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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 06-06-2007, 08:43 AM   #1
moorejh
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Default Smoker advice

Hello all you BBQ Guru's. I have just recently become smitten with good BBQ thanks in large part to a co-worker who cooks in competitions that gave me a recipe for a brisket and details on how to smoke it. Needless to say I cooked it at a big cookout/pool party at my house on memorial day and it was a huge hit. Everyone wanted the recipe and have dubbed me the official BBQ cook at all future cookouts (go figure...I just happen to have the only pool in my circle of friends as well...lots of parties at my house! ). Anyway a couple of days before the party I didnt have a smoker yet so I went to a local Academy store and picked up a Oklahoma Joe's offset smoker. It worked out pretty well for me but once I got it going I had trouble keeping the temp below 260 (may be newbie errors but I am learning). I would like to make some mods to it if any of you have any ideas for me.

Anyway let me cut to the chase. I am interested in getting a better smoker/pit that would be easier to maintain heat and cook longer that would keep me from having to get up every hour during the night to keep up with it. I have read on here about several different makers of smokers with some of the main ones being Gator, Klose, Spicewine, Stumps, etc... My friend recommends a backwoods smoker and really believes in them and from what I read and heard from him I definately am going to look into them. I think the "fatboy" would be the size and price range I would be interested in looking at. I guess I should say that this will be for my back patio and I am not really looking to have one that is mounted on a trailer although wheels are a must. My patio is 60 feet long and I will need to move it around as needed (if any of you have wives you can understand that one).

I would appreciate any information or opinions any of you may have. I would like to hear your opinion on backwoods smokers as well as any others you might think fit into what I am looking for. The Stumps gravity smoker sounds pretty impressive as well and seems to be tough to beat. Thanks in advance for your input.

Some of you may have already seen this post because I put on the texas bbq rub site forum where I was instructed to put the post on a bigger "Q" site so here I am.

Love the site by the way. I had no freakin idea that I would be so into this that i would be spending hours reading about this stuff...Im hooked or "Smoked" as it may be.
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Unread 06-06-2007, 08:59 AM   #2
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Default Cookers

All the cookers that you mentioned are good in their own right, might want to checkout cookshacks Fast Eddie makes a good cooker, I had your delima a few weeks back and decided on the Spice Wine because they're made by hand and as you can see there is quit a few folks here that have em and are quit proad of the fact, stumps are a good cooker, but eventually the call is going to have to be yours good luck in your indevour for a smoker.
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Unread 06-06-2007, 09:00 AM   #3
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Were you burning wood, charcoal, or a combination of the two?

Fire control is the key to all Q. A search above will give you all kinds of tips.
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Unread 06-06-2007, 09:02 AM   #4
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Moore, I assume you are talking about the Longhorn OK Joes. That's actually quite a fine smoker, tried and true design. The difference between the smokers you've mentioned and the one you have is mostly in the thickness of the steel, which is something that would increase the heat in your pit, not lower it. They just often consume less fuel to get the same temps is all, or are more log burners than charcoal.

If the Longhorn was a recent purchase I would really hesitate to run out and drop the $1500 - $2000 on a Spicewine or a Klose just yet (sorry guys, don't mean to cost you a sale!). There's a lot of mods that increase the efficiency and even temps in a horizontal offset pit.

To name just a few:
- baffle between fire box and smoker to distribute heat
- a soup can or flashing rolled up into the chimney to bring it to grate level to keep heat from quickly escaping
- a firebasket in the fire box for ease of use
- door gaskets to stop air leaks

To me, if the temps are too high you can narrow that down to two issues, either to much draft if the chimney and firebox were chocked way down, or too much fuel.

My buddy has a similiar design by a different company (I have a vertical). He starts with a chimney of charcoal to get the pit going and only throws in 6 or 8 chunks of charcoal ever 30 or 40 minutes, and maybe a log every other hour. There's also something called the Minion Method for burning charcoal, which is a little less maintenance but takes a few tries to get figured out exactly on your pit.

