be a good thing if you smoke multiple meats such as yard birds,  which you might want to cook hot and fast (placed where grate is hotter) and butts, brisket, etc which you may prefer to cook low and slow.

    As far as head space in horizontals and not having it for beer can chicken, did you remove the warming rack? I pulled mine out and stored it for almost a year...never needed it when I used my SnP as a smoker.

  3. Eric

    Consider me a newbie at this.

    I'm ignorant of the terminology you used. Sorry. I bought a cheap smoker for $90 5 years ago and didn't know what I was doing. Now it is rusted out and I need to replace it - want to replace it with something better.

    While I tried smoking with it, I didn't like burning through so much fuel and baby sitting every half hour. Never could get the temps right. So I mainly used it for grilling or indirect grilling/smoking and not as a smoker for some time.

    I feel the call of the smoke though, and want to do it right this time with a better rig.

    I looked at some of the mod posts.

    I get the baffle and vent riser. Not sure about the tuning plates, I usually try to regulate the temp with fuel.

    When you say coal basket, you mean the plate to put coals and wood chunks on, the fuel, and catch the ashes? This was in the main barrel of the snp and could be raised up or down for grilling. Nothing in the fire box.

    I'm also not sure what you mean to remove to do beer can chicken. The grates were on top and don't have any other ledge to go on that I can tell. Are there photos of what you are talking about?

  4. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If you have a 1K budget or so . . . go to Bass Pro and look at the Horizons , good looks , weight and versatility .  Just sayin'

    Have fun and . . .
  5. Old school

    We are doing that today so we can see the difference for ourselves. I was eyeing those up. Can't say I have the budget per se - but if something is a better value we can make it work. Just need one good commission check!
  6. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    This is the only info I posted on my tuning plate mod, at least that I could find...this rig is no longer used as a smoker and the plate has long ago been removed. There is just one pic of the plate under the cooking grate. To clarify, the tuning plate mod does not regulate smoke chamber temps so much as it regulates grate temperature variations...without it, you have hot and cold spots on the cooking grates based on how the heat is flowing through the smoke chamber and the proximity to the fire-box, as well as the presence of a vent stack-riser. I didn't use a riser and baffle plate, but opted instead to use a tuning plate...probably would have been better off going with a baffle and riser due the loss in efficiency, and just took the hit on having a bit less grate space to smoke food on. Anyway, here's a little discussion on the tuning plate:

    As for removing the warming rack in the SnP, I took off the retaining pins/washers and completely detached and removed the warming rack from the body and lid so I could have more clearance above the cooking grate...never used the warmer for smoking anyway.

    Sounds like the Horizon has a system very similar to the tuning plate that is a stock feature, referred to as a convection plate. What a tuning/convection plate does is even out the heat at grate-level so that you don't have a hot-spot near the fire-box end of the smoke chamber, and a cold spot on the far end and at the front/rear, away from the fire box. Mine was a home-made custom design and install...very tedious to dial in the grate temps while having the smoker at temp and taking multiple (I had 10 thermometers on the grate)simultaneous temp readings at grate level in various areas...worked very well after it was completed, but caused and extremely high amount of fuel usage due to inefficiency...heat flow through the smoke chamber was slowed down so much that it took a long time to reach stable temps. Higher smoke chamber temps (above 240* or so) were generally not even an option, even with a very large and hot fire.

    If the Horizon has this feature built-in, that would, in my opinion, add a lot of value in itself, just due to the fact that it will increase your usable grate space. Without the tuning plate mod, my SnP lost over half of it's grate space capacity due to hot/cold spots, so if you buy one with it built-in, you'd be money ahead for those days when you really want to load up the smoker for a gathering or just to load up the freezer with smoked meats for lunches, etc. A full smoker is a happy smoker...(usually...without the necessary mods, not so much). BTW, the Horizon would not loose efficiency due to the convection plate like mine did...I'm sure they did their design much better than I could do with the tools and materials I had at my disposal.

  7. I looked at the 16 inch Horizon today. Not sure I noticed a convection plate though, but there was a slight baffle built in. I also noticed that I would be able to pop out the main grates in the barrel and put in the plate from the fire box - and that made room for a beer can chicken or bird that might not work with the room in the barrel with the lid closed.

    I was concerned about a couple of things though - lack of the mod to extend the stack and the amount of rust on the inside of the barrel. Is it supposed to be that way? For $900 I don't want to have to sand rust off or extend the smoke stack.

    Any observations? Photos attached. [​IMG]
  8. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    It definitely should not be rusted...especially when stored indoors. The vent stack riser mod is one you do yourself...don't know of any that come with it from the factory, though I do remember one model that has the vent stack coming out the far end, down closer to grate level, instead of up on the barrel cylinder. Aluminum flex ducting works well for the riser, like dryer vent ducting.

    I just did a search through threads from a couple years back and one member bought a Medina River...took a look and that must be the one I remembered seeing with the end vent stack. The patio model is $500.00 on the site I pulled up...there are several venders for Medina River. Maybe have a look at those and compare the specifications.

  9. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Mastfalk, I seem to remember reading on here that someone talked to guy at Horizon and was told that they did a lot of research on stack location and determined that their location was best for their unit. Give it a try.
    mastfalk likes this.
  10. I put the smoker out today. First time outside. I had to finish the patio and I had also waited threeonths for an order from Horizon of the baffle, charcoal box and cover. Very nice grill. Haven't seasoned it or used it yet. Looking forward to it.
  11. I would put some kind of mat under that nice new rig wouldn't want to see that new patio get wrecked. Smoker looks great what's something like that worth.
  12. Bass Pro retails them for around $930. I then had a reduction due to some scrapes to the paint on the side (this one was in best condition) and a discount because I am a Boy Scout leader and my son is a scout.

    They get knocked around in shipping on the truck. I told The manufacturer about it.

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