Archive for the ‘FYI’ Category

Catching up with team news


It’s been a while since I’ve posted any news, including our two competitions this year.


The Lawrence Sertoma showing was not our best. Our main smoker, Hooter, stopped working right before we wanted to start smoking our pork butts. I brought the newly refurbished Knucklehead to smoke my briskets (Knucklehead gives the meat a top notch smoke ring) and also Hoss as an extra smoker since we were participating in the People’s Choice of the competition. Ultimately we were able to MacGruber Hoss to handle double duty for the competition and People’s Choice.

Sertoma has a great way to raise funds and let people pay to eat competition quality barbecue were normally you can’t eat at a barbecue event, unless you personally know a team. Sertoma provides the meat for People’s Choice (which is donated from local businesses) which teams smoke and enter to be judged by anyone who pays to eat it. The money raised from the People’s Choice went toward the Sertoma-Schiefelbusch Communication Camp so we were more than happy to participate.

Hoss was going to be used solely for smoking the meat for People’s Choice. Luckily we were able fit all of the meat on my two smokers, but just barely. We had a very hard time keeping the smoker temps normal because of two factors: the smokers will literally filled with meat during the first part of the smoking process and the winds were VERY active from 2am to 6am. We had to keep adjusting the fire box to manage the air intake. Anyone familiar with smoking will discuss the advantages of keeping a constant temperature throughout your smoking process. It is the keystone of a successful smoke.

Lawrence was a learning experience to say the least. I’m proud we had meat that reached the internal temperatures we wanted and we were able to submit meat for both competition and people’s choice.

Buy me a beer and I’ll spin you a yarn about high winds, low temps, and flying tents.

Cure` of Ars’

We came in 7th overall in Cure` of Ars’ Holy Smokes competition, which was a relief after Lawrence. We did not get any awards but finished high in every category, even though we are tinkering with some recipes. My brisket is finally starting to make some head way. It’s been good the last few years but hasn’t fared well in comps. Now it is getting close to being a contender. We tried to change up the flavor of our pork but it’s a little outside the “Kansas City” flavor for judges. Ribs are a mystery this season. We usually do well with ribs but we may be behind the judge’s tasting curve now and need to make some changes to keep up.


We are in the working part of our schedule, where we don’t compete; we cater to make up some of the cost for our expensive hobby. People throw large parties in the summer and we like to smoke. It’s a perfect match.

This has been a year in which we are getting close to making some signature barbecue. Our rubs and sauces are reaching maturity after three years of continual improvements. I feel we are close to reaping some rewards for all our hard work.

Happy competing,



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The Lawrence Sertoma 48 is this weekend and we are preparing our smokers and our gear. Some of the new preparations are on our Contest page where we’ve added the KCBS Rules for 2009 and a BBQ Log I created to track smoking successes and failures, in addition to the BBQ Supply List already found on the page.

I also added new temp gauges for two of my smokers, Hoss and Knucklehead. I just refurbished Knucklehead, an Oklahoma Joe Longhorn. The original gauge no longer worked so I bought a nice Tel-Tru 3″ Day Glow face with a 4″ stem. Here’s a picture of the gauge on the smoker:


I smoked two brisket flats and some food for a neighbor on Knucklehead last weekend. I got to know the smoker very well while smoking for over 20 hours. I learned how hot I can consistently get the smoker temp, how to nurse my charcoal, and the location of the hot spots. Unfortunately, like a lot of horizontal smokers, the gauge is too high on the smoke chamber to accurately tell the temperature at the cooking level. The hot air rises in the smoke chamber and the gauge registers the temperature at the top of the smoke chamber, not the middle where I cook my food. After cooking this weekend, I used another gauge (skewered through a small potato) to determine the new gauge temp is 15-20 degrees higher than the temp at cooking level. I should be cooking around 275 on the gauge and it will be around 250 at grate level.

I also gave Hoss an update. I used my Dad’s grinder again and used more Very High Temp Paint to make Hoss look uniformly flat black. Also, the gauge for Hoss was pretty ugly and blackened due to a grease fire way back in the beginning of Hoss’ life. So I removed the gauge and added a cheaper Tel Tru I had on an older smoker I don’t use very often. I had to use bolts and washers to cover holes left by the old gauge. Here are some updated pictures of Hoss:


We are gathering our gear this week and are extremely excited about the coming event. We hope to see you there!

Happy competing!


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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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Bacon Explosion


The Bacon Explosion was brought to my attention by Mike, who will be creating this little death bringer for a Superbowl Par-tay.


Mike and his wonderful wife, Elizabeth, are the bloggers for Capital Spice. If you haven’t checked out their blog, I suggest you hop on over. They will also be smoking a Turducken for the Par-tay! A Turducken people!

Happy partying!


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