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Vertical or Horizontal smoker - Charcoal only!

I have owned my offset barrel smoker (horizontal) for over 15 years and use it about once a month. It took a little while to learn how to use it properly but it was worth the effort. It's a smallish smoker: the firebox is about 18" long with a 16" diameter and the cooking chamber is 32" long with a 12" diameter. It's made by Texas Longhorn BBQ Pits & Picnic Tables located in Uvalde, TX

Pics:

Notice the flat plate welded over the firebox on the right. This allows you to keep a pot of sopping liquid warm as you smoke.

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Cooking chamber:

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1/4" thick steel construction

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Tight fitting lid and good welds

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Grating for grilling over the firebox. As you can see from the rust, I don't use this feature. I use my Weber Kettle.

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Things to look for when purchasing:

Cooking barrel and firebox should be made from thick cut steel (1/4")
Make sure the welds are solid, no holes and minimal splatter
Lids should close and seal tightly so you don't need to use aftermarket sealants
Wheels


Pros:

Heat from the fire is next to the meat and not directly under it.
You can maintain the fire without having to lift the lid on the cooking chamber.
Fuel source can be either charcoal or wood.
Easier to cook larger cuts of meat like briskets and ribs in the horizontal chamber.
You can also grill over direct heat with the firebox.
They look really cool.

Cons:

Quality smokers are expensive. I paid $400 for mine.
Large footprint can make storage an issue.
The better built smokers are very heavy. This one weighs about 200 lbs.
Removing ash build up under the fire during longer cooking sessions can be difficult.
With a small cooking barrel I can't stand a chicken on end for cooking (google Drunken Chicken or Beer Butt Chicken)
Weather will affect cooking performance. This may not be the best option for Canadian winters.
 
I recently sold this Horizon smoker. Total cost of this one was $1400, it's true a quality smoke cost some money. I now wish I hadn't sold it but I really wanted something I didn't need to babysit. $20150706_071405.jpg$20150706_071358.jpg
 

Luc

"To Wiki or Not To Wiki, That's The Question".
Interesting...

I keep looking around and saw a Char-Griller 6719 AKORN Kamado Kooker which is half the price of a green egg (if not more). Now, I know that the cheaper I go, the quicker it will fall apart (well, I think). Anyone tried that one?
 
A lot depends on the volume you will be smoking.

When I built our patio I made a dedicated place for a built in smoker/grill/direct-heat custom but the wife convinced me that we would never consume 20 racks of ribs or 10 briskets at a time so now that space sits empty and my Charbroil gas grill sites there.

What I wanted to do was a vertical with a rotating rack with a firebox to the right with a lift up lid to double as a firebox and direct heat smoker or grill depending on whether the lid was up or down.

Talked to these folks about customizing one of their pit boss models with a side fire box instead of a rear one but they were just too far away for the customization I was after :sad:

As made this is not a bad smoker for large volume smoking with a small foot print (8 rotating rack holds LOTS)

http://www.americanbarbecuesystems.com/Pit-Boss.asp

Not to hijack your thread but this is what I built to hold my custom smoker set up(that never happened). It would have a metal cover/roof over it so all weather smoking possible. Fire box at the far right of the wall, smoker box to the left

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TexLaw

Fussy Evil Genius
Interesting...

I keep looking around and saw a Char-Griller 6719 AKORN Kamado Kooker which is half the price of a green egg (if not more). Now, I know that the cheaper I go, the quicker it will fall apart (well, I think). Anyone tried that one?
I don't know if it's the same thing, but I have a friend who has two Kamado Joe cookers and swears by them (and that they are at least as good as the Big Green Egg).
 

Luc

"To Wiki or Not To Wiki, That's The Question".
A lot depends on the volume you will be smoking.

When I built our patio I made a dedicated place for a built in smoker/grill/direct-heat custom but the wife convinced me that we would never consume 20 racks of ribs or 10 briskets at a time so now that space sits empty and my Charbroil gas grill sites there.

