FAQ OF THE INTERNET BBQ LIST
[Do I have to have a very expensive smoker to make good barbecue?]
Listen folks. Several of us have been fortunate enough to get new pits (BBQ Pits by Klose) recently. There's been a tremendous number of posts proclaiming the religious experiences and enviable barbecue produced on these pits. Here is something for the newcomers and everyone--it's not the pit that makes good barbecue. Dave Klose and I discussed this a few days ago. He said, and I completely agree, that if you learn to cook good barbecue on whatever you use, whether it's a 55 gal. drum half, an NB, a Brinkmann, a bullet water smoker, or whatever, you've done the hard part and can feel good about what you've accomplished. There's no magic in any Cadillac smokers. They can't make a bad cook a great cook, they can only make a good cook better.
Philip F. Wight--
Rodney I think you've touched on the "secret of the ages" when it comes to barbecue . . . that if you know what you're doing you can turn out just as good a quality barbecue from a $50 converted oil drum as you can from a $50,000 BBQ Pit By Klose. The more expensive unit will have bells and whistles to make the work easier but the basic touch has to be there first. I'm told that many outstanding competitors use the bullets and small water cookers to turn out first quality stuff. That's why this List is so important; here we've learned technique as well as recipes, and I've come to believe that it's 90% in the technique.
"It not the pit, it the pitmaster that makes good barbecue."
[What would you change if you could re-engineer the smoker you purchased?]
I bought a Oklahoma Joe's smoker, and the only regret I have is I didn't get a bigger one. My advice: buy more than what you think you need.
[I was looking at an off-set firebox smoker and it looked plenty big enough to smoke 3 turkeys at once. Is this true?]
One thing to keep in mind before you go out and buy too much meat to smoke at once is that the whole area in the smoking chamber isn't usable for smoking long-term. The section nearest the firebox will be too hot to leave the meat for more than a few minutes to an hour or so. I like to start the food near the fire end and then, after getting some browning, move it farther away for the rest of the smoking time.
[I hear the term 'off-set firebox smoker'. What does that mean?]
The wood-burning smoker type that most experienced barbecuers will use to do their smoking is called the 'off-set firebox' smoker. This type of smoker has three main parts: the firebox, the horizontal smoking chamber, and the exhaust chimney. Some manufacturers add a vertical smoking chamber at the end of the horizontal smoking chamber and the exhaust chimney exits from the top of this vertical chamber.
The firebox is where you make the fire and it is located to one side of the smoker, either right or left. It is 'off-set' from the main smoking chamber, or middle part of the smoker (where you put the meat). Being off-set, the heat that comes off the fire does not go directly to the food racks (like on a backyard charcoal grill), but instead travels horizontally past a baffle and into the smoking chamber, ideally under and around the meat on the racks. The heated air and smoke then exit the smoking chamber through the exhaust chimney. Some smokers have the exhaust chimney opening at the top of the smoking chamber, on the end opposite the firebox. Other designs have the exhaust opening in the middle of the opposite end of the smoking chamber.
In the smoking chamber there is at least one meat grill or rack, often several and often at more than at one height, i.e. upper and lower grills. Here is where the real business of smoking meat is done--on the grills. Most backyard off-set firebox smokers can handle a brisket, a chicken and a slab or two of ribs at the same time. Larger pits can hold much more meat and feed larger crowds of people.
Some pits have a vertical smoking chamber at the end of the horizontal chamber, opposite the firebox, that can operate at a lower temperature than in the horizontal chamber. This chamber is used for smoking things like fish, jerky and bacon.
The exhaust chimney is where the smoke exits the smoker. It is usually fitted with an adjustable damper. A note of caution here: beginners to smoking should leave this damper wide open while smoking. Experience will let you deepen the amount of finishing smoke flavor by adjusting this damper. Closing the exhaust damper without knowing what you're doing will be the shortest route to ruined barbecue.
[Can you give me some pointers on selecting a barbecue smoker?]
Selecting a barbecue smoker is like buying any other piece of equipment. You need to do some homework and decide a few things before you rush out and buy one. Consider: where will you use it--backyard or porch or apartment? How much do you want to spend--$30 or $3000? How much room do you have--four square feet or an acre? How serious are you about barbecue, once a month or every day? How many people do you want to feed when you have a barbecue party--two or a hundred? What kind of weather do you have--hot humid Florida or cold freezing Maine? How much barbecue do you want to do at one time--a few hot dogs or a load of pork shoulders, ribs and a couple of briskets? Do you want to be able to cool-smoke some fish or bacon? Do you want a combination unit--smoker and grill? What level of attention do you want to have to put into your smoking--tending a wood burner every 30-60 minutes or a gas or an electric Lazy-Q unit every few hours or so? How long do you want the smoker unit to last--pass on to your grandchildren or replace it every other year? Do you want a smoker that you can take to the beach or the mountains, or do you want one made out of bricks that forms the focal point of your patio?
When you know the answer to all these question, picking out a smoker will be fairly straight-forward.
[What are the advantages or disadvantages to choosing a square vs. a round firebox when buying an off-set firebox smoker?]
