Pit Barrel Cooker Question

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by smokey tex, Sep 19, 2016.

  1. smokey tex

    smokey tex Fire Starter

    Good morning,

    I have been considering purchasing the Pit Barrel Cooker.  One question though.  Some of the comments have stated that this is not a true smoker and that the manufacturer suggests cooking without wood.  I really like a good Texas smokey BBQ flavor.  Can you get this flavor with the PBC?  If not, I will probably look at other options.  Thanks in advance for any input.  

  2. burgerbob

    burgerbob Smoke Blower

    Alan, a PBC is also referred to as a UDS for those that actually build one themselves.  I have one and I absolutely love it.  I use solid wood chunks mixed in with lump charcoal as my heat source and smoke source.  You shouldn't have any issues using wood with the PBC.  I love this smoker method because it uses the minion method so it will slowly burn down over time and you don't have to keep adding charcoal and wood to the process, just get the temp under control and let the smoker do its job.  Getting the temp to maintain consistency can be a bit of a problem especially when it is windy but with enough practice you'll figure it out.  
  3. burgerbob

    burgerbob Smoke Blower

    Also making your own would be significantly cheaper than buying one.  Below is a link that I referenced when I was building mine.  I made some modifications and added a table on the side of mine plus I used an old Weber grill lid as my lid instead of using the one that came with my barrel.  I bought the used Weber grill for $15 on Craigslist.  If I were to build another UDS, I would put 2 tables on it, wheels, and a second rack on it along with a hook to hold my lid so I didn't have to set it on the ground.  Just my 2 cents.  Also if you go the route of making your own, make sure your barrel is food grade, make sure it did not hold any chemicals prior to you using it.  I was able to find one that held coconut oil before I used it.  I included a link to that site as well since I'm not sure where you're at.


  4. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Alan, I think this is the cooker I was trying to remember yesterday, but I don't recall the price being that high, so I must have found it on a distributors site (possibly)...seems like what I was looking at was in the $180-$200 range, or less. I searched and found the PBC site and read up on the specs and configuration, total package included, etc. Sadly, I'm not too impressed with what they're offering, especially considering the materials used for construction...it's just a painted carbon steel barrel with customized modifications that many who have built a ugly drum smoker could do, if they wanted to. I think the homemade UDS is far more efficient and offers longer burn times between refueling. Also, the accessories they offer seem very expensive.

    Regarding claims of the PBC not being a true smoker and not recommended for use with wood, well, I don't understand why you could not add smoke wood chunks in the coal ring just like with any other vertical charcoal smoker...not gonna hurt a thing. They may have caused some confusion with potential buyers and meant to state that it was not intended to be a stick-burner, but to state it is not a smoker would be a negative sale point and likely is totally unwarranted.

    For what it's worth, the price they are asking for the PBC will buy you a 18.5" WSM, which is 1" diameter larger cooking grate, and, you have 2 grates instead of one. The WSM, as with all Weber charcoal kettles and bullet smokers, is a porcelain enameled steel construction...the are literally built to last a lifetime with reasonable care, and they carry their value through years of use. If stainless cooking grates become a requirement in the future, you can acquire them in the standard WSM-18/22 grate sizes through at least one vendor online, and prices aren't that bad. I've not seen stainless grates in a 17.5" (PBC) size

    I'm a WSM-18 owner/user of just short of one year, with 6 years of ownership/use of several Weber kettle grills. My WSM has the silicone grommet for pit/meat temp probe cables. I strongly recommend that you consider the WSM line if you are considering a vertical smoker. The price may seem high to some, although you are looking at the same price for a smaller rig with lower quality construction. The WSM has given a shallow and relatively short learning curve, and I've done very little for mods after the first month or less of use. They will give longer burns before refueling, and give fairly steady temp control without intervention, barring severe weather changes. If the reason for you interest in the PBC is only based on the meat hooks and hanging bar, you can do simple mods and buy the hooks to hang on the cooking grate of the WSM. The WSM has a water pan which allows true indirect cooking, and you can choose what to put in it...I run dry with a foil liner, or with several pounds of washed pea-gravel as a thermal mass and foil liner over the gravel. The PBC does not offer this option, therefore, I fail to see where their claims of indirect cooking are justified.