I just wouldn't give up too quickly on the OK Joe's, but hey if your mind is set I'll bet someone on here will take it off your hands.

And as far as my vote would go, if you want a chamber smoker, Spicewine is the way to go without question. If you are looking for an offset horizontal or vertical, you can't beat a Klose, with Gator a close second in my book.
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Unread 06-06-2007, 09:32 AM   #5
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I used charcoal to start and then wood for the majority of the cook. I did add some additional charcoal about half way through but I have read on here that is bad idea since I just poured some unfired charcoal in the box on top of my fire. I guess if I used a chimney it would have been better.

I am interested in the cabinet cookers just due to the fact that alot of the get togethers at my house are during the day (pool appeal) which means lots of through the night cooking and I was a wreck by the end of the day memorial day due to sleep depravation. The long cook times without adjusting are appealing to me for that reason.

I like my smoker and plan to keep it even with any other rig I decide to purchase along with my Holland grill (gas). I was actually pleased with the way the Ok Joe's worked for me and I didnt find it that difficult to cook on, it is just the up every hour thing. Who knows...maybe once I get used to it I can get more sleep or at least make it in 2 hour stretches.
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Unread 06-06-2007, 09:34 AM   #6
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nthole,

is there a set of directions or maybe descriptions with pics of the mods you mentioned for my pit? I have an idea of what you are talking about on some of them but I am still new to this and any additional detailed information would be helpful.

Thanks for the replies guys!
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Unread 06-06-2007, 09:39 AM   #7
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It matters how serious you plan on getting with this bbq stuff. Me, I am ate up with it and Q all the time. Ive wasted money on junk, but had success useing junk over the years. If you are going to cook lots of food, get something that is easy to use. I work hard all the time "concrete man" and dont want to work hard bbqing so I have to give another vote for the Spicewine. Too easy and cooks great.
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Unread 06-06-2007, 09:43 AM   #8
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I'm a big fan of the Stumps smokers and their gravity feed system..You fill the chute full of lump ( about 7 lbs ) and you'll get 12-15 hours of burn time.

The only messing with my cooker is to load/unload or to throw a few chucks of smoking wood in. They are double walled and insulated, very very efficient smokers.

If you need any additional info on the stumps let me know, I'll answer what I can.

I'm not knocking any of the other smokers mentioned, just telling you what I know from my experience.
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Unread 06-06-2007, 09:50 AM   #9
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The 15 hour cook time is really appealing to me. I could not find any dimensions on the stumps site. Do you have any of that information? I just found pictures that showed some with 3, 4, and 5 racks in them but couldnt find dimensions. Thanks!
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Unread 06-06-2007, 09:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moorejh View Post
I did add some additional charcoal about half way through but I have read on here that is bad idea since I just poured some unfired charcoal in the box on top of my fire. I guess if I used a chimney it would have been better.
This probably isn't an issue if you were using lump. If you were using K it may have been a good idea to light it in a chimney first.
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Unread 06-06-2007, 09:58 AM   #11
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I started with a char broil off-set & recently purchased a Backwoods Smoker Party. I have to say I love this smoker. Over Memorial day weekend I got up at 1 AM to start the smoker, I had about 9 lbs. of charcoal in the firebox, by 1:45 I had 2 Boston Butts and 3 Brisket flats on. Once I was sure the temp was holding at 220* I went back to bed, that was at 2:45 AM. I got up at 6:30 AM, would have slept a little longer but my 2 daughters got us up, went to check the pit and the temp had risen to 225*. Got ready for church...got home from church at 10:30 AM and the pit was still at 220* Added more charcoal at about 11:30 AM and put on 3 slabs of baby backs. Shut the pit down at 3 PM...used about 14 lbs. of charcoal and had no major temp fluctuations.