Having owned both round and square firebox pits, I will give you my opinion. Square fireboxes have more room. A 16" sq. firebox has more interior volume than a 16" round firebox. This extra room allows you to have more room under the fire grate for ash, a full 16" square firegrate and more room over the firegrate, so the flames are not right at the top of the firebox. All this extra room helps give you better fire control. Ashes don't build up and smother the fire as quickly, more room to rake the coals to one side or the other and more room to add logs without burning the paint off the top of the firebox. Another added feature of the square firebox is the ability to use the flat top as a cooking surface for pots and also as a grill.
I personally feel the round firebox is one of the biggest shortcomings of the NB and Brinkmann offset pits. The 16" firebox makes fire control difficult, or at least somewhat tedious. However, when you have a round firebox of 20" or more, these problems are eliminated. Even though a 20" square firebox still has more room than a 20" round one, the round one has enough room to eliminate the problems associated with smaller round fireboxes.
Bottom line is, IMHO, that a square firebox less than 20" is better than a round firebox less than 20", but 20" and above, it really doesn't matter.
Even though most folks like a square firebox, I don't. I'm talking about a firebox and smoker dedicated to slow smoking only, not a grill and smoker combined. I would choose a properly dimensioned round box over a square firebox any day. However, an improperly designed round firebox can be very awkward. I think this is the problem with the "Hondo" styled, cheaper pits like the NBBD, SnP Pro, etc. If a round firebox is approximately 1.5 times longer, or more, than its width, it is a great, user friendly log burner.
A round firebox allows me to bank my coals in the middle of it in a nice little compact, hot pile, without them trying to spread out all over as they do in a flat firebox. This makes the addition of new logs reach the burning stage much faster, for the heat and draft is concentrated into a smaller draft path. A round firebox is also much easier to take out the ashes than a flat firebox, for as you scoop one shovel full out, the other ashes fall towards the center, rather than pushed all over the place as in a flat firebox.
There are some other elements to be considered here, and one must choose what they are primarily using the firebox for. Example: the Klose Back Yard Chef--the square firebox is important to me, for I do a lot of steak, chicken, and pork chop grilling, as well as corn and potatoes. A flat firebox works best for this, for one can spread out the coals over a wider area, and that is important for grilling. However, if you are concerned with slow smoking only, I think a "properly designed" round firebox is the only way to go. The choice is yours!
The flat top feature of the firebox is also nice for pre-heating your firewood before it goes into the firebox. On a round firebox, there must be a flat top bracket or shelf welded onto it to get this feature.--------------------
[What should I look for when I start shopping for a premium smoker?]
Here are a few features you may want to look for when buying a premium grill/smoker, whether it is charcoal, wood, or even gas-fired.
1 Ask your retailer if the unit you are interested in is made from all new steel. There are some units out there that are made from used materials and should be avoided.
2 Pick the thickest steel unit you can find and afford. The thicker the walls of the smoker, the better it will hold in the heat, as well as always cooking more evenly. Quarter inch steel pits last much longer than the sheet metal ones. Look for a pullout ash pan--this will help increase the life of the grill or smoker considerably and make it much easier to load wood or coals.
3 Try to buy a smoker that will fit the size of family/group you are normally feeding. A medium-sized smoker 18" or 20" diameter by 30" long will allow large cuts of meat like shoulders and turkeys to be cooked without burning the skin from the hotter top areas of your grill. A 20" diameter by 30" long smoker will hold a brisket or shoulder, two whole chickens, and few hoops of sausage on the bottom shelf, with 3 corn-on-the-cob, 3 baked potatoes, and a slab of ribs on the top half shelf, if one is present. This size will feed the average family/group of 5 to 10, without having to stack the meats and vegetables inside too closely together.
4 A nice feature in some off-set firebox smokers, is an adjustable meat rack over the fire, for grilling steaks, hamburgers, hot-dogs, fajitas, vegetables and blackening redfish.
5 Try to get a unit that has features like adjustable grill heights, and removable meat racks framed in steel angles for extra strength. A large log rack underneath is also helpful for storing wood, charcoal, trays and pans. A steel plate fixed baffle, welded at 45 degrees, between the firebox and main chamber of your smoker will allow you more cooking area, and helps to even out the temperatures from one end of the smoker to the other. A 2-inch high steel plate welded vertically at the bottom of the smoking chamber by the firebox, will allow you to pour water, wine, or juice in the bottom of your smoker to keep the meats moist during cooking. A drain at the end away from the firebox is useful to drain off any drippings and fluids you don't want after cooking. Place a ball valve on the drain for easy cleanup.
6 Be sure to inspect the grill or smoker for sharp edges, unwelded corners, sturdy legs and quality wheels. Swivel casters on one end, and large wheels on the heavy end will make moving your grill easier. Be sure the doors fit tightly, with a seal that won't warp due to the heat of everyday cooking. Make sure the straps on the edges of the doors are welded completely, and not skip welded, as this can lead to warping.
7 Decent handles that don't get hot are a must for any grill or smoker. Wood handles do not last very long outside in the weather. A handle that allows the air to go through it, like a coiled stainless steel handle, are by far the best you can get.
