Smoker VS Minnesota Weather

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by butlerj, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. butlerj

    butlerj Newbie

    Hi all,

    I bought a no name propane smoker about two years ago (River Grille is the brand name on the smoker door). I opted for the stainless model because Minnesota weather is notoriously harsh on outdoor cooking equipment, especially if you're brave enough to cook outside in the winter, which I do. So I have to leave it out in the elements, unless I want to drag it through snow drifts to and from the garage, dismantle, and towel dry it after every use or snow/rainstorm.

    Anyway, I was going to smoke up some butt roast last week only to find that the burner housing has rusted out of my smoker rendering it unusable. Needless to say, I was a little upset. In the past week, I've done some looking around and it doesn't seem like any mass produced propane smokers are built out of all non-corroding metal. All of the stainless ones have regular old steel in critical places that render the extra cost of the stainless body a waste. It seems to me that an enterprising company could pretty much own the under $400 dollar smoker market if they built a model out of all non rusting (or extremely corrosion resistant) metals.

    I apologize for using my first post to vent, but I'm becoming a little frustrated in trying to find a propane smoker that won't rust out after two years, (short of finding a welder to custom build one). I suppose smoker manufacturers don't have much financial incentive to build a product that will never need to be replaced.

    Ok, enough whining, here's my question. What is the most weatherproof smoker available that also does a good job of smoking? Any input is appreciated.
  2. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  3. dutch

    dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Welcome to SMF.  I would hazard a guess that the weather is not the culprit from your Stainless Steel rusting out but rather condensation. I have a GOSM Big Block (propane) and it sits at the edge of my covered patio. It gets the brunt of any storm that blows in from the north, east or south east. When the inside of your smoker is warmer than the outside ambient temperature, condensation will form on the inside and run down the walls collecting in the bottom. GOSM's are the only propane units that I know of that has a drip pan that will collect drippings of grease and water.

    If the damage is not too severe, you might be able to find someone to fabricate and weld in a new bottom pan for you.
  4. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Dutch, you're the man! Butlerj, welcome to your new obsession and the SMF!
  5. smokinal

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

    [​IMG]    Glad to have you with us!
  6. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I moved from MN to ND so I know what you are going through. Personally I put my smaller propane smoker in my garage and just drag it out to the driveway when I want to use it. I also have a big smoke shack that I let sit outside all year long and I run it with a turkey fryer stand and burner and so far I haven't had any issues. If I were you I would build a UDS and be done with it. I love my UDS and its great for the brutal winters because once you get it going at the temp you want its basically a set it and forget it operation. Just my $.02.
  7. butlerj

    butlerj Newbie

    I've been doing some thinking. I've decided it would be a shame to waste the stainless steel smoker cabinet, so I'm going to attempt to modify it to work with a camp stove burner. The burner housing isn't worth saving. It's not stainless and it's the only part that has a rust problem, and the burner inside the housing doesn't put out enough heat to keep the temp between 200 and 250 F in January. I'm going to remove those and anything else that could rust burn or melt. To fill the gap left by the removed burner housing, I'll find a cast iron pot or something similar that's roughly the same size as the hole for the wood chips. I've always wished the wood chip box was bigger anyway. I just have to find a camp stove with a small enough footprint to fit under the smoker, or the same size as the smoker so it will fit on top of the burner if I remove the legs.

    Heat will also be a consideration. I have a 75,000 btu burner for home brewing. That's probably enough to turn the whole smoker into a puddle of molten goo, so I have to find something somewhere between that and what my smoker has now. I estimate that I'll need something in the 20,000 btu range. To my knowledge, most outdoor propane burners that are built for frying turkeys or brewing beer run somewhere in the 30 -80,000 btu range. I'm guessing anything over 25,000 btus will be difficult to keep from getting too hot for smoking, and running something that big for 6 hours would likely burn through a lot of propane. (Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong or forgetting to take something into account in any of the above).
  8. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

  9. michael ark

    michael ark Master of the Pit

    Get yourself a needel valve to regulate the temps.Look it up on seach bar.Easy fix. 
  10. butlerj

    butlerj Newbie

    I just ordered one of these on Amazon (see link). According to the description it already has a needle valve, but hopefully it allows for enough fine tuning to avoid torching my smoked goodies.

    The burner platform is 16" by 16" and so is my smoker cabinet, so I should be able to get it to sit level and stable on the burner without too much pain and suffering. I just finished removing all of the rusted pieces. Now the cabinet should be ready to go whenever the burner gets here. :grilling_smilie:
  11. krivera1

    krivera1 Newbie

    Most GOSM smokers ship with a pretty nice cover that completely covers-up the smoker box (just the feet stick out the bottom).  The cover has a zipper on one corner making it simple to put on and take off.  Wouldn't that be simple enough to use to keep the smoker from the elements?
  12. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Welcome J,

    Good to have you join us!

  13. butlerj

    butlerj Newbie

    I just received the above mentioned Bayou Classic stainless steel burner from UPS. After removing the smoker's legs, it sits perfectly level on the burner without any wobble. Just for peace of mine, I may still put some bricks in the bottom of the smoker be extra sure it won't topple over on a windy day.

    Anyway, I figured I should give it a test run without any food just to get the kinks worked out. The burner was supposed to come with a needle valve, but the one I got doesn't have one. The order process from Amazon went less than smooth, (but that's a story for another thread.) Rather than deal with sending it back and wasting another two weeks, etc..etc... I'll just get a needle valve at the hardware store on my way home from work tomorrow. It definitely needs one to work well as a smoker. 300F is about as low as I could go with the regulator that comes with the burner. On the opposite end, I can crank the temp all the way up to around 550F plus with the burner running all the way open. On the positive side, I guess I could use it as an oven in a pinch, and it now has a self cleaning cycle. :biggrin: I'll also be able to smoke even if it's -30F :biggrin:

    I just hope when I do get the flame low enough to run at the right temp, it will still be robust enough to not go out whenever there is a slight breeze. That would sort of kill the whole set it and forget it aspect of propane smokers.

    Thank you to all who advised me on how to proceed when I first started the thread.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
  14. I have the same smoker and am also in MN. So far the burner is holding up fine, but I am wondering how your replacement burner is working. I'm looking at getting another one of these smokers to leave up at the lake since I use it almost every weekend, all year long.
  15. butlerj

    butlerj Newbie

    I just smoked a beef roast with it last night. The smoker and burner are both holding up very well. The burner control is a little touchy, so you should keep a close eye on the temp until you're certain it has leveled off.... just to make sure the temp doesn't creep up to 400F while you're gone. I learned that the hard way. However, once you get a feel for how much you need to turn the dial to get a certain temp, it works extremely well! As a bonus, that black greasy smoke residue that builds up inside peels right off without any scrubbing if you let the burner run wide open until the temp gets up around 550 and let it stay there for 10 or 15 minutes. That's not something I would recommend with a painted smoker.

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