Tue 6 Dec 2005
The BDS is a 16 gauge drum that is approximately 38 in. tall and 23 1/4 in. wide. It has a high heat resistant paint and the color is black. It comes standard with one cooking grate that is 22 1/2 in. wide, a good thermometer, and a heavy duty charcoal ring that measures 6 in. deep and at least 13 in. in diameter. The ring is mounted on a grate that fits into the bottom of the pit and easily holds 12 lbs. or more of charcoal. The distance from the charcoal ring to the bottom of the the drum is about 2 1/4-2 1/2 in. for ash build-up. Distance from the bottom of the charcoal ring to the cooking grate is about 24 in. The lid is very tight fitting, plenty heavy, and has eight 1/2 in. vent holes precisely cut at even intervals. The bottom of the drum has three 7/8 in. air intakes with a plug for each one to regulate the draft. Pit weights about 72 lbs and comes in a shrink wrap. Lid is super secured. There was no damage (dings or dents) to my pit which was delivered by Fed-X. Pit can be easily transported from place to place by one person.
Within 15 minutes of the first cook, I knew this pit was a winner. The smell was absolutely what I look for in a first class cooker and NEVER have I achived this quality for the price and cooking capacity. I call it that ol’ time “Grandpaw smell”… when many years ago men cooked meat over hardwood coals and the smoke from the wood and the drippings from the meat fell down into the fire, creating an aroma that was unforgetable. It was a lot of work. Not saying that some folks don’t do this today, but they are a dying breed. This pit accomplishes this ol’ time flavor with little effort due to the fact that the cooking grate is located about 24 inches from the bottom of the charcoal ring which allows direct cooking over the coals, plus the well thought out design from Mr. Richmond. There’s a lot more to what he has created than just cutting a hole in the bottom and top of a barrel and calling it a good cooker.
When loaded with 10-12 lbs. of charcoal, I was able to cook long cooking meats (brisket, butts, etc.) without refueling the fire, which could be a pain to some (taking off the cooking grate to add charcoal, wood etc.). With three or four good size chunks of wood (fist size or larger), I used three pecan “mini” logs about 2- 2 1/2 in. in diameter and 6 in. long, the smoke never ran out. I was skeptical about this aspect, but it kept on smokin. After the meat came off and the fire diminished, the only thing left was a couple of the pecan logs that were nearly burned up, but not completely. So the smoke keeps going for a long cook when done properly with no additional wood needed. The pit was still up to cooking temperature after my cook was done. I got about a 10 hour burn, or longer, on 10-12 lbs. of charcoal with wood chucks at an ambient temperature of 48-50 degrees. Summer time heat will bring longer cooks, if that’s important to you. One thing you need to remember when cooking this method…the meat will cook quicker due to the DIRECT and convection heat combined. This method of cooking does not reduce flavor…This is a good thing. I know how so many folks get hung up on super long cooking times, and I ain’t gonna get into that. That theory holds true in certain cooking situations, but it is not a constant.
Performance: This smoker created a good even heat over the entire cooking grate…not perfect, but close. Never cooked on a pit yet that the heat was perfect. The fire and heat control was a breeze. Easiest I’ve ever seen. It held steady for hours with an adjustment of putting in one or two plugs out of the three into the air intakes. You can go off and leave this smoker for hours once you do a few cooks on it and figure out how to use the plugs (or sleep at a cook off). Mr. Richmond sends the “how to” manual with the smoker and it is very easy to read and understand, plus accurate. Just read it. Easy as can be. If ones wishes to add a second cooking shelf, that is easily done. Since there are 9 inches from the cooking shelf to the lid, one could add a second shelf at 4 1/2 in. above the main shelf. This would give you a distance of 4 1/2 in. between each cooking shelf and the lid. This would work fine for chichen halves, briskets, sausage, ribs, and other items that aren’t too tall. However, if you are smoking tall items like butts, turkeys, beer can chicken, or using rib racks, either take out the second shelf and use the main one, or for high capacity cooking (12 beer can chickens, four turkeys, etc.) place the top cooking shelf eight inchs above the main cooking shelf and use a Weber 22 1/2 in. kettle grill lid for the main lid. This will give you a lot of distance from the top cooking shelf to the lid and about 32 in. from the bottom of the fire box. An extra cooking shelf (22 1/2 in.) can be ordered from Amazon.com for $16.99.
As the cooker comes with one cooking grate, it is a serious machine. You can cook a 10-12 lb. brisket and 2 pork butts, or 4 big butts, or 2 big briskets, or 8 slabs of ribs using the Cookshack rib holder, or 6 beer butt chickens. Figuring the most bang for your bucks…or should I say food…(briskets and butts) one can easily feed 20-25 people. Add the second cooking shelf and you can feed more people than I want in my house on one given day. If this smoker isn’t big enough for you, the man makes a Jumbo cooker that holds about 2 1/2 to 3 times the meat the BDS does. It sell for 525 American Dollars. If you want a stainless steel one, that’s avaliable also. I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve had cooking on this smoker. I keep coming back to it day after day and it has become my favorite out of many. It is a joy to have in my back yard.
I’ve talked to a lot of pit makers and distributors in my 30 years of being in the BBQ business. This I can tell you for sure… Rocky Richmond is serious about his smokers and is a man of the highest integrity. He believes in his product and will do his best to see that you are a satisfied customer. Good luck with your smokers, Rocky. What a deal.