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Char-Broil Oklahoma Joe's Bandera Smoker and Grill
|Price:||$496.23 & FREE Shipping|
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- 254 sq. In; Primary cooking surface in grill chamber
- 738 sq; In; Primary cooking surface in smoker chamber
- 992 sq; In; Total cooking surface
- 4 adjustable cooking grates
- Rib rack set and two meat hanging hooks
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Finally the smoker you have been waiting for is back again. The Bandera smoker is the Oklahoma Joe Smoker that started it all. Made of heavy gauge steel with multiple dampers for heat control, the Bandera turns anyone into a barbeque professional. 744 sq. in. of cooking area in the main chamber, with included rib racks and meat hooks allows you to slow cook big cuts of meat to perfection.
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I painted my new smoker with Chrysler Industrial Red paint before I assembled it. It made it look *fancy* and with some luck it will help it not rust. The painting and assembly took far longer than expected but its worth it.
Some things I don't necessarily like about the smoker:
It comes packed with a cosmoline type substance in the smoke box. The foam packing sticks to it and its not that easy to get out of there. Hundreds of tiny white foam balls stuck in a thick sticky goo.
The racks have brackets that run on either side of the smoke box. Its good because it give a lot of options and space to put new racks. Its bad because the latch for the handle interferes with a few slots rendering them all but pointless. I scraped up a rack finding this out the hard way. It bound up and I had to force it open chipping the ceramic off a grate. My fault but I wanted to verify that all slots were usable. they are not.
I think it has some questionable engineering involved. The assembly isn't exactly difficult but going solo its difficult to reach some of the bolts. The firebox would have been better served to have been *just* a firebox and not double as a grill. I had difficulty bringing the smoker up to temp, 225...and when I did the finish on the firebox began to blacken. It uses a lot of fuel. I have been using a pair of Weber coal baskets for the kettle grill and it helps a lot. I am tempted to buy "fire wood" rather than trying to use charcoal to fuel it.
I need to seal it with high temp silicon that I have and used during assembly, but it leaks around the door and firebox lid. I need the gasket tape.
The air vent does NOT seal it shut and will suck air even when closed. That means any fuel in your box will burn and there is no way to put it out.
The smoke vent on the chimney isn't that great. Even closed off, it leaks.
Don't let the complaints discourage you. It's still a really nice smoker and like any smoker it has it's quirks and features.
I have been making jerky in it. 3 pounds of beef sliced really thin I run out of room quickly on the few provided racks. I bought stainless hooks and that helps a great deal but I have come to realize that I need more hooks and probably need a better system of hanging the jerky. I think I can do 6 pounds of jerky at a time once I get the space configured properly. (If you don't have any friends start making 12 pounds of jerky over a weekend and suddenly you'll have all kinds of friends. lol)
The conclusion I have come to is that this smoker is FAR from perfect. It's inefficient and uses a lot of fuel with a lot of waste. It leaks like crazy and is hard to bring up to 250. Once you learn it and work around its quirks I think you can pull some amazing food out of it. If you can get a deal on it (closer to 200 than 500) don't hesitate. If you can't get a steal you can maybe find a better design that isn't so quirky.
Only con: this is a fuel hog. I reduced fuel and increased burn times with a charcoal basket that contains better and raises the charcoal higher than the stock grate for better airflow. I also went away from briquettes and moved to lump charcoal and hardwood which further reduced the ash buildup and burned longer. I only use briquettes for starting now.
I have attached a few photos of the old original that I am now retiring and the new replacement from Charbroil (Called Oklahoma Joe's Bandera). And as you can see, not much has changed. The dimensions are identical. The new iron wheels look a bit more rustic, and there are fewer welds and more bolts (so shipping is easier and assembly is a bit more challenging) but it is basically the very same model designed by New Braunfels almost twenty years ago. My faithful old guy has a fire box rusted through in so many spots that I just couldn't hold it together any longer, but this new model is a worthy successor.
Regarding "modifications" ... none are required. If modifying or personalizing your smoker is necessary, then adding a Texas flag is all that is needed. But smokers don't need air tight doors or the addition of fire bricks. And they certainly don't need any high temperature silicone ... anywhere. This one works just fine exactly as the engineers designed it.
As instructed in the paperwork, I sprayed a vegetable oil spray on the inside before I lit it for the first time in order to cure the inside, and after a couple of hours of burn in it was ready for service.
Yes, this thing is big, it's heavy, and it's a bit of a bother to assemble, but it is worth every bit of the effort because this new one turns out every bit of the fine BBQ that it's granddad has for many years.
Keep up the good work!!