Introduction to Smoker types

Any type of purchased BBQ Pit.

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lefoie
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Introduction to Smoker types

Postby lefoie » Tue May 27, 2014 11:16 am

I am new to this forum and come with no experience with smoking with anything other than briquettes and my trusty Weber grill. I am trying to learn which type of smoker to purchase as I would like to do ribs and brisket and also have the ability to do even more complex smoking in the future. Spend any amount of time reviewing what is being sold in Texas, Kansas and the Southeast US results in a significant amount of confusion about the advantages of each type. I've been to culinary school and am fairly serious about cooking in general. Where can I go to learn of the advantages and disadvantages of each of the types of smokers being built?
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DATsBBQ
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Re: Introduction to Smoker types

Postby DATsBBQ » Tue May 27, 2014 12:07 pm

Are you looking at manufactured or custom pits?
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Re: Introduction to Smoker types

Postby lefoie » Tue May 27, 2014 1:04 pm

I am not sure. I would like to purchase a pit which will be durable and effective. I have looked at some very nice looking custom pits which are fairly expensive. I do not know enough to intelligently make that type of investment at this point but would anticipate spending $2,000-3,000.
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Re: Introduction to Smoker types

Postby DATsBBQ » Tue May 27, 2014 1:42 pm

I moved the thread here (BBQ Pits), as I think you'll get more responses from the stick burner crowd.

The custom pit forum is more focused on designs, how-to and such for home-builds.

Personally I cook on a ceramic. They are extremely efficient and versatile. They don't rust, but they can, err will crack if dropped. Another downside is that they are heavy, which makes them hard to move with just one person.
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Re: Introduction to Smoker types

Postby lefoie » Tue May 27, 2014 1:55 pm

Thank you for this help! I will eventually learn my way around.
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TXLNGHRN
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Re: Introduction to Smoker types

Postby TXLNGHRN » Tue May 27, 2014 3:40 pm

Where are you located? How big of a pit do you want?
There are plenty of custom backyard pits that are available for less the $2k

Each pit type has it's own learning curve and if you know your pit how it works you can get great results no matter what it is.
I have a traditional barrel offset. Firebox on one end and stack on the other. I bought my backyard pit, Oklahoma Joe Longhorn, 9 years ago at Academy for $400. That's what I learned on. I still use it. My comp pit is basically the same design, just bigger on a 16ft trailer.
If I ever get a new one, I'd like to get an insulated offset, like R&O. Way more efficient. I know folks who use a vault type, (R&O fatgirl and a Backwoods) Those are really nice. They cook all night on a little bit of charcoal and a couple chunks of wood.
Then there's the ceramic guys. Those look cool too. No experience with them, pretty expensive for me (500-1200ish), but I'm thinking of getting the chargriller akorn ($350ish) to play around with.
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Re: Introduction to Smoker types

Postby BluDawg » Tue May 27, 2014 3:47 pm

I'd Build a UDS to startout. Then Start shopping for an Offset 2 pieces of advice buy Quiality and go bigger than you think you need.
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Re: Introduction to Smoker types

Postby lefoie » Tue May 27, 2014 5:54 pm

Thanks so much for your response! I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado just south of Denver. My thought of size is to start with a cooking surface in the range of 42 inches. I have looked at several types of smokers but have no knowledge which would guide my decision to be the traditional Barrel offset as opposed to the upright cabinet style or other types. Is there any demonstrated superiority of one type over an other? The insulated concept does sound fascinating.
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Re: Introduction to Smoker types

Postby TXLNGHRN » Tue May 27, 2014 9:01 pm

I think mine is a 4' cooking area and a 2' firebox. but if I had a dream back yard pit it would be this here in viewtopic.php?f=2&t=23825

You could do amazing things with this, including comps......
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Re: Introduction to Smoker types

Postby garzanium » Tue May 27, 2014 9:30 pm

Don't buy anything in the next 2 months would be my suggestion...spend time on here and other forums researching. 2k is a huge investment, so don't go blind into it..TONS of options out there and from experience, don't get into something you will regret later. Just my 2 cents.

