Saturday, July 9, 2011

Smoke Hollow Smoker-Grill-Sear Combo Unit

I got a new cooker this week – a Smoke Hollow combo unit.

It's going out on the deck as soon as I get a cover for it.

I know, I know, like I need another grill. But look at it this way – I'm consolidating. This is replacing the two Brinkmann units that have been living in my garage for 2 years. So I am actually going from 6 grills to 5.

Rod from Florida asked me last week, if I have two Big Green Eggs, the “world's best smoker/grill/oven” why do I need anything else? It's a great question. I don't NEED anything else. But here's why I like using other grills at times:

  • Nostalgia – I learned to smoke on a cantankerous offset smoker and it's fun to revisit that.
  • Challenge – I like the skills test of handling fire management on other cookers.
  • Readers – I don't want people thinking, “I can't cook that, I don't have a Big Green Egg.”

Why the Smoke Hollow?
I looked at other gas/charcoal smoker units such as the Char-griller and Brinkmann models but chose the Smoke Hollow for quality and design reasons. I liked the larger size of the Smoke Hollow's fire box (which came included, not an add on purchase like the other two). The charcoal tray in the grill is adjustable, giving another level of heat control besides just the vents.

Assembly
I have to give major kudos to the folks at Outdoor Leisure Products because despite having a lot of parts, this was one of the easiest assembly jobs I have done. The screws/bolts/nuts were in a blister pack and plainly identified. Everything was labeled to avoid confusion.  They designed it to be easy to put together by doing little things like using one size/type of bolt 90% of the time. The instructions are clearly written, easy to understand and get this...in real English. I put this together by myself in 2 hours at a leisurely pace and with minimal inadvertent swear words.



First Run
You have to season new cookers by coating the interior with a coat of oil and burning a medium hot fire for an hour.
The fire box is much more spacious than the SnP.  Using peach logs and coal here.

I had 4 almost empty bags of different types of Kingsford.  Used them all! 

About halfway through the burn in, I couldn't bear to let it waste all that heat for nothing so I threw on some Italian sausage, onion, and peppers for a quick, tasty dinner. 


Initial Impressions
I like the quality of the unit and how it cooked the first time.  The charcoal grill runs like I expected. I think the fire box is going to handle small logs and split wood easily.  The sear burner gets HOT almost instantly. It gives me plenty of options for cooking for a crowd. This is an upgrade from my two Brinkmann units that it replaced.


There are two modifications I will make.
  1. I plan to install a Rutland or similar gasket around the lid of the grill/smoker chamber to close the air gap between the base and lid. It doesn't matter while grilling so much but would be an issue when smoking.
  2. Seal the two 1/4” openings at the base of the grill/smoker chamber on the left side where it meets the gas unit. I'm just going to put a small ball of JB Weld there.
I'm happy with our purchase and know I will enjoy using the Smoke Hollow cooker. 

[Standard Disclaimer] We bought ours at Sam's Club for full price.  I kept waiting for them to lower the price later in the season but they got down to two units so I pulled the trigger.

86 comments:

  1. You don't need to explain this purchase to me. I have three ovens in my kitchen, some would say overkill. I like you recognize the distinction in each. GREG

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good looking rig Chris. I don't need another saucepan either, but that doesn't stop me from buying.
    Sam

    ReplyDelete
  3. Seriously?!? That thing is HUGE! It could probably double as a shuttle, but since the last one has just launched, when your live fire days are over, Alexis can put you in it and it can be your final resting place...it's fireproof so you know you'll be safe! You are like a kid in a candy store...only with grills!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I want to be jealous, but I ain't. Got over outdoor cooking some years ago. I am, however, very happy for you, pal.

    ReplyDelete
  5. 'I can't cook that, I don't have a freakin' magnificent fabulous combination cooker like that dude Chris!'

