Does what it says
I got this smoker for Christmas. Looked online at several makes and models of smokers and decided this was the most economical. I have been smoking meat on a Master Forge charcoal grill and, despite reviews complaining of smoke leaking around the lid and poor craftsmanship, I enjoyed smoking indirectly on mine (still have it and use for grilling). The only problem was there wasn't enough room when cooking for a larger crowd, so I was looking for something bigger.
My youngest son and I put it
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together in a little less than an hour. This included laying out all the parts, reading over all the instructions first (not very manly, I know), and then stopping for some general father/son talk. One thing I noticed on some older reviews was how people turned the unit upside down as a part of the assembly and the doors fell off. I guess they've added Step 1A because it reads, "Remove the doors..." I used a Craftsman cordless drill with the clutch set on 10 and made fairly quick work out of assembly.
After assembly, I seasoned the smoker per the intructions. Because of other reviews I had read, I went ahead and bought an oven thermometer. This particular model had a small wood chip tray. Others beng reviewed showed a round chip PAN. This is where some had placed a round skillet to hold wood chunks (one guy suggested lava rock and placing wood chunks on top). All of this was done to combat flare ups. However, with this model, the chip tray didn't flare up. Smoke lasted about 30-40 minutes and I could easily add chips (Get a pair of heat resistant gloves-- much better for doing this). Unless you remove the water pan, I'm not sure there is enough room to put a skillet in order to use wood chunks. There was some smoke leaking around the door, but it really didn't amount to much. The flow of smoke from the bottom through the top vent was extremely sufficient.
I've never cooked with gas before -- grill or smoker, so I wasn't real sure what to expect. The outside temp and wind play a much bigger role in this unit than what I was accustomed to on the charcoal grill/smoker. I was able to put up a small piece of plywood to keep wind from blowing directly into bottom vent. Top temperature I got to was 275 with outside temp at 45+/-. This was fine since I only wanted 225 for smoking Boston butts. I cooked ribs a few days prior with a warmer outside temp (65 +/-) and initially ran the cooker up to 350. When assembled, I could get it up to 400 degrees with outside temp of 75. All that said, the temperature was easy to control and it held steady at 225 and 250 depending on what I needed at the time.
You can't put meat in this unit, turn on the burners, and walk away. You'll need to check on it for adding wood chips, checking cooking temps, ...etc. There have been reviews upset about having to tend to this. This is not a commercial smoker. It's a metal box with a door, a window, and a propane burner at the bottom. It is not a commercial cooker. If you don't want to spend some time during the cook, you should probably just go buy your bbq and ribs from your local BBQ restaurant.
The is a great smoker for the money!