Boredom in Mississippi

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by wowmiata, Apr 12, 2016.

  1. wowmiata

    wowmiata Newbie

    Hey All!

    I just recently moved to Hattiesburg MS from Pensacola FL (Gulf Breeze more specifically) and I think it's time to find a new hobby; and here I am.

    I was planning on having a big cookout this summer to entice my friends and family up for a visit and originally was thinking "Crawfish Boil!!!" got to thinking, I dont live on the coast anymore...i'll have to drive a decent bit to get them...i cant borrow a 120 qt pot from a buddy down the street...this is going to just be a hassle.

    I love to grill and I just moved into a house, well I dont have a nice grill. So I was looking into getting a nice charcoal/gas grill combo. I stumbled into seeing a Charcoal/Gas/Smoker combo and then I saw a few COS's and thought, yes...this is what I want.

    I have not purchased a smoker yet but I am literally already drooling over all the possibilities. Ive been lurking on this forum for about a week wondering what I am going to smoke first.

    I currently am thinking of getting a COS from Amazon - Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker, Deluxe. @ $195 i feel like that is a decent starting point. its got close to 700 sq inches of cooking space and I've already got a list of mods that I will do to this smoker.

    First off, if I am completely wrong in thinking this is a decent starting point for me in this price point range, someone please direct me to where I should be looking.

    Secondly - Mod list before I even start a fire in it

        - Hit it with a coat of nice, high temp grill paint to try and help keep it in decent shape, as it will live outside.

        - Baffle/Heat diffuser to direct heat across the bottom of the cooking chamber instead of up and diagonally out

        - Two additional temperature gauges

        - Water pan; probably nothing permanent

              -- ** question about water pan, does the water pan need to be below the cooking surface??

        - Extending the exhaust from the top of the cooking chamber to grate level

        - Baffle Plates - probably just going to cut some cookie sheets and use those

            -- ** question about baffle plates, i assume they need to be above the bottom of the Baffle/Heat diffuser?? that way to effectively direct heat across the bottom of the cooking chamber?

         - Red RTV to seal major smoke leaks, if and where needed

    That is probably it as far as mods before I do cook - realistically that will probably do for a good bit.

    What are bricks used for underneath the cooking grate??

    Thirdly - point me in the right direction (links) of fantastic threads I should read!!!!! I really really want to smoke a turkey. And ribs, but it turns out i need a lot of schooling on ribs - babyback, spare, st louis, country ribs, 3-2-1, etc etc etc...I basically know nothing.
    Can you smoke (only smoke, not 3-2-1) ribs and have them be delicious?? Point me there!

    I have a mechanical background, my main hobby is cars. I have three vehicles right now but I'm not close to any of my friends to go racing or off roading.

    I cannot weld - so the mods are going to need to be achieved with a drill and screws/bolts n nuts...

    Anyways, I am extremely excited to start smoking and I cannot wait until I actually have a smoker on my back porch.
  2. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the group!  Glad you joined us.  I would get a WSM and not have to deal with all those mods.  A UDS would also be an option.  Cheap offsets are a pain from what I've read.

  3. wowmiata

    wowmiata Newbie

    I briefly looked at a WSM but they look so small as far as cooking space and it's going to be about the same price.
    I don't mind modding, it'll give me something to tinker with when I get home on the weekdays in preparation for the weekend.
    I'll look into a UDS once I learn what it is!
  4. wowmiata

    wowmiata Newbie

    UDS - ugly drum smoker.
    I think for that amount of effort, I'll just stick with the plan of modding the side smoker. At least it will still look fairly decent.
  5. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I vote WSM.

    I've had 8 butts in my 22.5.

  6. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Welcome from SC. It's good to have you on this great site.

    1. I never use a water pan. The water keeps the heat below where I like to cook.
    2. My exhaust is at the lower grate level and my temps are very even.
    3. Baffle plates should be an extension of the FB to CC baffle. The cookie sheets are a good idea to see if you will like tuning plates. When you get serious about heat management, check into a Horizon-style convection plate. They are very good for controlling heat and smoke flow.
    4. Use your smoker a few times to see if you really need any gasketing. When it has been hot a few times, it will settle in and seal some places on it's own.

    For advice, click on the search bar at the to of the page and go to some of the sub-sites for your particular brand of cooker, specific recipes, heat management, etc. To get specific information, just post a question. There are lots of really good folks here who are always eager to share their ideas and tips. All you have to do is ask and keep reading.

