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View Full Version : What can you tell me about this smoker?



truckmann
05-23-2011, 02:03 PM
A co-worker offered this smoker to me for $100. It appears to be a heavy build unit from South West Smokers out of Tulsa, which I don't believe is in business anymore. What do you guys think?

http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n214/truckmann/Smoker/IMG00458-20110522-0844.jpg
http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n214/truckmann/Smoker/IMG00454-20110521-1820.jpg
http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n214/truckmann/Smoker/IMG00455-20110521-1820.jpg
http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n214/truckmann/Smoker/IMG00456-20110521-1820.jpg
http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n214/truckmann/Smoker/IMG00457-20110521-1821.jpg
http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n214/truckmann/Smoker/IMG00461-20110523-0644.jpg
http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n214/truckmann/Smoker/IMG00460-20110523-0643.jpg
http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n214/truckmann/Smoker/IMG00459-20110522-0845.jpg
http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n214/truckmann/Smoker/IMG00462-20110523-0644.jpg

Joneser
05-23-2011, 02:10 PM
Don't know much about that....other than it sounds like a steal! I'd offer him $75 for it and work your way up. Looks like a great smoker/oven/grill.

cabinetmaker
05-23-2011, 02:21 PM
I know nothing about it either, but if you don't buy it, I will.

truckmann
05-24-2011, 07:43 AM
Unless his wife changes his mind for him somehow.... I'm definitely buying buying it! I'm not even going to try to get a better price out of him. He already gave me an old Ariens zero turn mower that ended up only needing a $10 part to fix. :)

cabinetmaker
05-24-2011, 08:03 AM
:thumbs up:Wise choice.

BigAL
05-24-2011, 08:05 AM
Sell the hay burner and buy the stick burner.:msn-wink::roflmaoha0:

BluDawg
05-24-2011, 08:39 AM
Looks like a nice HD grill for small smokes. I'd buy it for a Franklin.

truckmann
05-24-2011, 08:43 AM
Sell the hay burner and buy the stick burner.:msn-wink::roflmaoha0:

I need the hay burner to keep my yard in check. :msn-wink: Well at least it's faster at doing it than my old mower. :D

SmokyOkie
05-24-2011, 10:41 AM
Southwest Smokers had a great reputation for building heavy weight, designed to last smokers. they built both small backyard units as well as trailer units, and everything in between.

If you are in the market for a unit of that size, you would be a fool not to snatch it up before his wife has a chance to put the kibosh on the deal.

truckmann
05-24-2011, 12:40 PM
One thing that looks odd to me with this unit is the outlet pipe is coming from the bottom of instead of the top. How do you all suppose this cooker was intended to be operated?

PigCicles
05-24-2011, 01:26 PM
upside down?? :msn-wink: Really though - some manufacturers do that, not exactly sure why except maybe to try to keep the smoke in the chamber (probably not the best idea really)

SmokyOkie
05-24-2011, 04:08 PM
Fire to one side of the unit, heat travels across the bottom creating an even heat bubble in the cooking zone. Just like a bottom feed internal fire box stickburner.

I'd like to see the inside.

truckmann
05-24-2011, 04:16 PM
Fire to one side of the unit, heat travels across the bottom creating an even heat bubble in the cooking zone. Just like a bottom feed internal fire box stickburner.

I'd like to see the inside.
This is kind of what I thought. I still haven't seen it in person yet, but from what he has told me, and you can kind of see it in one of the pictures, there is a deflector of some kind covering half the fire box area. I'm planning on getting it next week sometime. Probably on Wednesday.

truckmann
06-05-2011, 05:07 PM
I got the cooker home last Wednesday. Here are some additional pics showing the inside better.

http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n214/truckmann/Smoker/2011-06-05101923.jpg
http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n214/truckmann/Smoker/2011-06-05101934.jpg
http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n214/truckmann/Smoker/2011-06-05102137.jpg
http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n214/truckmann/Smoker/2011-06-05102059.jpg

cabinetmaker
06-05-2011, 05:32 PM
Now that looks like the absolute perfect place for that cooker. Ya done gooood.:thumbs up:

californiasmokin
06-05-2011, 05:44 PM
I think you got a great deal!!!:thumbs up:

truckmann
06-05-2011, 06:56 PM
Thanks guys!

One question I have about this thing. When using it as a smoker I'm guessing I would cook on the grate next to the outlet side with the divider plate in place. Would it be best to build the fire on top of the fire grate on the inlet side to allow for airflow underneath or just build it on the bottom?

SmokyOkie
06-05-2011, 08:26 PM
It appears to be built for you to cook in the "heat bubble".

The heat stream runs across the bottom and out the stack thus eliminating any hot spots. Your food basks in even smoky bliss.

Build the fire on the bottom grate.

rlpenny
01-29-2012, 12:46 AM
One thing that looks odd to me with this unit is the outlet pipe is coming from the bottom of instead of the top. How do you all suppose this cooker was intended to be operated?

