My new toy! Peoria Custom Cookers 24x48 Backyard

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by ambucher, Mar 8, 2014.

  1. ambucher

    ambucher Fire Starter

    Hi Everyone,

    I just wanted to post a few pics and give my overall impression of the Peoria Custom Cooker (PCC) 24x48 backyard model.  I have been in the market for a new offset for a while and have researched and looked at Lang, Klose, Meadow Creek, among several others.  I ended up choosing the PCC model for several reasons.  The main reason was the quality and attention to detail that PCC puts into their products.  I won't go into detail about all the features on their cookers, but if you visit their site, you will see what I mean.  I'm really glad I went with the insulated firebox.  I am sure I will appreciate it even more in this unpredictable Illinois weather.  Also, the people at PCC are some of the friendliest people to work with.  They were prompt and thorough in answering in questions I had.  With the cost of shipping of other models, PCC also made the most sense.  Their factory is only about 15 miles from where I live.  That being said, I did spend quite a bit of time researching other models because I did not want to sacrifice quality for sake of convenience.  After seeing their work, I am confident to say that if PCC were located in Texas, I still would have selected this model and paid for shipping.  It's that good.

    I won't go into any more detail.  I'll let the pics and PCC's website speak for themselves.  If anyone in central illinois is considering one of these units and would like to see one, contact me and I would be glad to show off my new toy :)

    Thanks for looking everyone and happy smoking!

    krisby1 likes this.

  2. Congratulations bucher! That looks identical to mine. I just received it on Thursday. What a coincident I posted about my new smoker about 1 minute before you submitted your post. I don't know how to post links to another post but if you go to the wood smokers section my post is right above yours. Too funny LOL.

    I agree with you 100% on the quantity and customer service of PCC. I LIVE IN New Mexico so shipping was not cheap but I am definetly glad I went with PCC. Have you smoked anything yet? I would like to here what your opinion is on using it. Here are a couple pics of mine.

    Food turned out great! Can't tell because of the glare but that smoke is actually a light TBS.
  3. Have you had a chance to break your new toy in? Let me know how you like it. I have found that I can get pretty consistent temps by keeping the top stack closed and only using the bottom. The temps are within 5-10* from about 6" off the fire box to the other side on the bottom grate. The thermometer on the door is within that rang also. I am curious what you find out.
    krisby1 likes this.
  4. Guys

    Looking at a PCC backyard and curious about the cooking capacity.

    I have looked at lots of pictures online but wanted to get some feedback from someone who has used and cooked on the backyard model.

    Thanks in advance.
  5. Sorry salukis, I haven't been on in a while and didn't see you question until just now. I love my PCC smoker. It is very easy to adjust and hold temperature. It is also very consistent from one end to the other. As for capacity two weeks ago I cooked six whole brisket packers that  ranged 12-14 lbs. It was pretty tight and I did have to rotate because I was using every sq. inch all the way up to the firebox. I usually don't have to rotate the meat while I'm cooking because I leave the first 6 inches closest to the firebox wall empty. I have also cooked 10 racks of baby backs at one time. As for pork butts I could probably fit 8-10 if I needed too.

    Hope this helps
  6. Thanks for your comments.

    I like the PCC craftsmanship and I think the backyard model is suitable for the majority of my cooking, just trying to figure out if I want something bigger for those few times.
  7. ambucher

    ambucher Fire Starter

    Saluki, I too apologize.  I haven't been on in a while.

    I agree with everything Harley said.  Most recently, I cooked 2 briskets, 2 pork butts, 3 racks of baby backs and 12 chicken thighs on my backyard model.  I still had some room to spare, but not a whole lot.

    I honestly never see myself needing more room than this.  I will be cooking a KCBS event in about 6 weeks.  In addition to the backyard cooker, I will use a WSM as well.  I think I can get everything covered between the two.  I will post pics during the event, as this will be my first.  I'm probably not ready for a KCBS event, but I figured what the will be good experience.  There will be 48 teams, so as long as I finish 47th or better in each category, I will be happy :)

    If you're ever in the Peoria area and wanna take a look at one, just let me know....
  8. To Both Ambusher and Harleysmoker93, I really enjoyed your posts, pics and comments about your new PCC smokers.

