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Competition BBQ *On Topic Only* Discussion regarding all aspects of Competition BBQ. Experiences competing or visiting, questions, getting started, Equipment, announcements of events, Results, Reviews, Planning, etc. Questions here will be responded to with competition BBQ in mind.


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Unread 06-27-2013, 08:05 PM   #31
jmoney7269
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjgamez View Post
I'm a fan of insulated vertical gravity fed smokers. I have noticed there's a lot more people going that way over here in Texas. In the San Antonio rodeo BBQ cook off. I think 3 of the top five used a pitmaker insulated smoker, but have heard these things get too hot and closer to the 275-325 range. Anyone have any experience with these?
I'm a for Pitmaker BBQ vault. But they are not gravity fed as stated ^^^^^. They are vertical reverse flow.
With the ball valves, I don't know of a better and easy to control pit. Its built solid and will easily cook 15 briskets or 75 chicken halves.
Pitmaker definitely has a big share of the serious competition market.
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Unread 06-27-2013, 08:13 PM   #32
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Quote:
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Pitmaker definitely has a big share of the serious competition market.
Between the Red River and the Rio Grande, perhaps.
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Unread 06-27-2013, 09:05 PM   #33
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My homemade Reverse Flow stick burner
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Unread 06-27-2013, 09:10 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmoney7269 View Post
I'm a for Pitmaker BBQ vault.... I don't know of a better and easy to control pit.
FEC is easier We use an FEC100 and a Backwoods Chubby.

Lots of choices. In the end, a lot depends on how much you want to spend, and how you are going to move it.
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Unread 06-28-2013, 08:17 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjgamez View Post
I'm a fan of insulated vertical gravity fed smokers. I have noticed there's a lot more people going that way over here in Texas. In the San Antonio rodeo BBQ cook off. I think 3 of the top five used a pitmaker insulated smoker, but have heard these things get too hot and closer to the 275-325 range. Anyone have any experience with these?
I have the Vault. I had them put ball valves on mine and have no controll issues at all. I can cook at 225 all day with no water.
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Unread 06-28-2013, 09:00 AM   #36
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Everybody knows that Big Green Eggs are the best in any situation.
Couldn't say it better than Ray!
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Unread 06-28-2013, 09:32 AM   #37
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FEC-100 and a REC TEC works for me.
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Unread 06-28-2013, 04:41 PM   #38
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FEC100 and FEPG500, good to go. Still have 19" bullets that I use if traveling light with just a bumper buddy. Three fit perfect as long as you tie them down properly and don't drag them for quarter of a mile. They develop road rash on their lids but, you can buy replacement tops
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Unread 06-29-2013, 02:33 AM   #39
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I see the best teams in the country cooking predominately on either a Jambo or an FEC100. It seems there are more switching to Jambos.

Jambos are really a good looking cooker. A true stick burner. Good design for relatively even heat flow; but the design is certainly not rocket science. But from watching people cook on them, they are far from being a "set it and forget it' cooker. I see the cooks having to monitor closely and make lots of adjustments during the cooking process. The cooker is very well designed for competition, but is extremely high priced per square inch of cooking area. It is not really designed for catering or large parties, and is not cost effective as a business cooker. The design and finish on the cooker is top notch. VERY difficult to find a used one, and be prepared for up to a 9 month wait to get a new one. Expensive - check the website.

FEC100 is a bargain when looking to both cooking space and ease of use. But since it uses wood pellets instead of real wood, it just does not seem to put as much smoke flavor into the product. And there are a lot of 'steakhouse style' restaurants that find this cooker large enough to meet their needs for the BBQ portion of their menu. (As an aside, I still have an old Cookshack Model 50 smoker made by the same company. It is an electric smoker that cannot be used in KCBS competition. It is a busy person's answer to cooking, especially for a crowd, but just cannot deliver the same smoke as a real wood fire. Cookshack/FEC are very good quality products with excellent customer service.)

Having said all that, people cook on a little bit of everything.

