Considering Buying the Excel 20...

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Considering Buying the Excel 20...

Post  Yankee Smoker on Wed Sep 09, 2009 9:32 pm

I've been planning to build an electric, insulated, double walled smoker and I have pretty much got it all figured out. But then I made the mistake of talking to my brother about it and he raved about how easy to use his WSM smoker is. I didn't really believe his claims because they seemed too good to be true. But then I did a little research and it turns out that it really is as good as he said it was. So much for a few weeks worth of research and planning. Now I want a charcoal smoker. But then I came across the ProQ Excel 20 and not only does it seem like it will do everything the WSM will and more but it's less expensive. Now I really have some thinking to do...

I've seen almost nothing negative written about the Excel 20 so far. I say, "Almost nothing" because I have seen some complaints about shipping damage and I've also seen that the stacker sections aren't finished with the same kind of paint, (Or whatever) that the top and bottom dome sections are. I did just see a post saying that the new for 2010 version of the Excel 20 has all of the sections coated with the same enamel. That's fine but I'm not certain that I'll be able to get one of the new versions here in the U.S. since there are so few for sale here. I've found a few for sale on EBay including from a guy who has 10+ for sale for only $200 including shipping. But if they aren't the new versions how will I know until I get it?

So, if I do buy from this EBay guy and it is the old version is this finish difference an issue? Has paint bubbling or peeling off been a problem with anyone on this forum? I'd be willing to pay a little more for the newer version but I'm basically poor and even $200 is a little tough for me right now.

And how many of you have had the shipping damage problem? Is the problem with poor packaging or is it possible that maybe the Excel 20 just isn't as robust as I was hoping it is? There was a guy on the SMF BBQ forum who got one of the Frontiers from a guy on EBay and it was so bent up he sent it back. I understand that the Frontier is made from thinner material but I've also seen that the Excel 20 has received some shipping damage too.

How does the warranty work here in the U.S.? Is there a warranty? If I happen to have a problem is there some place here that can provide some sort of service or and I just out of luck. The expense of having to ship all or part of a defective unit to the U.K. makes it practically out of the question.

Last question...I think. I've seen pictures of the vinyl cover made for the Excel 20 with the ProQ logo on it. It looks pretty sharp but it looks like it's a very snug fit. It is hard to install and remove or is the problem with poor photography? Is there any other brands/models of cover that will easily fit over the whole smoker all the way down to the ground, (Or almost)?

Thanks for any and all answers to my questions. Sorry this post is so long.

Bruce

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Re: Considering Buying the Excel 20...

Post  Qjuju on Thu Sep 10, 2009 3:51 pm

I can't answer all of your questions, but I can add a few things. I have had zero issues with the paint peeling. The rings don't get the heat blasted to them like the bottom or the top if you use it as a grill. It's sort of like the powder coat burning off the fire box, but not the rest of an offset. I think the coating on all the sections is a good improvement just the same.

I will also say that if you can afford it, I would buy it from Ian or one of his suppliers. The place in Canada ships to the US I believe. It's just a personal preference, but I am not a big EBay fan and I know Ian is 110% interested in customer satisfaction. Although, $200 is a great price.

I highly recommend this unit over the competition for the serious BBQ'er. For the casual cook the other options are probably pretty good and I have recommended them to folks that wanted a smoker, but I knew they wouldn't take the time to investigate and order a Pro-Q. The reason I recommend this cooker over the others is the attention to detail. The eyelets, the stackers, the hooks in the lid, the large water pan, the clips, and Pro-Q's customer service make it stand head and shoulders above the other options.

I love mine... I am so glad that I bought it... The Q is delicious and the cooking is easy.
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Re: Considering Buying the Excel 20...

Post  steveheyes on Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:55 am

Got to agree with Qjuju, in terms of bang for buck the E20 is a great product and very versatile. I like Weber kit as do most people but I chose the E20 over the WSM and not just based on price. I also know Ian and he's a top bloke with a big focus on customer satisfaction, I bought my smoker before I met him and he took the time to phone me up and talk to me for half an hour explaining things about the smoker, that's top service.

Mine is the older model without enamel coated stackers and I've had no problem with paint peeling, I also cook high and direct on mine sometimes which means the bottom stacker gets hot, still no paint problems.

$200 is a fantastic price, you've just got to make sure your seller is legit and isn't going to send it to you via the "kick the parcel around the depot" courier company Very Happy My E20 came with a couple of scratches on it, but it must have been battered by the courier because I'm not to gentle with it and I stuff it in a van for competitions, I've not managed to damage it yet, so don't worry about robustness.