    Like the both of you were, I have been in the market for some time looking for a new smoker to upgrade from the 36 Meadow Creek that I currently have. I do have a few questions for the both of you and would greatly appreciate hearing back from you.

    I have been trying to do my do diligence looking for a great new smoker over the past year and found myself somewhat up in the air and having a difficult time in making a decision.

    Having said that, as I believe that you have both stated, the product quality and reputation/client references are certainly very important things to consider when looking for a new smoker.

    I am a member of a large church smoking team and have had the opportunity to participate on several outings smoking chicken, butts, turkeys, and ribs in sizeable quantities. The two smokers that I have used were a Lang model 60 Deluxe and a Lang 108 Deluxe. I was very impressed with the ease of use, maintaining consistent temperatures, not having to use a ton of wood and most of all, the quality of the food that we smoked.

    What I didn't like is the quality of the workmanship of the smoker.

    I had other people telling me to a look at Klose, ABS, Cadillac, Myron Mixon and others which I have done. I spent time looking extensively at their websites reviewing products and reading all their client reviews. I will say that Cadillac smokers had some 60+ clients with outstanding reviews and their product construction quality is very strong. I have even spoken to clients of Cadillac, Lang and Myron Mixon smokers including several who do "Q" competition.

    I am looking for a smoker for personal use which will involve smoking for groups of 30+ on occasion . I have been looking at smokers in the 48" length in size and believe that that will fit the bill. The smoker will be in my backyard and I have no need for one on a trailer.

    I will say that I was intrigued with the rotisserie smokers from Cadillac and liked the feature of not having to turn over any products during the smoking process as well as their full length fire box to help maintain even temperatures in the smoker and help mitigate hot spots within.

    Additionally, I found out recently from a friend that a great deal of some of the top BBQ restaurants around the country use rotisserie smokers from Southern Pride Smokers. I checked out all the restaurants listed on their site as clients and I have been to many of them over the years in Florida, North Carolina and most certainly Tennessee. One BBQ restaurant that I am very familiar with is named Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ in Winter Park, FL where I have gone upteen times over the past 15 years. My wife and I recently went there and I had the opportunity to speak with the manager who told me that they cook all their "Q" on a Southern Pride rotisserie smoker and they have two of their largest commercial units. That said a lot to me and in particular that rotisserie smokers have been around a long time and are getting more popular. Cadillac of course only makes rotisserie smokers but they have now come out with a new commercial version to compete with Southern Pride I am sure. Myron Mixon has recently introduced commercial rotisserie smokers as well that have his H2o feature for water.

    Ok, now that I have blabbed along with all of the above, I would like to hear what you guys think and why you chose what you did.


  9. ambucher

    ambucher Fire Starter

    Hello Pig-A-Liscious!

    I'm glad you've enjoyed the posts.  It sounds like you have put a lot of time in researching all of the units that are out there.  

    I personally believe that the best unit differs for each person.  I moved from a Horizon 16" offset to the Peoria Backyard unit.  I enjoy the offset, non rotisserie models.  While I realize this isn't for everyone, I do believe it was the best choice for me.  I did research many different models, including Klose, Meadow Creek, Lang....just to name a few.  What kept drawing me back to Peoria were a couple of factors.  

    First, their factory is only about 20 miles from my home.  While this was certainly a factor, it wasn't the biggest.  I wouldn't sacrifice quality for convenience.  Quality was definitely the biggest factor for me.  This leads me to another factor, customer service.  From the first time I contacted Peoria, until about 2 months after purchasing the unit, their customer service has been second to none.  To start, they offered me the chance to come tour the factory and see how the units are built.  I suggest doing this for any unit you are interested in.  Secondly, they thoroughly went over all available options and benefits of each.  They didn't pressure me to add options that I felt weren't necessary for me.  Then, they kept me posted during the construction of my pit.  Once the pit was done, they wanted me to come inspect it before signing off on it.  Finally, about 2 months after I purchased it, I received a call from the owner of Peoria Cookers, Bill Cusack, to see how things were going and if I had any questions.  Tell me how you beat that!

