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View Full Version : Experienced KCBS persons, Cooker/smoker question


bbally
03-08-2011, 09:00 AM
I noticed that many of the teams the winning cluster placing high seen use computer controlled cooker/smokers with the limited sample set I have been able to cobble together.

How many of you placing in the top 15 or so run a wood or charcoal fired pit with no electronic controls?

I know from the years running my two Southern Pride cookers that computer control is very even in temperatures and hold them pretty solid to about 1 or 2 degrees. Is the same achieved with pellets and these Guru modified units?

Do these electronic controlled pellet units and gizmos that are added on to control draft and damper with thermostats basically create better COMPETITION barbeque bacause the pit is handled electronically?

KC_Bobby
03-08-2011, 09:03 AM
Plenty of teams win using high tech units and plenty of teams win using trash cans and such. It's the cook, not the cooker.

For most, it's knowing their cookers and how different elements will effect each. Then you get some guys that will give ya a solid run no matter what cooker they have from comp to comp.

Scottie
03-08-2011, 09:20 AM
Man, just a lightning bolt...

Who cares? they are all legal. I have been a pellethead my entire comp career. I am now cooking on a offset. You know what? I can actually tend a fire. amazing... Who would ever of thought that I could do that?

and for the record. The top teams are cooking on offsets. The TOY uses a Guru, but the past TOY's have been offsets.

Red Valley BBQ
03-08-2011, 09:22 AM
I agree. It's the cook. We don't use electronics and we've had our fair share of calls. If you learn to control your cooker, it will be good to you.

voodoobbqIL
03-08-2011, 09:26 AM
get to know your pit and treat it like any other part of the team. My first rigs were home built in our blacksmith shop and they did not look like much but they performed. No matter what the orientation if the pit has any design to it all you can win with it.

Fatback Joe
03-08-2011, 09:26 AM
When I added a couple of guru's to my lineup, the only thing that really changed was the amount of sleep I could get at night.

Didn't change the end product at all, IMO, just freed up some of my time.

bbally
03-08-2011, 09:31 AM
This is the eighth unit I have designed and built. Designed and built the trailer it sits on too.

http://www.prochefblog.com/public_pics/cooker/closerlook/anglelook.jpg

I am asking because after two years of running it I still get 7 degrees of variance when I am trying to hold 250 F. Down at 225 F I am around 3 F variance. She cannot go above 310 F (at sealevel) 275 F (at 5000 feet) due to the design of the draft and damper systems.

With the alloy I specified in the reverse flow heat plate she varies less than two degrees front to back and 4 degrees from firebox to fold back.

bbally
03-08-2011, 09:34 AM
When I added a couple of guru's to my lineup, the only thing that really changed was the amount of sleep I could get at night.

Didn't change the end product at all, IMO, just freed up some of my time.

Great to hear, I really enjoy running my rig manually. Would like the sleep, but with enough coors on ice the all night vidual is serene to me.

roksmith
03-08-2011, 10:16 AM
Certainly not one of the top winning teams here.. but I can say that although I like cooking on my offset much better, for comps where we have to travel.. if we only take one truck, I can either pull the offset and live in a pop-up shelter, or pull our trailer with the pellet pooper in the bed of the truck... makes life much more comfortable for a weekend, but I see no real difference in the product turned out.

With my offset, the temp will stay within a 20 degree range, with the pellet pooper, it's dead on all the time... but since no two pieces of meat cook the same, it just doesn't matter.

bbally
03-08-2011, 01:15 PM
with the pellet pooper, it's dead on all the time...

Yes I watched them work last year at HavaBBQ and then again at Pork and Hops in Junction with a walk through of a unit at HavaBBQ this year by Smokin N the Rockies. Damn thing is as accurate as both my Southern Pride Gassers on holding temperature. To my mind they are basically a complete temp controlled conventional oven.

