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Masterbuilt 20050614 Propane Smoker, 44-Inch, Black
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- Extra-large capacity with 2,000 sq. in. of cooking space on four chrome smoking racks
- Dual-door design with viewing window and thermostat in top door
- Two 8,250 BTU stainless steel burners with push-button ignition
- Porcelain-coated wood chip tray and water pan
- Type 1 regulator and hose
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|Color||Black||Black with Window||Black||—||Black||Black|
|Item Dimensions||22.75 x 30.7 x 56.02 in||25 x 47 x 17 in||20 x 20 x 46 in||31.08 x 22.91 x 51.61 in||19 x 28 x 47 in||33 x 24.5 x 60 in|
|Item Weight||89.28 lbs||70 lbs||40 lbs||93.7 lbs||68 lbs||113 lbs|
|Material Type||—||Painted Steel||Steel||—||steel||Steel|
The Master built 44-inch Gas Smoker is a workhorse, with plenty of room to smoke all of your favorite foods. Whether you're smoking at home, or tailgating at the big game, this smoker brings the heat! There's a removable water pan for added moisture and an easy-to-read thermostat in the door. This extra-large capacity smoker has a viewing window, so you can watch your food smoke without opening the door. With easy push-button ignition and gas controls, Master built has made smoking simple.
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Now go out there and start smoking!! Have fun !!
I want to move the smoker in between uses and there was no easy way to do it. So I added some simple swivel wheels. The legs didn't seem as stable as I would have liked while rolling it around so I had to reinforce them. I got some metal cut and fitted the pieces in between the legs. Then I spray painted the metal panels black, predrilled holes in the legs and secured them with rivets. The metal panels also helps with controlling the flame when it's windy outside. In my opinion this is how the smoker should come from the factory. I noticed other people build brick wind barriers but I wanted a more elegant solution. Check out my pictures.
On the tray for the wood chips, I added lava rock. It took me several smoking sessions to find the right amount. For me, a single layer of small sized lava rocks worked best. For wood, I bought chunks but I chop them into chips about the size of a stick of gum, and the thickness of a smart phone. Anything bigger gave me too many tempature spikes.
Some people feel that the door leaks too much smoke and installed a gasket. I didn't need to do this with mine. It does allow smoke to escape but it isn't enough to be a problem. The door latch is adjustable, so I think a simple tightening of it is all you need.
I opted against "bullet" style smokers because only one rack is accessible without a lot of trouble. The Weber Smokey Mountains are supposed to be great, but they start at about $300. The Brinkmann Smoke 'N Grill I had for a while was such a piece of crap that I finally gave up trying to "fix" it, and sold it for $15 at a yard sale (and still was cheating the guy at that price.) Horizontal cookers hold a lot of meat, but it's notoriously difficult to control an even temperature in one unless you fabricate a reversing plate; they also take up a lot of space when not being used.
So I started investigating vertical cabinet-style smokers. The Char-Broil CB600X was tempting because I could buy one from the distributor here, already assembled, for only $100 (a savings of about $70.) However, it just seemed so cheaply made that I didn't want to deal with its many reported problems: leaking, bad thermometers, peeling paint, and a combination chip and water dish that everyone seems to hate. Also, every Char-Broil grill I've ever owned has rusted out in only two seasons.
I rejected WalMart's Great Outdoors smoker because it has only one door; tending the chips or water means you'll probably spend 30 minutes or more before the cooking area gets back up to temperature. Their Brinkmann Split-Door Smoker solves that problem, plus it costs a mere $74; many people online like the results they get with a Brinkmann after EXTENSIVE modifications, but I was looking for a smoker, not a hobby (plus it was out of stock.)
That left Lowe's "Master Forge" and the Home Depot "MasterBuilt Pro" (which was also at Sears for a similar price.)
The two are very similar in both appearance and features. Both smokers have a good amount of room for cooking on four 14x14-inch pull-out racks, room enough for several butts or racks of ribs, with all the meat easily accessible at the same time. They each have separate doors for tending the chip pan and water pan, so that you don't have to open the cooking chamber and let the heat and smoke out, and pushbutton electronic igniters for the propane. I don't expect to use anything but propane, but both the MasterBuilt Pro and the Master Forge smokers can also be used with charcoal. (Although some folks swear by charcoal, if you're doing things right, the only thing the charcoal provides is the heat; the flavor should come from the wood chips you use. Still it's nice to have the option. Electric can work well, but isn't convenient for tailgating, and just seems wrong somehow.)
