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aka: KSims1868
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been wanting a BBQ pit (smoker) for some time now, but I'll admit it - I'm a bit intimidated by them. I see some for a couple hundred bucks at Academy and then I see others (used even) for $500 or more that are similar in size.

What would you recommend for a man's 1st smoker BBQ pit? I've been a gas cooker for many years and before that charcoal cooker on the old Smokey. NEVER cooked with a fire-box / smoke.

Should I spend the $500 or so on a decent used pit or could I do some learning on a lesser expensive model...or would that be a waste of $$?

Do people ever get rid of decent BBQ smokers when they upgrade to bigger models or are they usually just used until rotten with rust/cancer? I'd love to find a decent BBQ pit needing some cosmetic attention...I don't mind putting in the work, but I can't weld nor do I have access to a welder, so brush it off, sand it, re-paint, new racks, new prep area...I can handle.

Any advice from you folks?
 

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You do sometimes see some decent deals on Craigslist. Some of the smokers at the stores have pretty thin metal and may not be sealed as well. Some folks modify them and get good results. There are also the bullet-type smokers like the Weber Smoky Mountain or the upright drum smokers that can be inexpensive.

Gator Pit has a budget line but I think they are over your budget.
 

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Native Texan
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Second the Oklahoma Joes from Academy as a good beginner smoking pit. They are heavy enough metal to stand up for a good while, plus the heavy metal holds the heat/temperature even, better for briskets, etc. If these are kept dry when not in use, they will last a long time. There are many cheaper models for charcoaling, if that is more what you are after, rather than the true smoker models. Big difference.
 

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Find someone that sells Lifetyme out of Uvalde. Buy the biggest that you can afford. If you start out small you'll always want bigger, I know from experience
 

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Don't ask if you don't want the truth.
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http://www.academy.com/index.php?pa...g/smokers&start=0&selectedSKU=0263-02219-5609

I've had this one for @ 10 years I think. Holds a ton of meat for the big jobs. Plenty of racks, sausage hangers, etc...

Very easy to hold temps with dual dampers at the box and at the stack.

Get a paint brush and coat the entire smoking chamber (including all racks) with cooking (Veggie, peanut, et..) oil and fire it up before you actually cook with it. Run it a @ 300 degrees for a couple hours to "cure" the cooking chamber and you are ready to roll.

It justs gets better with every time you use it. If there is a downside to it, I'd say it has so much room, I always find myself going a little overboard with a few extra items to make it look fuller. :)
 

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Curious if the Ok Joe's are the same thickness as ten years ago. They have been bought and one of the members of the old company now sells the Horizon pits. Or so I have read on some of the BBQ sites.
 

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<***********>< Fish on.
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Find someone that sells Lifetyme out of Uvalde. Buy the biggest that you can afford. If you start out small you'll always want bigger, I know from experience
I did this exact thing 10 years ago and it was one of the best investments I have ever made. If you buy a cheap one you will find it hard to keep a consistant temp which will lead to frustration on your part. I bought the 20"model and it has been perfect for me.

The lifetyme smokers have a lifetime guarantee on the fire box. If it burns out, the will replace it for free.
 

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Winter Hater
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it's been my experience that the thicker the steel, the better they cook. personally, i like to get a good bed of coals started before i ever throw the meat to it. this gets the steel good and hot all around and works best for me. the thinner sheet metal pits don't hold heat very well.

i'd watch craigslist or southeasttexas.com for a while before i bought one. i didn't go to the academy links above, but i don't think they sell the kind of smoker i'd want...doubt it'd be thick enough for me.

unless you find a bargain on the classifieds, a good smoker will cost some bucks. a lot depends on how much money you want to part with on it.

24buds has been crying about his smoker biting the dust. he might chime in... :).
 

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Buy one of the big Klose or Lifetime and expect to pay 12 to 15 hun. I've had both and if I was buying a new smoler it would be Weber Smokey Mountain. It is quality construction, no **** wood pile to maintain and it has a large capacity. They are not available excapt online. Amazon has the best price, around $ 325. There is evena web site dedicated to Smokey owners with suggestions and tips for optimum use of your equipment. I had the largest Lifetyme made and if you are smoking in the smoking tower you only have 3 racks to stack stuff on and you can't slow cool in the tower and the main body at the same time with anyone's rig.

Just my opinions from 20 lus years practicing. Good Luck!

jdot
 

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Infidel
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Curious if the Ok Joe's are the same thickness as ten years ago. They have been bought and one of the members of the old company now sells the Horizon pits. Or so I have read on some of the BBQ sites.
I want to say my brothers Ok Joe is around 3/16" if I remember right. His pit is also 5yrs old, so things might have changed.
 

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DeadEyeDean
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You can check out Gator Pit as well. They make some affordable pits with good thick steel. That is my plan any way. I have a pit that I got for free so I can't complain but it is like the academy pits and the steel is thin so it doesn't hold heat real well. I am always having to adjust the fire....pain in the buttocks.

If the pit won't hold heat you won't get good quality smoked foods. The constant heat and good smoke is the key. That is why real tender briskets can be had in an oven, easy to keep same temp for the duration of cook time. It just can't get the smoke.

If you get one of these pits I will bet it will last 10 or 15 yrs, maybe longer if you take care of it and may be the last one you buy.
 

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Jedi Knight and Friend to Captain Solo
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Find someone that sells Lifetyme out of Uvalde. Buy the biggest that you can afford. If you start out small you'll always want bigger, I know from experience
I did this exact thing 10 years ago and it was one of the best investments I have ever made. If you buy a cheap one you will find it hard to keep a consistant temp which will lead to frustration on your part. I bought the 20"model and it has been perfect for me.

The lifetyme smokers have a lifetime guarantee on the fire box. If it burns out, the will replace it for free.
I think that they still sell them at Montalbano Lumber in Houston by the old Police station.
 

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sea monkey rancher
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you want 1/4 " steel all around if you want it to last

make sure the fire box is built and braced well, that wil be the first thing to fail, also it needs to have good end dampers that won't sieze and be easy to load when hot.

the fire box needs to have a super duty wood rack under the coals

a damper between the pit and fire box is a huge plus

i would think very seriously about having one built if you can't find the right one
 

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Custom User Title space for rent
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Watch craigslist. Scored a less than 6 month old Pitts & Spitts for about 1/3 price of new from the "rich" side of town. Had to break it in myself as it looked & smelled like new. Now it smells like ribs.
 

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aka: KSims1868
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Wow - lots of good info on the sites provided as well as advice here from you guys.
I know I can read for DAYS and DAYS on techniques, smoker setups, etc...

My plan is to spend $400-$500 in January when I receive my tax return check.
Hopefully I can find someone to teach me the fine art of cooking with this newly acquired backyard tool. I know my family LOVES grilling and the fruits of this labor, so hopefully I can become decent at this skill.
 
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