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Time to Expand ...
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Tour de Que Offline
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Post: #1
Time to Expand ...
Well, as I prepare for a BBQ next weekend in which I will be cooking 4 butts, 1 whole packer briskett, and a couple of chickens, it has come to my attention that I have outgrown my WSM and need to move up (in size at least).

So, I've been doing some thinking about what I want. Here's what I know that I don't want:

1. long sleepless nights.

I think that leaves me with just a few options (correct me if I am wrong):

1. Befriend someone would will be willing to sit up all night watching a new stick burner (of course, this would require me trusting that individual ... hmmmm);
2. A pellet pooper; or
3. A electric smoker.

Right now I have ruled out a stick burner and electric smoker (although I am not set and can be pursuaded either way). That leaves me with the pellet pooper. This is how I got there:

A. While totally committed to perfecting my que, I usually spend my Saturdays riding my rode bike through the country side and, therefore, need to have a smoker that will let me sleep Friday night and that will cook with minimal supervision while I am out on the road.
B. A stick burner, while commonly haralded as the "true" method of cooking BBQ, would not provide me with the freedom that I so desire.
C. An electric smoker just confuses me.
D. A pellet pooper, while frequently maligned on the sight, would allow me to be able to have great smoked food and still enjoy some flexibility and freedom.

So, here's the question: What types of pellet cookers are out there and decent? I know about the Traegers. I just don't know if I want a Traeger.

Please help.

Your thoughts are welcome and appreciated.

TDQ
06-29-2008 09:24 AM
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VisionQuest220 Offline
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Post: #2
 
In my experience, you'll never get a full night's sleep when you're doing an overnight cook, regardless of the cooker, because you need to keep an eye on the food. I'd take the path of least resistance and lowest cost: Buy another WSM and sleep in two hour chunks on those overnight cooking occasions.

You are, of course, reading the post of a man who owns 6 WSMs so take that advice with that in mind!

Rhythm 'n QUE
All WSMs . . . All The Time!
06-29-2008 11:27 AM
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Cyclops Offline
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Post: #3
Re: Time to Expand ...
1- You can't compete with an electric cooker, so if competition is the end result, nix the Electric.
2- Anyone who says you get no sleep with a pooper is jealous. (no offense)
Sure, it will take you some time to get used to any cooker, but once that comfort zone is attained, the pooper is pretty much set and forget.
3- There are a lot of cooks that can get the same steady heat from a WSM or a BDS. I have found that the bigger the pit, the more "finicky" it is.
4- I would say the most attractive thing about a pooper is it seems to be more forgiving of screw ups.
5- The biggest negative thing about a pooper is outside influences. If someone pulls the cord, or if you lose power your way up the creek. If the auger freezes (which I have heard of on older units) your up that creek without a paddle.
And lastly, the hardcore stick burners will look down their nose at you forever, because after all, "that ain't real BBQ!!"
I hope you are completely confused now and I will sit back and let the "experts" weigh in. :twisted:

Life Is A Team Sport
06-29-2008 12:31 PM
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Sexy Mexican Offline
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Post: #4
Re: Time to Expand ...
Ok, first a little info. I have two poopers (a Traeger Texas and a FEC-100), a WSM and a recently acquired DPP Fat-50 (stick burner). I did my first cook on the Fat-50 today, and I have to admit that I was regularly tweaking the settings. This may be a function of my learning curve, but I know that some adjustments will always be necessary. But I was overall very happy with the cooker. As for the "set it and forget it" poopers, I don't agree completely. I have had a pellet pile-up in my Traeger that killed my temperature, I've run out of pellets in my Traeger when I thought I had enough in the hopper (it uses about 2x as much as my FE, more if it's colder). I have had my FEC accidentally unplugged for an hour and a half before I realized it, and I have had a fire in my FE that would have been much worse if I hadn't been up in the middle of the night to catch it (incedentally, I was also using a remote thermometer when I had my fire that was supposed to alarm if my temps went too high, but it didn't go off--so much for flawless technology :x )

The caution in my tale is this: BBQ is a contact sport. You have to keep close tabs on what's going on. Even though I have the digital controllers and everyting on my poopers, I still have a restless night of sleep because all of these worst-case scenarios running through my head. Maybe I just stress too much, but when spending as much as we do for each competition, I don't want to risk everything in order to get a little more shut-eye.

All of that being said, if you are desiring a pooper, I highly recommend the FEC-100. It's an efficient cooker with good capacity. I have overall been very happy with the product and operation. Good luck.

________________________________

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06-29-2008 10:33 PM
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Cyclops Offline
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Post: #5
Re: Time to Expand ...
:twisted: Sex-Mex, you are da man!! Two short months ago, you were sweating bullets that mama wouldn't let you get a Traeger. Now it's Fec's, Traegers, WSM's AND a brand new Fat 50!!! To hell with cooking classes! You need to teach us how you get this done! Now, THAT would be worth a lot of green! :twisted:

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06-29-2008 10:47 PM
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SmokinJoe Offline
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Post: #6
 
Right off the bat, and without reading everyone else's comments, I'd really have to suggest either getting another WSM, or even a BDS.

Pellet poopers...well, you can only trust them when they work. Not trying to slam them or the cooks that use them, but hey - with a bullet or a barrel, you don't have to worry about the power going out, auger mechanics failing, the controller going out...

Fess up - is there any pellet cook here who hasn't faced at least ONE of those problems?

