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Unread 08-10-2010, 02:25 PM   #1
darthtrader
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Default Cabinet Smokers: Gravity Feed vs Water Pan

Well, I've decided to get a cabinet style smoker rather than a traditional stick burner for several reasons: 1. efficiency, 2. saving of horizontal space, 3. mobility, 4. cost. Now that I've decided on the cabinet style, I'm wondering what you all think of the different design variations among all of them. The Backwoods and Spicewine are heated from the bottom with a water pan, I believe; whereas Stumps and Superior are gravity fed and do not require a water pan. What kind of differences can I expect as far as hot spots between cooking rack levels and efficiency of fuel among these cabinets?

Thanks in advance, Brethren.
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Unread 08-10-2010, 04:05 PM   #2
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I've had 12+ hours of burn time in my med Spicewine without a charcoal basket. I cook with the water pan empty most of the time.
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Unread 08-10-2010, 08:47 PM   #3
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I've got experience with Backwoods & Stumps, plus am familiar with the Superior.

My preference is for the gravity/continuous feed style. Early Stumps were plagued with charcoal delivery problems and distinct temperature variations in specific areas, top to bottom and side to side. The more recent design changes have improved the charcoal feeding, air flow and heat distribution. Both gravity fed brands are extremely efficient with or without the use of temperature controllers (guru or stoker), primarily because they flow very low volume of air, use precise valves to regulate airflow/temperature and they don't require a water pan to help with heat distrubution and temperature control. Alot of energy from the fire is used to heat up and maintain temperature in the water pan, which is continuously changing through evaporation and refilling. The builders of the cf/gf smokers advertise 15-20+ hour continuous burns without refueling.

The Backwoods and Spicewine will have many experienced users that will brag of similar or better operation. Those brands are designed as water smokers, they can operate without water, but will requre more practice and baby sitting to maintain constant temperature.

All the verticle cabinet smokers are well built and fully insulated making them suitable for all seasons and very versatile in numerous cooking methods. All have unique differences, check the web sites and brand specific forums for all the details.
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Unread 08-10-2010, 09:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Tom View Post
The Backwoods and Spicewine will have many experienced users that will brag of similar or better operation. Those brands are designed as water smokers, they can operate without water, but will requre more practice and baby sitting to maintain constant temperature.
I disagree that it requires more practice/babysitting without water to maintain temps in a Spicebox. I actually believe it is easier as you don't need to factor in the change in temps that can arise as the water in the pan evaporates over time (same principle in a WSM etc).

Best bet is to call each of the mfgs and talk to them and get their opinions (hopefully unbiased).

I know Jay and his team at Spicewine do an incredible job.
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Unread 08-10-2010, 09:34 PM   #5
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I had a stumps gf223 and it would easily go 20 plus hours on a single load....with plenty to spare. I never had a bridge problem, but some folks did. The right side of the cooker was certainly hotter, but nothing more then 10-15 degrees if I recall. Any of the gravity feed systems are great cookers. They are not effected by wind, rain or snow...they are very efficient, and they can hold a lot of meat. I assume you are wanting to go with charcoal and wood chunks as opposed to burning logs, right??? If so, stumps or superior would be great choices
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Unread 08-11-2010, 08:20 AM   #6
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I have built 2 gravity feed cookers. modeled after several different brands. I love them both very efficient and my temps are very equal in the chamber. I also use a water pan with my cooker. I feel it does a better job of keeping the temps consistant. Both Stumps and Superior are very nice units as well as Spicewines. just depends on what you want. Cannot go wrong with any of them.
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Unread 08-11-2010, 11:21 AM   #7
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If you go with the spicewine talk to Chris Rocke, he's the west coast distributor and can get you hooked up. That will answer your pricing question. Plus he's not far from you either. I just picked up a spicewine this past weekend, can't wait to break it in on Sunday!

As for your question, I don't think any cabinet style smoker will have even temps within the box since heat rises and raidates from the metal on top. All cookers will have variation, even the home oven has temp differences. This is a good thing really since variety is the Spice (wine) of life. Sorry I couldn't help myself. ;)
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Unread 08-11-2010, 11:32 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JiveTurkey View Post

As for your question, I don't think any cabinet style smoker will have even temps within the box since heat rises and raidates from the metal on top. All cookers will have variation, even the home oven has temp differences. This is a good thing really since variety is the Spice (wine) of life. Sorry I couldn't help myself. ;)
They do have a variation of temps. The trick is to use deflector plates to get them more even. on mine I have a difference of 12* top to bottom. and side to side and front to back only 2-4* on each shelf. So in my opinion that is pretty even cooking temps.
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Unread 08-11-2010, 01:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chibi View Post
I have built 2 gravity feed cookers. modeled after several different brands. I love them both very efficient and my temps are very equal in the chamber. I also use a water pan with my cooker. I feel it does a better job of keeping the temps consistant. Both Stumps and Superior are very nice units as well as Spicewines. just depends on what you want. Cannot go wrong with any of them.
Do you have any pics of your water pan for your smoker? I'm in the process of building a stumps clone and I planned on using a water pan. My idea is that it will act not only as a heat deflector but also help maintain the temp of the cooking chamber and act as a drip pan.
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Unread 08-11-2010, 11:47 PM   #10
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I just used a stainless steel half sheet pan. sit it on top of my greese deflector pan.
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Unread 08-13-2010, 04:11 PM   #11
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I've had a GF223 for about 4 years now and I think it's the bee's knees. Will run all night without touching and uses very little fuel. It does have some temperature variations, but they're pretty easy to learn and adjust for.
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Unread 08-13-2010, 05:53 PM   #12
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I prefer my Stumps. But that Spicewine trailer is very tempting. I just don't want to tend the fire and water.
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Unread 08-15-2010, 11:44 PM   #13
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Just an update about babysitting a spicewine.... here is a timeline from today

9:00am - lit half a chimney of coals and added about 10lbs of coal to the box (in a U shaped basket). No water.
10:00am - hit 225*
10:30am - hit 250 and it stayed there

12:30pm - called Chris Rocke to ask about vents and airflow since I like to cook at 275
1:00pm - opened the bottom vent about 1/8th inch

I then left for a football game since I coach youth football....

5:00pm - came home and found the spice at 275

It's now almost 10:00pm and it's still at 275, the needle hasn't moved at all and I still have some coals left. So I'm going on 12 hours, 13 if you count the pre-heat, and I still have at least 3 hours left to go before I start to lose temp.

This thing is a fuel camel.
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Unread 08-16-2010, 09:30 AM   #14
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I have a Stumps and Spicewine and prefer the stumps due to the gravity feed set up. Both are super easy to operate and fuel efficient.

I think you would be happy with either one.
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Unread 08-18-2010, 10:45 AM   #15
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Thank you all for the input. I really like the gravity feed setup because of how easy it is to refill, even with it's 15++ hours of cook time. I like the Spicewine because, like the Stumps, it's insulated; but unlike some of the complaints with Stumps customer service, the Spicewine has a pristine reputation. I have a little side hobby/business that I may want to expand in the near future, in which case, the ability to continuously feed the smoker would be a big plus.

You guys that know how to build clones are a bunch of lucky you know whats. I wish I was that handy.
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