I call my Weber smoker, R2 since it looks like the character from Star Wars. First of all, I'd like to point out that I have 7 barbecue units. 5 are charcoal grills and 2 are small propane units. I love grilling and barbecuing (aka smoking). Before buying this Weber unit, I already had a horizontal grill/smoker which I really enjoy working with, but sometimes using it to smoke two racks of ribs was overkill. I did some research on several barbecue forums and the unit that was recommended the most was the Weber Smokey Mountain.
Recommend this product?
Upon opening the box that the smoker comes in, you'll find:
* three legs, bolts and nuts that will need to be attached to the bottom of the smoker
* three air vents on the bottom section, 1 vent on the lid
* middle section of the smoker
* A high dome lid
* water pan
* 2 cooking racks
* 1 charcoal rack
* charcoal ring
* side door for loading charcoal
* heavy duty cover
First, let's talk about the water pan. If you plan to smoke food for long periods of time, like overnight, the pan isn't large enough to hold enough water. Many Weber enthusiasts will buy a Brinkmann charcoal pan and use to hold water.
The two cooking racks provide two different locations for cooking. One rack is located just above the water pan while the other is closer to lid level. If you are cooking large items like turkey or standing ribs upright, the best location is the rack close to the water pan.
The charcoal ring, which sits on the charcoal rack, is nice and sturdy and keeps the charcoal in place.
The side door is probably where you will lose most of your heat when smoking but that's about it. The lid is heavy enough to prevent loss of heat. Although the door is very large, when it's time to add more charcoal, the water pan gets in the way. The easiest way to add more charcoal is to open the door and use it like a slide to guide the charcoal into the charcoal ring. One more thing about the side door - the knob isn't attached very securely. Also, there is no way to tell if the knob is turned to the proper position so the latch is in place. What I did was I latched the door and then used a silver marker to draw an arrow in the up position to ensure the door closed properly.
The overall construction is typical of Weber. High grade, heavy duty metal that will ensure the product lasts a long time.
The cover is also very well made. Here in Utah, we get our share of snow and the cover has lasted through 3 winters and hasn't developed any tears or holes.
When I first bought the smoker I had to learn to trust it. I would constantly monitor the temperature, make sure the bottom vents were adjusted properly, etc. After having worked with R2 for three years, I get it ready toss on the ribs to be smoked and leave it along for 4-5 hours. I'll even leave the house to run errands. That's how automatic this smoker is.
As for grilling, you can fill the bottom section with charcoal and place a rack over it, but for me, the heat is too close and vents are too far away to allow for good temperature control. I end up using one of my other units for grilling.
If you want to read about how people use their Weber smokers and some of the modifications they've made (mine has not been changed at all), you can read more at http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/index.html.
Amount Paid (US$): 200