The Lowe's Master Forge was a little less expensive at $169 (as of summer 2012, the very similar $149 propane-only #DGY784CP, although still shown on the Lowe's website, has been discontinued.) It has a shelf that folds down on the left side, but I'm not sure how handy that shelf would end up being, because it's blocked when the door is open. It also has a top-mounted smoke stack with a variable control, as compared to the simple sliding vent on the back of the MasterBuilt Pro; this might prove an advantage in windy or rainy conditions. Then again, without a smoke stack, the entire top of the MasterBuilt is available to set things on, as long as they can stand the heat.
However, unlike the Lowe's smoker, the MasterBuilt has insulated doors, which seem to make it hold the temperature a bit better than what I've read about the Master Forge. On mine, the temperature stays within about 10 degrees of the 220 I set it at unless I forget and let the water pan dry out (higher temps are definitely possible; I got it to about 450 while seasoning it.) The door latches are smaller and pull the door in a little tighter on the Masterbuilt, and are less likely to get bumped as you walk by, unlike the protruding handles on the Master Forge. Finally, the MasterBuilt has wheels on the two back legs, which would come in handy if you need to move it before it's cooled off. Neither smoker is really heavy (50 pounds, maybe) and the Master Forge has insulated handles, but I wouldn't want to try carrying it around while it's still hot.
Many smokers in this price range leak so badly that you have to install some type of gasket around the doors to prevent loss of heat and smoke. I had planned to go ahead and buy an oven gasket when I bought the smoker, but I forgot to do so. As it turns out, it leaks so little that a gasket won't be necessary. I also won't have to replace the stock thermometer, which (at least on mine) turned out to be only about 10 degrees off, much better than many I've read about. (I calibrated it by testing it in some boiling water before I installed it in the door. That 10-degree fault may not be consistent for every temperature, but 212 degrees is close enough to the temperature I'll use for smoking that this thermometer will do just fine.)
Assembly of the MasterBuilt was very straightforward, with clear and concise English instructions (Spanish was in a separate manual) and neatly packaged parts and hardware. It took me about an hour to put it together, and it probably would have been less had I not been watching TV at the same time. I left off an arm that bolts onto the left side to stabilize your propane bottle; it seemed unnecessary to me, and the arm would certainly get in the way when I store the cooker in the garage.
Overall, after using it several times, I am very pleased with my MasterBuilt Pro. It cost about $10 more than the Lowe's "Master Forge," but I didn't have to spend $20-$30 on a gasket and new thermometer as I had expected (plus Home Depot even honored the 10% off coupon I had for Lowe's!) Furthermore, I haven't had to make any tedious other modifications to get it to work. It holds the temperature quite well while using fuel sparingly, about 24 hours on a tank. On longer cooks, I'll probably replace the stock water pan (which is a little too small) with a $1 aluminum pan just for the extra volume. But the only other change I plan is to add a beer opener to the side, and with that in place I expect to get many years of enjoyment out of this smoker.
A couple of times this spring I decided to try firing the unit with charcoal rather than propane (despite my earlier comment about flavor coming from the wood chunks and charcoal providing only heat, there really DOES seem to be a little "something" missing in the propane-fired meat's flavor.) Lighting it was really easy: I just piled the pan full of lump charcoal and hickory chunks, and lit the propane underneath for a few minutes. I used more charcoal than I expected (almost a whole bag over eight hours) but that may have been because of the small size of many of the pieces in what I was using. I also had to replace the water more often, but I guess that's to be expected since the heat is a couple inches closer. I does seem to be a little harder to keep the temperature at 250 using only charcoal; it wanted to hover around 200-220 degrees, and was very slow to recover after any time I opened the door. Kicking the propane back on for a few minutes seemed to help though, and in the future I may try running the propane continuously at a very low setting in addition to the charcoal. Overall, my results were still good though, and using the smoker with charcoal involved only a little more attention than propane only.