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Re: Introduction to Smoker types

Postby 4Mfarms » Tue May 27, 2014 11:34 pm

Welcome to the forum lefoie. You can spend hundreds of hours reading reviews of different style cookers, BBQ pit manufacturers, and everything else to do with cooking BBQ on various BBQ forums.

Here are some links to a few examples:

Reverse flow smoker vs traditional offset smoker:
http://zaksmoker.com/articles/reverse-flow-verses-tuning-plates/

Safe, vault, or vertical smoke:
I couldn't find a cartoon picture to explain this type of smoker. If you Google these you will find information on the basics of these smokers. I just want to point out there is a reverse flow vertical smoker several companies make which is a little different. With these type of smokers, heat and smoke from the firebox located on the bottom travels through a channel to the top of the cooking chamber. It exits through smoke stack channels which start close to the bottom of the cooking chamber.

I, personally, have had a lot of experience cooking with traditional offset smokers with tuning plates. I like this style because you can adjust the tuning plate gaps to have the entire pit to be at the same temperature or two, possibly three zones of varying heat levels depending on the length of the pit. For example, I can cook a brisket at 250 F grate temperature on one end of the pit and chicken halves at 350+ F on the other end of the pit at the same time by simply making the gaps between the tuning plates smaller or larger. Likewise, I can adjust the tuning plates where they are closer together next to the firebox and gradually further apart as you move away from the firebox to maintain the same temperature form one end of the pit to the other.

Here is a competition/tailgating/ranch pit I built for myself last summer where you can relate to. Your budget should be able to land you a nice pit that will meet your needs. Like others mentioned, do your homework before jumping on the bandwagon.
http://texasbbqforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=67&t=20992
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Re: Introduction to Smoker types

Postby k.a.m. » Wed May 28, 2014 9:17 am

Welcome to the forum lefoie, you can also look at a Hybrid like my competition cooker. My cooker has two exhausts and tuning plates that lock together creating a reverse flow cooker.
The build is in my signature.
And more extensive pics here.
Cooker
I do prefer running my cooker with open plates but can switch to reverse flow in about 3 minutes.
Here is a pic of my actual grate temps during peak cooking time on five briskets.
The lower temps are grate temps and #2 is the firebox side.
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Always remember slow and steady wins the race.

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My Hybrid cooker.
Competition trailer #2.
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Re: Introduction to Smoker types

Postby Okie Sawbones » Wed May 28, 2014 10:27 am

You do know you cannot stop at ONE cooker don't you? :dont: You'll need a kettle, an upright, a stick burner, a ceramic, and a UDS. :whiteflag: Wait! Don't wave the flag yet. Start with the easiest and work up. The ceramics are almost fool proof. You can buy a Primo Oval XL with all of the bells and whistles and shipped for your price range. You can also buy a nice upright such as a Backwoods Party, which again is almost foolproof. Then think about a stick burner. A backyard model Jambo Pit is great, and has an insulated firebox. It is in your price range as well.

Don't just stop at those models I mentioned. Take a look at Pitmaker, Humphreys, Lone Star Grillz, Klose, Assassin, Yoder, Gator Pits, Stumps, Big Green Egg, Meadow Creek, Myron Mixon, Shirley Fabrication, Spicewine, Superior, and Lang (among others). Lots of great pits out there. Have fun looking. :cheers:
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Re: Introduction to Smoker types

Postby DATsBBQ » Wed May 28, 2014 10:37 am

I lived in the Centennial state for 20 years before seeing the light and moving to Texas. The cold winters in Colorado won't phase a ceramic, but you might have issues keeping a stick burner to temp. I once did a brisket on Einstein in January at 8,400'. The outside temp never got above 5°F, but the cooker purred at 250°F for the entire cook. I don't think an UDS, WSM or stick burner could have done that.
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Re: Introduction to Smoker types

Postby lefoie » Wed May 28, 2014 1:15 pm

Several of these posts have been tremendously successful. I have wanted to develop proficiency in smoking for years and the recommendation to slow down and read is wise advice. i appreciate your input and recommendations. I would love the smoker posted by Cowboy but know I do not have the time and need for so much space. I will post questions as they arise--
Thank you!

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