    ReplyDelete
  6. Interesting and I like your 3rd reason for using other grills! Good to hear the swear words were kept to a minimum but when building anything some have to be used merely as helpful adjectives...
    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Chris, go you! I WISH I had a smoker... but I can live thru you :) Can't wait to see what else you whip up... even those sausages look tasty!

    I also wanted to let you know about my cookbook giveaway that is going on right now until July 16th. Stop on by to enter! Hope you are having a great week :)

    http://steaknpotatoeskindagurl.blogspot.com/2011/07/my-first-giveaway.html

    (sorry if you've already entered, I'm going through all of my blogs and letting them know about the giveaway so if you've already entered, don't mind me!)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey Buddy, I'm happy for you and think you made a great choice. Keep us posted on how it performs over the next year or so, cause it's a SUPER looking rig and others out here might want to make the same plunge.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Chris,
    What an impressive looking pit. I'm going to have to check out the local Sam's and see if they've got them here.

    Thanks for the heads up.

    LG

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow! It looks like you got the Mercedes of grills! Bill has 3; and I thought that was a lot. But then I just bought a mini-pie maker, another gadget for the collection to try. I can't wait to see what you'll be cooking on this big guy! I know it will be delicious! Way to go, Chris!

    ReplyDelete
  11. That's quite a piece of equipment. Look forward to seeing what it will do.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh my gosh, that is a beauty!!! I'm hugely jealous!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Congrats, One can never have enough BBQ's. Well at leaast that is what I have been telling Ms. Goofy.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Congrats Chris - this thing looks like a serious cooking machine.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Holy smokes! (Pun not intended, but that was pretty good....). That is one incredible grill. My husband will swoon when I show him this and then get depressed as we have no yard to put it in. Ikea could apparently learn from Outdoor Leisure Products on putting things together easily...... Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Chris,
    I wish I was coming up again so I could cook on that with you and Alexis!

    So, it runs on both charcoal/wood AND gas? I see a gas hook up there so was just wondering. Sounds like a great multi-tasking machine! I'm excited for you!

    ReplyDelete
  17. That is very exciting to have a new addition to the family. It looks like it will fit in quite nicelly, now if was only green!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Because you can...no other reason required!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Robyn - yes, the left side is a gas grill and sear burner. The right side is a charcoal grill and has a wood burning fire box for smoking.

    ReplyDelete
  20. You could probably cremate a guy in that.
    But don't.

    ReplyDelete
  21. OMG... I'm so envious!!! That is kick ass Chris!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. My father in law just purchased this grill but is waiting for it to come in. I saw it on a forum I frequent and the guy had a great review for it! Why do you oil it then burn in it for a couple hours? Just curious.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Anon - Great question. "Seasoning" the grill is recommended by most quality grill manufacturers as was the case here. First, seasoning burns off dust and impurities that have gotten on the grill during the manufacturing/packing processes. Second, it jump starts building the coating that will help protect the grill and ensure a long useful life.

    For an in-depth look at seasoning, check out Meathead's article on it: http://www.amazingribs.com/tips_and_technique/calibrating_and_seasoning_your_grill.html

    I would have done mine his way instead of the way the manufacturer recommended. Burn first then oil and let cool.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Oh man, are you kidding me? It's bad enough I sit in envy of your Egg, but now you have this? Just rub it in (and I'm not talking dry rub here).

    But seriously that's awesome.

    I'm still jealous though.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I bet you are happier than a kid on Christmas morning.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Wow! That's a BEAUTY! Enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
  27. That looks like a very fun toy!

