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Stacks
10-25-2010, 04:35 AM
SCENERIO - Been deployed for a year keeping my mind occupied with plans to compete next year. I've poured over posts and websites learning everything from backward planning cooking schedules to meat enhancers (FAB B) and I'm even planning on taking a class this spring. Except for practice (not much oportunity here), I'm down to my choice of smoker. The wife (feeling I've earned a little reward for my being gone this past year) has offered to let me purchase ANY smoker I want knowing full well top of the line smokers can cost 10,000.00 or more!! I can't bring myself to spend 10K on anything I can't live in. :crazy: While competition is the plan and I think my Q has the potential to at least score middle of the pack, I would like to be able to use it for backyard as well, and be able to cook for the occasional large gatherings. I'm comfortable with charcoal and experienced with bullet smokers and my offset (can't wait to build my first UDS this winter). but I don't have any practical knowledge using anything else. So...

QUESTION(S) - If you were in my shoes and looking for that "all around" smoker; what would you get and why? Who builds the best for the money? Which brands maintain constant temperature with the least variations in the chamber? Trailer mounted or not? Vertical, offset, combo? UDS, Jambo, Lund, WSM, Backwoods, FEC, Egg, etc?
I know everyone has their preference and what they use is the best, but why is it the best?
Sorry for rambling but I'm sure this is a once in a marriage opportunity and I need some input.
Thanks

jonboy
10-25-2010, 05:44 AM
Since you are thinking about competitions, and you are going to get one roll of the dice. Spend a few weekends at comps, hang out with the locals and see how and what and why they use the cookers they do. Then make a great decision. With 10k you could set yourself up to compete nicely.
Dont forget to get your wife involved. Enjoy it together.
jon

thillin
10-25-2010, 06:27 AM
I switched from eggs to a Med Spicewine. Still use a large egg for chicken. It's built like a rock and insulated. I've cooked in a downpour without shelter and it didn't skip a beat. I load mine into a 6x10 enclosed trailer. At comps, I roll it out and have the trailer with a rooftop A/C to prep and sleep in. It will cook a full comp on a load of fuel. And since you're in MO, I'd call Jay at Spicewine in Columbia.

monty3777
10-25-2010, 06:27 AM
Thanks for your service!

I have an off-set on a trailer, an FEC 100 and a WSM. If you are looking for an off-set then I wouldn't even think about anything other than a Jambo. An entry level Jambo is ~$5000. I shouldn't say this because I have been trying to sell my Horizon off-set, but that's not much more than my cooker cost and there is a night and day difference. Simply put - if you buy something other than a Jambo off-set (IMO) then you are making a huge mistake.

Not only is the Jambo the best engineered off-set available (though others are starting to copy Jamie's design), at this point if you buy one and decide you don't want to do comps it won't be hard to sell it. In fact, if you want to sell it give me a call!! I have been looking for a used Jambo and have no luck. No one is selling.

As for your other options. My FEC is awesome. Love it. You will have to put up with jackholes at comps calling you a cheater. I have total strangers walk by and call me cheater at comps - yes they say it with a smile - but it's a reality. However, I am beginning to thing that they think I'm cheating by being so much better looking than everyone else. Eitherway, I have learned to live with it. If you do get an FEC keep in mind that the pellets can be expensive if you don't buy them in bulk. I'd suggest hooking up with someone on the Brethren and going in on a bulk order from BBQers Delight. You will also want a generator (something quiet like a Honda). That's at least another $1000.

I think if I had it all to do over again I'd get a Jambo.

Otherwise, mine's for sale if you want it :heh::thumb::cool::becky:

gtsum
10-25-2010, 06:42 AM
Thank you for your service..it is much appreciated!

I would try and go to a local comp and talk to some teams and get a feel for their cookers...also give some thought to how you want to tend the fire..do you prefer set it and forget it, or do you want to tend the fire every 45-60 minutes? All offsets are going to require tending, some more then others. I agree on the Jambo offset..if you that is the direction you end up going, I would get a Jambo..very nice, easy resale if necessary, and good to look at! Good luck with your search!

Rich Parker
10-25-2010, 06:57 AM
If I could dream for a minute that I had an extra $10k. I would probably still cook on my drums but have a nice used toy hauler to sleep at night in.

Drums let you sleep like pellet cookers. :)

PigBoy
10-25-2010, 09:39 AM
Since you are thinking about competitions, and you are going to get one roll of the dice. Spend a few weekends at comps, hang out with the locals and see how and what and why they use the cookers they do. Then make a great decision. With 10k you could set yourself up to compete nicely.
Dont forget to get your wife involved. Enjoy it together.
jon

I agree totally! There is a competition in Butler, MO this weekend. This would be an excellent opportunity! I have entered and plan to compete if my injured knee will allow. About 60 teams entered. Come by and introduce yourself. I'm competing as Plowboys BBQ. Hope to arrive around 2:00pm Friday.

