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Choosing a smoker???

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    Choosing a smoker???

    Hi all,

    I wasn't sure where to put this post, so here we go.

    My first smoker was charcoal, veritcal unit. Good flavor, but a PITA to keep the temp constant. And it rusted through after a few years.

    Trying for more automation and consistent temps, my 2nd was electric, also vertical. Had a special side gizmo where you could add the wood chips so you didn't have to open the main door. Liked it a lot, but was a little put off by having to keep the chips stoked, and then it started rusting out as well.

    Hoping to get into the "big leagues" I bought a used MAK stainless steel pellet smoker. Great, the base isn't stainless so it's rusting out. First couple of tries smoking were OK but I seem to be burning a LOT of pellets and frankly, not getting as much smoke flavor as my prior one. Temps swing pretty wildly, too (as based on the use of a Thermo 2-channel unit), but overall, gets the job done. BTW I emailed the MAK folks about it, and they'd love to sell me about $700 worth of upgrades to make the temps more consistent and use a little less fuel. Gee, thanks!

    So, oh wise ones, how does one choose amongst ALL the different kinds of smokers we have these days? I'm strictly amateur, I make relatively small batches (e.g. 3 racks of ribs and one pork shoulder together), and would like some degree of automation. I lean towards vertical units because they have a much smaller footprint than the barrel-shaped ones; but I do have to bend down to tend to them.

    Thoughts? Suggestions?

    Thanks in advance.

    Is the rust fixable on the MAK? I don't know when, but MAK switched to aluminized steel for the non-stainless parts of their grills since they originally came out to all but eliminate rust. I've seen other pics of the original 2 stars before that with the rust on the cart you're describing. Even though it's not cheap, one of the great things about the MAK is that when they come out with upgrades they are almost always backwards compatible. Mine seems like it usually stays within 10-15 degrees plus or minus of the set point and is very easy on pellets.

    Pellet grills in general have about the lightest smoke profile of all types of smokers. A couple things that help with this are to use 100% hickory pellets (most pellets are 70% oak or alder), cooking at lower temps (225 or lower) for the whole cook or at least the first couple hours, and putting food on cold to attract more smoke. That being said, you'll probably always be able to get a stronger smoke taste from a charcoal smoker or a stick burner.

    If you're ready to move away from pellets, a Weber Summit Kamado can be very hands off out of the box, but even more so if you use a Fireboard, BBQ Guru, or other automatic temp controller. I can easily run 14-16 hours without refueling. The dome is high enough you can get a riser grate to add capacity, but with a rib rack, 3 racks of ribs and a butt would fit easy.

    There's also the newer gravity grills from Masterbuilt and Char Griller.
    Last edited by glitchy; May 17, 2021, 03:07 PM.


    • tdimond
      tdimond commented
      Editing a comment
      What brand of pellets offers 100% hickory?

      NVM, just found Lumberjack's
      Last edited by tdimond; May 17, 2021, 06:41 PM. Reason: Google is my friend.

    • glitchy
      glitchy commented
      Editing a comment
      tdimond CookinPellets makes them too. I need to try lumberjack again myself actually.

    • kenrobin
      kenrobin commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree with everything glitchy said about MAK and the Weber Summit Kamado as a logical next choice.

      I also use Lumberjack and Cookin' Pellets for 100% hardwood that matches the flavor on the outside of the bag.

    Are you wanting a pellet smoker? If not, I would recommend the SNS Kamado....


      Take a look at the SNS Kamado or the SNS kettle. Not sure if they will be large enough, but I get a couple racks of St. Louis ribs on my 22” kettle/sns combo. I also have an 18” wsm, a 22” would work for you capacity wise I think. The wsm doesn’t require much tending once you get it set up.

      I also have a Grilla Chimp pellet grill, and I love the convenience, but I don’t get a lot of smoke flavor from it. I think most pellet grills impart a light smoke profile.

      I am sure you will get lots of recommendations, you probably know we like to spend other members money


        Honestly if you do the upgrades (I'm assuming pellet boss and flamezone upgrade) you will have a well performing smoker. Might be able to find the flamezone on the MAK fb page for cheaper... Also, they might offer a percentage discount on accessories through MAK or through BigPoppaSmokers the last week of this month.

        As to rust, that's a shame, but should be easily fixed with some sanding and some paint assuming it's the old steel cart. If it's one of the newer aluminized carts then its just oxidization and not rust, hand sanding and some spray paint should do the trick.


          You have some very good suggestion so far.

          You said you like the vertical style cooker. I have a large LSG insulated cabinet. They make several sizes. https://lonestargrillz.com/collections/smokers

          Very well built. Adding a fireboard controller and a fan makes it reasonably hands free. I also have a Yoder YS640 pellet and the flavor from the LSG is much better than the Yoder. The upgrades for the Mak would be much cheaper though and people who own them rave about them


            Hi all,

            Thanks for the wisdom!

            I forgot to mention I have a Weber Genesis 3 burner gas grill for what needs grilling and am VERY happy with it. For years...

            glitchy - what's a gravity grill?

            @David - I don't yet know enough to have a preference; does the Komodo do smoking well? What's the fuel source?

            klflowers, what's a "wsm"?