    ReplyDelete
  28. how did the seal work on the lid for the grill area and how did the jb weld do. I just got this grill. any if formation would be great. Please email me ......nicturner@msn.com or i will check back on this page in a few days Very excited for this grill. thanks for the great write up and in advance for the advise. Best regards
    Nic

    ReplyDelete
  29. Did it work?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Just bought this at our local sams club for 125.00

    ReplyDelete
  31. Had to call smoke hollow customer service to get a couple of replacement parts a knob and 4 wheels. I tried to buy them but there customer service rep insisted that they would send them free and also threw in the 47180t grill cover a 69.99 value for free. I know have 125.00 invested in this beautiful grill and the cover. You dont see customer service like that anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I bought one of these and put it together last night the only problem I have found is when i went to put on the top rack above the gas burner the holes for the rack were not drilled correctly or the unit was welded backwards. The hole on the left side is correct but the hole on the right side is too far forward. Does anybody know if punching a new hole will void the warranty? Also did you guys rub any kind of oil over it to prevent it from rusting?

    ReplyDelete
  33. @ Anon -

    Before drilling a new hole, I would contact their customer service dept. I hear they are great to work with. 417.455.9663 or info@olp-inc.com

    I did season my unit by wiping it down with oil and heating the unit up in all three cooking chambers.

    ReplyDelete
  34. how is this grill working out for you? I just looked at one today and am leaning towards getting one. A few negative reviews I read were the metal is too thin and flimsy. The gas ring is not strong enough to hold a full tank of gas and it scratches and rusts easy. Are you experiencing any of this ?

    ReplyDelete
  35. How do you still like the grill ? A few negatives I have been reading is that the metal is thin and flimsy, it scratches and rusts easy, and the gas ring is to flimsy to hold a full tank of gas. are you having any of these problems

    ReplyDelete
  36. I'm really new to smoking/ grilling. I currently have a double grill, one side gas, the other smoker. No firebox. The wheels are falling off so I'm looking at this grill at Sam's. I've only used my smoker a couple of times but really want to get into this type of cooking. The negative reviews have me leary. Did adding the gasket help? I'm not real good with temp control yet, but have cooked 2 briskets with pretty good success. My current grill seems to run hot so maybe I would do better with one that was harder to keep hot, if that makes sense. I had a hard time keeping my temp below 325 with the one I have now.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I'm really new to smoking/ grilling. I currently have a double grill, one side gas, the other smoker. No firebox. The wheels are falling off so I'm looking at this grill at Sam's. I've only used my smoker a couple of times but really want to get into this type of cooking. The negative reviews have me leary. Did adding the gasket help? I'm not real good with temp control yet, but have cooked 2 briskets with pretty good success. My current grill seems to run hot so maybe I would do better with one that was harder to keep hot, if that makes sense. I had a hard time keeping my temp below 325 with the one I have now.

    ReplyDelete
  38. @ Anonymous - Yes, I still like the grill. I also have two Big Green Eggs, but use the Smoke Hollow about once a week. The metal is thin, but I would consider it similar to other smokers in the same price range (Brinkman, Chargriller, etc). I haven't noticed the rusting issue but I seasoned mine in and out. Gas ring - yes, flimsy and I had to reinforce it, manually securing the tank.

    @ Shannon - Yes, the gasket did help, but as my updated post mentioned (http://www.nibblemethis.com/2011/09/smoke-hollow-smoker-modifications-part.html), it fell off during high temp grilling. For now I am just using it with no gasket but with the rubber stops gone, the lid fits a lot tighter, metal on metal. Wouldn't be great on a windy day and I will get to installing a gasket the way Nic did on his as described in the post. For controlling the heat on this smoker or your current one, are you using the "Minion" or fuse method? That should let you control lower temps, or at least help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. chris,

      seasoned inside ~and ~ out? I get the inside, but how did you do the outside?

      I bought one of these, it's in my shed waiting for the snow to go away, I've also purchased extra material for some mods mentioned here and else ware.

      Random

      Delete
  39. I'm looking at buying this combo right now. I think I have a spot on my patio for it but need to make sure I don't need to add on. What are the deminsions of the base?

    ReplyDelete
  40. Jared - trying to get an official answer for you. Otherwise I will measure the wheelbase (l x w and diagonal). Do you also need the overhang dimensions (sear burner and fire box extend over the wheelbase).

