New Smoker From CA!

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Brady
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New Smoker From CA!

Post by Brady » August 22nd, 2018, 2:05 pm

Hello everyone! So I am new to the smoking world, and there isn't very many resources about smoking out here in CA, so I've been looking online for some information and stumbled upon this beautiful place! So I just recently got into smoking, about 2 months ago, and I'm obsessed. My Dad passed down his old Traeger to me and I've dove right in. Now I love my Traeger for learning the basics about barbecue, but now I'm looking to upgrade to a stick smoker here pretty soon. I want to build my own, and naturally I've got a heap of questions. But my main question, and what I'm split on, is whether I should go with an offset smoker, or a cabinet? I like the cabinet design because from what I've read they are super efficient and have a consistent heat throughout. Also, they can have a water pan to help keep moisture in your meat and to help regulate the temp in your CC. But the downside that I have seen is that people say you can't use whole splits in them, only chunks, and they have to use a mixture of coals. Now I know offset smokers use splits, or a mixture, which is appealing to me as well. But the only downside is that I haven't seen one with a water pan, so I assume this isn't possible. And the variation in temperature in the CC is a hit and miss with me. I like the idea of being able to have 2 temps for different cuts of meat at the same time, but I don't want to have to open my CC door and move my meats around during a cook, letting out that precious heat more than I have to. So I am turning to the experts here to see what your guys' opinion is on this! Cabinet smoker so I can have a water pan and consistent temps in the CC, or offset so I can burn whole splits? Or is it possible to build a cabinet that can burn splits, or an offset that has a water pan?



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Re: New Smoker From CA!

Post by ajfoxy » August 22nd, 2018, 4:18 pm

Welcome to the crew.


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Re: New Smoker From CA!

Post by Big T » August 22nd, 2018, 7:31 pm

Welcome aboard!! I would say one of the first questions should be do you want a set it and forget it unit or do you want to tend the fire all day or night. Next do you have access to a plenty of cooking wood and is it reasonably priced. It seems like a crazy question but not everyone has the same resources in their area. If I was going to build a stick burner, I would go with an offset, either RF or traditional with tuning plates. If I was building a cabinet, it would run on charcoal and wood chunks, either a GF or just a conventional insulated cabinet. I wouldn't use a water pan in any of my cookers but it is possible to have a pan in either style. I believe that the water is not needed for moisture and that a water pan can cause major temperature swings if it isn't done correctly. As for the temperature zones in an offset, the RF is pretty even from end to end if it's tuned right and the top racks are a little hotter than the bottom racks so it's possible to cook at different temps in the same CC. If you go offset with TP's then you could adjust the plates to have a few different temp zones. The RF plate has a 2'' grease dam and 2'' drain so it could be filled with water if you're set on having a water pan, you could then try it with and without water and see what works best for you. These are just my opinions and you know what they say about those. Feel free to ask all the questions that you have and someone will try to help you out.


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Re: New Smoker From CA!

Post by Brady » August 22nd, 2018, 8:05 pm

Big T wrote:Welcome aboard!! I would say one of the first questions should be do you want a set it and forget it unit or do you want to tend the fire all day or night. Next do you have access to a plenty of cooking wood and is it reasonably priced. It seems like a crazy question but not everyone has the same resources in their area. If I was going to build a stick burner, I would go with an offset, either RF or traditional with tuning plates. If I was building a cabinet, it would run on charcoal and wood chunks, either a GF or just a conventional insulated cabinet. I wouldn't use a water pan in any of my cookers but it is possible to have a pan in either style. I believe that the water is not needed for moisture and that a water pan can cause major temperature swings if it isn't done correctly. As for the temperature zones in an offset, the RF is pretty even from end to end if it's tuned right and the top racks are a little hotter than the bottom racks so it's possible to cook at different temps in the same CC. If you go offset with TP's then you could adjust the plates to have a few different temp zones. The RF plate has a 2'' grease dam and 2'' drain so it could be filled with water if you're set on having a water pan, you could then try it with and without water and see what works best for you. These are just my opinions and you know what they say about those. Feel free to ask all the questions that you have and someone will try to help you out.
Thank you so much for the input. I will definitely have to look to see the wood available in my area. I’ve seen it for sale before but never bothered to check what kind. The reason I’m wanting a water pan is because I’m in central CA, with little to no humidity. Especially in the summer time. And I was watching a video from Franklin BBQ and he mentioned using a water pan when there isn’t much humidity in the air to help the meat from drying out. I’m for sure going to want tuning plates on my smoker, and I think I’m going to go with the offset at this point. What’s the advantages of a RF vs a traditional if both have tuning plates?


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Re: New Smoker From CA!

Post by Stewart » August 22nd, 2018, 8:13 pm

:welcome:



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Re: New Smoker From CA!