8 Make sure your smoker includes a quality stainless steel thermometer that is hermetically sealed, so smoke does not condense inside the dial. It should be mounted at the meat rack level, and not higher up in the center, or on the top of the door, as it is usually 50 to 75F hotter than at the meat rack.
9 Look for grills or smokers that have plenty of shelf and table space.
10 Be wary of grills that have cheap door hinges or latches, as these will last outside in the weather for only a short time before they rust shut or break off. The doors with a steel bar the full length of the door hinges are better.
11 Adjustable controls for air-intake at the firebox are helpful for controlling the inside temperature of your grill or smoker. Ones with the sideways sliding controls will last much longer. An adjustable cap on the smokestack will also be helpful.
12 Be sure to ask for any recipe or instruction books that may be included. Also collect any information they may have on accessories for your smoker, like covers, charcoal and wood suppliers, cookbooks, cutting boards, seasoning supplies, and replacement parts for your grill, like racks, etc.
13 Deal only with reputable companies, that will be there to answer your questions if a problem should ever arise or you need replacement parts.
[David, since you make and sell barbecue pits for a living (BBQ Pits by Klose), I guess you could have just about any size or style smoker you want. What do you have?]
I have one of my Klose Backyard Chef smokers that is 20-inch diameter by 36-inch long with a 20 x 20-inch firebox. This will feed 20 people. It holds up to 4 briskets. However, a typical load for me is a brisket or a pork shoulder, 2 chickens, 2 strings of sausages, 2 ears of corn , and 2 baked potatoes. This model is the perfect size for that. I have had a 100 different smokers through the last 15 years and I like this one best.
[I'm new to barbecue. What type of smoker should I start out with?]
This is a question that all beginners to barbecue ask. Here is what the many of people on the BBQ List did when they started barbecuing:
1 They purchased an inexpensive water smoker. Charcoal-fired if they wanted to start off to learn barbecue and fire-control at the same time; electric or gas if they wanted to learn to barbecue with a minimum of hassle. Price of these units is between $28 and $60.
2 When their barbecue skills increased in a year or so, they wanted a 'better' smoker. They had to make a choice.
2 A Some liked the simplicity of the bullet water smoker, but wanted better temperature control. So they purchased the Weber Smokey Mountain smoker. It is the world's best bullet water smoker, versatile and forgiving. Price of the Weber unit is about $170.
2B Some went with a traditional wood-burning off-set firebox smoker, purchasing the Brinkmann Smoke N' Pit Professional or the New Braunfels Hondo or Black Diamond. Price for these units is between $170 and $200.
2C Some went with a better Lazy-Q smoker, purchasing a Cookshack electric smoker or the Traeger pellet-fired smoker, (prices between $485 and $1,200).
3 As their barbecue skills matured and their desire to smoke more meat at a time came about, they wanted a larger, premium smoker. Here the choice of how to go is much more complicated, but the barbecuer by this time knows exactly what he or she wants. Many List members have purchased a premium smoker from BBQ Pits by Klose, some have chosen a premium smoker made by Oklahoma Joe. Other List members went in different directions, purchasing smokers by made by other manufacturers, taking the home-built road, and some went down the most ambitious road of all, building a permanent backyard smoker or even a smoke house. Price for pits on this road range between $500 and $2,500 and above.
If you can afford it, get a Klose smoker or one of the other heavy commercial brands like Oklahoma Joe's. They will last a lifetime and make it easier to maintain a good fire and steady temperature than a lighter weight mass-merchandised smoker. It will probably save you money in fuel costs in the long run.
Harry has hit on a valid point with the fact that a good smoker will "maintain a good fire and steady temperature." There's more to this than meets a beginner's eyes, and well worth thinking hard about. A "good" fire is not just a fire. It's a very special fire that you need when barbecuing. It's a nice little bed of coals in the fire box, and a couple of logs slowly flickering, sending out a gentle white smoke throughout the smoker and up the stack. Do not try and control the temperature by shutting down your firebox inlet damper. It should always be at least 1/2 open, preferably almost wide open. And remember always keep the exit flue damper wide open. This kind of fire will help you produce a great tasting product, without a bunch of soot or creosote. A good smoker will allow you to build this kind of fire, and be able to keep the temperature steady in the cooking chamber at the same time.
A poorly operating smoker is another matter. You will have to make a big fire in the firebox, with lots of hot coals, and keep a 3 or 4 log fire going most of the time, to keep the temperature high enough in the cooking chamber. This causes several problems--the worst being that you have a fire that is hard to control with any kind of quality. What I mean by this is if you try to close the intake damper down a bit, you will starve this hot fire of oxygen, and produce creosote, or a stale smoke and soot. Also, a hot fire such as this simply will not allow you to cook well. It will have a different, less desirable smell, create a different chemistry, etc. Every time you chuck a log into it, the log will burst into wild flames, (not good) and burn too quickly due to the intensity of the hot fire you are having to maintain. If you try to close the intake damper down a notch or two, creosote will develop. Lots of times this will occur, even with your damper wide open, for the fire just can't get enough oxygen.
