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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 10-12-2012, 10:05 AM   #1
GMDGeek
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Default Reverse Flow vs Standard Pit

Forgive my terminology, I'm still learning the lingo. My search for today is Reverse Flow vs Traditional Pit heat flow (firebox on one end and vent pipes on the opposite).

Obviously either method works, as I've seen and more importantly TASTED some nam nam nammy BBQ from both. What I am more interested in are the Pros and Cons of each.

I know each pit is different and will have its own spirit that has to be tempered. IE hot spots learned, fuel feeding times figured out, stack and vent positions, etc.

As I mentioned in a previous post I've been looking at a Lang or equivalent reverse flow pit. I was asked why and honestly I didn't have a solid answer other than reduced hot spots and if tuned right lower fuel consumption. But that got me to thinking, I need to be better educated.

My brother, my identical twin brother, didn't get this. He said, and I quote, "a pit is a pit, a smoker is a smoker." Mind you he does not smoke bbq - heck he barely knows how to grill a burger. He and his best friend didn't understand when I said GRILLING is NOT SMOKING BBQing; in my book Grilling and BBQ are 2 different things entirely!

Now I'm not going to be a rocket scientist on this (unless I some day learn to weld better and decide that building pits is for me) but I do want to understand the logistics behind it better. So if there are any link/thread already started or if you know of a good explanation I'd love to hear it. Heck I'd love all feedback.

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Gerry
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Unread 10-12-2012, 10:11 AM   #2
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Probably the biggest advantage to reverse flow is evening out the temperatures across the length/width of the pit. Many traditional offset cookers use tuning plates to baffle the heat in a similar way, but you don't get the reverse draw with the stack in the traditional spot at the other end of the chamber.
Biggest thing is find a pit you like and learn to run it to your own satisfaction.
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Unread 10-12-2012, 10:41 AM   #3
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While the reduction of hot spots is a big plus, they still exist just over a larger area.

On my Lang, there are two. The first is the most obvious, right next to the fire box. The other is actually on the other side of the cooking area and up about 6+ inches from the grate where the smoke starts to come back over the food.

The other big plus for me is when I do a pig (3 or 4 times a year) I normally roast it right side (skin side) up. When moisture drips out of the meat, it turns to steam and goes right back into the meat.
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Unread 10-12-2012, 11:10 AM   #4
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On a reverse flow you can also make temperature adjustments easier by lifting or lowering the tongue to even out temps on both ends, or too even make one end hotter. At comps we start with even temps for pork and brisket(250') across the whole pit, then when chicken is about to be put on we will crank up the tongue and we can hit 300'+ on one end just for chicken, while the other side stays in the 250'ish range for the pork and brisket.
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Unread 10-12-2012, 01:07 PM   #5
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Here is a diagram of a Meadow Creek reverse flow smoker. RF just helps maintain a consistent temperature throughout the pit. I think it adds to the fun of the experience when you can use wood/charcoal, but don't have to constantly battle the temperature. That's one thing that's important to me and the reverse flow design helps with this.

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Unread 10-12-2012, 01:12 PM   #6
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Honestly you're better off adopting the "where-ever you go there you are" philosophy when it comes to offsets. Trad vs offset is not really worth thinking about. You're in Texas, so get something that's close to you - Klose, Gator etc. Just so long as the metal is heavy enough to break a bone when dropped, you got a good pit.

Langs are fantastic but they're in Georgia. Which with the weight of a good pit, you're gonna pay much $$ for shipping. That $$ is better spent test briskets to fark up.

I learned offset smoking on the dumbest built offset ever. Now this offset was made to be a combo hog cooker / offset if I wanted to use the gas. I needed to red-neck mod my pit with a 5ft heating pit to make it a faux reverse flow cuz getting the heat from one end to the other just wasn't happening. In the end I learned my pit. all it's little quirks etc. And you will too. You will be frustrated with both the reverse flow & the trad. You will have heating issues on both. You will think about buying one of those little charcoal burning boxes with a little fan attachment.

But after a few over night cooks and wasting a ton of meat. You will have mastered your grill. And by then you wouldn't trade her for any other in the world. My offset doesn't flow well, part of it is warpped due to the heat pipe, and she's a pain to clean. But she smokes 300lbs of butts like a dream and she can polish off a 200lb hog like people smoking chicken. She ain't pretty but she's mine and I love her.
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Unread 10-12-2012, 01:20 PM   #7
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If you want to cook for the masses, then reverse flow is the way to go, because like the Brethren have stated, better/even temp control across the smoking chamber.

I have an off set and just cook for my fam damily, and I struggle just doing a half a dozen racks of ribs because the temp differences from one side to the other are more than 50 degress.... but it works fine if I'm just doing a single shoulder or a brisket.

My thoughts are the same as with shot guns. My first one was a pump, after that they're all auto-loaders....I'm not sure what my next pit will be, but I know what it won't be.
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Unread 10-12-2012, 01:49 PM   #8
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Thanks Guys... I'm giving johnsonsmokers.com (if posting a link is a no no please let me know - still learning the rules) a look over as they are local to me (an hour drive) and seem pretty decent and clean. Will keep you all posted and thanks for helping confirm my decision to go with a Reverse Flow 1/4" or better.
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Unread 10-12-2012, 02:37 PM   #9
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The other advatage of the reverse flow is the pan. This allows grease to be directed to a central drain and out of the pit, with pretty much no risk of a grease fire. By closing the valve, the pan will now hold water/apple juice/beer or whatever you like to your smoke.
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Unread 10-12-2012, 02:45 PM   #10
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On the other hand, there is a reason cookers like Klose and Gator pits still exist and in fact, do quite well. Each cooker has it's own quirks and benefits, a traditional offset does have the hot spots and as such, require different techniques. But, if you learn the quirks, you can use the hotspots to your advantage. Personally, I think you have to really experience a cooker to understand how and what it can do.

Any cooker at the level of a Lang, Meadowcreek, Klose or Gator will cook great BBQ if the person running the fire knows what they are doing.
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Unread 10-12-2012, 02:57 PM   #11
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I've owned both...reverse flow and now the gator with plates. I prefer the gator with plates as I can do much more with temp control. Took me a little time to figure the plates out. Like someone said above just figure out what works best for you. Who knows I may one day own another reverse flow.
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Unread 10-12-2012, 07:27 PM   #12
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I don't have any experience in this field, but I would personally like the traditional offset- if you're cooking different cuts, the temp differentiation is a plus.
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