Besides, you're already used to the WSM so it shouldn't be much of a learning curve to get up to speed on a barrel. And the WSM simply has to be the most versatile cooker for the money out there.

I have a stick burner, and it requires a lot of tending. No getting around that. Pellet cookers are attractive because of the control you have over the temp, but I feel that the cost versus capacity isn't justified. For me, anyway.

You simply can't go wrong with a WSM. And with such folks like T, Jaybird, Oink County, This Little Piggy, and more going to the barrel, I believe it would be a good investment looking into the BDS.

Just some thoughts. I'm no expert, certainly not an authority. Just a guy that likes to cook once in a while, and has looked at lots of cookers.

-joe

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06-30-2008 08:03 AM
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Gene Offline
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Post: #7
Re: Time to Expand ...
I have had a problem with my 200 Traeger. I neglected to give it a try b/4 I started a cook in Plsnt. Grove last fall. My bad. Some rain water caused the pellets to swell and then when they dried they were near concrete in hardness. Thank goodness for Walmart and some tools they had available. Took us about two hours to undo the calamity. Lesson learned. I carry spare parts also, JIC. This rig, tho large and $$y it is insulated on all sides except the door. That helps a bunch. I feel with the weather that was thrown at us in P.C. last Oct we wouldn't have fared as well. Maybe we need crappy cold weather cooks to improve our results. Hmmmmmmm......... :roll: As for the smaller ones I use an old quilt for heat retention & less pellet use.
I still do a 2 hr. check on the rig and meat. I don't think there is a thing made by man that won't fail at some point in time. As my luck runs it'd be in the middle of a serious cook.

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Traeger Texas 075
06-30-2008 09:15 AM
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Infamous Dave Offline
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Post: #8
 
That is one story I would not want to change...
I will never forget the PG cook last year. 2am and Gene running to Wal-Mart for tools the 2 of us trying to tear that smoker apart in the dark with flashlights. We were laughing to keep from crying. The whole time I was thinking we're screwed. We cooked the majority of the meat for the Kiawanas club or whoever it was for their fund raiser. But in the end we were back in business and by dinner time the pork and ribs were done and tasted good.

Infamous Dave
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Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.
If tomorrow may be my last, I want BBQ today!
06-30-2008 09:30 AM
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Post: #9
Re: Time to Expand ...
Might want to look at a Stumps...
06-30-2008 02:53 PM
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Gene Offline
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Post: #10
Re: Time to Expand ...
Stumps, that's what I'll have if I don't get these knees replaced. Coming soon, a bionic knee, then another.
There is another pellet rig out there. Louisiana Pellet Grills. Tweeked Traegers to dodge the patents, my opinion.

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Traeger Texas 075
06-30-2008 03:37 PM
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Arlie Bragg Offline
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Post: #11
Re: Time to Expand ...
What about an Ole Hickory CTO, great comp smoker and you can cater with it too! I sold a few last year. They are winning on the bbq circuit now for many teams.

Arlie

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06-30-2008 06:11 PM
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SmokinJoe Offline
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Post: #12
 
Didn't I see a raffle for one of those going on at Mike Mills' 17th Street? Sure looked nice.

Can I ask what one of those goes for?

-joe

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06-30-2008 07:41 PM
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BBQSki Offline
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Post: #13
Re: Time to Expand ...
If cooking capacity is an issue, then this may not be the practical choice, but a BGE with a Guru is perhaps the most carefree cooker -- even better than my pellet pooper. Set it and forget it, AND the benefit of real charcoal/wood flavor. Plus it has low convection, so meat retains a little more moisture. (And no, I do not own any BGE stock Big Grin ). And if you fan breaks or you electronics fry, or someone unplugs you, you can always go manual.

It seems like there a lot of great cookers out there, but are really not available around here. Hoochie mentioned Stumps, but there is also American Barbecue Systems, The Good One, etc.
06-30-2008 07:42 PM
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Tour de Que Offline
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Post: #14
Re: Time to Expand ...
BBQSki;p="10335 Wrote:If cooking capacity is an issue, then this may not be the practical choice, but a BGE with a Guru is perhaps the most carefree cooker

How big is a BGE? Having never seen one, I assumed they didn't have much more capacity than a WSM?
06-30-2008 07:46 PM
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Arlie Bragg Offline
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Post: #15
 
SmokinJoe;p="10334 Wrote:Didn't I see a raffle for one of those going on at Mike Mills' 17th Street? Sure looked nice.

Can I ask what one of those goes for?

5K plus shipping,if you can get a order for two I can do better than that!

Arlie
06-30-2008 08:16 PM
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Flexo Offline
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Post: #16
 
Because of the PG incident I now carry allen wrenches to every comp.

That sure was good stuff!
Tubby's Smokin' Q

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06-30-2008 08:59 PM
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BBQSki Offline
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Post: #17
Re: Time to Expand ...
The large BGE has less than 1/2 capacity as one WSM. The XL BGE has a 24 inch diameter cooking grid, which can fit one brisket and 2 butts (or two briskets or 4 butts). The large can only two butts or one brisket. A BGE is certainly not something you can cook a lot on, but what it does, does it great. I'm going to use one at the contest this weekend.

If your looking for one cooker to do 4 butts, a brisket and a chicken, and you want the "set it and forget it" feature, your only option is really a pellet cooker -- like a Traeger Professional or a Fast Eddy. However, they have those huge BDSs now....
06-30-2008 10:59 PM
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