Although they look very similar and are close in size the Smoke Vault just seems better built. It might sound silly but it takes more thumb pressure to flex the box, which I equate to slightly heavier metal. The wire racks that hold all the grates in place seem stronger and have double bars accross the front and back. The legs felt more rigid. The door handle is nice and heavy or flimsy. The side handles are realy nice like bath tub safety bars. Although I didn't measure I think the spacing between the grates is a bit wider - maybe 1/2" to 1".
Here's what I saw, did ...
+ It was packed so well it took half as long to unpack it as it did to build it. All parts were packed nicely in separte bags based on assembly area. Each rack was wraped in cardboard and slid tightly in place so not banging around. Everything was bagged and wrapped in that thin foam wrap.
+ I put it together in about 25 minutes without instructions In a very tight space. Finally found the instructions in the catalog they sent after I finished. I was not packaged in a bag just sliped in the water pan, which was bagged and wrapped.
+ The doors hinges are held together by 1/4 inch steel pins not those cheesey finishing nails I've seen on most smokers and can be swung open and lifted off to remove - nice!
+ The thermometer was dead on to within about 2.5 degrees of my 4 best dial thermometers and is the same size as a replacement I bought for the ECB (at WalMart) so replacment will be easy if I ever need it.
+ I ran it for 2 hours and ran out of gas
Tempertures held very steady at the high, medium and low settings. Fine tempertures adjustments were pretty easy to achieve using the three vents. It was pretty windy but I did lose flame after awhile at 70 degrees (also ran out of gas shortly after).
+ I did get it to maintain a full range of temperatures from 70 degrees to 350 degrees with no apparent changes to materials or paint. Thebiggest test was the handles which didn't get hot. I alo wanted to test the plastic? handle mounts for melting. No problems at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
? The wood pan is shallow maybe an inch deep but cast iron and 3/4 the size of the water pan. We'll see how it works during a long smoke.
? The water pan is a light weight tin or aluminum but almost the size of the grates. Not sure about this - I'm used to my heavy enamel ECB pan.
That's about all I can say until I actually cook in it. So far a am very pleased.
Here's the pictures I promised: