Archive for April, 2009


Recently I was given an Oklahoma Joe smoker by Jess’ Dad, Gary, who no longer used it. Gary told me he hadn’t used it in ten years and it was taking up space behind his barn. He saw firsthand the mash up of a smoker I was using and gave me his nice but neglected smoker.

My smoker, nicknamed Hoss, is shown below and it’s the one on the right. It is a combination Walmart Char Griller and a Charbroil smoker. I was on a very limited budget at the time so I bought the Char Griller without the firebox. I removed the firebox from the Charbroil smoker, nicknamed Little Joe, which is on the left and bolted it to the Char Griller which is on the right. Little Joe had been around for about a year, but the cooking chamber was too small to compete with. I added a heat baffle to fix the air flow in Hoss’ smoke chamber since the smoke stack was on the same side as the firebox! I have been using Hoss for a good two years now. Hoss holds a lot of food, 580″ across two racks of cooking area, but the OK Joe will be a step up!


When Gary told me about the OK Joe smoker, he was upfront that it had been sitting unused for ten years. In fact, his wife, Alice, wanted to turn it into a flower garden. He had bought a Fast Eddy from Cookshack a little after he bought the OK Joe and used it to compete for a while. Our team now uses that Fast Eddy in competitions, which Jess nicknamed Hooter. So I guess you can say Gary has unknowingly helped outfit our team. Here’s what Hooter looks like.


Gary had pity on me and probably the OK Joe too (I think the flower garden plan forced his hand) so he brought it over so it could have a good home. Here’s what the OK Joe smoker looked like pre-furb:



Now as you can see, it is in pretty good condition, except for the rust. It will hold heat better as it’s got 1/4 inch steel instead of the 3/16 inch stuff I’m used to on Hoss and the firebox is welded to the smoke chamber on the OK Joe as opposed to the bolts on Hoss that let out a lot of heat.

The smoker is an original Oklahoma Joe Longhorn before the rights to manufacture the smoker were sold. Now the smoker is made by Horizon Smokers if you are interested.

I dabble in home repair (usually holding the flashlight for more mechanically inclined family members) and I’ve never taken this much rust off of anything. I didn’t know where to begin, so I did what any tech support person would do, I went looking for answers on the internet.

So after a little searching I found some avenues to pursue:  CLR and a wire brush, Krylon Rust ConverterNaval Jelly, and my Dad’s grinder.

I had CLR and a wire brush at home so I decided to give it a go. I spent a few hours working on it and I did not really remove much rust at all. I actually strained my shoulder while doing this, so I decided to go another route.

I was not familiar with rust removal products but the internet had some articles where they said chemicals were the way to go. I bought some Krylon Rust Converter at my local Westlake Ace Hardware, along with BBQ High Heat Paint. I sprayed the converter on the OK Joe and came back 24 hours later. It also did not do much to the rust. Some places where a little smoother, where the rust was trying to convert to primer, but overall I was disappointed.

I then went to the heavier chemical, Naval Jelly. Now, I did not use the chemicals inside the smoker. As disgusting as it sounds, the rendered animal fat creates a protective shield for the metal. A little vegetable oil and some paper towels cleared away the smoke and built up residue.  However, I did use Naval Jelly on the outside of the OK Joe. I applied the jelly to the entire area on the outside of the smoker and left it on longer than the recommended time, which is 5 to 10 minutes. I left it on for 20 minutes, using a hose to spray the jelly off, per the instructions. A little of the rust came off, but not a lot. I was not going to give up, so I did what anyone else should, I called a pro for advice. I called my Dad.

He suggested the grinder after listening to the failed attempts. I picked up the grinder from him and attacked the smoker. I took me an hour to remove all the rust. I was astounded!

After washing and drying the smoker, I applied the High Heat Paint. It’s a semi gloss black and while it looked like all the other smokers in the world, I though it lacked flair. So I decided to make an homage to my Dad and paint it like a Harley.

I bought Very High Temp Paint at a local auto parts store, orange and white to go with the black body. I also bought some steel lid handles to replace the wooden ones that had succumbed to the elements. I was able to make some racing strips using painter’s masking tape and some newspaper. Here’s the finished product!



I then added some vegetable oil and rub to the inside of the smoker to season it. I’ll be firing it up in the next day or so to burn off the excess paint fumes and then I’ll be smoking brisket this weekend!



Happy cooking!



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