    ReplyDelete
  41. The over hang doesn't matter. I have a brick pad off the side of the patio that my old gas grill sat on just want to make sure. I just want to know so I can add to it if I need to before the new one comes in so I can get cooking as soon as possible.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Jared:
    The official reply was
    "Below are the dimensions of the assembled 47180T

    82” wide
    24” deep
    53” to top of the chimney"

    I measured the wheelbase and it was 20" x 48".

    ReplyDelete
  43. I want to thank you for this review, as well as the subsequent follow-up you posted, on the Smoke Hollow 47180t. It has proved very helpful in my decision to purchase one and then make some modifications to it. I posted my initial experience with it on my own blog just last night and made sure to mention your two posts. Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I Have one of these and love it. Worked so well, I ended buying one of their smokers.

    The only issue I have is that mine is rusted in the front and on top.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Chris,

    Picked one of these up last week, modded it like Sean did and had my maiden voyage yesterday. Three racks of baby backs. The ribs turned out great, had them on for 4.5 hours, but I had one heck of a time keeping the temp up to 225. This is my first off-set smoke box and I think there were two issues. First, i had put a 'grate' on top of the grate that came with the grill, to help with the charcoal falling through. However, the holes in the new grate weren't very big, and I think ash accumulated and stopped the draft process from underneath and hence caused temp issues. Second, I guess it just takes one heck of a lot more charcoal when you're using the smoke box instead of indirect heat actually inside the cooking chamber. Whatever, I'm ready for round 2!

    ReplyDelete
  46. How long is it for size purposes? Can't seem to find that.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Chris,

    How did you season the outside of the grill?

    ReplyDelete
  48. Mark - I sprayed it with spray canola oil (bought it from Sam's) similar to PAM.

    ReplyDelete
  49. So basically spray or rub oil on the inside and out. Fire up all areas for three hours?

    Secondly do you recommend using/purchasing the grill cover?

    My wife just gave me the grill for fathers day. I cant wait to get it set up.

    Thanks,

    ReplyDelete
  50. I just assembled my Smoke Hollow, they changed the grills to a more standard spacing. The charcoal does not fall through. Also only one seam on the grill needs to be sealed. All others appear to be solid. I am going to do the Nomex gasket mod.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Cured my Smoke Hollow, fired it up for a second round of coals, and grilled a couple of rib eyes. Its been two years since I have owned a grill. I forgot what I was missing. Wow, I am so happy I can cook like this again.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Thnaks for the blog, Im wary of cheap chinese products but got my smoke hollow based on your excellent blog. Did the same mods thanks for the tips. Smoked some ribs for six hrs with almond wood, was just great. Going to be a good summer, Wanted to say thanks!
    cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  53. I am concerding this grill or the BGE. I have a gas grill and a weber kettle (both very old). I would like to learn to smoke. Price is best on the 4 in one, but I am concerned about quality and how long it will last. What do you think I should do?

    ReplyDelete
  54. I cannot believe that all you people didn't help me. I guess that I will flip a coin.

    ReplyDelete
  55. John - Between the Egg and a Smoke Hollow for long term, I'd definitely go with the BGE.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bought the smoke hollow at Sams for $299 (down from $349). They now have the unit reduced to $279. What a toy, I love it! Thinking about purchasinging the "sizzle Q" (link below)

      http://www.samsclub.com/sams/sizzle-q-stainless-steel-griddle-for-grill/prod1530022.ip

      and placing it on the searing burner. It covers the searing unit perfect. Do you think it may get too hot to use this way? Not much room for airflow.