Dwight Inman, who owned and operated Southwest Smokers on 2nd Street in Tulsa, made most smokers to order until his later business days when he was making a few vertical style units w/offset fireboxes for the Sam's Club stores in the Tulsa area in the mid 1990s.

Anyway, back to the quesiton and my title. One of these 'combo' smokers was my first grill and first smoker purchase and it was a nice unit for my residential subdivision sized back patio. It was very heavy and very thick steel plate. Even his cooking grates are expanded metal welded to a square bar stock ring grid. I had several times where my cooking fire on one side got a little too big and the top grate that took the brunt of the fire didn't warp at all.

Dwight explained the 'combo' operation as follows:


GRILLING: build fire (charcoal) on either or both of the bottom grills. Grill your food of choice on the top grill(s).

SMOKING:
...with the divider in place, build fire only on the ash door side bottom grill that is opposite the smoke stack. Put your water pan (if used) on the upper grill above the fire. Put your meat to be smoked on the upper grill on the smokestack side of the 'combo' unit. If you need more space for extra meat you can also smoke on the lower grill next to the smoke stack.

SMOKESTACK DETAILS:
Dwight intentionally put the smokestack outlet near the bottom to force the smoke up into the lid area, over to the other side down across the meat and further down and over to the smokestack outlet. He also intentionally made the smokestack about 6' tall to keep smoke out of the cook's eyes and to enhance the natural drafting of the smoker. Dwight also put a nice sliding damper at the top of the smoke stack and I could control the temperature by a few to five degrees by just tapping that damper and changing the amount of draft in conjunction with the amount of opening in the lower and opposite side ash tray door.

OTHER Southwest Smoker uniquenesses:
Each unit had a larger drain plug something like 2" pipe threads I recall which made for easy draining of all the fats, water, grease, etc. He also sold an accessorie ash cleaning tool that you stuck in through the side after sliding off the ash door. Some models had fixed full-length front shelves and later units had an optional removable front shelf. He made my 'combo' smoker to order by switching the smoke stack to the right side and the ash door to the left side by the handle. I also had him make my handle telescoping and my front shelf was fixed on pins that allowed it to rotate 90 degrees down flush withteh unit.

USER comments:
Your grill as pictured looks to be his mid to later version of the 'combo' unit because your dividor is removable. My combo unit had a fixed divider and could not be removed.

I had many many nice briskets come off this unit. I still use his published (Tulsa World article "smoke 'em if you got 'em" do an archive search on Dwight Inman souhwest smokers) spice rub and brown sugar recipe and folks who have had my brisket off that smoker still talk about those briskets.

In the early 90s there was an excellent combination charcoal hardwood blend available in Walmarts and few other stores called "Smoker's Blend" and it had a 60/40 or maybe it was a 70/30 split beteen charcoal/wood briquets and made for the proper amount of smoke (not too much not too little) and using that product made it easy for the layman to just dump a bag of that Smoker's Blend charcoal/hardwood mix and light it and just keep adding fuel up to every 3hrs.

Over the years I managed to get the right size water pan and a system down to where I only had to get up every 3hrs to add more charcoal and water for my 1.5hr per pound briskets.

Being a smaller unit the temperatures were quicker to change and the only problem was managing airflow to keep the temps in the 225-250 range but once you learn the damper/ash door settings keeping 210 to 235 was no problem and you only had to visit the cooker every 3hrs once you'd learned its nature.

My neighbor had the larger Southwest Smoker (non-combo) unit whose smokeing chamber is the same size as the one pictured but his had a true firebox to one side and separate from the smoking chamber connected by a smaller rectangular tube that extended a few inches into the smoking chamber. I forget what he marketed it as but it truly did eliminate the hot spot right where the firebox meets smoking chamber he said was common in other normally avaialble offset smokers of the day. awe...I thought of it....."heat distribution chamber" I think is what he called that rectangular tube that connected the firebox to the smoking area.


SMOKER HISTORY of this former SW Smoker user:
All my subsequent smokers have been compared to your Southwest Smoker 'combo' unit.

I sold my Southwest Smoker unit to that neighbor mentioned above and he he still has it and I've opened communicaitons to possibly buy it back after some 12+ yrs.

Subsequent grills and/or smokers I have bought are the Weber Genesis 1100 (daily grill), the Cookshack Smokette (sold), Louisiana Grill, and Cookshack FEC100 (primary smoker).

The Smokette just didn't create the 'bark' I prefer on my briskets and ribs and it was more an outdoor oven with a little smoke than a smoker. The Lousiana Grill is a better grill than smoker as its firebox is in the middle instead of to one side like the Southwest Smoker and I suppose Fast Eddy's pellet grills. That Cookshack FEC100, though overkill for this guy that only cooks for 5 and sometimes 10, is about as close as I can get to the briskets and taste I obtained on the Southwest Smoker combo smoker. Of course, the weber genesis 1100 is just an all round great grill but lacks smoke and searing capability but it is surely wife proof. :-)

Sorry this ran long...I figured folk might want a little inside information on the smoker pictured in this thread. It brings back fond memories for me. Guess I better go visit with that neighbor (4 doors down on street behind me) and see how my old Southwest Smoker is doing. :-)

rlpenny
01-29-2012, 01:09 AM
Thanks guys!

