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Oklahoma Joe Bronco - Initial Thoughts And Impressions

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  • jpietrantone
    Club Member
    • Jul 2020
    • 79
    • Georgetown, TN

    #16
    The Bronco definitely looks like an awesome cooker. I was between one of them and the 22 WSM when deciding which drum/bullet I wanted. It definitely seems like it's much more airtight. Beautiful cooks by the way!

    Comment

  • ProspectSmoker
    Club Member
    • Jun 2021
    • 8
    • Cottonwood AZ

    #17
    I'm close to pulling the trigger on a Bronco but still debating 2 issues. Maybe this group can help confuse me even more .
    At first I thought I narrowed my decision to a Weber Summit K but then I went through the AR reviews again and started researching the Bronco.
    I plan to use equally for smoking and grilling. When smoking I'm hoping for 12 hr controlled temps. When grilling I'm hoping for 2 zone capability with the ability to get a screaming hot sear zone.
    I think both these cookers will meet these needs but interested in the perspective of others.
    My 2nd issue is, if Bronco, Pro vs Std. I already have another 22" bullet smoker and thought I could share parts, ie grills, water pans, domed lid with the Bronco.
    I also want to assure enough grill real estate to fit large packer briskets
    Thoughts ?

    Comment


    • jfmorris
      jfmorris commented
      Editing a comment
      You are really looking at two radically different cookers. The Bronco is a great barrel smoker, and can hold a lot if you hang things on hooks. But at 18" diameter, its not got a very large grate for direct grilling, and would be limited in capacity for 2 zone or 1 zone grilling. And with the hinged drum style lid, which has a nice gasket on it, there is no need for trying to use a dome lid off a kettle. This is not a UDS made from a 55 gallon drum, where you are trying to rig a lid.

    • jfmorris
      jfmorris commented
      Editing a comment
      If your other 22" bullet smoker is a Weber Smokey Mountain, I am not sure what the OKJ Bronco buys you, since you can in fact buy a hanging kit for your WSM 22, which allows you to hang food on hooks, and you should already have two 22" cooking grates, versus one 18" cooking grate on the Bronco.

      Comparing the 18" Bronco, which is a great smoker, to the 24" Weber Kamado, is like comparing apples to watermelons. The 24" kamado will be much better for 2 zone grilling due to the space.

    • jfmorris
      jfmorris commented
      Editing a comment
      Plus the two cookers are at opposite ends of the spectrum. You are comparing a $299 cooker that is mostly intended as a smoker with grilling as a secondary function, to a kamado that costs $1049 or more, which is a totally different type of cooker.
  • Uncle Bob
    Club Member
    • Feb 2019
    • 607
    • Salado, Tx
    • Summerset TRL44 gas grill and side sear
      Weber Performer
      Cajun Grill Preaux
      EcoQue Gen 3 wood fired oven
      Camp Chef Somerset IV 4 burner propane stove
      Camp Chef FTG600
      OT QOMOTOP 23-inch Gas Griddle
      Oklahoma Joe's Bronco
      Oklahoma Joe's Bronco Pro
      Oklahoma Joe's Judge
      Oklahoma Joe's Rambler
      Golden's Cast Iron Grill
      Ooni Koda 16
      KJ Kettle Joe

    #18
    What Jim, jfmorris says is pretty spot on. I'll just add some tweaks to broaden the thinking process elements for you and others who might see this in the future. For reference, I have both the Bronco Pro and regular, have used a bullet smoker, but don't have first hand experience with the Weber Kamado/SCG.

    Based on your initial comments for roughly 50/50 expected cooking styles I'd think the Weber would be more suited primarily for it's versatility and grate size, plus the probable aftermarket supporting accessories that will develop over time (much as the kettle has enjoyed). That is, if it will hit your 12 hour smoking duration expectation, which I'm unfamiliar with. In similar fashion, the Bronco Pro has the better size for larger cooks, two grate levels, and the 22" format that makes it a good candidate for those Weber Kettle accessories to be used on it along with a wide variety of products offered for the UDS market. If you've looked at other of the Bronco posts on here you'll have seen where I've done a fair bit of grilling with two zone cooking and high sear capabilities on both the Pro and regular. As Jim mentioned, the lid and seals on either Bronco eliminate any need for the WSM lid, and the water pan wouldn't be of much use as the intake and exhaust controls do an outstanding job of temp control. And since they seal so well little moisture loss is significant. The only realistic purpose a pan would offer is in a multi chicken or pork butt situation where it could be an added control for excessive fat rendering.

