Smoking food, securing trailer from thieves & mushrooms

The Traveler’s Bob Brennecke answers your outdoors questions:

QUESTION: “My family is big on grilling and lots of our friends also have smokers, and they rave about them. We’d like to try our hand at smoking some chicken or sausage or whatever, but not sure what smoker to get since we’re newbies. Any advice?”

ANSWER: There are so many choices out there no wonder the confusion on what to buy. I have tried many types and seem to be swayed to use the cooker/smoker combination. 

I have no name brands but the cooker/smoker combination with separate chambers; one with a gas grill to one side and a smoker chamber next to the cooker I believe, you will be getting the best of both worlds. 

The cooker can be used for cooking/BBQ, heating up, and smoking. The smoking chamber exhausts into the cooking chamber and can be used or not.

The wood you use makes a difference in the taste of the smoke. Experiment with small batches at a time. My dad used apple wood to smoke his trout and that was quite a wonderful taste. Good luck! 


QUESTION: “What can be done to my travel trailer or utility trailer to keep it from being moved by someone else other than me? I have a dual-axle 16-foot enclosed utility trailer that I use for hauling equipment from job to job.

“I would like to park it next to my office, off the street in a small parking lot, and secure it as well as I can to protect from it being stolen. I have a ball lock on it and was going to use a chain around the axle and a steel post. Don’t really want to take a couple tires off it, like I’ve seen others do. Any thoughts?”

ANSWER: Unfortunately, there is little you can do to keep your possessions from being stolen if the thief has enough time and equipment. 

Bolt cutters, hack saws, cutting torches will disable most, if not all, locks and chains you use to secure your equipment. All you can do is slow the thieves down. 

If you make it so hard to slip your equipment away, the thieves will move on to another victim. 

I like your idea of the heavy chain, the heavier the better, also the lock. Heavy wire rope works well, as the thieves will go for the lock first rather than cutting the wire rope cable. 

It’d also be good if you can back or put your doors against a wall or permanent structure so as to block the entrance to your trailer’s contents.

Many people use the lock on the ball to keep their equipment from being stolen. It is a misconceived belief that if the thief cannot set the trailer on a getaway truck’s hitch ball, your trailer is safe. 

This type of hitch lock can very easily be circumvented by just attaching your trailer’s chains to the elevated device on the recovery truck after lifting your trailer off the front leveling jack.

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This next foil attempt will slow the thieves down. If you remove your chains while in storage the thieves cannot just hook up and tow away. The chains can be attached when you get ready to go on another trip.  (see clevis chain link picture). 

There are, of course, other methods of attaching and removing chains as shown, but the clevis is the most robust, exceeding the chain’s strength.

There are other options, also. If you have ever tried to cut a heavy wire rope, some call it cable, you realize it is tough except for the use of special equipment. 

This special equipment includes: a cutting torch; an anvil, chisel and sledgehammer; or very new sharp bolt cutters. The wire rope pulled through a wheel and wrapped around your axle is a definite “slow me down.”

Wheel locks and the (rhinoceros type) device police use in disabling automobiles from being driven off are probably the hardest to remove, but not impossible! 

If I had to choose two types to use to keep my vehicle safe I believe I would choose (#1) the wheel lock method and (#2) the chain removal method.

Remember, the longer it takes to remove or dismantle these devices on your trailer, the longer you will be able to use the trailer. The thieves are trying for “quick pickens,” so slow them down and/or have them move to another easier prey.

If you are in an area where there are people around, a loud alarm can help.

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