    Regarding the hotspot issues, PCC has done a good job of allowing you to minimize or maximize hotspots, depending on what you desire.  I know that I will be looking to create some cool spots in my cooker when I have several different types of meat going.  Their intake/exhaust design will allow me to do this.  They also give you the option of having the adjustable baffle.  This would be very beneficial to competition cooks, or cooks doing several types of meats at once.

    All things above considered, the PCC was the best choice for me.  Is it the best for you?  Only you can decide that.  I have a feeling you won't go wrong with whichever model you choose.  I can promise you if you do decide to go with PCC, you will receive the best customer service available and will get one helluva cooker!!!!

    If you have any questions, or would like to chat by phone, send me a private message and I'll give you my number and we can talk.

    I hope this helps.  Have a good one!

  10. Ambucher,

    Thank you for your reply. I agree with what you said that it sure is convenient to have your smoker manufacturer a short distance from your home but you certainly weren't going to compromise convenience for product quality.

    I also highly agree with you regarding customer service. It's of the utmost importance to me that a company values their client's satisfaction and welcomes their comments/suggestions etc.. The fact that the company president would take the time to personally call you and ask you if you are happy and have any questions says a WHOLE lot about his business ethics and his company's position on "Customer Service".

    After having looked at all of your pics that you posted of your smoker I do have a couple of additional questions. (1) I have never seen a smoker that has two smoke stacks at the opposite end of the smoker firebox and where one is slightly lower than the other. (2) I guess this question would actually be a part of the first in that, is this smoker considered a reverse flow smoker and if so has does that work when you have the smoke stacks at the opposite end of the firebox where the smoke would normally be coming around the top of the top grate and then out of the smoker? (3) On the firebox the round center piece looks like that must be the vent wheel and there looks like there is a hose bib type of fitting on the front of it. Is there only one air vent for the firebox to manage your internal temperature? (4) Last one is, do you know if there is an option to have two front wheels to match the rear wheels for better mobility?

  11. Ambucher,

    Thanks for you response as well.

    I am currently using a Yoder 16" so very similar to your Horizon 16" prior to your PCC unit.

    Much like you I have researched many different models as search for the cooker I use for the next 20+ years. I am drawn to PCC for a lot of reasons that you have named but mostly because of the awesome feedback I see on the cookers themselves and the PCC crew.

    The one thing holding me up is whether the 24x48 is big enough for all my cooking needs for the future. I think it satisfies my needs 80% of the time, just worried about those other times wishing I had a bigger cooker.

    Just curious, is your backyard model on a trailer?
  12. ambucher

    ambucher Fire Starter

    Hi Saluki -  I did not go with the trailer model because I have a fairly new 4' x 8' trailer that I use to haul the smoker.  If I didn't have that already, I would have went with the trailered model.  I understand your concern about not having enough space.  So far, I have always had plenty.  Keep me posted on what ya go with!

    Pig -  I was curious about the dual smoke stacks myself when I first began looking at these units.  The theory behind the dual stacks positioned at high and low locations is that you can create cool spots in your smoker if you like.  Most of the time, I will run with the top stack closed and the bottom stack wide open.  Using dual Maverick thermometers, I have found the the temps are consistent across the pit (with about 10 degrees) using this method.  When I close the bottom stack and open the top stack, a "cool" spot is created in the lower corner near the bottom stack.  When I tested it, it ran about 30 degrees cooler in that spot.  While I haven't used this method much, I am sure it will come in handy when I am cooking several types of meat....i.e. ribs, butt, and brisket, when I cool spot may be needed.  This is not considered a reverse flow smoker because the smoke is exiting the pit on the opposite side of the firebox.