    On the PBC product page, about/advantage tabs, there are numerous untruths stated about the bullet smokers (they show a distinct trademark lid handle of a WSM) as well as their PBC, next to it. Example: searing rib eyes (easy)...hmm, who wants to reach arm's-length down into a hot barrel to tend a food on a grill grate sitting right over  a hot bed of coals? Not me. Another part states temp control with a bullet is difficult...they obviously haven't the used a WSM or they'd know better. I could go on and on, picking this site's info apart and shredding it...you and I both have better things to do with our time, though. I see a lot of unfounded hype on their product and unfounded bashing of competitor's products...seeing that alone makes me shy away from the company altogether Dishonest advertisements don't sell anything to me, but that's JMHO. All other things being equal (I know, they are not), I would have to weigh who I'd trust as the final deal-breaker...Weber would come out on top without hesitation.

    MSRP prices are $299 for WSM-18 and $399 for the WSM-22, which is a beast. The WSM-14 @ $199 I'm sure is not an option for you, unless as a back-up smoker for potatoes or veggies, etc, if you decided to start down that path...otherwise, yes, it's pretty small.

    Hope this helps. I'm not trying to sell you on WSM, just informing you of my opinions and distinctions between the PBC and WSM. I only know what I've read about the PBC from their own site...and that info speaks volumes.

    big z 765 likes this.
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    For store bought I'd also recommend the WSM over the PBC. I have the 18.5", and the 14.5". I also have 4 home built mini-WSM's. I also have a home built UDS. Since I purchased the 18 WSM I haven't used the UDS. Not sure why I just haven't. Probably because I really don't do large smokes as often as I used too. I can get everything done in the WSM's. I mostly use the mini's or the 14". I can cook everything I need for my family of 4 in those, and they are super efficient. The UDS does he more fuel .
    big z 765 likes this.
  6. smokey tex

    smokey tex Fire Starter

    Thanks Bob.  That helps.  By chance, have you done a brisket on one of these?  I generally cook at 200-225 and I understand that these run a bit hotter.  Just wondering how well the fat renders at a higher temp.  Sounds like a nice unit that is really easy to use.
  7. smokey tex

    smokey tex Fire Starter

    Good point.  Thanks for the links.  I'm in Fort Worth, TX.  Checking around, I found a place with new 55 gallon food grade steel drums for $35.  Close enough that I could pick it up my self.  I'll definitely take this into consideration.
  8. smokey tex

    smokey tex Fire Starter

    Thanks, Eric.  I've run across the WSM smokers from time to time, but never really gave them serious thought.  Of course, I've only been looking at switching to charcoal for a short time.  The reviews on these things are extremely high, with very few negatives.  I'm not dead set on hanging meat per se, it's just the extra capacity that this would allow.  It sounds like hanging in the 22 version might allow for 3 briskets. Thanks for the input.  Not something I was previously considering, but I will certainly look into this as a possibility.
  9. smokey tex

    smokey tex Fire Starter

    Thanks for your input.  It's helpful to know that the WSM is more fuel efficient.  It sounds like a solid unit from the reviews I have read.  Thanks again!
  10. burgerbob

    burgerbob Smoke Blower

    It's a pretty easy plan and I think overall I ended up spending around $130 and that included my shipment for my barrel and the cost of the Weber grill from Craigslist, plus I can say I built it myself.  As far as temperature goes, once you figure out how to handle the smoker and the temp you should have no problem smoking at 200-225.  I actually smoke around 200-225 for my longer smokes then get it up to 250-275 for some shorter smokes.  I've done numerous briskets, pork butts, ribs, you name it.  The only times were I have had issues is when I made mistakes myself, it was not an issue with the smoker.
  11. smokey tex