One question I have about this thing. When using it as a smoker I'm guessing I would cook on the grate next to the outlet side with the divider plate in place. Would it be best to build the fire on top of the fire grate on the inlet side to allow for airflow underneath or just build it on the bottom?

GRILLING --- build fire on either or both lower grates and use divider at your discretion.

SMOKING --- (use divider) build fire on lower-right grate and place water pan (with some quartered apples) on upper-right grate. Place brisket on upper-left grate with thickest part towards the divider (middle) and the point towards the smokestack. If you cook two briskets you'll need to rotate them every so often or expect the bottom one to take longer to reach desired temperature.

TEMPERATURE CONTROL --- during summer, keep the ash door closed but let the handle rock down slightly so small amount of air still gets in through the ash door (my ash door rattled a bit within the track). Keep smokestack damper partially open as needed for desired temperature. If it is a really hot hot Sand Springs, Oklahoma day (115F at my house this past summer 2011), then put a small shim to keep that ash door tight in its track against the smoker to further reduce the natual draft of the unit. For bone cold NE Oklahoma nights (-22F at my house early 2011), you'll need to adjust that ash door more open or closed from about 1/2" to 1" in conjunction with more opening on the smokestack sliding damper to keep airflow up for a hotter fire and desired temperature. You've had the cooker half a year or so now so this may all be old hat by now but if not, after a few cooks in various seasons, you'll be able to move your alarm settings from every 1 hr to every 3 hrs. I never manage to get the unit to reliably go longer than 3hrs without losing too much temperature.

FUEL ADD (charcoal) --- every three hours, open hood, remove and place water pan on suitable surface, use grill removal tool (Dwight sold these too) to remove upper-right grill, and gently run a suitable tool through the almost spent fuel to cause all the fresh ash to fall into the lower area below the lower grill. Then, add fresh charcoal. OPEN (or remove) ash door and wait until fire gets a going real good again (just a few minutes). Reinstall ash door and adjust opening per above, readjust as needed smoke stack damper and/or ash door unti temperature stabilizes at 230-ish F. Go back inside on the couch (wife wouldn't let me come back to bed after refueling the smoker), reset alarm for 3 hours. REPEAT until meal is served.

wow...memories.....Didn't know I missed that unit that much. :)

peculiarmike
01-30-2012, 02:08 AM
On horizontal smokers the exhaust stack should always be located at cooking grate level or below, preferrably a bit below. That gives proper flow of smoke and heat over and around the item(s) being cooked inside the smoker. If the exhaust stack outlet is located on top or above the cooking grate the smoke/heat flow is direct from the firebox to the outlet. Wastes fuel and the good stuff misses the item(s) being cooked.
:twocents:

truckmann
01-30-2012, 04:04 PM
Thanks a lot rlpenny for the long winded description and all that great info!
:sign0092:

I've mainly been using the one I picked up as a grill so far with a few test smokes to work on my ability to control the temp on it. I hadn't thought about using a water pan in there yet. I'll try that out. I was also only trying to control the temp using the inflow and leaving the damper on the outlet full open, but have noticed that is tends to get too hot (275-300). I'll try using the outlet damper to help control the temps next time.

rlpenny
02-27-2012, 05:49 PM
Thanks a lot rlpenny for the long winded description and all that great info!
:sign0092:

I've mainly been using the one I picked up as a grill so far with a few test smokes to work on my ability to control the temp on it. I hadn't thought about using a water pan in there yet. I'll try that out. I was also only trying to control the temp using the inflow and leaving the damper on the outlet full open, but have noticed that is tends to get too hot (275-300). I'll try using the outlet damper to help control the temps next time.

You're welcome. You'd find temperature control results will be more predictable and stabilize by using the lower sliding inlet air damper as a "gross" control and the rotating smoke stack outlet damper as a "fine" control.

I found for keeping the temps in the 225F range I only rotated that stack damper open just a bit such that the air opening (if viewable from above) was mostly shaped like a crescent moon. I also found just a few degrees rotation (I'm thinking 1/32 or 1/16 inch) one way or the other would be all it takes for a few degrees temperature difference. In other words, once the temperature stabilized with the stack damper practically closed (think crescent moon shape for smoke to escape through) , I would just tap that rotating smoke stack damper every so lightly to effect a few degrees change on the hood thermometer.

On hot summer nights the effective smoke stack opening was pert near closed (maybe 5% open area). On cold winter nights I recall I'd have to open the stack to 1/3 or maybe even 1/2 open. Of course, more open airflow means more fuel burn.

I found the best water pan (sitting above fire) for my use to be an inexpensive metal square baking pan (about 13x13 inch). It was substantial enough to be taken on/off the grill many times and endure multiple long hour smokes. Tried a metal bread pan but it ran dry too often in between refuelings. Also tried a larger foil roasting pan but though it didn't need refilling but once every other refueling it was too floppy and wasn't stiff enough to handle the repeated on/off grill moves for the every 3 hour refuelings and multiple smoking sessions.