I doubt the warranty wouldn't cover the US if you bought it in the US. I've seen a lot of people buy from Fred's Music and BBQ and they seem to get good customer service. PM Ian if you need to confirm.

All I can say mate is that I've been very happy with the product and the service I've had, the only way I'll be moving from the ProQ is if I decide to build a big f* off smoker in my yard or win the lottery and get a Klose pit shipped over from Texas

lol!
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Re: Considering Buying the Excel 20...

Post  Yankee Smoker on Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:45 pm

Thanks for the info, Qjuju and Steve. I ended up ordering a triple stacker from a guy on Ebay. $240 shipped seems like a pretty great deal to me even if it is the pre-2010 version and it doesn't have a warranty. While I don't really need the extra capacity of the 3rd stacker I believe that it's usually better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. The extra $40 for the 3rd stacker seemed like a pretty good deal considering the extra cost of shipping and the fact that they don't even seem to be available right now in the U.S.

The seller shipped it via FedX and according to the FedX website it should be here on Tuesday. The seller said he would put some extra packing material in the boxes to help prevent shipping damage. I've had pretty good luck with FedX so we'll see...

It's funny how fast I ended up changing my mind from a few weeks of researching and planning a custom fabricated electric smoker with the digital thermostat, (Fabbed by myself) to a factory built charcoal smoker. I went from electric to strongly considering the WSM to finding and buying this ProQ Excel 20 in just a few days. You ProQ fans are pretty convincing!

My grill is a newly restored 15 year old Weber gas grill that works like new. I do have a couple of charcoal grills including a tiny Weber kettle and a POS Sunbeam that's square and pretty flimsy. I have very little experience with using either briquettes or lump charcoal and to be honest, I wasn't really very impressed with either choices in the charcoal grills that I have. So now I'm trying to decide what to start off with when I get my Excel 20.

There seems to be a lot of people who like either types of charcoal. I found a huge database of lump charcoal reviews and a few briquette reviews on this website: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lump.htm and I found a pretty interesting forum about fuels on the AZBBQ forum website. But I'm still no closer to making my decision. I realize that I could just try them both and decide for myself which I like better. But I'd like to start off with whichever one is the most forgiving to a charcoal smoker newbie like me. Any advice from you seasoned BBQ veterans along with your reasons why you like what you do would be greatly appreciated.

One more question: What brand/model of digital thermometer do you recommend? I'm on my second one now but I've never used either for BBQ. Just for roasting or other general kitchen use. The first one worked great but it got submerged in water and I don't remember the brand name. The second one I have now is very slow to change temperature and it seems pretty flimsy. It's a Thermotech brand and while it's fairly accurate it's so slow to react to change and it's so flimsy that I want to get something else. I really like the idea of 2 probes in one unit. I am also interested in the wireless versions but from the reviews I read on Amazon the wireless ones seem to be hit or miss when it comes to transmitting reliably to the remote unit. Is there a reasonably priced dual probe remote transmitting thermometer available in the U.S.? Actually, depending on the price, I don't have to have a dual probe unit. I could easily just buy 2 single probe units. One for the ambient temperature and one for the meat. I would like the convenience of the remote transmitter/receiver but I don't want any junk that won't work. Thanks again for any advice you guys can give me.

Bruce

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Re: Considering Buying the Excel 20...

Post  BowtieBill on Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:13 pm

I have one of the first Excel 20's shipped to the US, and I have been very happy with it. No issue with the painted sections.
As for the thermo, try a Maverick ET-73, which has two probes, one for the smoker temp and one for the meat. Around 39 bucks on the internet. Replacement probes are available as well.
I see you are in NorCal, have you checked out the CBBQA (California BBQ Association)? Have you attended any contests in the area? If you do, look me up.
Good luck,

Bill Keyes
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Re: Considering Buying the Excel 20...

Post  Yankee Smoker on Sat Sep 12, 2009 5:02 am

BowtieBill wrote:I have one of the first Excel 20's shipped to the US, and I have been very happy with it. No issue with the painted sections.
As for the thermo, try a Maverick ET-73, which has two probes, one for the smoker temp and one for the meat. Around 39 bucks on the internet. Replacement probes are available as well.
I see you are in NorCal, have you checked out the CBBQA (California BBQ Association)? Have you attended any contests in the area? If you do, look me up.
Good luck,

Bill Keyes
Tropical Heat BBQ

Hi Bill,

I'll look into that thermometer. That name sounds familiar so I think I've seen it advertised somewhere. I'll do a Google search for it.