Randy

crd26a
10-25-2010, 10:55 AM
Stacks - I went through a similar thought process last year and settled on a vertical gravity feed - specifically the Superior SS-2. They're a great smoker and I wouldn't trade it for anything, even a Jambo. We burn around 1 lbs a charcoal an hour, hold heat very well by being insulated, and can get more sleep as they cook faster than what we were using last week. We're cooking at Butler this weekend as well, not too far from Clinton, and most of the pits you'd be looking at will be on hand. We'll get there early afternoon on Friday and are always willing to talk, come by and see us Friday night or Saturday before it gets really busy or after turnins. More than happy to talk.

Lake Dogs
10-25-2010, 12:19 PM
Wow, so many choices. Also, you want to compete, and there are so many different
types of competitions. I like the advice above; go to a few competitions, look at
the amounts and types of meat you'll need to cook, look at the different cookers and
make a decision at that time. In KCBS you see lots of Big Green Eggs in addition to
most everything else. In MBN the Big Green Egg is almost non-existent because of
the amounts of meat you cook. Once you get an idea of that, you'll want to decide
whether you're more of a traditionalist or whether you really prefer to sleep at night;
meaning offset vs. set-it-and-forget-it types. We have a Lang 60, and I'll argue that
it's every bit as good (cooking wise I mean) as a Jambo, and perhaps better because
I prefer the reverse flow. Jambo's are, without any shadow of a doubt, BEAUTIFUL
and fantastic cooking machines. However, for 1/2 the price you can have a nice
Lang 84 (bigger than the 60 model) and save the 5,000 difference for other things
that you'll want to use in competitions (cambros, tents, tables, etc).

Stacks
10-26-2010, 01:15 AM
Thanks for the advice and the invite PigBoy and crd26a. I'm still in the desert till December but I would consider going AWOL for a sample of your ribs.:becky: If it's OK I'll take you up on the invite this spring.

Stacks
10-26-2010, 01:49 AM
Thanks everyone for the advice, invites and the information. I think it's a GREAT idea to check out a few comps before deciding. I'm pretty sure I'm going to go the charcoal/stick burner route. Monty makes a great case for the Jambo and I appreciate his honesty especially when trying to sell his Horizon (which by the way is a nice looking rig and a good price). I've heard good things about Langs too. I may PM you Lake Dogs with more questions down the road if thats ok? A lot to decide. But what a PERFECT diversion.

Maddog's
10-26-2010, 02:06 AM
STACKS - I've found you can count on some well seasoned advice among the bros (opinions, too...oh hell Yes, opinions) but anyone can learn from the advice tossed around in here. As for me, I've got but one message for you bro...
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!

BChawg
10-26-2010, 04:55 AM
Stacks,

I am still in the desert as well and should be back in Mid December too. I think for versatility Kingfisher is hard to beat. I have an insulated whole hog model which I have modified for comps with help from the folks at Kingfisher Kookers. There are alot of great options out there and alot of it will utlitmatley depend on your style and what you intend to do with it--how portable do you want to be and what you intend for your site set up to be. Half the fun is figuring it out--enjoy!

Clark

JD McGee
10-26-2010, 07:29 AM
Thank you for your service Stacks! :-P First of all...you'll get a lot of input about a lot of different smokers. Personally I use WSM's as they are lightweight, easy to transport, and extremely versatile. Have fun making your decision!

Lake Dogs
10-26-2010, 09:40 AM
It's definitely a preference thing and frankly knowing yourself. If you really like the
traditional types (I do, but they aren't for everyone) know that you'll have someone
staying up all night and they'll be less than at-their-very-best come turn-in time.
Trade offs. As to which cooks best, the frank truth is the best cookers are the ones
manned by folks that know how to use them. I went up against stiff competition here
this past weekend and beat a previous national champion and Stumps and a few
other notables (who weren't at The Jack) with a simple Lang 60 (loaded to the gills
with 9 whole pork shoulders averaging 20lbs each, 12 racks of BB's, and 2 9lb pork
butts [for Peoples Choice]). We were 7th in a tough field of 22 (only 4 local teams)
and as best I can tell were a very close 2nd on a table to the winner or 2nd place
team (9.9 final scores for all 5 blind judges). My point is this: an offset cooker
can cook as good as any of the nice set-it-and-forget-it types. For that matter,
so can the smaller WSM's, Green Eggs, etc. Definitely consider transportability. If
you're going in just 1 vehicle, consider that if you have a pull-behind model (ala. Lang
or Jambo) that you can't have another trailer full of *stuff* (tables, chairs, tents).
However, with the smaller easier to transport models, you get a trailer and *voila*
you're in business. They compete very well in KCBS, IBCA, most backyard comps.
However, if you're in an area with MBN and want to do that style, you'd be hard
pressed to compete effectively with a few of these.