      Delete
  56. John - I think that would be too hot to be functional, that burner gets so hot. It would work better on the charcoal or gas grill units where you can tame the heat. If you do try it on the sear burner, try a test cook first. Let me know how it works out.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I'll have to try this mod. I made a basket for the smoke chamber, but it did not work out because it restricted (the metal I used had small holes) the heated from getting to the meat. Your method would be unrestrictive and will probably fix my low heat problem when smoking. I just finished converting mine from propane to natural gas(I have a on/off valve on my porch - must drill out all 4 orifices, they unscrew), heat diverter plates on rails mounted just under the charcoal adjust basket (so uniform heat goes across cooking chamber-may move chimney pipe to right side of grill) and added washers on the studs with quick connect clips to front vent to seal better. See this link for more info. http://www.amazingribs.com/tips_and_technique/offset_smokers.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you recall what drill bit you used on the orifices? Looking to convert to NG.

      Delete
  58. I like the grill other than it got too hot and wasted 4 valves and knobs. Cant find new valves, too bad looks like time to invest in a grill that can handle a little extra heat.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Hey Chris...Now that you have had the Smoke Hollow Smoker-Grill-Sear Combo Unit for almost a year and a half do you still think its a good purchase? I love to cook with charcoal but sometimes time means gas. I have been looking at the one that also has the hibachi or griddle attachment as well for over a year but have been waiting on a review from someone that has owned it more than a month.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Anonymous - Yes, after a year and a half I am still glad I bought it. I just used it yesterday for some awesome grilled chops. All of the equipment trays and moving parts are still in good shape, nothing has broken.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Thanks Chris. That's good to hear.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Bar Equipments
    We are prominent manufacturer, exporter, importer, retailer and trader of Ice Cream Display, which is used in science, industry, and cooking to heat materials gently and gradually to fixed temperatures, or to keep materials warm over a period of time. Our company, Ensign Equipments manufactures Electric Bain Marie from good quality raw materials and export and retail them at minimal prices. Our range of Bain Marie Counters is catering all requirements of customers and meeting established quality standards norms.

    for more details
    http://www.ensignindia.com

    ReplyDelete
  63. I purchased this grill/smoker and am I am just finishing up with the mods and assembly. I have a question for you. You said you seasoned the outside of the unit as well as the inside. You do mention that you wiped off the excess oil after it cooled but does this make the outside of the unit feel greasey or sticky in any way? My biggest concern about buying this unit was rust because most of the bad reviews are about it rusting. I threw a coat of Rustolium 1000 degree paint on mine before assembly to try and help it but I will season the outside as well if it doesn't make it feel sticky.

    ReplyDelete
  64. It will leave a residue that is the seasoning but it is only sticky if you don't season it well (don't heat it, don't wipe it down etc.). I'm not surehow the paint will affect seasoning but I can't imagine that it would cause a problem. Mine is a full two years old and only had 1 spot rust problem and a quick sanding and reseason fixed that last Spring.

    ReplyDelete
  65. I just wanted to say thank you, I waited two years before I purchased this grill. After reading the info you posted on the smoker hollow I made the trip to Sam's. The 2013 model has some new changes that have improved it. The gas tank is now hidden and is well supported. They also added shelves and changed the bbq grates. The smoke box still needs an added grate even tho they made the spacing a little smaller. All of your modifications worked perfectly. Oh and the beef brisket recipe amazing :)

    ReplyDelete
  66. Has anyone converted this smoker to natural gas? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  67. Anon - The official reply from Outdoor Leisure Products (the manufacturer) is "We do not offer a kit. However, our grills can be converted. We ask that any consumer wanting to use NG consult their local gas company or plumber." (as of May 9, 2013)

    I have seen a few conversion kits at Lowes and Home Depot but have not tried them myself.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Thanks to all for keeping this post alive. Inspired by it, I have purchased and assembled the grill and purchased/made all mod stuff.

    A suggestion...the perfect chimney extension is a Sapporo beer can...can opener off the top and bottom and the tapered can provides a snug fit.

    A question...better to season before or after mods?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am looking to possibly buy this grill but want to convert to NG...have you had any luck converting your grill? Can you give any tips on what I can do?

