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What's cookin'...

 
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thailey3



Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 21
Location: Cedar Park

PostPosted: Dec 31 2010    Post subject: What's cookin'... Reply with quote

I've lurked for a few weeks and noticed that newbies get pressured into introducing themselves, so here it goes... Smile

I don't have much smoking experience, but I want to start learning more. I live in Texas, and I'd love to always have the option to smoke some ribs or brisket on the weekend on a whim. Seems like a fun hobby to have that you can do at home with others and while doing other things AND you have a delicious product at the end.

My dad has always used one of those upright water smokers that you can buy at home depot for $50-$60. He gave me one when I got married. It was good to get my feet wet with it, but I ended up hating it. It only had one of those Warm/Ideal/Hot thermometers on it and it was always in Warm. This made it a continuous fight to get the temp into Ideal. I should have put a real thermometer on it, but didn't think of that until reading on here the last few weeks. I tried a few things like making a little basket to put the charcoal in, drilling holes in the bottom of the charcoal pan, etc. During the smoke, I'd try things like opening the side door and adding charcoal that was already burning and blowing air into the door with a tube. Hell, one time I even used a fan to blow air into the side door knowing the risks of ash blowing up to the meat. Needless to say, when the meat was actually done, I wasn't even excited to eat it anymore and I smelled like I was sitting in the smoker the whole time. Some other things I didn't like about the upright were the limited space, difficulty of getting to the meat on the second rack, difficulty of tending to the fire through the side door, and difficulty adding fluids to the water pan through the side door. I'm sure I could have done some things to make the upright easier to use and maybe I'm too critical of it, but it just wasn't what I expected the experience of smoking to be like. So...

I did some shopping to look for an offset smoker. I know people swear by their UDSs and their WSMs, but I wanted an offset to play with. I quickly realized that anything for around $200-$300 was immediately classified as "crap" by this board's standards. I will certainly say that my standards for a offset smoker aren't and shouldn't be as high as most of the people's on this board for my level of experience. That said, I didn't want a piece of junk either. I read a bunch on here and ended up buying the Old Country 20" x 34" smoker from Academy for $500. Looked and felt better than any other model Academy sold (Oklahoma Joe Longhorn, other New Braunfels models). I know its no Gator or Big Hat or Klose or whatever, but I was happy with the pit. It looked, felt, and sounded nice. The only problem was it was still $500. Much better than $1200-$1500 starter model from the higher end guys, but still, $500 bucks is a lot if there was a chance that 1) I wouldn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would or 2) I would upgrade in the future. I started to have a little buyer's remorse a few days later and remembered the advice I read on these forums about buying an old smoker off of craigslist and fixing it up. I even entertained the idea of making one from scratch because my brother-in-law does his own welding for unfinished things like deer stands, trailors, etc. Then I called Grandpa...

I started talking about my new smoker with my Grandpa and he said, "I've got a smoker out in the barn. I don't know what smoker you bought, but I guarantee you mine's better... and cheaper because I'll give it to you. I paid $1000 bucks for it 20 years ago" Wow! So I drove a few hours to go get it and found this:

18" x 36" Pitt's & Spitt's offset smoker bought in 1989/90. When bought, P&S gave him a bundle of oak wood and that's all that was ever burned in this pit. He soon retired and moved out to a farm house, and this pit has sat covered in the barn for the last 20 years. Its in great condition (I think). Only splotches of surface rust throughout the pit. After this post, I'm going to start a new thread asking for advice on what I should do to fix up the new (to me) pit before using it [update: here's the new thread]. I know some of you guys don't love P&S smokers because of the stainless steel roll top, but its a great pit at a perfect price for my needs. I'm excited to start gaining some experience with this pit! Thanks in advance for all the advice that I plan to gather from you all.

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roscoe1960
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Joined: 24 Feb 2010
Posts: 719
Location: Southeast Texas

PostPosted: Dec 31 2010    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the smoke ring thailey Very Happy nice score from Gradpa, you might want to consider tuning plates for more even heat across the chamber. That pit will give plenty more yrs. of cooking, enjoy Cool
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I'm not 50 yrs. old I'm 21 with 29 yrs. experience.
http://thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=38513
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VEAZEY
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Joined: 30 Jul 2010
Posts: 178
Location: Southeast Texas

PostPosted: Dec 31 2010    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the smoke ring
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Okie Joe w/mods
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thailey3



Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 21
Location: Cedar Park

PostPosted: Dec 31 2010    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the welcome guys. Sorry for the long story Smile
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18" x 36" Pitt's & Spitt's offset smoker bought in 1989
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k.a.m.
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Joined: 12 Dec 2007
Posts: 26019
Location: Southeast Texas.