It gets back to knowing yourself, what you like, what you do well, and how you
like to travel.

Oh, and, THANKS for your service!!!!

Slamdunkpro
10-26-2010, 09:51 AM
While competition is the plan and I think my Q has the potential to at least score middle of the pack, I would like to be able to use it for backyard as well, and be able to cook for the occasional large gatherings.
First Thanks for your service

I'd say first, define large gatherings. Second if you're going to compete you'll need wheels of some type. I started with an offset and ended up going to a cabinet cooker so that when my large gathering parties came around I wasn't attending them on 45 minute cat naps the night before. I'd suggest looking at a Spicewine super medium with a industrial dolly and a 7x15 trailer.

Stacks
10-26-2010, 11:04 AM
First Thanks for your service

I'd say first, define large gatherings. Second if you're going to compete you'll need wheels of some type. I started with an offset and ended up going to a cabinet cooker so that when my large gathering parties came around I wasn't attending them on 45 minute cat naps the night before. I'd suggest looking at a Spicewine super medium with a industrial dolly and a 7x15 trailer.

Most of my "gatherings" range from 10-20 people but I did cook for 90 when my son graduated. Ran my Cimarron offset for 3 days and 2 nights before the party cooking pork shoulders, Briskets, and beans. I had a lot of requests to cook for upcoming weddings and such no catering just the main dishes but my smoker's not big enough to commit to that.
Lake Dogs really got me looking at the Lang. I've checked the Spicewine but I have ZERO knowledge on cabinets and I don't even know anyone who uses them where I live. I'm not against them just my ignorance makes me reluctant and I would think you'd have to own one and learn it to appreciate it. What sold you on making a switch like that if I may ask? It's only a couple of hours to Columbia MO. I may want to go up there and see if they can school me. Their website doesn't offer a whole lot for someone comparing between offset and cabinet.

Slamdunkpro
10-26-2010, 11:55 AM
What sold you on making a switch like that if I may ask? It's only a couple of hours to Columbia MO. I may want to go up there and see if they can school me. Their website doesn't offer a whole lot for someone comparing between offset and cabinet.
The short answer is capacity and sleep. I was doing a lot of parties and my offset was running out of capacity, plus it was "high maintenance". In order to run it at full capacity I not only had to tend the fire hourly but also rotate the product and foil the bigger meats. When I got the Spicewine my product constancy improved dramatically and my labor requirement went way down.

thillin
10-26-2010, 03:10 PM
The short answer is capacity and sleep. ..When I got the Spicewine my product constancy improved dramatically and my labor requirement went way down.

Ditto. I almost paid for my Spicewine the first 3 comps I used it.

ClayHill
10-26-2010, 06:28 PM
alot of things to think about here:-D, again thanks for you service.

First off I'm a stick burner(use very little charcoal), I learned to cook throwing sticks in a firebox and am just too stubborn to make the switch. At comps I am envious of the guys who get sleep, but at my age (late 20's) sleep is overrated,lol, talk to me in 10 years. I feed my reverse flow (home built) about every half hour.

As far as competitions go in my area, I'm new to the scene with just three (KCBS) under my belt. And I've noticing a lot of backwoods smokers and Meadow Creek reverse flows, specifically the TS 250(a lang clone built in PA).

Backwoods do very well around here...

big brother smoke
10-26-2010, 06:46 PM
Thank you for your service and burn sticks, baby!

Stacks
10-27-2010, 09:12 AM
THANK YOU everyone who weighed in on this post and the patient explanations to further questioning via PM. As I expected everyone loves what they use with passion. I have decided to spend some time at competitions both as a spectator and a "helper" so I can get a feel for the process, equipment requirements, tempo, work/rest/drink cycles, etc and make my decision based on those observations. I really did think this would be an easier choice, but the members here have given me insights I never would have considered but definately would have learned the hard way. I'm going to keep researching and find the best fit for what I need.
Thanks again,
Mike

CBQ
10-27-2010, 09:22 PM
I can't bring myself to spend 10K on anything I can't live in. :crazy:

Extreme BBQ Trailers has some models like that :becky:

jbrink01
10-27-2010, 09:43 PM
Hit me up when you get in, you can cook for a day with me if you want. Thanks for serving!

Bentley
10-27-2010, 10:23 PM
See if folks around you who have different units will let YOU cook on their equipment, only way to really know is to cook on it, I bet any person on this site close to you would say yes in a heart beat!