Evil, or Brilliant?
This was my first smoker, smoking is supposed to be cheap right, hence the UDS (Ugly Dirty Smoker) . So I jumped onto ebay and grabbed a Texas offset for $230 delivered to Sydney. After pulling a Homer Simpson trying to put it together, it was built in all its glory!
This thin metal, dodgy made, produced in China smoker has produced some of the most memorable BBQs I have had. It leaks heat everywhere, uses heaps of fuel but the faces of the people that see it in action and taste it’s results, makes it all worth it.
Knowing what I know now, would I have bought it? YES! Old faithful has taught me a lot about temperature control, how weather (mainly wind) can play havoc with your smokes. I’ve learnt the impact of different types of coal and timbers and which result in too much (or too little) heat in the chamber. It has given me a great understanding of convection inside the chamber and how the chimney can be used to draw, smother and stabilise a fire.
Even though old faithful is now my back-up smoker, I still use it on smaller jobs as I can know it’s quirks like the back of my hand… I even know when its too hot just from the smell and touch, no temperature gauge needed.
What to change on it?
If you want to keep it for a while do the following to get the most out of it:
1. Temperature Gauge, the stock one is pretty bad, it seized up after a few months. So I drilled a new spot down near the handle to get a proper read.
2. Install a cheap baffle, go to Bunnings and get a small piece of tin and bend it in an arc so it sits above the opening from the fire box to the main chamber. This stops the heat just dispersing out the dodgy lid.
3. Lowering the chimney inside, I use the rack in mine a lot so I use a can of coke or an old tin when its out to lower the chimney inside the chamber. It makes a massive difference, like a dropping snow level in the mountains.
Tips and Techniques for the cheap ones:
1. Always use a water pan, a must for these, keep that moisture in the chamber as it flows out everywhere.
2. If you are using coals, make them dual-level in the offset box, use one of the grills to put coals near the entrance of the main chamber, and place another set of coals below it. Saves heaps of fuel and keeps the heat nice and steady.
3. On windy days wrap old shirts around the lid to stop air flowing in and cooling parts of the chamber, as I said the seals aren’t great but this will protect the precious heat inside.
So if you want something to start with, and don’t want to hurt the bank that much, jump onto e-bay and grab one of these. Sure they aren’t the best, but think of it like this, you will learn much more, much faster about the world of smoking.
Here she is, Old Faithful