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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, equipment and outdoor cookin' . ** Other cooking techniques are welcomed for when your cookin' in the kitchen. Post your hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures, but stay on topic and watch for that hijacking.


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Old 07-19-2017, 10:47 PM   #1
Ribsket
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Join Date: 12-29-15
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Question What I wish I did/modded/knew/didn't do when I ordered my <brand> gravity feed smoker...

After an unsuccessful run in the realm of pellet smokers, I'm ready to move on to a gravity feed. I've reviewed the major players that most everyone does and read most of the reviews and threads on the boards. I've even read the thread where folks describe how insulated water smokers have calmed the frenzy of gravity feed purchases.

But, before my next purchase goes, dare I say, up in smoke , I wanted to get some extra thoughts from the collective.

What are the things you wish you knew before you plunked down your cash and bought a gravity feed smoker?

Many of the threads of folks taking ownership are many years old; have the Assassins and Stumps of the world continued to live up and hold up?

Did you request a modification to your smoker that you wish you hadn't or hasn't been worth the trouble? I've seen 90-degree ball valves, high heat paint around the charcoal shoot, extra rack runners, etc.

I can't imagine everyone is using the basic fan controller; has anyone used the Flame Boss with their gravity feed?

How has the maintenance been? Has the care you put in after every cook kept your pit in tip top shape or do you ever have fears of the neighbors blaming you for bringing local property values down? I know I did with my last pit...

Thank you all for your responses and for the wealth of info this site has already provided!
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Old 07-20-2017, 01:11 AM   #2
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Just don't get Bright Red - UGLY - or Black - BORING.........
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Old 07-20-2017, 01:18 AM   #3
Ribsket
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Originally Posted by SmittyJonz View Post
Just don't get Bright Red - UGLY - or Black - BORING.........
Fair enough! I've been thinking of blue.
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Old 07-20-2017, 07:53 AM   #4
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I run a Cyber Q on my small T&K gravity feed and love it. Check Todd's cookers out as well https://www.tkbbqsmokers.com/. From what I have found the gravity feed gives a lighter smoke profile than the standard vertical smoker. I also prefer the flavor profile of lump in the GF vs briquettes. I got the ceramic paint which of course is just cosmetic. I could have saved $250 and went with the boring black. The slam latch is ok, I probably could do without that as well, I just like the fact that it has a key lock that way if I left it out on a long cook over night I know the food wouldn't be messed with. The probe port was probably the most useful upgrade. Hope this helps.
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Old 07-20-2017, 08:28 AM   #5
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1) make sure there is sufficient space between racks
2) I would prefer a slide in drip pan that I can remove and dump instead of grease dripping down into the bottom of smoker through a drain. If not monitored or cleaned can cause a grease fire which happened to me.
3) a dedicated port to run temp probes through
4) large rubber wheels to be able to move easily through grass or gravel
5) slam latches
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Old 07-20-2017, 10:09 AM   #6
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Mobility, Mobility and Mobility. I've owned GF's considered the best out there, but the front wheels are cheap pneumatic versions from Harbor Frieght, and huge chunks of rubber come off them when you load them on a trailer. Insist on best quality wheels for the front and back, it will be worth the investment and for ease of moving what is typically a monster to move.
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Old 07-20-2017, 10:10 AM   #7
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Also, get all the rack runners you can and the racks to go with them. It is a shame to have all that space and only 3 racks...
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Old 07-20-2017, 10:45 AM   #8
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I can only speak for the Assassin 24 I own. It's stock except for custom paint and an oversized thermometer. The grease catcher does require periodic attention to make sure it's not clogged, but it's not a big deal to clean. I cover mine with foil to make cleaning it a lot easier. I have no high heat paint around the coal chute or fire box doors. The paint around the immediate area of the coal chute door is blistered but not beyond where the gasket rides. A good bit of moisture collects on the coal chute door during a cook. I put a piece of HDAF over the coal chute to keep the moisture contained and not running into the gasket. I make sure I dry that area before I cover the smoker between cooks.

I have stock casters and the smoker rolls very easily on the concrete pad I have it on, but I have no plans to transport it. It's a heavy beast that I imagine would be less than fun to drag over soft ground.

The exterior cleans up well with dish soap and a rag, and mine is still shining like a new penny. It has a really good paint job.

I use the provided Pitmaster IQ120 to control it. It works nicely.

All in all, no complaints, no regrets. I did a lot of research before I ordered mine and and it delivers the goods every time I fire it up.
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Old 07-20-2017, 12:30 PM   #9
Ribsket
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Militant83 View Post
I run a Cyber Q on my small T&K gravity feed and love it. Check Todd's cookers out as well https://www.tkbbqsmokers.com/. From what I have found the gravity feed gives a lighter smoke profile than the standard vertical smoker. I also prefer the flavor profile of lump in the GF vs briquettes. I got the ceramic paint which of course is just cosmetic. I could have saved $250 and went with the boring black. The slam latch is ok, I probably could do without that as well, I just like the fact that it has a key lock that way if I left it out on a long cook over night I know the food wouldn't be messed with. The probe port was probably the most useful upgrade. Hope this helps.
Surely does help! I hadn't seen T&K and they are out here in the midwest, too. A specific color may not make the food taste any better, but the smoker will become a large fixture in the yard!

I find the comments about the smoke profile interesting. I realize much of this is subjective. We didn't get much smoke flavor out of the pellet cooker we had. The Weber Smokey Mountains are heavier but have a tendency to run less optimally. I'm hoping a gravity feed would be somewhere between the two; closer to the WSM than the pellet.