            @its - thanks; you seem to always be there for me! It's real rust; i'd sand it, use Rustoleum's Rusty Metal Primer; but of course, the MAK paint is a hammertone silver over black, so there's no way to repair that. Just black!

            Thanks, guys.


              I agree with above. If you are looking for more smoke flavor stay with charcoal and look at the WSM (weber smoky mountain) or the WSK. But if you really want vertical look at the PBC (Pit Barrel Cooker). Since you are using the gas grill for "grilling" the PBC can handle all your other needs.


              • HawkerXP
                HawkerXP commented
                Editing a comment
                Come on now. You all did see I mentioned 2 other cookers.

                Yes. I love PBC just as much as my Weber's. klflowers @Backroadsmeats

              • klflowers
                klflowers commented
                Editing a comment
                ..., ..., ... lol I was in Ace the other day and the call was not as loud. I may begetting past the PBC pull
                Last edited by klflowers; May 19, 2021, 08:10 PM.

              • HawkerXP
                HawkerXP commented
                Editing a comment
                Better get your hearing checked. klflowers

              smokyYank A couple links:

              Though, I'm more with ItsAllGoneToTheDogs that I'd say since you already have a great pellet grill, I'd strongly consider repairing the rust and upgrading it. Depending on what pellets and temps you've been using, maybe try changing those first and doing a few cooks to see if you like the results better. Then decide whether to invest in the upgrade. Though the new Pellet Boss could improve the smoke profile too if they've made major changes to the fan algorithms over the years.

              Another thing some people do (I haven't felt the need myself) is to use a smoke tube in pellet grills. You fill the tube full of pellets, light it and throw it in the grill when you put food on.


              • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
                ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
                Editing a comment
                plus I suspect he's checking his temps at grate level instead of next to the thermocouple which would explain the 20 degree difference he noted elsewhere. Though I can't figure out the pellet consumption, the flamezone does increase the efficiency but even before that upgrade they were pretty efficient and still smoked very well for pellet grills.

              I cook on a Big Green Egg, and it does more than an adequate job smoking as would other Kamados. Most Kamados can be automated and if you are not subject to gusting winds can be set it and forget it overnight. I do overnight 12-14 hour cooks all the time. In your climate a Kamado would make for cooking in the dead of winter.


              • Oak Smoke
                Oak Smoke commented
                Editing a comment
                +1 I use a Kamado Joe and a Smobot. Couldn't be happier.

              • LA Pork Butt
                LA Pork Butt commented
                Editing a comment
                Oak Smoke I used a Smobot, too. I like it better than conventional controllers that rely on blowing air into the cooker.

              • Argoboy
                Argoboy commented
                Editing a comment
                I have a Primo XL and I agree LA Pork butt and his comments. I also have a Traeger pellet grill as well and my wife prefers the light smoke flavour so we use both. If I had to choose just one it would be a Primo.

              Obvious question: what’s your budget???

              Seems like upgrading your pellet for 700 would be good but I’ve no idea what those cost new.

              You can’t go wrong w a PBC. The price is great. $350

              My Primo XL would handle your needs easily and once you learn it it is very hands off but that’ll run like $2200 all in.


                Everybody has an opinion so here is my 2 cents:

                For three racks and a butt I'd go with a 22" Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) and an Automatic Temp Controller (ATC) like a BBQ Guru or a FireBoard. A WSM is vertical. I have a 18" and 22" WSM and am very happy with them. Here is a very good website for WSM's.

                Home - The Virtual Weber Bullet


                  Me? Don't rightly reckon I knows me neither Doodly, or Squat bout no Automaticated Cookers, but far wiser, an more relevantly experienced Members'll be along, shortly, to help ya out...


                  Howdy from Kansas Territory, Welcome to Th Pit!

                  Lookin forward to learnin along with, an from ya!

                  If'n I didnt never say it, afore, way back there, to March...
                  Last edited by Mr. Bones; May 17, 2021, 06:10 PM. Reason: Ficksed my spailin of Automaticated...:o Ah'm setcha Rube...Sry...


                  • Mr. Bones
                    Mr. Bones commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Glad yer still all kinda here, with us'ns, above th grass, an pumpin air, Brother!!!!
                    Reckon, I mighta have done me more than a few things, what took 'mas de que cojones', Amigo, but I ain't Never been THAT BOLD, LOL!

                  • ecowper
                    ecowper commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Mr. Bones there’s some things I only do one time and right away know I was stupid. That’s one of them.

                  • Mr. Bones
                    Mr. Bones commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Lesson Learned, then, we'uns sez, round these here parts...

                  Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco. $299 with free shipping for about another week or so.
                  Panhead John

                  can you chime in?


                  • Panhead John
                    Panhead John commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Lowe’s and Academy Sports and Outdoors sells the OJ Bronco in the store also.

                  Here’s a vertical drum smoker I just bought and several members here have one as well. It’s the Oklahoma Joe Bronco. In addition to being an excellent smoker, you can grill on it as well. I love cooking on it. And every member who’s bought one love it as well from what I’ve been hearing. Being a vertical smoker, here’s your small footprint. Here’s a review about it from our own Jerod Broussard followed by a link to their website.


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                  Last edited by Panhead John; May 17, 2021, 05:42 PM.



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