    The air intake on the firebox is a little different than you normally see.  It is designed to have a BBQ Guru right to it to monitor and maintain pit temps.  While I still haven't used the Guru, I am intrigued and plan on trying it in the future.  That being said, after talking with Bill, I just put a plug of aluminum foil in the Guru hole of the intake and use the "dial" to adjust the amount of air flow.  I have found that the intake works very well like this.  One thing to note, with the insulated firebox, you do not need a very large fire at all.  It amazes me how much less fuel I use in this pit compared to the uninsulated Horizon unit I had.  The insulated firebox is a must.

    Regarding the wheels, Bill can get you set up with the two wheels on the front.  I considered this myself, but after visiting the factory and seeing the units with only the one wheel and how solid they are and how easy it was to maneuver, I decided to leave it as is.  I know they have built the units with two wheels on the front in the past.

    I hope this helps.  Let me know if you have any more questions.  Keep me posted on your decision!
  13. ambucher,

    Thank you very much for the information which was very helpful. Vey interesting concept with the dual smoker stacks to be able to actually create a cool zone area.

    Now, hear is a question that I don't know if you have an answer to. Actually, two questions [​IMG]. The first is have you by chance ever spoken with someone who has your type of smoker from PCC that has used a Guru unit and how well it worked  and what the differences were? Where I think I am also going is.........if I were to use a Guru unit with this smoker and want to cook a nice 10lb. butt or a 12-14 lb. brisket in my traditional low and slow mode of 225 degrees for 10-12 hours can I do this with an initial loading of wood with good hot coals and not have to add additional wood every couple of hours? Has anyone including Bill told you that you can get your fire at say 225 degrees, pop in your butt or brisket, use a maverick temp connected and go to bed and wake up in the AM and you are good to go with a fantastic tasting product? I know..........that is a pretty loaded question.

  14. I just purchased the Guru about two weeks ago. I have done three smokes using it and love it. The only problem I have found is you have to use a combination of charcoal and wood. I usually only use charcoal to start my fire and get pit up to temp the wood only after that. Using the Guru even with a good bed of coals  it wont last long enough just using wood to get the full benefit of the Guru. Once I learned to use a good bed of charcoal briquettes and add wood for flavor it lasts at least 4 hours before needing to add fuel, maybe more but I haven't learned to trust it enough to go more than that without checking it.  What I did the last time was use wood like I normally would adding a split about every hour until I wanted to go to sleep. By this time it was time to foil so I just added about 10 lbs. of charcoal and set my alarm and went to sleep.  I set my alarm for 4 hours and checked it. All was good but I added little more charcoal jut to be safe and set my alarm again this time for two hours because the briskets were almost done. I have been setting the guru at 275 and it pretty much holds the temp around 270 -275. I am sure it would do the same at 225. I love the Guru and will probably use it every time I use my smoker. 
  15. harleysmoker93,

    Thank you for your response. I suspected that the Guru would be a good help but not put you in the mode of "set it and forget it" like you can do with a pellet smoker from Cookshack and others. I haven't heard of anyone as yet that has an offset wood smoker that can do that.

    Like you, I typically start my fire with some charcoal briquettes and then add my 6" splits or 12" thereafter. I use wood throughout the full cooking process and usually use a combination of apple, cherry and post oak.

    Where I was going with all of this is trying to have to eliminate starting my fire at 5:00AM and having to stay with it the whole day until 5:00PM or 7:00PM if I could.

    Or, starting the fire at 10 or 11PM and staying up all night until the morning to take everything off.

    I am thinking that if you want an offset wood burner smoker then you are just going to have to "suck it up and stay up" one way or the other.

    If you believe otherwise I would like to hear your thoughts.

  16. ambucher

    ambucher Fire Starter

    Pig - Sorry I'm just now responding.  Harley confirmed just about everything I was thinking.  From the research I've done, if you use a charcoal basket and the Guru, you can expect 4-6 hours of burn time.  I'm just like Harley and have always been a straight stick burner.  After hearing Harley's comments, I'm definitely going to give the Guru a shot.  It seems like it would be a no brainer when doing briskets and butts.  I agree with you, I don't believe an offset will ever be a true set it and forget it unit.  