KC_Bobby
03-08-2011, 02:37 PM
Do you think that's an advantage?

roksmith
03-08-2011, 02:50 PM
I do notice that even though I cook at a lower temperature with my pellet pooper than my stick burner, it actually cooks a little faster. I think it's mostly due to the intake and recirculating fans that make it almost like a convection oven. Less concern also with hot spots. Since my stick burner is home made.. even with tuning plates, it's always a little off side to side or top to bottom. With the pellet box, and all the air flow, I don't really have any hot spots.

Oh yea..and it's a lot easier to pack a bag of pellets for a trip than to split a stack of hickory :)

bbally
03-08-2011, 04:11 PM
Do you think that's an advantage?

I think it can turn out a more consistant product. From watching the pellet cooker work I think it is basically a gasser with a different fuel.

I purchased the SP gassers for the catering company because I wanted to have more consistancy than the wood cooker was offering. That and we started doing 300 to 700 person caterings making the amount of food required fairly large. We add wood to the SPs to get the smoke, I don't know if the smoke comes from the pellets in a pellet cooker or if you add wood like we do in the Southern Pride?

Got to be close from what I watched.

KC_Bobby
03-08-2011, 06:55 PM
I'd hardly call my Country Smoker (pellet) basically a gasser with a different fuel. Temps in in vary 20-30*. My Backwoods (coal/wood) smoker is way more consistent in temp - without a device to control temp.

The smoke comes from pellets, as does the heat - the pellets are 100% wood.

Hub
03-09-2011, 06:51 AM
"Electronic Control" whether of sticks or pellets, is a convenience, not an advantage. A bad or mediocre cook will not get much better results with electronic control. Not that big a deal. A good cook will or will not use "electronics" depending on his or her desire to have more consistent temps, but the outcome of the cook still depends mostly on the skill of the cook.

Balls Casten
03-09-2011, 07:18 AM
I'd hardly call my Country Smoker (pellet) basically a gasser with a different fuel. Temps in in vary 20-30*. My Backwoods (coal/wood) smoker is way more consistent in temp - without a device to control temp.

The smoke comes from pellets, as does the heat - the pellets are 100% wood.

I'll second that. Our stick burner is much more consistant, both in food and temps, than our pellet smoker.

roksmith
03-09-2011, 07:28 AM
A lot seems to depend on the controller the pellet burner uses. Mine started off life as a Traeger grill and it wasn't very consistent.
When I was done.. using the same pellet feeder, but being controlled by a PID controller, it's now rock solid.

Not better..just different.. and for about 8 hours at night, I can sleep rather then tend a fire.

bbally
03-09-2011, 08:03 AM
"Electronic Control" whether of sticks or pellets, is a convenience, not an advantage. A bad or mediocre cook will not get much better results with electronic control. Not that big a deal. A good cook will or will not use "electronics" depending on his or her desire to have more consistent temps, but the outcome of the cook still depends mostly on the skill of the cook.

I agree that you have to be a good cook before those devices add any advantage. But if it is all on the cook why did they exclude gas fired smokers? Was there a perceived advantage to gas smokers that is missing for pellets and other electronic draft units?

I just wonder because as the electronics increase, even with the three I have attended, more and more I run into less pit masters in the overnight, as the Pitt Master is being replaced by electronics, and run into a lot more that are just cooks.

While I respect the opinion that the electronics are just letting people get sleep, I am over the opinion it takes a whole lot of the art of the pit handling out of the equation and removes a component of the barbeque preperation out of the game.

I am not complaining or calling for change, I am just wondering if everyone really beleives it just lets you get more sleep, or can others see it takes something that was part of the preperation and turns it to a computer controlled "set it and forget it" method?

Fatback Joe
03-09-2011, 08:11 AM
I can only speak for myself, obviously, but my scores didn't change when I got a guru.

Bourbon Barrel BBQ
03-09-2011, 08:31 AM
While I respect the opinion that the electronics are just letting people get sleep, I am over the opinion it takes a whole lot of the art of the pit handling out of the equation and removes a component of the barbeque preperation out of the game.

My opinion is people who win Grand Champions are still going to win whether they have a trash can or a computer controlled super cooker.