You will end up going around in a vicious circle. Lots of good barbecue meat has been ruined because of this problem. On the other hand, the 'good' fire will allow you to open the intake damper wider, if you need more heat, or nearly close it down to decrease the heat, and not create the problems mentioned above, for you're not having to work with such a large fire. Plus as the years go by, and if you've barbecued a lot, you will save a sizable amount in money spent for wood. Might say you'll get a lot of your investment back, and have a heck of a lot more fun barbecuing. Think about it.
[I've read several posts from barbecuers who use electric smokers. They say they get good results with a minimum of work. So why should I bother with all the hassle of a wood burning smoker?]
I have both an electric (Southern Pride) and a log burner (Klose BYC). There is absolutely no comparison between the product from the two pits. Everything I do in the BYC is superior to the electric. The advantage of the electric is that I can pretty much set it and forget it while the BYC needs to be watched and fed logs every hour or so. So when I'm lazy or real busy or I'm cold smoking something, I use the electric and the result is usually very good. But when I want to do it right, I fire up the BYC. I used to think smoke was smoke and heat was heat, but there is something magical about cooking meat with burning logs. It's hard to express, but the time, effort, and care put into tending the fire is reflected in the end result. It's also more fun and more satisfying.
[I am soon going to order a Klose or Oklahoma Joe's smoker. What are the opinions on the vertical smoking chamber that I can order installed next to the horizontal smoking chamber? Is it worth the extra bucks to get the smoker with both horizontal and vertical cooking chambers?]
I have a Klose Backyard Chef, and I use the vertical chamber more than the horizontal when I am not using both together. I think it is easier to open the vertical chamber to check or baste the meat, and stay out of the smoke, than with the horizontal. Also, when I add fresh logs to the fire, I can open the horizontal door for a couple of minutes and dump off the initial smoke while the wood catches fire, before it gets to the meat in the vertical chamber. The big advantage to having the vertical chamber is the increased capacity you get and a little more flexibility on arranging meat in the cooker.
[Can you tell me something about the commercially-produced smokers and grills suitable for home barbecue?]
The following is a list of popular budget and premium smokers. Descriptions were taken from the manufacturer's literature. All prices as of late 1997. Reviews when given reflect the opinions of BBQ List members.
Universal Water smoker
UNIVERSAL WATER SMOKER #1400. Sug. list $149.95 354 sq. in. cooking area. Expandable up to 1,770 sq. in. Americas largest water smoker--uses up to ten grills. Smoke pounds of fish fillets or boneless chicken fillets. Has Universal Rack System for hanging rods and multi-level cooking grills. Heavy gauge steel construction with 2 porcelain cooking grills, 1 heavy duty meat hanging rod, enamel water pan, charcoal/wood pan, cool touch stainless steel handles, adjustable air vent and large full-height access door (Temperature gauge not included).
BLACK DIAMOND Smoke/Grill #4800 732 sq. in. Cooking area expandable up to 1,708 sq. in. with optional grills. Three porcelain cooking grills are standard. This unit has a Malaysian mahogany front shelf, hardwood handles plus the added feature of a welded on hot plate, great for warming side dishes. This unit has an off-set firebox. The Black Diamond is the same unit as the Hondo with a wood vs. a steel shelf. Sug. list $299.95
BLACK DIAMOND Stainless Steel #4848 Sug. list $449.95 732 sq. in. Cooking area expandable up to 1,708 sq. in. with optional grills. The Black Diamond has Malaysian mahogany front shelf assembly across main chamber, with stainless steel chamber doors, side air baffle and smokestack damper. This unit has an off-set firebox.
[Review--List members report a high degree of satisfaction with the Black Diamond smoker.]
LUKENBACH Grill #1800. This is primarily a drum-type grill with 488 sq. in. of cooking area. This unit has an easy-access fire door on one end. It has a wood front shelf. It is possible to smoke meat in this unit by building a low fire on one side of the unit. Sug. List $199.
GUADALUPE Grill/Smoker #5630 Sug. list $399.95 Exclusive Multi Draft System 488 sq. in. Cooking area-two porcelain cooking grills. Utilizes dual smokestacks with dampers in both ends and a central divider which offers multi grilling and smoking options. Grill at two heights at same time or totally isolate foods from the fire using the central divider. Features Cool Touch stainless steel door handles, Malaysian mahogany front shelf, louvered air control on side access doors and now with four swivel caster wheels. Dual 4-way adjustable grill heights. Includes two easy clean-up slide out liner/ash trays for extended life. This unit does not have an off-set firebox.
GRILL SERGEANT #7500 16 lbs. Sug. list $39.95 180 sq. in. cooking area. This take along charcoal grill has adjustable smokestack which also locks lid for clean portability. Quick, easy assembly--no tools required. Ideal for picnics, camping, RVs and more.
The Boss Grill
THE BOSS Barbeque Center #8400 Sug. list $149.95 513 sq. in. cooking area. Heavy gauge steel barrel type styling. Adjustable 3-position height fire/grate pan with handles for lift-out cleaning. Hardwood front shelf and large bottom storage rack. Has 4-even flow air damper controls and in-door temperature gauge. Includes: 2 cooking grills and 2 fire grates.
