ProQ vs Hark Trip Fire

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Cedricculio
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ProQ vs Hark Trip Fire

Post by Cedricculio » Wed Nov 25, 2015 12:35 pm

Hi all,

I'm a complete newbie smoker here and would like to seek advice on the above products. Already have a 6 burners and a commercial spit rotisserie, however this is a new unchartered territory.

First off, the ProQ as I understand is a bullet smoker however I'm not sure on the functionality of the metal water bowl. Is it there purely to keep the meat moist? Or fill with sand for ease of cleaning?

As for its quality, what's the gauge of the metal ? It's hard to compare from the pics on their website. This is important to me as it would retain the heat better and for its longevity.

The Hark on other hand is an offset smoker, looks tad more sturdy and beefier than the ProQ. Only concern is how to clean this thing after use as I can't see any outlet. Would I have to gernie the thing after each use.

Direct vs indirect (offset), which would give you a better result? And I'd have thought because the Hark better at retaining heat as it's thicker, so youd spend less time to tend the fire/charcoal.

$600 vs $800 ..... Tough choice

As for flavour whats the norm in term of wood to use in these.

Thanks all


Davo
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Re: ProQ vs Hark Trip Fire

Post by Davo » Wed Nov 25, 2015 1:47 pm

Firstly Hi & Welcome Cedricculio,

A Pro Q and WSM (Weber Smoky Mountain) are both bullet style smokers, the ProQ is the newer brand of the 2 however I feel that the metal on the Weber much better and so is the quality of the enamel but both serve the same purpose. The Weber is a bit dearer than the ProQ and it's diameter is not quite as wide as the larger.
The Weber is 18.5 inch at around and they have a 22.5 inch available too....the proQ has a 18 and 20 inch model available.

They are both Water Smokers.....they both have 2 levels of food grate..one under the other but Pro-Q have extra levels that can be added by just fitting an option middle section...you gotta be careful not making it too tall though.

The Water Pan is so to load water for a few reasons, the main one is to act as a food sink...as the temps of boiling water is 212F or 100C, it keeps the chamber's core temp steady for low n slow cooking and the water needs to be replenished around every 3-4 hours.
It also acts as a smoke carrier....smoke mixed with steam from the water enables the smoke to be carried further into the meat creating the awesome smoke ring every BBQer looks for. And water helps to add a bit of humidity into the chamber to keep foods from drying out.

Never put sand in the water pan for a heat sink coz with all the juices and fats that drip in will turn that sand into cement and will be stuck inside your pan.

Many guys in the US like just to wrap their pan with heavy duty foil with the inside wrapping having a droop that doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl..reason for this is to catch juices and not getting them to burn due to the buffer between the foil bowl and the bowl underneath...some like to place a clay saucer in the bowl to act as a heat sink but I like using water...that's what they are designed for and they do a great job.

Apart from checking water every 3-4 hours, the ProQ's and WSMs usually hold temps for hours and hours without adding more coals if they use the Minion burn down method. I've gotten 15 hours out of 1 load of coals using this method till they were all exhausted and the cooker temp didn't fluctuate until the last hour.

If you look after them, esp. the Weber WSM it will outlast you and won't rust but I can't say the same yet for the ProQ.....I'd say it'd have a long life if not scratched around whereas the WSM is porcelain enamel.

As for the Hark Tri-fire....these are a good entry level offset smoker, the guys who use them love them...I've had little to no experience with offsets but they tend to give a much drier cook from the morsels I've eaten from them, they take some learning how to stablise, they work best with a baffle plate that can be had from Hark, and need attention coz they can rust reasonably quick if out in the open in all weathers. If you're near the beach or lakes, I probably wouldn't go this way.......but others will chime in to give you other comparisons.

I myself have an older 18.5 inch diameter WSM and have had it for 10 years now and no sign of rust or fatigue....I love it!!

I guess it depends on how much meat you have to cook but mine will do about 6 slabs of ribs on the top and 2 pork scotch fillet roasts on the bottom rack with no problem. I've personally neve ran out of room on the 18.5 inch but i'd love to get the 22.5 inch version.....a big difference in those 4 inches of diameter.