I have visited the CBBQA website but I haven't really had a chance to go through it much. I will though. I haven't ever attended any BBQ contest before and I'm looking forward to it as time allows. My wife and I were disappointed that we didn't get to attend the one a few weeks ago in Sparks, Nv. I also wanted to watch the rib eating contest. My hero, Joey Chestnut lost his title as the rib eating king. Crying or Very sad I'm not a competitive eater, I just eat like one once in a while. pig

You're a BBQ competitor? What kind of pit do you use? Does anyone use the ProQ smokers in competition? If so I may work on getting good enough with mine that I'll consider entering a contest some day. Thanks for the reply. I'll look you up when I attend a BBQ contest, either as a spectator or as a competitor. I'm in Redding, Ca. Where are you located?

Bruce

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Re: Considering Buying the Excel 20...

Post  Jonesey73 on Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:46 am

Hi,
Just to add my thoughts - I've got an E20 and it's fantastic.
We had a street party this weekend and I cooked some ribs on it - as smokers aren't that common over here I had quite a few people asking me just why I spent so long cooking when I could just grill ... then they tasted the ribs!!.

I was a bit worried about the cooking time as I used some cheap lump charcoal this weekend so put 3 pieces of cherry wood on there as well.
I didn't need to worry - the E20 held it's temp between 190 and 230 for 5 hours easily and would have kept going and going if I put more wood on there.

I also echo an earlier post - if you can afford it, buy it from Ian or his authorised dealers ... although I've not had any problems with mine, I've read posts from people who had a problem with shipping and Ian has worked to fix these problems quickly.

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Re: Considering Buying the Excel 20...

Post  Yankee Smoker on Tue Sep 15, 2009 5:12 pm

Jonesey73 wrote:
I also echo an earlier post - if you can afford it, buy it from Ian or his authorised dealers ... although I've not had any problems with mine, I've read posts from people who had a problem with shipping and Ian has worked to fix these problems quickly.

I highlighted the two problems I had. One, I can't afford it. Money is really tight and I probably shouldn't have even spent the money I did spend. If I had to pay full retail price I would've had to pass on it. I'm not saying that they are over priced. I'm just saying that I can't afford it right now.

Two, from what I can find there is only one authorized dealer in the U.S. And they don't have any Excel 20s in stock. Sooo...It sounds like there is a serious distribution problem in the country that is the BBQ center of the universe, the place where BBQ ribs, pork butt, beef brisket, and chicken was invented.

On one very large BBQ forum I belong to, (SMF) it seems that very few people have even actually heard of ProQ. The only guy who replied to my inquiry about the ProQ Excel 20 didn't have a clue about what he was talking about. Of course that didn't stop him from talking though.

I live in California and if I could become the west coast distributor for ProQ I would. Unfortunately, I don't own any sort of BBQ store, I'm not a BBQ expert, and I don't have the money to make it happen. Hopefully Ian will find some more places to sell his products. I'm sure it isn't easy, especially with the way the economy is these days. But you can't make money if you don't sell product. And you don't sell product if there's no product to sell and there's no place to sell it...Now, where did I put my economics degree? It was around here a minute ago...Dang it! I left it folded up and it went through the laundry! Wink Oh yeah, I don't have an economics degree. scratch

Bruce

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Re: Considering Buying the Excel 20...

Post  Dr_KY on Tue Sep 15, 2009 8:28 pm

Bruce where in Cali are you and where is the smoking forum you speak of?
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A Bizarre Restaurant review

Post  Yankee Smoker on Wed Sep 16, 2009 5:48 am

Dr_KY wrote:Bruce where in Cali are you and where is the smoking forum you speak of?

Here's a link to the, "Smoking Meat Forums", (SMF). http://smokingmeatforums.com/forums/index.php

I'm from the far northern part of California, in Redding. Surrounded by fantastic mountains on 3 sides with endless lakes, rivers, streams, and unemployment lines. It's either a small city or a large town. It's the largest town north of Sacramento to the Oregon border and there really isn't too much else around it so it's fairly self contained.