Post by Big T » August 22nd, 2018, 8:21 pm

A RF has a solid plate in the bottom of the CC and the stack is on the same end as the fire box, the heat travels under the plate, out the BP gap, back across the meat and out the stack. You get a lot of radiant heat from the BP and it helps to even out the temps from end to end. A traditional offset with tuning plates has several small plates that you can move around to tune the pit. You can increase or decrease the gaps between the plates to make different temp zones. The RF is a little easier to work with in my opinion because you don't have to adjust the gaps between plates to get it tuned. You can adjust the BP gap to achieve different tunes but it isn't necessary. The good thing about tuning plates is that you could cook chicken at 350 degrees on one end(FB) and ribs at 250 degrees on the other end(stack) just by adjusting the TP's providing the pit is a decent length.


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Re: New Smoker From CA!

Post by Brady » August 22nd, 2018, 9:21 pm

Big T wrote:A RF has a solid plate in the bottom of the CC and the stack is on the same end as the fire box, the heat travels under the plate, out the BP gap, back across the meat and out the stack. You get a lot of radiant heat from the BP and it helps to even out the temps from end to end. A traditional offset with tuning plates has several small plates that you can move around to tune the pit. You can increase or decrease the gaps between the plates to make different temp zones. The RF is a little easier to work with in my opinion because you don't have to adjust the gaps between plates to get it tuned. You can adjust the BP gap to achieve different tunes but it isn't necessary. The good thing about tuning plates is that you could cook chicken at 350 degrees on one end(FB) and ribs at 250 degrees on the other end(stack) just by adjusting the TP's providing the pit is a decent length.
Thank you so much for the info!


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Re: New Smoker From CA!

Post by Pete Mazz » August 23rd, 2018, 4:01 am

Welcome


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Re: New Smoker From CA!

Post by temurf » August 23rd, 2018, 7:35 pm

Welcome to the forum Brady.
I live in the desert in far west Texas where the humidity is typically in the single digits.
I don't use a water pan in my reverse flow and I have not had any problems with meat the meat drying out.


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Re: New Smoker From CA!

Post by Dirtytires » August 23rd, 2018, 11:56 pm

Welcome.

I’m in Phoenix...we don’t even know what humidity is. I started years ago with a water pan on my first offset because I read some article somewhere where I just had to use one. I gave up on the water pan years ago as it was a pain to use and I couldn’t tell it made any difference. My new rf has never had a water pan in it and probably won’t. With that said, some love them.

I would, as mentioned, focus on how much time you want to spend with your smoker. A gravity feed/mini is pretty self sufficient for several hours at a time but a stick burner/offset will need attention every 45 min or so. Decide that and the rest is easy.

Good luck...And know that we all had to make that same decision at one time or another.



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Re: New Smoker From CA!

Post by Brady » August 24th, 2018, 12:25 am

Dirtytires wrote:Welcome.

I’m in Phoenix...we don’t even know what humidity is. I started years ago with a water pan on my first offset because I read some article somewhere where I just had to use one. I gave up on the water pan years ago as it was a pain to use and I couldn’t tell it made any difference. My new rf has never had a water pan in it and probably won’t. With that said, some love them.

I would, as mentioned, focus on how much time you want to spend with your smoker. A gravity feed/mini is pretty self sufficient for several hours at a time but a stick burner/offset will need attention every 45 min or so. Decide that and the rest is easy.

Good luck...And know that we all had to make that same decision at one time or another.
So I understand how and why a GF is a lot more efficient and uses a lot less fuel than a RF or a traditional offset. But do you get the same amount of smoke flavor? I guess I’m just seeing that burning less wood contribute to less of a smoke flavor and less of a bark.


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Re: New Smoker From CA!

Post by mp4 » August 24th, 2018, 5:13 am


Brady wrote: So I understand how and why a GF is a lot more efficient and uses a lot less fuel than a RF or a traditional offset. But do you get the same amount of smoke flavor? I guess I’m just seeing that burning less wood contribute to less of a smoke flavor and less of a bark.
I have them both and would say that you get the best wood fired/smoke flavor from the reverse flow. As for bark...it is the same regardless of the fuel type. I get a phenomenal smoke ring from both as well. Which one do I cook from the most you might ask...I use the mini because is is so much easier to use for a long duration cook.




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Re: New Smoker From CA!

Post by Brady » August 24th, 2018, 10:50 am

mp4 wrote:
Brady wrote: So I understand how and why a GF is a lot more efficient and uses a lot less fuel than a RF or a traditional offset. But do you get the same amount of smoke flavor? I guess I’m just seeing that burning less wood contribute to less of a smoke flavor and less of a bark.
I have them both and would say that you get the best wood fired/smoke flavor from the reverse flow. As for bark...it is the same regardless of the fuel type. I get a phenomenal smoke ring from both as well. Which one do I cook from the most you might ask...I use the mini because is is so much easier to use for a long duration cook.
Thank you for the input.


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