What I wanted to do was a vertical with a rotating rack with a firebox to the right with a lift up lid to double as a firebox and direct heat smoker or grill depending on whether the lid was up or down.

Talked to these folks about customizing one of their pit boss models with a side fire box instead of a rear one but they were just too far away for the customization I was after :sad:

As made this is not a bad smoker for large volume smoking with a small foot print (8 rotating rack holds LOTS)

http://www.americanbarbecuesystems.com/Pit-Boss.asp

Not to hijack your thread but this is what I built to hold my custom smoker set up(that never happened). It would have a metal cover/roof over it so all weather smoking possible. Fire box at the far right of the wall, smoker box to the left

proxy.php


Interesting point. As much as I want the "big bertha" it's possibly an overkill. I use the BBQ to grill steaks, ribs, brisket, chicken, fish, pork, you name it. However, considering that I am not feeding a family of 4-8-10-20, having a huge BBQ will possibly result in burning 20 logs of wood to cook 2 steaks.

The vertical smokers (Kamado) seem very interesting for heat retention plus I could fit what I cook the most in there. I need to go check what's available in a shop to physically see how they are before I buy something off the web from 3-4 pictures.
 

Luc

"To Wiki or Not To Wiki, That's The Question".
The search continues...

I've been watching videos of those drum barrels but I find it a bit rich to pay +$300 for an oil barrel with 3 wheels, 2 handles on the side, one on the lid, a few holes, grill and that's it. I would need to modify it a bit to get it to my liking.

I also looked at the Weber Smokey Mountain and Napoleon Apollo 300 (that Costco has) as they are pretty much in the same price range. The 18.5 WSM would probably be enough.

I like the hooks in the Apollo but that's an easy fix in the Weber. The Apollo has a lot of removable sections which makes me nervous for heat retention (more cracks, more joints, more leaks). The Weber seems to be a better fit than the Apollo after the reviews and specs that I've seen.

One or the other, I will need to use that special tape to patch any potential leaks.

A water heater blanker or welder blanker seems to be good to maintain the temperature during winter. But then, if I buy that, the end price will roughly be the same than the Akorn.

I can't seem to find the grill size of the Kamado Akorn grill. They say the fire box is 20inches by 20 inches which would lead me to believe that the grill is 20 inches. Using the info where the primary grill is 314 sq in, it should be 20in but I can't clearly find that info.

I understand the advantages of the Akorn and it looks pretty amazing if I look at the Weber/Apollo. I have to think if I want to cook during the winter. Usually charcoal is fairly difficult to get in January. Plus, I am unsure if I really want to get out there to cook. Maybe on a mild day.

So, I am still unsure on where I want to go with this but it seems to narrow down between the Weber Smokey Mountain and the Kamado Akorn which are around the same prices ($359 and $399 CAD around here).
 
This is totally different than any smoker that's been listed here and would only be good for truly smoking, but one of theirs is the next one on my list for BBQ comps.

Humphrey's Smokers

These are a vertical insulated reverse flow charcoal water smoker, whew that's a mouthful. Basically they take the best of multiple worlds and put them together. The whole smoker is insulated so you maintain temps well. The firebox is in the bottom of the smoker and the air inlet is as well. The heat from the fire and smoke travel up the inside of the smoker walls and enter the cook chamber from the top. The smoke then has to travel down through the cook chamber and enters the chimney at the bottom rear of the cook chamber. It then travels up and out of the stack. There is also a water pan that you would keep filled to provide a moist cooking environment.

Essentially they take elements of the WSM, an insulated cabinet smoker, a reverse flow and put them all together. I would think the Half-Pint would work well for most home cooks! These are built in the same fashion as Backwoods Smokers, but are much cheaper! Youtube Backwoods Smoker and you will see pretty much everything you could want to know about this type of cooker.

Like I said, might be overkill for what you want, but just thought I would throw it out there.
 
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