I think I may want two probe ports. Having both a Tappecue and a fan controller, I think two may be the way to go. It's all in the details.
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Old 07-20-2017, 01:57 PM   #10
SmittyJonz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ribsket View Post

I find the comments about the smoke profile interesting. I realize much of this is subjective. We didn't get much smoke flavor out of the pellet cooker we had. The Weber Smokey Mountains are heavier but have a tendency to run less optimally. I'm hoping a gravity feed would be somewhere between the two; closer to the WSM than the pellet.
.
I don't have One but generally see this posted when chute is only charcoal and they burn a small split or chunks in burn box. Most remedy this by using a mix of charcoal n chunks in chute - so most will use briquettes and watch the Chunk size n shape to prevent "bridging"/get stuck in the chute.......
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Old 07-20-2017, 02:41 PM   #11
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The only thing I wish I had done different with my Deep South was either get the round bar upgrade, or (amazingly enough) gotten fewer racks. We got the 5 rack option which means there isn't quite enough space between racks to fit a pork butt or full packer without scraping the rack above. We ended up taking one rack out anyways, so if we had gone 4 racks and spaced them out a little more it would have worked out better.


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Old 07-20-2017, 08:48 PM   #12
Ribsket
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eddieh70301 View Post
1) make sure there is sufficient space between racks
2) I would prefer a slide in drip pan that I can remove and dump instead of grease dripping down into the bottom of smoker through a drain. If not monitored or cleaned can cause a grease fire which happened to me.
3) a dedicated port to run temp probes through
4) large rubber wheels to be able to move easily through grass or gravel
5) slam latches
I'm with you on all of these. I don't see much in the way of internally integrated grease catchers in the gravity feed units. Most tend to use an external catch. I will need more than adequate wheels; we've had enough fun trying to move a heavy smoker on uneven ground already!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hog1990 View Post
Also, get all the rack runners you can and the racks to go with them. It is a shame to have all that space and only 3 racks...
The spacing of the racks is one thing I don't understand about gravity fed smokers. In the stock configuration of the Assassin 28, there are shorter distances at the top and larger at the bottom. I'd think the bottom would be ideal for poultry; closer to the heat source and it won't drip onto other products inside the cooker. I picture those items (outside of a whole turkey) taking up less space than packer cut briskets or plate ribs. Maybe I'm missing the point; could very well be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smoking Piney View Post
I can only speak for the Assassin 24 I own. It's stock except for custom paint and an oversized thermometer. The grease catcher does require periodic attention to make sure it's not clogged, but it's not a big deal to clean. I cover mine with foil to make cleaning it a lot easier. I have no high heat paint around the coal chute or fire box doors. The paint around the immediate area of the coal chute door is blistered but not beyond where the gasket rides. A good bit of moisture collects on the coal chute door during a cook. I put a piece of HDAF over the coal chute to keep the moisture contained and not running into the gasket. I make sure I dry that area before I cover the smoker between cooks.

I have stock casters and the smoker rolls very easily on the concrete pad I have it on, but I have no plans to transport it. It's a heavy beast that I imagine would be less than fun to drag over soft ground.

The exterior cleans up well with dish soap and a rag, and mine is still shining like a new penny. It has a really good paint job.

I use the provided Pitmaster IQ120 to control it. It works nicely.

All in all, no complaints, no regrets. I did a lot of research before I ordered mine and and it delivers the goods every time I fire it up.
That's a great testament to the product and its quality! Does the bottom of your Assassin have any pitch to it? It appears that the lower portion of the Assassin is quite flat in all the pictures I've seen. I'd think the grease management would be pitched towards the drain to try and encourage the flow to move right out of the main chamber and into the collection pan. The grease management in these units seems to be a common sticking point; has it been much of a hassle?
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Old 07-20-2017, 08:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpw View Post
The only thing I wish I had done different with my Deep South was either get the round bar upgrade, or (amazingly enough) gotten fewer racks. We got the 5 rack option which means there isn't quite enough space between racks to fit a pork butt or full packer without scraping the rack above. We ended up taking one rack out anyways, so if we had gone 4 racks and spaced them out a little more it would have worked out better.


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I think you walked into one of my concerns: the overall space inside the cooker. It's easy for me to visualize space utilization in a WSM or an offset; I'm used to those form factors. The gravity fed units are making it much trickier. I've been relying much more on the overall volume of the cook chamber along with the rack dimensions to get a better idea of what will actually fit while still allowing adequate airflow to cook each item properly. One of my fears is buying something too small, losing additional space due to a hot spot or proximity to the firebox, and having a severely limited smoker. I was thinking of going one size larger and adding additional runners to counteract that, providing extra flexibility in my configurations. Thanks!!
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Old 07-20-2017, 09:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ribsket View Post
I think you walked into one of my concerns: the overall space inside the cooker. It's easy for me to visualize space utilization in a WSM or an offset; I'm used to those form factors. The gravity fed units are making it much trickier. I've been relying much more on the overall volume of the cook chamber along with the rack dimensions to get a better idea of what will actually fit while still allowing adequate airflow to cook each item properly. One of my fears is buying something too small, losing additional space due to a hot spot or proximity to the firebox, and having a severely limited smoker. I was thinking of going one size larger and adding additional runners to counteract that, providing extra flexibility in my configurations. Thanks!!


That's one of the main reasons I switched from the superior (assassin) smoker to the Deep South. We ran out of room on the smaller smoker while trying to maintain air flow. With the 36" wide Deep South, it's never a problem.
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Old 07-20-2017, 10:08 PM   #15
Ribsket
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That's one of the main reasons I switched from the superior (assassin) smoker to the Deep South. We ran out of room on the smaller smoker while trying to maintain air flow. With the 36" wide Deep South, it's never a problem.
What was the width of your previous gravity feed (superior)? I've been eyeing the Deep South smokers, too. Have you found other things that you like on the Deep South better?
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