    smokey tex Fire Starter

    Looking at the DIY website link, he mentions burning off the original paint from the drum.  If you buy a new food grade steel drum with no liner, is this necessary?
  12. burgerbob

    burgerbob Smoke Blower

    I wouldn't think you would need to then. However, from what I understand all barrels come with a rust inhibitor on the inside even if they state they don't have a liner. I would recommend asking about that first and also let the seller know what you are using it for. I burned the exterior paint off my and mine didn't have a liner. I did notice when it started heating up that a layer of something was burning off the inside. I'm assuming this was the rust inhibitor. It burned off incredibly easily though.
  13. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If the outside of the drum is painted yes you will need to. The paint on the exterior isn't high temp.
  14. smokey tex

    smokey tex Fire Starter

    You've got me curious about the prospect of making my own UDS.  I don't know if parts are costing more here in Fort Worth or if I'm not looking in the right place.  So far, I'm really having trouble keeping the cost under $200.  So far, using the link that was provided, I'm around $220 and there are still two items I haven't yet priced.  A friend who works for Fastenal is also checking to see how he can do on pricing.  I can see how customizing these things can really drive up the price.
  15. burgerbob

    burgerbob Smoke Blower

    I'm curious as to what is driving your cost up. Mind sending me a list of parts with prices? Maybe I can help. If you take a look profile I have a picture of my UDS and like I said before, I got mine built for around $140.
  16. worktogthr

    worktogthr Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I am late to the party but I have a Pit Barrel Cooker and I absolutely love it.  Yes, it is a glorified commercial UDS, yes it costs more than it would cost to make something similar and larger, yes it is made a certain way which leaves little room for mods.  But and a big but...It consistently turns out great food every time, the hanging provides plenty of cooking space, pretty easy to clean (just put an old pizza pan under the charcoal basket), and it gives you deliciously smokey food without constantly monitoring temps.  I own a WSM 18 as well and love that for some of the same reasons. I guess my point in saying all this is that if you want a reliable, well made UDS, that turns out great food and you either don't have the skills (like me) or don't want to spend the time building your own, it will be worth every penny.
  17. smokey tex

    smokey tex Fire Starter

    I just sent you a PM with the breakdown.  I think I added something incorrectly at first.  It's closer to $170 now, and this includes casters.  So this it probably closer to where it should be.
  18. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Had I not sand blasted and powder coated my UDS, or made the adjustable shelf system I would have been under $100 for the UDS.

    Drum (2) for $25 - $12.50

    (3) gate valves (not ball valves) $5 ea. - $15

    (3) black pipe nipples $2 ea - $6

    (3) shelf rails  $8 ea - $24

    (1) cooking grate - $15

    misc nuts and bolts - $15


    charcoal basket

    nuts an bolts for legs - $5

    pizza pan for ash catcher - $10

    Expanded metal - $20


    Total $122.50

    Drum sand blast inside and out $25

    Powder coat exterior $50

    Total $75

    Total UDS $197.50
    big z 765 likes this.
  19. smokey tex

    smokey tex Fire Starter

    The party hasn't been going on very long, so no problem at all!  It's really hard to find any negative reviews on the PBC or WSM. People really seem happy with both of these.  Thanks for sharing your input on this.   The pizza pan idea is a great one.

    At this point, I'm leaning more toward making one.  Saturdays are mostly free, so thought it would be fun to try to put something like this together.  Also, I told our 9 year old son about this and he think's it's the coolest idea he's ever heard.  I asked if he would help me out with it and he gave a very enthusiastic "yes".  So I'm going for some kind of father/son project.  I figured he could screw some things in after I drill the holes, help me light the fire to burn it in, etc.  Thanks again for your input!
  20. smokey tex

    smokey tex Fire Starter

    Thanks for the parts list.  This helps.  Yeah, I supposed that gate valves would work just as well for this application.  I like the adjustable shelf idea.  Did you buy some kind of brackets to go with the shelf rails?

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