BANDERA Smoker/Grill #5600 Sug. list $499.95 1,220 sq. in. Cooking area with four porcelain cooking grills. The Bandera expands up to 4,185 sq. in. using 14 cooking grills in its cooking chamber. Includes: 2 hanging rods, 1 rib rack, porcelain enamel water pan, a Malaysian mahogany front shelf, easy moving casters and wheels, 'Cool Touch' stainless steel handles and easy clean-up, slid-out liner/ash pan for extended life. Temperature gauge is optional. This unit has an off-set firebox with a rectangular vertical smoke chamber.
[Review--List members report a high degree of satisfaction with the Bandera smoker.]
The Pecos is a small portable grill smoker with 244 sq. in. of cooking surface. This unit is ideal for apartment dwellers and for taking on trips. List price is $99.95.
Model 810-5030-0 This compact, single-grill charcoal smoker has a double-latched lid for carrying to your camp or picnic site. Use as a water smoker or a barbecue grill. Great for camping, tailgate parties and picnics. List Price: $39.95.
Cook'N Cajun Charcoal Double-Grill and Smoker
Model 850-7000-1 Our top-of-the-line double-grill charcoal smoker has a 50 lb. capacity. Smoker body lifts off base for easy access to an extra-large charcoal pan. Features heat indicator in dome lid handle, extra-large porcelain-coated steel water pan and Nylon handles. Converts to a waist-high or portable grill. List Price $89.98. Street Price about $45-50.
[Review--this is the Brinkmann smoker model, or one called the Smoke N'Grill Gourmet, we recommend that beginners purchase if they want a charcoal-fired unit. The body of these smoker models lifts off the charcoal pan section for ease of fire maintenance. They have a larger fire pan, better temperature control, easier starting, and easier cleaning, making the difference in price between this model and the cheaper ECB above well worth the extra few dollars.]
Smoke'N Grill Stainless Steel Charcoal Smoker
Model 810-5305-S This strikingly beautiful stainless steel smoker cooks as good as it looks. Double grills handle up to 50 lbs. of food. Features include stainless steel body and dome lid, heat indicator, wooden handles, porcelain-coated water pan and charcoal pans, and hinged door for adding charcoal and water. Converts to electric model. List Price: $169.95.
Smoke'N Grill Electric Double-Grill Smoker
Model 810-5290-C Double-grill 1500-watt smoker handles up to 50 lbs. of food. Converts in seconds to a barbecue grill. Wooden handles stay cool. Water pan and lava rocks included. List Price 139.95. Street price about $70
Brinkmann also sells a Gourmet Electric Smoker model that is similar to the Smoke'N Grill Electric but is taller. Street price is less than $90.
Editor--The Brinkmann electric smoker models do not have adjustable heat controls for the electric element--a desirable feature found in the Char-Broil units.
Smoke'N Grill Gas Double-Grill Smoker
Model 810-5600-0 Double-grill design provides two cooking surfaces that handle up to 50 lbs. of food. The middle section is removable for easy conversion to a gas grill. Equipped with lava rocks, 18,000 BTU gas burner, LP gas hose and regulator. Features Piezo quartz ignition system for matchless starts. List Price 169.95. Street price about $100.
Smoke'N Pit Professional Horizontal Smoker (SnP Pro)
Model 805-2101-1 This large capacity horizontal charcoal/wood smoker incorporates a separate fire box, a design favored by many smoke cooking enthusiasts. A wood or charcoal fire is built inside the fire box for indirect heating. Features include heavy-gauge sheet metal steel, heavy-duty hinged lid, three adjustable cooking levels, wooden cooking shelf, molded wheels and wood storage rack. List Price: $379.95 Street Price about $170-$199.
[Review--List members report a high degree of satisfaction with the Smoke'N Pit Professional Horizontal Smoker.]
Smoke'N Pit Pitmaster Horizontal Smoker & Grill
Model 805-2101 The Pitmaster is similar to the Professional, but does not feature a separate fire box. For indirect cooking, a charcoal or wood fire is built on the left side of the cooking chamber and food is placed on the right side of the cooking chamber. There is a kit to convert this unit into a professional model. List Price: $229.95. Street Price about $100.
[What is the difference between the Brinkmann Smoke'N Pit Professional and the New Braunfels Black Diamond/Hondo?]
David A. Rogers--
The Hondo (read also Black Diamond) and the SnP Pro are functionally equivalent.
The Hondo has a heating shelf over the firebox the SnP Pro doesn't. That's the only feature of difference.
The Hondo is made with a circumferential weld on both ends of both barrels. i.e. looking at the end of a Hondo, the barrel is welded all the way around. The Brinkmann is welded on the bottom third with three or four additional spot welds.
The Hondo has a wimpy wire front shelf. The SnP Pro has a wood shelf. The Black Diamond model has a sturdy wood shelf.
The lid on the SnP Pro rests against an angle bracket welded to the barrel for that purpose. On the Hondo, the lid rests against the smokestack. The Black Diamond comes with a welded firebox top door bracket.
