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Rusty offset smoker restoration

QProject

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Finally got a new/used smoker after having started out years ago on a weber bullet type smoker and most recently relying on a mini weber charcoal grill. I carefully kept up on the mini but it was less than efficient too say the least. The bullet got rusty and messy and I got tired of dealing with the operation of this type. It was a pain in the butt but it was free.

I came upon what appears to be a dated Oklahoma Joe or similar but appears bigger than the Longhorn. Measures 19.5x40 and the firebox is big at 19.5x20 totaling 1170 sq inches of cooking space. This sucker hasnt been maintained at all but I paid $100 cash and think it was a good deal.

Today I set out to begin restoring it and went at it with an angle grinder with a large wire wheel. Took alot of rust off but there is some pitting on the warming plate above the firebox. The inside was not maintained and while the cooking chamber is just rusty at the bottom, the bottom of the fire box is flaking quite a bit. Any recommendations on the firebox? I am worried about rust between the cooking chamber and the firebox and am thinking about grinding off the bolts, restoring both chambers separately and then re assembling them with new hardware??

I am planning to remove the rust from the inside and outside with the grinder. I was going to wipe it down with acetone or alcohol and prime it with a couple coats of 2000 degree primer and follow up with some rustoleum 1200 degree flat black. I was going to use oil on the inside. Should I use oil on top of the new paint to keep it from peeling or just keep it clean and dry?

I appreciate any recommendations or suggestions! Thanks!
QProject
 

mike243

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Welcome Home, they host pictures here so it's super easy to post them, post some pictures to help folks see what your dealing with
 

JLeonard

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Welcome to the forums from Mississippi. Lots of info to be gleaned here.
Jim
 

Cole Leffert

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I would take the time to separate the cook chamber and firebox. Grind it all down to bare metal. Paint the outside with high temp paint and oil only on the inside. You will not need oil on the outside. If you do not get the hidden rust now it will cause problems sooner than later. Good luck and have fun!
 

SmokinAl

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We all want to see photo’s of this restoration!
Please document it for us. It sounds like a great project!
Al
 

QProject

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How about pb blaster on the firebox nuts? If I'm still going to grind and clean will that be ok or should it avoid spraying inside? Not sure how hard they might be but will check this afternoon and get more pics.

Alcohol or acetone to prep? I'm not moving forward on that until you all think I've got enough rust removed. I'm so excited to get back in the smoke ring again! Second pic you can see some of the work I did already the outside is way better I'll update later today!
Thanks y'all!

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QProject

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Any suggestions for really cleaning the rust off the inside other than the wire wheel? I had one of those black sponge wheels but it didn't last more than a few minutes
 

Cole Leffert

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Sanding disks for an angle grinder work amazing! The more bare metal you get down to the better off you will be.
 

QProject

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Sanding disks for an angle grinder work amazing! The more bare metal you get down to the better off you will be.
I think I'm going to grab a couple more discs for the inside. Going to get back at it this afternoon.

Oh what about the spots where the grinder won't fit like between the leg supports?
 

HalfSmoked

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Great fine and a work restoration. There will be a lot of help from the guys on here.

Welcome to the forum.

Warren
 

Cole Leffert

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I think I'm going to grab a couple more discs for the inside. Going to get back at it this afternoon.

Oh what about the spots where the grinder won't fit like between the leg supports?
Most hardware stores or automotive stores carry rust stopper or rust neutralizer. It is a liquid you put on rust to stop the rust. You could use that in the spots you can't get to. If you use it inside the cook chamber or firebox, I would make sure to clean it out good with some alcohol and then run a hot fire in there after you have it all back together to burn any chemicals out before cooking. It would probably be safer just to not, use it in the inside.
 

QProject

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Most hardware stores or automotive stores carry rust stopper or rust neutralizer. It is a liquid you put on rust to stop the rust. You could use that in the spots you can't get to. If you use it inside the cook chamber or firebox, I would make sure to clean it out good with some alcohol and then run a hot fire in there after you have it all back together to burn any chemicals out before cooking. It would probably be safer just to not, use it in the inside.
You mean naval jelly?

I have a rust-oleum rust stopper spray but not going to use that stuff inside.

Thanks
 

bill1

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Call mine a minority opinion, but I'd go easy on it, esp the firebox. Phosphoric acid based rust removers work great but I think you'll be disappointed in the swiss cheese you're left with. If this was sheet metal in a car, absolutely, go to town, you can Bondo it afterwards. But that won't work here--you need strength at high temp.

You want it completely dry first thing. If it seems the moisture is deep into the rust, move it into the garage and put a couple of 60-100W incandescent light bulbs into the fire box and chamber to dry it out for a couple days. (I use LEDs for actual droplight usage but save those old-timey fixtures for heating/drying/curing jobs like this.) Then lightly sand the outside surfaces and paint. Consider some variety in sheens or even color to make an artistic expression. (Waxing your car makes it run better too.) That's it for the outside. Then start applying cooking oil on the inside. After a few coats, start wiping with a rag, not even a wire brush. Some major rust chunks may come off. Shed a tear, throw them out, and continue coating. Then try low-temp cure with the heat lamps. While still warm, wipe again to get the bulk of the oil off. Heat a chimney of coals and distribute throughout the firebox and chamber and do a medium cure. Don't use Kingsford or you'll have a bunch of ash to deal with. At this point you can start spraying the inside with the cooking oils in the can, it's much easier, after each "cook". Then proceed to a high temp cure, basically building the hottest fire in the firebox you intend to make. Note your should have a grate for the fuel to rest on, not on the very bottom. If your outer paint bubbles, sand and touchup later. Consider hi-temp paint, but it won't buy you much. Then you're ready for a meal.

Never hurts to start with chicken or hot dogs, just in case the meat has an unpleasant flavor, but it's not likely.

This is not the recipe for some picture-perfect smoker, but I think it's your best low-cost bet to get years of usage from a bargain throwaway.
 

pignit

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Might try one of those hand held sand blaster guns if you have an air compressor. Those things do a great job and you have way more control of what you're taking off than with a grinder.
 

QProject

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Might try one of those hand held sand blaster guns if you have an air compressor. Those things do a great job and you have way more control of what you're taking off than with a grinder.
I thought about that but not sure it would get the job done.
 

QProject

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Had some good fortune! The bolts came right off with a wrench!

Got most of the outside with the steel wheel. The legs are a mess and I'm willing to bet the bolts for the wheels are just as loose.
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I'm gonna think on how to go about the inside tonight I might try something less powerful like a chucked steel wheel in a screw gun. It seems like to much rust to simply heat up oil and be done so I want to try and get as much off before trying that. I think I'll want to prime and paint before involving any oil so I don't mess up the paint prep with it

How about cleaning the outside before priming? Acetone or alcohol?

I'm actually amazed at the improvement so far and can't wait to have this bad boy fired up blowin smoke!!!
Thanks
 

pignit

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I thought about that but not sure it would get the job done.
I've used them for old car parts and they worked amazing. If you take your time with it you can probably get the rust off without eating into metal. It can get into the crooks and crannies too.
 

bill1

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...It seems like to much rust to simply heat up oil and be done so I want to try and get as much off before trying that...
Agreed that once you start oiling you're somewhat committed to that approach. The parts you've cleaned so far look strong and better for it. And you seem a competent fellow who values discretion being the better part of valor. Of course the lower parts will be weakest but you've got my blessing/support to "go to town" on the top and outward-facing parts and to use your best judgment on the rest.
Good luck.
 

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