      Delete
    2. I am looking to possibly buy this grill but want to convert to NG...have you had any luck converting your grill? Can you give any tips on what I can do?

      Delete
    3. Adam - The official reply from the manufacturer is "Official response from the manufacturer (May 2013) is:

      We do not offer a kit. However, our grills can be converted. We ask that any consumer wanting to use NG consult their local gas company or plumber."

      I never pursued it past that, mainly because I have six other grills/smokers that I use in rotation and it just wasn't a pressing issue for me. I already have NG plumbed to my deck but it's 20 feet from where I keep the Smoke Hollow. Anyone else try it yet?

      Delete
  69. I have one and it is just great. One more change, add two bricks under the wood on the heat box to allow more air to kindle the fire.

    ReplyDelete
  70. We purchased the Smoke Hollow 47813T this past fathers day. I read the numerous likes and dislikes on this model and the decision to make improvements was obvious. I welded in 1/8 steel in the smoke box, charcoal cooking chamber, all the lids (with the exception of the searing unit since it's left open when you use it), and I had a local powder coating shop apply a 1300 degree flat black coating to the entire unit (inside and out). When we got all the pieces back, I added a Nomex gasket to all the lid contact surfaces of the body. The smoker works excellent and I don't have to worry about rust. Yes, this may be extreme...but what the heck!

    ReplyDelete
  71. Scott in North Texas here....saw this combo at Sam's, liked the concept but might have been too good to be true. Haven't bought it yet but with your reviews here vs some negative others elsewhere has me sold. Yea, not a super duper grill but with a few do-it-myself upgrades and keeping basic maintenance up on it will make it last for a few years. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  72. I plan to convert to NG in the spring mainly because the LP grill just doesn't get hot enough. (had a Weber previously). Smoker works great and also added bricks as mentioned before. I think the bricks also help to keep a more staple temp in the fire box which helps do the same in the smoking chamber.
    No regrets on the purchase.

    ReplyDelete
  73. I will be converting this grill to NG in the spring, mainly because the LP set-up just doesn't get hot enough. Smoker works great. I did add the bricks (mentioned in another post) which helps stabilize the temp in the fire box. I find it easier now to hold steady temps in the smoking chamber.
    No regrets on the purchase, especially when considering the price.

    ReplyDelete
  74. I've had the grill for about a year and LOVE it. It is my first smoker/charcoal/sear grill. I have only had gas in the past. The flavors this thing produces are awesome.
    I am really wanting to convert mine to NG but have no clue where to even start or what is needed? I have a NG line 2' away from my grill and don't want to mess around with propane anymore.
    Any help to get me in the right direct would be great. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  75. I've had the grill for about a year and LOVE it. It is my first smoker/charcoal/sear grill. I have only had gas in the past. The flavors this thing produces are awesome.
    I am really wanting to convert mine to NG but have no clue where to even start or what is needed? I have a NG line 2' away from my grill and don't want to mess around with propane anymore.
    Any help to get me in the right direct would be great. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  76. I've had the grill for about a year and LOVE it. It is my first smoker/charcoal/sear grill. I have only had gas in the past. The flavors this thing produces are awesome.
    I am really wanting to convert mine to NG but have no clue where to even start or what is needed? I have a NG line 2' away from my grill and don't want to mess around with propane anymore.
    Any help to get me in the right direct would be great. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Danny - I still don't know any specifics other than my reply earlier up in the comments. I get their liability concerns about giving an "official answer" in someone blows themselves up. I have not found any kind of universal propane to NG conversion kits, most seem to be brand specific.

      Delete
  77. I am not an expert and am comfortable with gas, my husband likes coal and is wanting to try out the smoke box. Based on your review I am SO EXCITED to surprise him with this for his birthday next week. Thank you for your review. I have also saved this page to show him (after his Bday of course) so he can do the mods to it!!! THANK YOU!!!!

    ReplyDelete