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Bates, Gator, Diamond Plate

 
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CHRIS 1237
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Joined: 15 Jun 2005
Posts: 229
Location: PA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 05 05 10:34 am    Post subject: Bates, Gator, Diamond Plate Reply with quote

I am now looking to purchase a trailer BBQ smoker. Right now I am using a Charbroil Silver Smoker (suffer with it each week). There are a number of good manufactures making some good smokers but being a young kid from PA, price (like to keep the price below $2000) is a big deciding factor. Someday I hope to be selling my BBQ at my dad’s beer store along with competing in some competitions. Right now I am looking at the Gator Budget Smoker, a comparable smoker from Bate Pitts or Diamond Plate 50 series or Fat 50 series. I like to get some feedback from some of you that have had experience with these products.

I heard enough about the good quality of the Gator and Bates smokers but I have not heard much about the quality of the Diamond Plate smokers. Can anyone chime in on his or her review of the quality of the Diamond Plate smoker workmanship? Also I like size of their smoker but does it provide even heat distribution as the traditional offset smokers? I know Gator and Bates use ¼ inch steel but the Diamond Plate smoker uses only 3/16 inch steel. Do you think this make a big difference in heat retention both in the firebox and heating chamber? I also notice that the firebox on the Diamond Plate product is located behind the cooking chamber. Would this make for a better heat exchange than the traditional offset smoker? Also with the smaller pull behind smokers would they tend to be more bouncy on the road? Also most of the traveling will be on hills and winding roads so is one model better handling than others? Lastly a good part of my cooking with this smoker will be only for a few racks of ribs or a couple chickens so would a bigger rig like the Diamond Plate 50 series or Fat 50 be to big to fire up for such a small cooking? Also anyone using the Gator Budget Smoker, approximately how many butts/briskets can this smoker hold at anyone time?

In regards to service before and after the sale I read that Gator does a great job servicing their customers before and after the sale. What has your experience been with Bates and Diamond Plate?

Thanks

Chris
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BBQMAN
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Joined: 13 Jun 2005
Posts: 15474
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Mon Dec 05 05 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I dont have any experience with these builders (I built my own), I hear they all make fine equipment. It will come down to personal preference, price, and what you need/want out of a smoker. For instance, you may find that you want modifications done that are not available on a particular brand.

I would reccomend gas assist for log burners. On a cold and rainy day it sure beats struggling with a chimmney and charcoal.

Also, buy something bigger (or a lot bigger) than what you think your needs are now. You can always use less space, but will not get more if you ever need it! I often fire up my large smoker to feed family and friends, even though I obviously dont use all the space available. What happens the next time you want to smoke a hog instead of the normall 2-4 chickens and it wont fit!? Shocked

Just my two cents worth! Look around carefully before spending your money. Also, quality ALWAYS pays for itself down the road.

Have fun, and good luck with your new purchase! Very Happy
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OkieJay
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Joined: 04 Aug 2005
Posts: 1027
Location: Oklahoma City area

PostPosted: Tue Dec 06 05 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris,

I am a Diamong Plate owner (and also a dealer now). I own the very first Fat 50 smoker. The quailty is very good. Everything fits tight, welds are solid, lines are straight, etc. I have had mine for a few months and cooked on it 12-15 times. I am still very happy with it and have no complaints.

Yesterday, I smoked 9 racks of ribs, 6 whole chickens, 12 polish sausages, 2 large pork tenderloins and a chub of bologna. I had lots of room to spare. The outside temp was 39 for most of day and I had no problem keeping it at about 240. Was a very low-hassle smoke session.

I will be happy to answer any questions you may have,
Jay

I have posted lots of pictures in these two threads:

http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1362

http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1406
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HouTXBBQ
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Joined: 27 Sep 2005
Posts: 25
Location: Houston, TX

PostPosted: Tue Dec 06 05 1:42 am    Post subject: Re: Bates, Gator, Diamond Plate Reply with quote

CHRIS 1237 wrote:

Also with the smaller pull behind smokers would they tend to be more bouncy on the road? Also most of the traveling will be on hills and winding roads so is one model better handling than others?

In regards to service before and after the sale I read that Gator does a great job servicing their customers before and after the sale.


Chris,

I have ordered a Gator Pit Budget Mobile but don't have it yet. I can tell you a bit about it since I live a few miles away from their shop and have visited a couple of times to check out the Budget Mobile. I know you weren't directly asking questions about Gator Pit, but this might help a bit.

1. Gator Pit's service before the sales is EXCELLENT. They will spend as much time as necessary to properly answer your questions, and will answer them with truthful answers (which makes a big difference in my book). It made my purchase of a Budget Mobile a heck of a lot easier.

