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Bandera Discussion Thread

terryd

Fire Starter
46
16
Joined Jun 24, 2010
Hey folks. I picked up a OK Joe's version Bandera a few months ago and have been tinkering with it some, trying to get a good handle on its operation.

As we all do, first and foremost I ran it as I got it (used BTW) and had some decent luck with it. This was a Pepper Palace Music City rubbed picnic shoulder with apple and mesquite chunk in a roughly 2:1 ratio. My personal favorite pork smoke.

20200904_144123.jpg


It turned out pretty good! I'm not new to smoking, but trying to continually improve at it.

I've been focusing on learning to control my fire better. Namely the size of it to control temperature rather than relying on the dampers as much.

But, next I wanted to fix some issues with the doors. The firebox door didn't close well at all. It hung low and the latch didn't contact the striker very well.

I pulled the handle and put two 7/16 (1/2" hole) washers between the latch's welded on washer and the door to push it up against the firebox tighter.


20200921_092328.jpg


This had the desired effect, closing the gap at the top considerably. I also had to pry up on the door to bend the door side hinges so that it closed the gap even more. What you see in this picture is the result and worked perfectly on the trial cook yesterday.

I also added a washer to the smoke box door. It is still loose enough to allow my temperature probes through without pinching them but closes much more securely than before and did a much better job holding in the heat and smoke.

20200921_092332.jpg


Lastly, the fire grate. I'm not sure who decided to put the fire grate INSIDE the ash pan, but they have apparently never had to manage a 6-10hr+ smoke with charcoal briquettes.

I hit up the couple hardware stores that were open yesterday but couldn't find any expanded metal in the size I needed. So for a test run, I flipped the factory grate upside down and bolted it to two pieces of 1" x 1" x 1/8" angle iron. I cut out the last 3/4" of the web that would hang down so it would sit flat on the lowest cooking grate brackets.

That left me with a large opening near the door. I had a tuning plate laying around from my old American Gourmet (God rest is soul) and it happened to fit perfectly between the newly raised grate and the door.

20200920_163003.jpg


20200920_163000.jpg


So with all that done, it was time to play with fire control. I set my probes up on the 4 grates in the smoker box, and fired off a full chimney of briquettes.

Once it was hot and clean burning, I began adjusting coal amounts to get my temperature where I wanted it. For 3+hrs, I ran it smoothly and even tossed on some burgers and hotdogs so I could claim i was "fixing supper" rather than "screwing around in the yard drunk again" as I'm often accused. (LOL)

Anyways, that's my story. If anyone has any other ideas or mods for these things, post them up! I'm looking at this thing being the last smoker I ever need with any luck.

PS: I will be building a more permanent version of the fire grate once I can source materials. But I don't envision any drastic changes to its overall design as it worked exactly like I'd hoped.
 

BandCollector

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
1,963
648
Joined Feb 4, 2009
Looks like you scored a good piece of equipment and your adjustments seem to have done the trick.

Good luck with your new toy. And by the way, I have been accused on several occasions of "screwing around in the yard drunk" Usually when I am smoking or grilling something for supper. Can't quite figure why there is anything wrong with that. . .LOL!

John
 

JLeonard

Master of the Pit
1,200
767
Joined Apr 17, 2020
Once it was hot and clean burning, I began adjusting coal amounts to get my temperature where I wanted it. For 3+hrs, I ran it smoothly and even tossed on some burgers and hotdogs so I could claim i was "fixing supper" rather than "screwing around in the yard drunk again" as I'm often accused. (LOL)
That is usually my excuse also.
Jim
 

terryd

Fire Starter
46
16
Joined Jun 24, 2010
And by the way, I have been accused on several occasions of "screwing around in the yard drunk" Usually when I am smoking or grilling something for supper. Can't quite figure why there is anything wrong with that. . .LOL!

John
That is usually my excuse also.
Jim
The wife is usually ok with it. She knows I'm not chasing skirts in a bar, I'm perfecting my craft and helping take some load off of her now that she is working again. :emoji_thumbsup::emoji_sunglasses:
 

JLeonard

Master of the Pit
1,200
767
Joined Apr 17, 2020
terryd terryd My wife is the same way. She is always asking "what can you cook this weekend." I love cooking and it has a side benefit of giving her some time off. And I try to cook as much of the meal as possible on the smoker.
Jim
 

jcam222

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
4,136
3,350
Joined Jun 13, 2017
Smokers are the one thing my wife doesn’t seem to complain about if I add to the collection. I already have her teed up to the fact I am adding a big Lang or similar soon when a good deal pops up.
 

JWFokker

Smoking Fanatic
306
103
Joined Mar 5, 2019
I recommend running lump and small splits/big chunks and get used to tending the fire frequently. The Bandera is a stick burner, but burning all wood can be tricky because you don't need a big fire. A good compromise is 50% lump/50% wood. Open the intake and exhaust completely and just keep adding fuel as needed.
 

terryd

Fire Starter
46
16
Joined Jun 24, 2010
I recommend running lump and small splits/big chunks and get used to tending the fire frequently. The Bandera is a stick burner, but burning all wood can be tricky because you don't need a big fire. A good compromise is 50% lump/50% wood. Open the intake and exhaust completely and just keep adding fuel as needed.
I'm afraid with the rise of the griddle and pellet smokers, the only local source for charcoal (Mal-mart) has opted to only carry Kingsford briquettes and I don't have a source for wood locally.

I have to buy bags of Oak, Mesquite and Apply chunks as I find them instead and rely on Kingsford for the majority of the heat.

I've used Red Oak lump in the past when Wal-Mart was selling wood and charcoal smokers but since they are currently out of fashion, I'm out of luck.
 

terryd

Fire Starter
46
16
Joined Jun 24, 2010
Continuing this topic: What order should I put different meats and cuts in?

If I wanted to do a couple pork loins, some ribs and a brisket together, what order should they go on in? I'm thinking the loins on the bottom, the ribs above that and the brisket on top.

I would think the rendered beef fat would be good for the pork (like basting or moping) but the seasoned (rub or glaze) drippings from the pork would ruin the flavor I'm wanting from my brisket.

Or should I skip the whole thing and just do one meat at a time?
 

JWFokker

Smoking Fanatic
306
103
Joined Mar 5, 2019
That's a good plan. Brisket will benefit from running hot and the pork loins will benefit from being at the coolest part of the cook chamber. The brisket fat may not render much at all before you take the pork out anyway, but put the pork on top and your brisket rub will get washed off by drippings before it has formed into bark.
 

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