As I mentioned previsously, I ordered a new cooker from Backwoods Smokers. It's the Fat Boy model and for me it seems like a good balance of capacity and cost.
Well, yesterday I made the trip to Cissna Park, IL to pick it up. I'd met Brian Luke at the Murphysboro, IL BBQ competition last fall. He and his wife were very accomodating when I stumbled upon their cook site and asked a ton of questions about the Backwoods cookers he was going to be cooking on that weekend (their team is called "It's Five O'clock Somewhere"). And when I was ready to order the Fat Boy, Brian was again very easy to work with. If you're shopping for one of these things and live in the midwest, I can't think of anyone that I'd rather deal with.
I got the cooker home about 2:30 in the afternoon. I was cautioned about putting casters on the cooker, but based on how I store and use my cookers I proceeded with putting casters on it while it was on its back in my Yukon.
I got it put together and decided to build a small fire to get the lay of the land. I followed the steps that Old Dave from the Backwoods forum recently posted and had the cooker running at 250* in about an hour. After letting it run for a bit, I couldn't resist putting a snack on so I pulled some biscuits out of the freezer, laid out a dozen strips of pig candy, and stuck a fatty on.
Just as we were getting ready to enjoy the first taste, tornado sirens sounded. But we settled into the garage, rode the storm out, and had sausage biscuits while watching mother nature's light show.
All in all, I'm pretty happy with the new pit. I've got lots to learn about maintaining temps, cooking over a water pan, and dealing with the clean up of this new cooker.
I'll keep you posted on my adventures.