First off, let me say that I have no connection whatsoever with Rec-Tec. I've recently retired and am very excited to start cooking with my new toy. I've got a lot of experience with pellet smokers. In the past I've owned a large Traeger (BBQ125), a small Traeger, an FEC100 and also an FEC120. I sold all my smokers when I moved from Wisconsin then retired in Arizona recently.
I did a lot of research before making this purchase. I no longer needed the capacity of the FEC's but I always liked my larger Traeger (BBQ125) for backyard personal cooking. The Rec-Tec is basically the same size as my larger Traeger which is perfect for me now that I've retired and will not likely be doing any more competitions or large parties.
I called Rec-Tec directly to place my order and spoke with Ben. He was very nice and helpful on the phone. I ordered the smoker along with a cover and 2 frog mats. The shipping charge to Arizona was $199 which is the maximum they will charge for freight in the USA. They also accepted PayPal for payment which is not stated on their web site.
The smoker was shipped the very next day via UPS truck freight. Rec-Tec emailed me a letter with the tracking number and attached a .pdf file with assembly instructions. UPS called me two days later and scheduled a day and time for delivery at my house.
UPS arrived right on time. The truck had a hydraulic lift gate and the driver was extremely helpful unloading the unit and putting it in my garage for me. I asked about the wooden pallet it came on, as I have no use for it, so we took it off the pallet and the driver took the pallet with him which was great.
The heavy cardboard box was undamaged and devoid of holes which is a good thing. Rec-Tec also included a free 40 pound bag of pellets which was sitting on top of the box which was a nice gesture. Thank you.
Upon opening the box I was impressed with the substantial effort that had gone into packing the unit. The cardboard box had 3 layers of heavy duty cardboard and everything was suspended in large foam blocks.
Inside were all the pieces necessary for assembly.
The unit is quite heavy and very well built. Two people will be necessary to get the barrel unit out of the box and lay on its back for assembly.
Here we have the legs on. I was apprehensive about this part as I read on several forums about people having problems getting the legs on, complaining about tight fits and needing a rubber hammer to install the legs. One fellow pounded so hard he broke some of the welds in the leg socket!! I think I know what may have gone wrong there. The legs are slightly rectangular and could possibly be forced into their sockets the wrong way. If you just look at the holes through the bottom of the legs where the lower shelf bolts in, just have all those holes facing forward. Also, make sure the fixed wheels are on your left and the wheels must face out. Anyway, all four legs slipped into the sockets with no effort. Here's a tip. Leave all of the legs and lower shelf bolts finger tight until you have the unit standing up on its legs. This way, the legs will self align so the unit sits flat on the ground. Make sure the surface is nice and flat and level when you do this.
Here we've got the legs and lower shelf on, (bolts loose), and also the LH shelf/controller unit. The controller unit was pre-installed so all I had to do was attach the two wires coming from the temperature pickup. Caution here, follow the directions and use a flashlight. There are other terminals next to the correct ones. It would be easy to connect the wires to the wrong terminals as other people on the forums have done.
Here we are with the wiring connected and the lower access plate for the controller installed.
Here we've completed installing the smoke stack, side handle and the two cool looking stainless steel "Bull Horns".
Ok, got my helper to lift her up on her feet. Notice it is sitting on a nice level concrete slab. Now I tightened the top of the legs first, then the lower shelf last. The unit is very solid and heavy built. Assembly was super easy and there we no missing or damaged parts. I'm very impressed with its quality and construction. The hardware is all stainless steel and much heavier than you'd expect. It's very similar in functional design to my old Traeger BBQ125 but unlike the Traeger, the Rec-Tec has a stainless steel drip pan and heat diverter which is great. Also, the Rec-Tec controller allows temperature changes of 5 degrees versus the Traeger in 25 degree increments. The color is more of a burnt orange versus the red you see on the Rec-Tec web site. I wish it was more red than the orange.
The unit is built extremely well, but surprisingly, the two metal back stops for the cover are made out of very thin metal that the heavy cover sits against when it's open. I doubt this will ever cause any problems but it was the only detail that was out of character for this otherwise well built machine. Just had to nitpick something I guess.
Well I just completed the initial burn-in. Threw a handful of pellets into the pot, turned her on and set it to 400 degrees. I let it run for just over an hour to burn off any oils. Everything went perfect.
And now for seasoning. I foiled the drip pan and put ¾ pound of bacon on the frog mats and set the temperature to 375 degrees.
Bacon is done, cooked to perfection. The heat appears to be very even as each piece of bacon came out the same doneness.
Well that's it for today. I've got a couple nice pork butts in the refrigerator for the weekend. Overall, I'm very pleased with my purchase at this point. What really surprised me with this company is that included in an envelope with the unit was a hand written Thank You note with the business cards for Ray (president), Ben (senior sales manager), and Jamie (general manager) each with their cell phone numbers! I didn't need to call for anything but it is nice to know that they are making themselves easily available should problems arise.