Tom Kelly--the SnP Pro stack has been modified since David's post to correct a potential safety problem. A bend was added so the lid would open further. Apparently, the previous position allowed the wind to blow the door closed onto your hands, tools, etc. In the new design, the lid rests against the smokestack, just like the Hondo/NBBD
Both units are made out of the same gauge heavy-gauge sheet metal, about 3/32-inch thick.
The SnP Pro has brackets to support the grills in the smoke chamber at grilling height. The Hondo has no grill brackets, but you can turn the grills 90 degrees to get them a little higher (they're rectangles). The grills sit on the inside wall of the cooking chamber.
The grills on the SnP Pro are located MUCH higher than in the NBBD/Hondo. I measured the grill-to-door opening height and it was about 7-1/2 inches in the SnP Pro. This would be tight for a big turkey. The Hondo/NBBD grills sit several inches lower and thereby have more head room.
The smokestack on the Hondo is attached by a bolted flange and extends further into the smoke chamber than on the SnP Pro.
List members report that the legs and wheels of both units are not as strong as they should be. Care must be taken when moving these units over rough ground and lawns.
Neither design is perfect. Some BBQ List members have reported great success with their Hondo/NBBD and SnP Pro right out of the box. Other members have reported big internal temperature variations, leaking air and smoke from doors and have made modifications to correct these problems. The biggest complaint seems to be that the heat from the firebox on these units flows up and into the top of the smoking chamber and along the top of the chamber and out the exhaust stack, bypassing the meat on the racks below, and causing high temperature variations within the smoker. The modifications suggested keep the heat and smoke lower in the smoking chamber. The most ambitious of the changes brings the heat up from under the meat rack and gives the best results. See Section 7.2.2 for modifications on making your Hondo/NBBD/SnP Pro more efficient.
From their Web site
BBQ Pits by Klose was founded in 1986 with the principle of maintaining an integrity of the Old Western trail drive style of cooking in mind. BBQ Pits by Klose is a purveyor of custom barbecue grills, smokers, cook-off and catering rigs. The sizes range anywhere between a $69 drum grill to a $400,000 catering rig.
All BBQ Pits by Klose are made by hand, with no machinery involved in the manufacturing process except a welding machine, in the spirit of the old style iron foundries. One welder to one pit from the beginning to the finished product. Handmade all the way.
Here are a few models in the Klose Backyard Chef(R) line:
18" Diameter by 24" Long Smoker--Round firebox
Here we have an 18" diameter by 24" long smoker with an 18" round firebox. It has stainless steel air-cooled handles and an easy to read 3" dial, stainless steel thermometer, hermetically sealed. There is a 10" wide by 30" long table on the front, with a 10" wide by 18" long table on the side, making an "L" shaped table. Additional storage space underneath with an 18" wide by 42" long log rack. The main area has a full meat rack framed in steel angles for strength, as well as a removable 1/2 shelf. This smoker features adjustable firebox and smokestack controls. CAPACITY: 624 sq. inches in smoker, and 324 sq. in. in the firebox.
18" Diameter by 30" Long Smoker--Square firebox
Here we have an 18" diameter by 30" long smoker with an 18" by 18" square firebox. Air-cooled stainless steel handles, an easy to read 3" dial, stainless steel thermometer. There is a 10" wide by 40" long table on the front, with a 10" wide by 18" table on the side, making an "L" shaped table. Additional storage & shelf space underneath with an 18" by 30" long log rack. The main cooking area has a full meat rack framed in steel angles for strength, as well as a removable 1/2 shelf. This smoker has adjustable firebox and smokestack controls, as well as adjustable grilling heights on the firebox to 5 levels. CAPACITY: 780 square inches in smoker, & 324 square inches in firebox.
20" Diameter by 30" Long Smoker
This backyard unit is one of the all-time favorites to take to the beach or for family reunions.
It's 20" in diameter by 30" long, with a 20" by 20" square firebox and 1/4" thick new steel to maintain even heat. Ideal for grilling and smoking. Air-cooled stainless steel handles and easy-to-read. 3" dial, stainless steel thermometer.
It comes with plenty of table space outside, as well as storage space underneath for your charcoal and woods. It has 840 square inches of cooking area in the smoker, as well as 400 square inches of grilling area in the firebox. Large enough for a brisket, a turkey, ribs, sausage, corn-on-the-cob, and baked potatoes. It has adjustable height to five levels in the firebox for grilling fajitas, shrimp, blackened redfish and steaks.
20" Diameter by 42" Long Smoker
This backyard unit is one of the all-time favorites to take to the beach or for family reunions.
It's 20" in diameter by 42" long, with a 20" by 20" square firebox and 1/4" thick new steel to maintain even heat. It's ideal for grilling and smoking.
It comes with plenty of table space outside, as well as storage space underneath for your charcoal and woods. It has 1218 square inches of cooking area. Large enough to hold up to 3 briskets, a turkey, ribs, sausage, corn-on-the-cob, and baked potatoes. It has adjustable height to five levels in the firebox for grilling fajitas, shrimp, blackened redfish and steaks.