    Good luck and good smokin', Joe.
  7. wowmiata

    wowmiata Newbie

    For a 22.5 WSM I'm looking at close to $500 before my first cook; 400 alone for the smoker. Plus charcoal, wood, temp gauge, and a few other odds and ins.
    No doubt it's a good smoker, but I'll have roughly 75 less sq inch going this route for probably $175 less.

    What temps are you usually cooking at? Everywhere I've seen its almost said a water pan is absolutely essential.
    And will do on the RTV.
  8. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    My smoker likes to settle in between 260-275*. I really like those temps. I get a good finish with a very moist and tender product. If I'm doing chicken, It's not hard to push it to 300* and If I'm doing something that requires a low temp, I can hold it at 230-240*. This is a very good broad range. With a water pan, it would difficult to reach 230*. I had a 22.5" WSM and using water, I couldn't get any decent temps. I tried sand and it was not much better. With a foil-wrapped empty pan, I had much more control and could get temps more to the range that I liked. My new offset stick burner is a beauty on reaching a good temp level and holding it.

    Try some higher temps and see how your meat comes out. If you absolutely don't like it, just pack it up and send it to me. I will dispose of it properly. Joe.
  9. First off welcome, secondly its your choice and you want what you want.  With that said webers are built to last, their finishes are first class.  On top of that, heat and smoke goes up alot better than it goes sideways.

    here's a link to consider:

    Honestly the only wrong decision is not getting a smoker, hope this helps, and good luck.
  10. Wowmiata, 

    Your mods sound right.  I'm an engineer too and got a small New Braunfels offset about 10 years ago for $79.  There is a writeup of the mods made over the years that is attached.  These were just  as much for fun and challenge as for efficiently smoking.  

    The smoker really turns out fine BBQ with a minimum of effort.  It will burn for 5-6 hours on one load of charcoal without attention.  It is easy to add more charcoal when needed.

    Maybe these mods will help you.  The offset charcoal box has a grill plate over the charcoal and really makes it easy to crisp skin after smoking.  

    Welcome to our forum.  
  11. Sorry about the line to the modifications article.  It came out in the middle of the message and I can't figure out how to change it.  
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2016
  12. phatbac

    phatbac Master of the Pit

    If you wanted to start cheap with a decent amount of grill space you could go with a cheap Weber kettle. they grill and smoke pretty effectively and you can get surprisingly a good amount of food on one. i paid $99 for mine assembled. 

    As far as the WSM its a great smoker. I wouldn't obsess over the size of your cooking area but the quality of the smoker and how well it holds smoke and produces good food. i have had a cheap offset from charbroil with lots of room but i lost a great deal by putting a heat shield in it and made sub-par food with the cool spots of the smoker.

    I would definitely research the kind of smokers you are looking at and read some review here and elsewhere. as far as price goes you can spend a little now and feel the pain every time you smoke or spend a little more and feel the pain now and enjoy the benefits every time you smoke.

    Hope this helps ,

    phatbac (Aaron)
  13. wowmiata

    wowmiata Newbie

    Everyone, thank you so much for the responses! A very hearty welcome!


    thanks for the input. It's going to just take some time for me to figure out 1. what i'm doing and 2. what temps i'm going to be able to achieve on a consistent basis.


    I was at the store today and I put my eyes on a Webers and they do seem nice. The logic of "head and smoke goes up better than it goes sideways" is undoubtedly true. To my novice eyes tho, it seems like three racks of food would just be more trouble to mess with and monitor food if the skin on something is getting too dark, or if i'll need to wrap something in foil.

    ** again take what i say with a grain of salt - i've never smoked anything. I'm just going by what ive read and seen online so far.

    I agree tho, The only wrong decision is not getting a smoker!!


    I like what you did to your smoker - I just briefly read that and I like the mods you did. I dont think i'll go as far as insulating the the outside, but we will see where the world of smoking takes me.

    I'm going to re-read that write up soon and give it a much throughout thumb through.


    what do you mean you lost a great deal of room by putting a head shield in it? The mods i'm planning to make wont take away from any cooking space.

    I agree with spend more up front and not regret it in the long run, but i want to make sure that i am going to thoroughly enjoy smoking before i sink 600 bones into a nice vertical smoker, or a much nicer off set smoker.

    thanks all!

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