There are no BBQ joints in town that are especially good. There is a place called, "Fat Daddy's". The chicken is very good. Instead of brisket they serve tri-tip roasts that are slow cooked until fall apart tender. It's pretty good but it's not as fatty as brisket so it's a little dry sometimes. It's been a few years since I had the pulled pork and I honestly don't remember much about it. Nothing to get excited about. And the pork ribs are also just so-so. It's been over a year since I last ate there but about the only thing I order there is the chicken or the tri-tip.

There was another place, (I think it might be closed now) called, "Big Red's". It's been at least 10 years since I've been there and the last time was one of the funniest experiences I've ever had in a restaurant. It was about 7:00PM on a Friday night and they were sort of busy. The owner was working in the kitchen and trying to cover the register and his teenage daughter, (Maybe 17 or 18) was trying totake orders and take the food out to the tables. I was waiting in the to-go line that was longer than it should've been considering it wasn't crazy busy. But I wasn't in a hurry and the, "Floor show" was hysterical! Now for the floor show...The girl was clearly in over her head as she was carrying out the plates of fairly decent Q. It wasn't that busy but she just couldn't keep up. She only had a couple of tables to take orders from but she had maybe 6 or 8 tables waiting, (and waiting, and waiting...) for their food. When I first walked in there she looked very distressed. But about 5 minutes into my wait she started to cry. I don't mean a few tears in her eyes. I mean she started to just ball. Sad Her father kept at his job, filling orders and trying to run the register when he could. He was kind of trying to pretend the bizarre scene wasn't really happening. She would come up to the counter to either drop of an order or pick up food while sobbing away. He would mumble some half hearted words of encouragement and off she would go back into the dining room. "Boo hoo sob...Hello, (Sniff) may I take your order? Boo hoo hoo sob!". Followed up shortly by, "Wahh! Sob boo hoo! Here's your order...Wah!" Oh my God! It was the most pathetic thing I'd ever seen while at the same time it was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. By the time I got to the counter after about a 15 or 20 minute wait the father/owner looked so embarrassed and beat. I couldn't even look him in the eye and I think he was grateful for that. When I got home with the Q to my waiting wife I told her about the freak show she missed. It made the Q better than it normally would've been.

I guess I should've been more sympathetic towards her and possibly even offered to help her out. But I guess I'm not always the nicest guy in the world. Twisted Evil

Bruce

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Re: Considering Buying the Excel 20...

Post  Dr_KY on Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:23 am

I'm from SoCal- LA basin
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Re: Considering Buying the Excel 20...

Post  BowtieBill on Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:07 pm

Yankee Smoker wrote:
BowtieBill wrote:I have one of the first Excel 20's shipped to the US, and I have been very happy with it. No issue with the painted sections.
As for the thermo, try a Maverick ET-73, which has two probes, one for the smoker temp and one for the meat. Around 39 bucks on the internet. Replacement probes are available as well.
I see you are in NorCal, have you checked out the CBBQA (California BBQ Association)? Have you attended any contests in the area? If you do, look me up.
Good luck,

Bill Keyes
Tropical Heat BBQ

Hi Bill,

I'll look into that thermometer. That name sounds familiar so I think I've seen it advertised somewhere. I'll do a Google search for it.

I have visited the CBBQA website but I haven't really had a chance to go through it much. I will though. I haven't ever attended any BBQ contest before and I'm looking forward to it as time allows. My wife and I were disappointed that we didn't get to attend the one a few weeks ago in Sparks, Nv. I also wanted to watch the rib eating contest. My hero, Joey Chestnut lost his title as the rib eating king. Crying or Very sad I'm not a competitive eater, I just eat like one once in a while. pig

You're a BBQ competitor? What kind of pit do you use? Does anyone use the ProQ smokers in competition? If so I may work on getting good enough with mine that I'll consider entering a contest some day. Thanks for the reply. I'll look you up when I attend a BBQ contest, either as a spectator or as a competitor. I'm in Redding, Ca. Where are you located?

Bruce


Bruce,
In competition, I use a Klose trailer mounted offset. I have not tried the Excel in comps yet. I believe a few people do across the country, none out in Cali that I know of.
I am down in Ventura County, Fillmore to be exact. I really like the area you are from, been wanting to move to the Mount Shasta area since I first saw it 30 plus years ago. Also like the Shingletown area. Redding gets a little warm, don't it. I stayed there when it was 114 once.
They area having an Oinktober fest gathering of some NoCal members in a couple of weeks at an RV park in Oroville. If you can make it down there, you meet quite a few of our members. Real fun group. You can get more info on the CBBQA site.
Hope to meet up some day.

Good luck,
Bill
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