    Keep us posted on your choice!

    Have a good one!
  17. Pig, Ambucher - just thought I would give you guys an update on the Guru.i have had the Guru for a month now and have used it on every smoke. Last weekend I did an overnight smoke of a couple pork butts. Just to test out how long the guru would go I changed up my method and used mostly charcoal with some wood chunks for flavor. Bill Cusack from Peoria Custom Cookers told me he can go 20 hrs with a full charcoal basket and the Guru. Now I can't verify that but I can say that it will go at least 12 hrs. I cooked the butts for the first couple hours using using mostly wood then before I went to bed I put about 15 lbs. of charcoal in the baske and a couple chunks of hickory. The pork butts were done about 9 hous later. I had set the Guru for 275* but for some reason it was holding at around 270*. After I pulled the butts I left the Guru on to see how long it would last. About three hours after I pulled the pork which would have been 12 hours total, the low temp alarm went off which was set at 250*. It still took about another hour to go down to 225*. So I'm not sure if this is still set it and forget it but I was pretty impressed. I didn't buy this nice of an offset smoker to just use charcoal so don't think I would use this method all the time but it's nice to know if I need to I can. Anyway just thought I would share this since you guys were curious.
  18. harleysmoker93,

    Sounds to me like you made out pretty well with the Guru and using mostly charcoal and not wood splits. Makes cense to me since charcoal typically has a longer burn time than wood.

    Given the results that you had on your first smoke using the Guru and charcoal as your base and starting with wood splits for the first couple of hours it sounds like with a little fine tuning that you could probably get close to a "Set it and forget it" mode".

    It's good to hear that the Guru kept the temperature pretty consistent with only being off by 5 degrees.

    I would be interested to hear how you would make out smoking a nice 12-14lb. brisket for 12 hours or so or until you reach the internal 190 temp doing it the same way that you did the butts.

    In either event I am guessing that you are on a roll and will be trying all kinds of new stuff with your Guru and varying combinations of wood splits and charcoal.

    Best of luck and keep us posted.

  19. Ambucher and Harley,

    Congrats on your new PCCs.  I have been smoking in my old CharGriller Smoking Pro for several years and it is just about worn out.  I admit i didn't take very good care of it the first few years.  Newbie mistakes.

    However, I have been doing research on offset smokers and came across your posts about the PCC.  After reading every post I could find on several forums, today I ordered my 24x4 backyard PCC!  So excited![​IMG]

    Hope you don't mind a few questions.

    How did you season your rig?

    Did you "steam" clean it or just used oil and heat?

    Will it sit outside (exposed)?  If so, will you cover it?   With what?

    I know you haven't had it long, but any problems/concerns/regrets?

    Any special recipes you want to share?

    Thanks.  Looking forward to your response.

  20. Krisby, Congratulations on your new purchase. I'm sure you will be thoroughly satisfied with your new smoker.

    All I did to season mine was coat all the inside surfaces with Pam and run it at around 300* for a couple hours the start using it.

    Mine sits outside under my back patio. I have it set up on the edge on the patio  so the stacks stick out past the patio roof so the smoke and heat don't damage anything.

    I don't cover it because for one its pretty well protected from the elements and two I would either have to have a custom cover made or use a tarp and don't really like the look of that. I am thinking in the future I might have a cover made.

    I haven't had any problem or regrets with mine. I am defiantly glad I went with the insulated fire box. Its not an absolute necessity but it is nice.  It also helps keep the paint on the fire box from cracking and peeling. The other options I am glad I ordered are the charcoal basket and removable ash pan. Again not necessary but nice to have.

    As far as recipes I don't have anything special. Just the basics you find here on the forum. I keep everything very simple and have pretty good results with most of my cooks. The one thing I have noticed is the cooker like to settle in at the 250-275* range or even higher. I personally have a hard time keeping her lower than 250* but I like to cook at higher temps so that works out well.

    Good luck with your new smoker and keep us updated on how it works out for you.

    If you have any other questions feel free to ask.
    krisby1 likes this.

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