Smoking tri-tip on a bullet smoker

Originally published at:


Yeah … cheap works, doesn’t last. I burned through several Webers, also, splurged and got a Meeco SS unit. Will have to gift it to someone in my will. :slight_smile: I like the bigger one just for full-sized turkeys. Disclosure: probably not many people burn through Webers, but I cook a lot on mine.

Carne Asada tacos here I come!

1 Like

How runny the paint is can be seen in the loaded fire ring photo. All that paint ran down the sides of the unit.

1 Like

There are some kits for enhancing the seals around the lid and the door of the WSM that are useful. You may want to take a look at them.


I recommend you check out the Orion Cooker. It’s a stainless steel covered cylinder with a gutter circling it to hold the charcoal,so no taste of the lighter fluid. A cup on top also holds coals to make it a convection oven. Six racks of ribs in about a hour!

Man the paint reacting like that is beyond unacceptable, it’s a hazard. Still it is a good opportunity to learn on what part of your setup needs improvement first.


You beat me to it but I was gonna say get a Weber. Or better yet, buy a Weber Smokey Joe grill and build a smoker insert out of a tamale steamer pot like I did. Then you can still use the grill camping. They are called mini WSMs and instructions are all over the interwebs. Smoke em’ if ya’ got em’!


I’d go with the 22". The smaller 16" and 14" Webers aren’t really any all that much more portable that the full sized ones. Weber’s charcoal stuff is pretty compact and lightweight to begin with. Particularly with the basic models. You basically save a little bit on foot print and a bunch on hieght.

And you run into capacity issues. You might think to yourself “when am I ever gonna cook that many racks of ribs?”. And you’ll probably be right on that front. But then you find yourself hacking certain cuts like brisket or turkeys into pieces just to fit them, its more of that size problem than total capacity.

Its less of an issue with the bullets than the kettles. And a VW van is the sort of camping where that storage space difference could be important. But otherwise there’s not a ton of difference in transporting these things till you drop down to Smokey Joe.

They used to make a Smokey Joe branded bullet, I think it became the Smokey Mountain 14" with a little more hieght. And there are after market inserts if converting a pot is a no go.

1 Like

And a lot of Weber’s stuff can be ordered with or upgraded to an electric or propane starter element. Don’t use light fluid, its easy to avoid and you get a better fire easier when you do.


I think the 22" is overkill, unless you are regularly cooking for really big groups. The middle size WSM is 18" and probably the sweet spot in the lineup. I can do four racks of ribs in my mini, or two whole chickens, or a giant pork butt no problemo. Brisket I haven’t tried yet but I would have to use a small cut to make it fit and/or drape it over a rib rack like some folks do to make it work. Pretty sure that wouldn’t be an issue with the 18".

1 Like

This is a good starter link on building your own. Like Jason I camp a lot and everything has to fit into my camper. And the Smokey Joe makes a great portable grill in its’ own right. The smoker build is somewhat time consuming but not very difficult. I got a bit carried away with thermometer ports and a custom paint job and vent handles but basically you just cut the bottom off an aluminum pot off with a jigsaw:

1 Like

I’ve had issues getting a full Brisket on the 22" kettle, and from what I’ve seen people hang them in the bullets using bacon/rib hooks. But I’ve heard about them breaking up and dropping off those. So there are various racks and stands for getting larger cuts down in the body without mashing them up.

A full Brisket is a big chunk of meat, but a lot of shrinkage happens and you really want a big one for reasonable sized groups. Say more than 5-10. And the big ones tend to cook up better. But its very much a diameter and lid hieght issue over a capacity on. It tends to sneak up when you are doing bigger or oddly shaped cuts and you end up playing meat Jenga. It’ll fit but how?

There are also benefits in terms of fire management. Its a little easier to manage even and low temps in a bigger unit. And for smoking at these sizes there’s not a ton of difference in fuel consumption.

I do know the 18 inch is nearly as popular on competition as the bigger ones, particularly for ribs. For what that’s worth.


I don’t smoke but i would guess that holding the meat between some type of grating would work?

Not sure how often I will be into doing a 14 hour smoke but I’m planning a brisket next so we’ll see. So far my mini is all I need for the numbers of people I ever have over. My usual is pork butt for pulled pork and carnitas the next day!

My mini has an 11" terracotta pot tray wrapped in aluminum foil as a heat diffuser. So far surprisingly easy keeping it at 225 for 4-5 hours steady using the minion method.

This cat Harry Soo wins a lot of BBQ comps and has even won awards with the mini:


That and stacked racks or frames seems to be the approach. I don’t use a barrel or a bullet so I’ve never had to do much of that. In the kettle using the smokenator attachment you can fill the fire box with meat, then put the grate above and stock that with meat as well. That’s how I do multiple butts, and I’ve gotten 8 racks of ribs in there using rib stands. But you get airflow problems.

I’ve been asked nicely not to buy anymore major cooking equipment, otherwise I’d be buying a pellet smoker. But I’m kinda pushing it already since I picked up a sausage stuffer for idiot cheap this spring.

Its fun to perfect. If you’re looking for something faster, easier and better tasting for more regular cooking I’d recommend chuck. Its much easier to wrangle big pieces of chuck into smaller format cookers. And they’re just easier to cook, more flexible for group size. Its just a cheaper, better tasting chunk of meat too.

And you use the same methods to cook them as brisket so its excellent practice.


Check out the Pit Barrel Cooker. Everyone I’ve recommended it to has loved it. I’ve had mine for over two years now, use it at least weekly, year round. I’m not sure if this is still the case but the owner of the company used to put his own phone number on each barrel and would personally answer questions. I found out about it via the review section of amazingribs dot com. I’ve probably cooked a few tons of ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, tri tip and chicken in that darned thing.

I think they’ve got a smaller sized barrel now which would be great for your van shenanigans.

Anyway, if you’re ever in the Seattle area and you want to check one out, let me know! :smile:

I certainly use the chimney for my Weber, but the fluid is a better option for the Orion cooker. The wood chips go around the drip pan inside and the smoke is sealed in the cylinder. A 20 lb. Turkey takes 2 1/2 hours

1 Like

After 20 years of BBQing, some five years ago I discovered AmazingRibs

The discussion here is all well and good, but you will find all the answers you could ever want over there.


I have my heart set on an Oklahoma Joe Longhorn Reverse Flow Offset Smoker.

No, it’s not a bullet smoker, and you can’t put it in your van, but for backyard barbecues there’s nothing better for the money.