PostPosted: Dec 31 2010    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the ring thailey3, looking forward to seeing some pics of your cooks. Smile
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Soapm
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Joined: 06 Aug 2010
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Location: Mile High City

PostPosted: Dec 31 2010    Post subject: Re: What's cookin'... Reply with quote

thailey3 wrote:
I know some of you guys don't love P&S smokers because of the stainless steel roll top, but its a great pit at a perfect price for my needs. I'm excited to start gaining some experience with this pit! Thanks in advance for all the advice that I plan to gather from you all.


As long as it works for you who cares what others think?
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thailey3



Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 21
Location: Cedar Park

PostPosted: Dec 31 2010    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good point, Soapm Smile. I'm just excited to start learning on what I have!
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18" x 36" Pitt's & Spitt's offset smoker bought in 1989
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Gray Goat
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Joined: 25 Nov 2009
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Location: Crystal Lake, IL

PostPosted: Dec 31 2010    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome thailey3, that is a fine looking cooker for a helluva price Very Happy Your Grandpa is a generous man Very Happy
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BluzQue
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Joined: 28 Jun 2009
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Location: Kentucky

PostPosted: Jan 05 2011    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great lookin' smoker thailey3!
Welcome to the Ring Very Happy

Cool
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thailey3



Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 21
Location: Cedar Park

PostPosted: Jan 05 2011    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Gray Goat and BluzQue. Good to be here. I hope to fire it up this weekend, but we'll see... Very Happy
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18" x 36" Pitt's & Spitt's offset smoker bought in 1989
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BigPhil32
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Joined: 05 Dec 2009
Posts: 1742
Location: Frisco, TX

PostPosted: Jan 05 2011    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very cool to have you on here as a member now! That is one VERY nice pitt! Where are you located in Texas? I see Central Texas, but just wanted to know how close we are to each other...welcome!
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Smoking since November of 2009...
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Soapm
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Joined: 06 Aug 2010
Posts: 2087
Location: Mile High City

PostPosted: Jan 06 2011    Post subject: Reply with quote

thailey3 wrote:
Thanks Gray Goat and BluzQue. Good to be here. I hope to fire it up this weekend, but we'll see... Very Happy


You remind me of a friend, he had a MP3 player for 6 months and it was still in the box. I seasoned my grill 5 minutes after it was assembled and had cooked lots of bricks and air just testing the temp characteristics before the first weekend ever reared its head. You're going to make some test burns before you waste any meat. It took me a while just to learn to make and maintain a good fire. There really is a huge learning curve for fire which is the foundation of smoking. You'll find the oxymoron of "clean burn with smoke" isn't as easy as these guys make it look...

Good luck and happy cooking...
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thailey3



Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 21
Location: Cedar Park

PostPosted: Jan 06 2011    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, BigPhil32. I live in Cedar Park, TX.

Soapm - haha, I am that guy. I don't like to do anything without planning it out first. That said, I'm pretty sure I'm ready to season the inside and make some test burns. The holidays have just consumed the "free time."

Any recommendations on the test burns? The only smoking fires I've built (for my previous water smoker) consisted of 90% lump charcoal and a few chunks of wood on top for the smoke. Is that a good formula for my new offset or should I try a wood-only fire? I've heard that wood-only fires are difficult to control temps for my size offset. Is the best way to regulate this to make sure my wood pieces are small? I have a stack of wood cut at 13" long which is perfect for my size fire box. Right now, a cross section of a piece of wood is about a 6"x6"x9" triangle. Should I split each piece into three separate pieces?

If there's already a thread on this, feel free to just provide a link.
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18" x 36" Pitt's & Spitt's offset smoker bought in 1989
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Last edited by thailey3 on Jan 06 2011; edited 1 time in total
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stringbender128
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Joined: 26 Jan 2009
Posts: 2430
Location: Michigan City, Indiana

PostPosted: Jan 06 2011    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the Ring!
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ChuckieD
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Joined: 07 Oct 2009
Posts: 1129

PostPosted: Jan 07 2011    Post subject: Reply with quote

thailey3,
Welcome to the Ring!
Nice pit! Very Happy
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Chuckie D.


Big Green Egg XL
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