2. From what other owners have told me the Budget Mobile tows easily. It's very well balanced, so much so that it is very easy to move by hand.

3.You could probably smoke 4-5 full briskets on the lower shelf and maybe 2 on the upper shelf in the Budget Mobile with a little room left over. Depends on size of brisket or ribs.

4. The great thing about Gator Pit is that they will customize your Budget Mobile any way you want it. Mine will have gas assist and tuning plates plus the gas burner it comes with. The sliding food shelves looked interesting, but I was past my budget. Shocked

I hope this helps.
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OkieJay
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Joined: 04 Aug 2005
Posts: 1027
Location: Oklahoma City area

PostPosted: Tue Dec 06 05 1:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris,

Here are the answers to few of your questions.

I have not pulled my Fat50 much, but as far as I can tell, it travels smooth and straight. No bounce or wandering at all.

The heat is fairly well distributed throught the smoker. It has a hot spot right over the pipes that bring the heat from the firebox to the chamber, but other than that it is pretty even. I am working on a baffle to spread the heat out a little better at those points and will pass that on when it's done.

To my mind, the thickness of the steel is a push. When it comes to smokers, the thicker the steel the better they hold temp is pretty much a given. But is what you gain in temp control, worth the extra cost and weight? I could have never afforded a Bates or Gator trailer rig the size of mine, it would have cost around twice as much. Also, I do not have anything that would pull such a rig, they would be 3000+ pounds. Fatty goes about 1400 pounds.

As far as service, it is probably impossible to do better than Gator or Bates on service. I have never heard one bad word about them.
That being said, Travis Creek (owner of DPP) will give them a run. He is still hands on involved with the building of every smoker. He takes pride in the quality of his cookers and his service. I would not have become a dealer for him, if I did not fully expect him to make my customers happy.

This is KILLING me to say (I am an Okie), but it must be a Texan thing. Gator, Klose, Bates, DPP are all made in Texas. They are some of the best smokers around and they are backed by the best support around.

You can not go wrong with ANY of them.
Jay
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krazylegs
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Joined: 18 Feb 2005
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Location: northern california

PostPosted: Tue Dec 06 05 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dont know if you had read my thread or not. http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1842 but, I pretty much asked the same questions.

So, I will tell you what I found out in doing my homework (I'll let ya cheat) first off Chris from Gator pits is very patient when it comes to talking to him and asking questions. he also knows about the pits, he never said " wait and let me get someone to answer your question". and the guy at bates pits was also helpfull.

Now Travis from Diamond Plate is different... it pains me to say this but, he is not a salesman. AND I LOVED THIS ABOUT HIM. it was as if you were around the smoker chewing the cud and talking to him. and as far as customizing the pit that was no problem.

All I could say is happy trails to you and I hope you find what you are looking for the options are endless and so is the search you may find.
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CHRIS 1237
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Joined: 15 Jun 2005
Posts: 229
Location: PA

PostPosted: Wed Dec 07 05 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all of the great advice guys.

OkieJay how often do you have to put another log on the fire?
Also what is clean up like on a pit like that?
This question may seem dumb but Travis just sent me an email with a bunch of pictures and I did not see any dampers. Where are they?

If interested here is a link to see the pictures

http://public.fotki.com/winstons/diamondplate_produc/
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OkieJay
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Joined: 04 Aug 2005
Posts: 1027
Location: Oklahoma City area

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08 05 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CHRIS 1237 wrote:
Thanks for all of the great advice guys.

OkieJay how often do you have to put another log on the fire?
Also what is clean up like on a pit like that?
This question may seem dumb but Travis just sent me an email with a bunch of pictures and I did not see any dampers. Where are they?

If interested here is a link to see the pictures

http://public.fotki.com/winstons/diamondplate_produc/


That depends on weather and other things, but I usually have to add a arm sized log/split about every 45 minutes to hour. When I did the smoke the other day (outside temp was 39 degrees) I was adding two logs/splits an hour.
You may not need to add that often, I add when temp drops about 10-15 points. If you don't mind bigger swings, you will add less often.

As for cleanup, the smoke chamber has drain pipes in the bottom. I just pull it to the carwash and use the power rinse (no soap) every once and awhile. If you want to order one, get with me first and I will give you a modification suggestion to make cleanup more simple.

The air intake dampers are on the underside of the firebox. You open and close them via a slide rod.

Let me know if you have any more questions,
Jay
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CHRIS 1237
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Joined: 15 Jun 2005
Posts: 229
Location: PA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 11 05 12:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I decided to go with the gator with a few mods like tuning plates, gas log lighter and pull out cooking grates. I spoke to Chris the other day and he was able to give me quotes on shipping and on the mods I wanted. I would like to place my order before the new year but I dont know if Ill have the money by then.

Thank for the advice,

Chris
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