Cheers

Davo
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Cedricculio
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Re: ProQ vs Hark Trip Fire

Post by Cedricculio » Wed Nov 25, 2015 6:36 pm

Wow Davo .... Thank you so much for such an informative feedback. Never knew the Weber comes in a bigger diameter so will definitely have a look.

Based on what you said Weber prob the one to go for .... Great help Dave ... Thanks mate

yakabot
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Post by yakabot » Wed Nov 25, 2015 7:58 pm

An excellent reply Davo.

GarthFader
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Re: ProQ vs Hark Trip Fire

Post by GarthFader » Thu Nov 26, 2015 12:09 pm

Davo wrote:As for the Hark Tri-fire....these are a good entry level offset smoker, the guys who use them love them...I've had little to no experience with offsets but they tend to give a much drier cook from the morsels I've eaten from them, they take some learning how to stablise, they work best with a baffle plate that can be had from Hark, and need attention coz they can rust reasonably quick if out in the open in all weathers. If you're near the beach or lakes, I probably wouldn't go this way.......but others will chime in to give you other comparisons.
I can vouch for the rust issue with the Hark, I was living in the SE suburbs of Melbourne and had mine outdoors but covered when not in use, no rust issues for just over 12 months, then when I moved bayside (200m from the bay), the hinges on the firebox started to seize, even with oiling pre/post cook... in the end I had to take to the hinges with a grinder to cut a slot in them that I could pry open and allow the door/lid to move freely again.

If I had the garage space available and could have kept it indoors when not in use I don't think there would have been a problem though.

SilentBoB
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Re: ProQ vs Hark Trip Fire

Post by SilentBoB » Thu Nov 26, 2015 3:11 pm

Can't speak on the bullet smokers as I've never used one but I'm a happy evil stickburner.

Haven't had a problem with dry meat from the Hark, although I do cook with a water pan as well. As far as hoping the thicker metal will mean less playing with fire, the offset might not be what you are after.

They are great fun but require constant attention. You generally have to feed it a bit of wood every hour or so, other than that they are pretty good at maintaining temps though. I've got some time off work coming up so might attempt an overnight brisket but I also have an eye on a Kamado for overnight cooks.

As for cleaning, I keep some tinfoil lined on the bottom that I replace every few cooks and I make sure to sweep out the firebox the next day after every cook. You can also put a tray under anything you are cooking to catch all that meaty goodness that drips out (why clean it when you can eat it? :P ). Don't find it to be too high maintenance to keep clean.

There's also plenty of meat real estate in the Hark, you won't have to worry too much about fitting everything in, but it's worth remembering that it's going to be hotter towards the firebox so plan your cook appropriately or rotate your meat.

They really are two different kind of BBQs though so it's really about figuring out which one would best suit your needs... or make the decision easier by getting both :lol:

MadDocker
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Re: ProQ vs Hark Trip Fire

Post by MadDocker » Thu Nov 26, 2015 3:50 pm

I had a very similar discussion to your post with a guy in a Cannington BBQ shop a week or so ago SilentBob. You by any chance?

SilentBoB
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Re: ProQ vs Hark Trip Fire

Post by SilentBoB » Thu Nov 26, 2015 4:01 pm

Nope, not me :shock:

MadDocker
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Re: ProQ vs Hark Trip Fire

Post by MadDocker » Thu Nov 26, 2015 4:35 pm

Crazy. Same method, same tinfoil in the bottom, same everything.

You have a Hark Tri Fire doppelganger out there.

Cedricculio
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Re: ProQ vs Hark Trip Fire

Post by Cedricculio » Thu Nov 26, 2015 4:45 pm

Probably settle for a 18.5 inch WSM for now ... Larger size is ridiculously expensive considering it's only $400 USD in the states.... Even with low exchange rates, It'd be worthwhile to import one but can't find anyone shipping them to our shores.

Will have a look at a BBQ place in St.Leonard's tomorrow and decide then but the WSM does look good online.

Thanks guys ... Great help

Davo
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Re: ProQ vs Hark Trip Fire

Post by Davo » Thu Nov 26, 2015 5:09 pm

Unless you're feeding an army, the 47cm (18.5) is a great size for the backyard cook....
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