20" Diameter by 40" Long Smoker
A 20"x40" main chamber, with a full meat-rack and 1/2 shelf. The 20"x20" square firebox has an adjustable grill and fire-grate. There is a pull-out ash pan for easy clean out. Lifetime Burn-through Guarantee.
Adjustable controls on the firebox and smokestack. Also featured is a 20"x20" upright slow-smoker with 3 shelves and hanging rods. There is a full log rack underneath and wrap-around tables, dual stainless steel handles and two thermometers. Cooking capacity: 2320 square inches.
On all BBQ Pits by Klose--A Lifetime warrantee on burn-through and rust-through. Klose pits feature heavy-wall construction that makes temperature control much easier than the mass-produced units sold by other manufacturers.
[Review--List members report a high degree of satisfaction with the Klose line of smokers.]
From their Web site
Their line of backyard off-set firebox models include:
"Grill With Firebox"
Utilizing the off-set firebox design concept, the Grill with Firebox features a long horizontal cooking chamber with plenty of room for your favorite smoked meats! Keep a pot of beans or soup warm on the flat top of the firebox. This model has the same unique baffling and damper system found on our smokers. Designed with grilling and barbecuing in mind, these models are relatively compact and mobile--perfect for the backyard cookout. The grill with firebox is available in 16" and 20" sizes. Get those fires going with our LP log lighter system (also available).
16" Grill #16-GWFB $799.00
20" Grill #20-GWFB $1,069.00
The Tailgator is the smallest in the Oklahoma Joe's line, and is modeled after the Grill with Firebox, but it is much smaller. It is made to travel and is very affordable. The 12" model has 3 square feet of grilling area. Need a little more cooking area? The 14" model has 4 square feet of grilling area. The Tailgator is great to take to lake, or to football games or to just keep at home for the family to enjoy.
12" Tailgator #12-TAIL $329.00
14" Tailgator #14-TAIL $399.00
"The Oklahoma Tradition"
This cooker has become a #1 seller and shows the tradition and quality of Oklahoma Joe's. Available in 14" and 16" sizes. Due to the off-set firebox design, the tradition is the ultimate in versatility for grilling, barbecuing and smoking. Because of its steel construction, the Tradition burns wood and charcoal longer than ordinary thin-walled units. And in the tradition of Oklahoma Joe's, this model comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
14" Tradition #14-OKTKD $439.00
16" Tradition #16-OKTKD $589.00
Their line of backyard vertical smokers include:
The Chuckwagon has the ultimate vertical smoking chamber. With four shelves to smoke on, you can smoke almost all of your favorite meats at the same time. Similar to the smokers in design, the Chuckwagon has 4 extra inches in the firebox so it will handle any wood you buy at your local wood yard. The wagon wheels give this smoker a western flair and roll easily over rough surfaces. Editor--This is a combination smoker with horizontal and vertical smoking chambers.
16" Chuckwagon #16-CW $1,149.00
20" Chuckwagon #20-CW $1,499.00
This model is great for taking your time and smoking all day long. Available in 16" and 20" sizes, our smokers feature triple cooking areas (grilling, barbecuing and vertical slow smoking). All Oklahoma Joe's smokers have a flat grill top that is perfect for the bean pot, OKJ's Bar-B-Q sauce or a bread and tortilla warmer. Editor--This model is a smoker with horizontal and vertical smoking chambers.
16" Smoker #16-SMOKE $1049.00
20" Smoker #20-SMOKE $1329.00
Oklahoma Joe's pits feature heavy-walled construction that makes temperature control much easier than the mass-produced units sold by other manufacturers.
[Review--List members report a high degree of satisfaction with the Oklahoma Joe line of smokers.]
See their Web page
Weber makes a line of premium grills and a bullet-type smoker.
Smokey Mountain Cooker (TM)
Porcelain-on-steel Smoker has two heavy, bright nickel-plated 18 1/2" cooking grates, aluminum door and legs, and packed with a premium grade cover. This is the premium bullet water smoker.
Model 2890 18 1/2" Black $179.99
Other Weber grills can be used for smoking, but they are primarily for grilling.
[Review--List members report a high degree of satisfaction with the Weber bullet smokers. These units are used by many participants on the barbecue competition circuit and many have won top prizes.]
A basic bullet water smoker that uses charcoal for fuel. Features include heat-resistant handles, two pans, one for water, one for charcoal, double grills, a hood-mounted temperature indicator and hinged door for adding charcoal and water. Street price often below $30.
Editor--the main body of this unit DOES NOT lift off the charcoal pan section.
Electric Water Smoker
This unit has a 1650 watt electric water smoker. It has an infinite control heating element, multiple cooking surfaces, 6 quart water pan, hood-mounted heat indicator and smoker cookbook. It converts to electric table top grill, UL approved. Holds up to 50 pounds of food at a time. The smoker section lifts off the base section allowing for full access to heating element for adding wood chips/chunks and cleaning.
Model 4512 Electric Water Smoker, Sug. List Price $88.50 Street Price $40-70
[Review--List members report a high degree of satisfaction with the Char-Broil electric smokers. The Char-Broil electric smoker is the recommend unit for beginners to purchase if they want an inexpensive electric smoker.]