The BWS quickly recovers its temp after opening the door to spray, mop or rotate the racks, with it's insulated walls it is safe to touch if you have kids that might tough it while it is cooking. large fire box allows for a long slow & low burn. Easy to manage temps with the vents.

Just my .02, good luck with your search...welcome aboard!
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Unread 06-06-2007, 09:59 AM   #12
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Yea the site isn't the best at the moment, they are working on it, or so I've heard. On the GF gravity feed smokers, the racks are 20x20 and you can get 3,4,5,6, just about anything you want.

They have new models that they are building now and there isn't a ton of info out on those yet, but I'm sure BigTom can answer any questions you have.

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Unread 06-06-2007, 10:06 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moorejh View Post
nthole,

is there a set of directions or maybe descriptions with pics of the mods you mentioned for my pit? I have an idea of what you are talking about on some of them but I am still new to this and any additional detailed information would be helpful.

Thanks for the replies guys!

On the user bar at the top of the screen there is a link called File Section. Click that and go to the Mods files. Lots of horizontal offset mod ideas. Some of the Bandera Mods are worth looking at as well.

or just click here

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/modules....download&cid=2
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Unread 06-06-2007, 10:16 AM   #14
nthole
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moorejh View Post
I used charcoal to start and then wood for the majority of the cook. I did add some additional charcoal about half way through but I have read on here that is bad idea since I just poured some unfired charcoal in the box on top of my fire. I guess if I used a chimney it would have been better.

I am interested in the cabinet cookers just due to the fact that alot of the get togethers at my house are during the day (pool appeal) which means lots of through the night cooking and I was a wreck by the end of the day memorial day due to sleep depravation. The long cook times without adjusting are appealing to me for that reason.

I like my smoker and plan to keep it even with any other rig I decide to purchase along with my Holland grill (gas). I was actually pleased with the way the Ok Joe's worked for me and I didnt find it that difficult to cook on, it is just the up every hour thing. Who knows...maybe once I get used to it I can get more sleep or at least make it in 2 hour stretches.
Yeah, pouring a ton of unlit charcoal on isn't the best idea. A few chunks or briqs usually isn't an issue.

I can sympathize with the up all night thing, but there are ways around that. I used to have to babysit my Bandera all the time. Couldn't go more than 40 minutes without some sort of fuel adjustment. Then I got a little something called a fire basket. Now I pour in about half a bag (9lbs) of charcoal into my basket, fire up a chimney of charcoal on my turkery fryer, pour that on top. In an hour my pit is at 225, I close down the dampers to where it hold perfectly (lots of practice to learn that) and I can walk about from the pit for 6 - 7 hours and never touch it. I don't need to even give it a second thought. Now I do return about every hour to toss on some flavoring wood. Used to do that way more often, but now I use a full log just tossed across the top of the basket. Adds smoke for an hour or more and as a bonus, when it's done smoking and I hit it with tongs, I've just added a nice batch of fresh lit lump charcoal to the basket.

So there are ways to make things work. If time is your biggest issue start looking into charcoal baskets. They can be made cheaply, expensively, with steel and expanded metal and bolts from your local hardware store, or by a local welder with some heavy duty metal. Or you can even buy them from Klose and a few other places.

With some of those thoughts in mind I would heavily stear away from the Klose's and Gator's as those are really just beafier units of what you have and will still need to be tended. If you want no tending then the cabinet is the way to go, even a Traeger or something pellet fired. The Stump does look like a cool idea as well.

Now if you're just looking for an excuse to go and buy another smoker ...
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Unread 06-06-2007, 10:28 AM   #15
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moore-

Like Papa Hogg I have the Backwoods Party w/Guru. It is everything he says and puts out a great product. Like yourself I started on an offset and I get about 4-5 hours out of a load of lump and some chunks of wood and I use the Minion Method. It is really just a matter of learning the cooker. It can take a few cooks but you should be able to get a few hours of sleep with the offset. Good Luck and welcome to the board.

Smoke on
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