I started off cooking contests on 2 big green eggs and 1 Hasty-Bake Legacy. The problem with my setup was (a) regulating multiple fires takes a toll on you and reduces your focus; and (b) it takes a lot of space and work to haul, load and unload multiple cookers.

Hasty-Bake is an outstanding all purpose cooker for the home chef. But it is not really well suited to competition. While I recommend the cooker, scratch it off the competition list.

Big Green Eggs are outstanding for the home smoker. But they are extremely heavy and hard to load and unload. They may also break (ceramic) if you are not careful in transport. Once you learn them, they are truly set and forget. I highly recommend a BBQ Guru with them; it is like setting a thermostat on an oven.

I have since purchased a used Backwoods Gater smoker. I have been pleased with my results so far. My scores have improved since I can now cook my entire contest on a single cooker; and my attitude has improved due to the far easier setup/teardown effort required. This would make a very good home smoker too, as a water smoker makes temperature control pretty easy. Not as easy as setting the thermostat on the FEC100, but is really close to set and forget for several hours. The problem with water smokers in general is that steam tends to remove smoke flavor from meat. It is also difficult to get the 'smoke ring' appearance without chemically inducing it. They work really good at temps of 250 or less; they start to steam excessively at temps above 250.

Reverse flow cookers (such as a Lang) work really well when cooking low and slow. By forcing the heat to travel all the way to the end of the cooker and back, a stable cooking environment is created. However, if you want to cook hot and fast, there is a challenge. The baffle at the bottom will get really hot if you try to increase the heat too much, and the fat that drips down on that baffle will burn and create an acrid smoke in the cooker. Not pretty at high heat.

There are a lot of teams that compete on cheap Weber smokers, or something homemade with less than desirable designs. But if you just learn your cooker, then you can turn out a good product on just about anything.

There is no perfect cooker. Research and buy what fits your style. Then resign yourself to the fact that you will keep buying cookers looking for the holy grail for so long as you compete.
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Unread 06-29-2013, 12:24 PM   #40
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I'm going to vote FEC100. My main line of thinking was that I could cook all my meats on one smoker, I can go to sleep at 10 and not wake up until 6, it doesnt care what the weather is like, I don't worry about hot coals when packing up or excessive ash, pellets are clean, cheap and easy to store and I do not worry about putting too much smoke on my meats. It was an easy decision for me.
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Unread 06-29-2013, 01:01 PM   #41
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Get a Spicewine Medium and you can hold temp with ease so you can sleep at a contest. It is built like a brick chit house and will probably last you a lifetime.
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Unread 06-29-2013, 01:31 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smoke'n Ice View Post
FEC100 and FEPG500, good to go. Still have 19" bullets that I use if traveling light with just a bumper buddy. Three fit perfect as long as you tie them down properly and don't drag them for quarter of a mile. They develop road rash on their lids but, you can buy replacement tops

That's my exact arsenal. Cookshack puts out some fantastic products. I did sell my WSM away a while back though.
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Unread 06-29-2013, 04:01 PM   #43
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For some reason I morally oppose Pellet poopers yet I find no issue with controlling a guru through wifi while laying on the couch. Some day Ill come to grips and officially become the laziest man in BBQ
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Unread 06-29-2013, 06:41 PM   #44
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We have been using my Lang 84 but really want to switch to my Spicewine. I'm saving my pennies for a trailer so it can be mounted and we can get some sleep during comps. Feeding sticks every half hour is getting old or maybe it's just me getting old.
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Unread 07-02-2013, 11:32 AM   #45
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[QUOTE=FEC100 is a bargain when looking to both cooking space and ease of use. But since it uses wood pellets instead of real wood, it just does not seem to put as much smoke flavor into the product.[/QUOTE]

What would be your best guess as to what pellets are made of? Suggesting that pellets are not real wood and that pellets cookers do not put as much smoke flavor into the product is simply "NOT TRUE!"

Also, many TOP teams are using pellet cookers for some or all of there comp meats and there are many pellet cookers out there, not just FEC.
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