Traeger makes a line of grills and smokers using the concept of an automatic pellet feed system for fuel. Pellets of hardwood are added to a hopper and a pellet feeder moves the pellets into the firepot where they are burned. The feed mechanism can be adjusted to provide three heat settings.
From their Web site
Model BBQ075. Sug. List Price $799. Grill cooking area 545 sq. in. If you are in the market for something out of the ordinary, this Texas Style grill is for you! Designed after the traditional Texas Style wood cookers that were constructed from scrap oil well casings, this unit brings old fashioned wood cooking into the 21st century with its high tech auger fed burner. Forget fire tending and temperature control problems. This unit automatically augers wood pellet fuel to accurately provide three different cooking temperatures. Traditional design is now "state of the art" technology, a winning combination that will deliver professional results every time you cook.
Model BBQ100. Sug. List Price $699. Our "original", the most popular model, has just been improved. Designed for versatility and affordability the BBQ100 has already transformed thousands of customers just like yourself into real "Outdoor Gourmet" chefs. It grills, smokes, and bakes. It is an exceptional value! Are you ashamed of your current gas or charcoal grill? Lift up the end of a Traeger grill and you know instantly that it is a well built product, solidly constructed for years of service. When you add up the assortment of features, quality of construction, and real wood flavor; you'll wonder why you ever messed with gas or charcoal grills.
[Review--List members report mixed results with the Traeger auger fed pellet smokers. Some members have reported good experiences with their units but others have reported significant difficulties in operation.]
From their Web site
What in the world is Cookshack?
We're a company dedicated to the manufacture of electric smoker ovens for genuine pit barbecue and wood-smoked foods. A leader in the market for over 30 years, Cookshack's state-of-the-art ovens are distributed worldwide to restaurants, caterers, supermarkets, convenience stores, meat markets--in fact, to all sorts of retail food service operations.
They manufacture a line of premium vertical smoker ovens in various sizes. They have two home smoker models: the Smokette II, suggested list price $425, and the "Model 50", suggested list price $895. They are used by everyone from backyard cooks to chefs.
[Review--Many List members report the Cookshack units to be the ultimate in Lazy-Q smoking.]
From their web site
The rebirth of the ancient oriental Kamado cooker. The idea is 3000 years old but The Big Green Egg is NOW! The perfect smoker AND grill AND barbecue. Meats, fish, veggies, pizza--all done to perfection.
Our ceramics experts have created what some call "The Ultimate Smoker"--a beautiful and practical marriage of time proven cooking methods and modern technology. Suggested list prices are $99 to $459 for the mini through the large smokers.
[Review--Many List members report a high degree of satisfaction with the Big Green Egg smokers.]
[I'm good with metal working and I want to make my own smoker. Can somebody tell me where I can find some designs or plans?]
Unfortunately, it is beyond the scope of this FAQ to include plans for building metal smokers. We know of no companies selling detailed working drawings for off-set firebox metal smokers. Several List members locate a smoker that they liked at a friend's home and took a ruler to it and made up a set of working sketches. So if you're in the mood to make your own smoker, find someone with a Klose or Oklahoma Joe's smoker, get your ruler and go to it.
There are few web sites that give pictures and sketches of metal smokers.
Check out Daryl Dowell's Web site: Click here
He has sketches for making a very nice horizontal off-set firebox smoker.
Also, Garry Howard has some plans on his web site for building a metal smoker: Click here
[I want to build my own backyard barbecue smoker from bricks or concrete blocks. Where can I get plans to do this?]
Try finding a book by Sunset Publishing called, "Barbecue Building Book." ISBN 0-376-01042-8. In it you'll find ideas and plans for indoor and outdoor barbecues. Everything from simple one-grate on-the-ground grills, to elaborate above-ground grill, oven, and smoker combos. There's even plans for an in-ground pit capable of feeding 600 people. This has been the most informative book that I've found yet.
Of course, if you build it . . . We will come!
There is another book, titled, "Quick and Easy Art of Smoking Food: Updated for the 90's", by Chris Dubbs, Dave Heberle, Jay Marcinowski (Illustrator). ISBN:832904627. It includes pictures of numerous smokers, including stick frames, pit-and-barrel, smokerator, barrels, masonry pits, smokehouses, and sheds.
Check out Garry Howard's Barbecue Web site Click here for pictures and sketches of backyard pits.
Dave Lineback has built a Lexington NC style smoker from bricks in his backyard. Pictures and sketches are on his Click here
"The Canning, Freezing, Curing and Smoking of Meat, Fish and Game", by Wilbur Eastman, published by Gardenway Book, ISBN 0-88266-045-4, paper ISBN 0-88266-071-0, cloth.
This book has been around for awhile and is fairly basic. It has a section on building a smokehouse.
"Home Smoking And Curing How You Can Smoke-Cure, Salt And Preserve Fish, Meat And Game", by Keith Erlandson, ISBN 0091778255
The author spends a good deal of time discussing how to build a smoker for the do-it-yourselfer. From using trash cans to building small sheds, he gives you the ins and outs of them. He doesn't give you measurements, but he does include drawings for what he's talking about. The rest of the book deals with brining and smoking fish and game.