    If your budget allows I'd suggest you consider both the Weber Kamado and one of the Broncos, and considering the grate space of the WK the regular Bronco might suffice fine. Then sell the WSM (which might nearly offset the regular Bronco purchase) since, IMO, the Bronco is a better drum smoker and more controllable temp wise.

    Comment

    • lbyer
      Club Member
      • May 2016
      • 80
      • Northshore of Chicago area

      #19
      Originally posted by Panhead John View Post
      As some of you already know, I recently purchased the OJB based on a recommendation from Uncle Bob . I was seriously looking at the PBC based on comments over time, from all the members here who have one. Everything I’ve seen here is nothing but glowing reports on the PBC and how much the owners like it. But as I mentioned before, I decided to go with the OJB instead....mainly for additional features not found on the PBC. I’ve only done 2 cooks on it so far, and not even hung any meat yet, my thoughts here today might be a little premature, so I’m only going to comment on what I’ve actually found from my experience so far. There are other reviews here on AR, as well as an excellent review from Jerod Broussard So if you’ve read theirs also, some of this will be repetitive.

      1. Packaging and Assembly

      All parts came well packaged and put together in one box, along with an owners manual and easy to follow instructions on assembly. The owners manual provided detailed info. on properly using and lighting the OJB. It also included a list of accessories available for the smoker. Total weight was approximately 137 lbs. There is definitely some heft to this thing. I was very surprised at how easy the assembly was for this product. I had it unboxed and completely assembled in a little less than an hour. Of all the products I’ve bought in my life which required assembly, this was probably the easiest of all I’ve done. The instruction guide was well done with just a little worded instructions, but the pictures were large and easy to follow without reading in most cases. Every part I needed was included, nothing was missing and there were no leftover parts....thank God! I hate it when there’s extra parts leftover, makes me wonder if I missed something. Kudos also to OJ for making the few stickers that were on any parts....easy as pie to remove! 👍 I hate it when Mfgrs. use Gorilla Glue for a 2 inch sticker😡

      2. After Assembly And Features of the OJB

      One of the best features of the OJB are its hinged lid with an already installed Kevlar lid gasket. Easy to pass temp probe cables under without crimping them. It also prevents any air leaks when closed. The lid and hinges come already assembled to the upper barrel. Another thing I liked is the well made and hard rubber handle for the lid. No chance of burning your hands. Mounted below is an included “near grate” thermometer. I couldn’t test it’s accuracy, as I had no digital grate probes with me. A huge plus, for me, was the addition of intake and exhaust dampers, allowing for excellent temperature management. They are indexed with settings from 1-4, allowing you to remember settings for future cooks. The dampers worked great...more on that later.

      Also included are 2 metal wagon wheels allowing for “ kinda easy” maneuvering. The included side shelf was a great addition also, as well as an opposite side handle to use when moving it around, or to hang the cooking grate, utensils etc. on. Centered at the bottom of the cooking chamber is a removable drainage cap attached to the bottom of the intake tube. This allows you to remove the cap and hose out the inside of the smoker, allowing all residue to empty from the barrel.

      Parts inside the barrel and used for cooking are...an ash pan which sits on a ring at the bottom, a charcoal basket with removable grate, a heat diffuser plate which sits below the cooking grate when smoking. The cooking grate and all parts below it are porcelain coated. Three notched meat hangers and 9 meat hooks are all stainless steel. The notches in the meat hangers and the round tab they go in allow the hangers to remain steady and not move around. Also included is a hook used for removing the charcoal basket and ash pan.

      3. Cooking On The OJB

      I did 2 burn ins on it because I had plenty of time before my first cook, and it also gave me a chance to play around with the temperature management. On my first seasoning I sprayed canola oil all over the inside of the barrel and all the inside parts used when cooking. A few people have reported minor air leaks or juices leaking out when cooking. I had NOT ONE single air leak on this thing. During 2 burn ins and 2 cooks, the only place smoke was coming out, was the top vent! One thing I did to help with this was I tightened “by hand” every single nut and bolt as hard as I could without risking a stripped thread. I also went over and made sure all the factory installed bolts were tight. There were several I found that I was able to tighten a little more. I only had a small drip in 2 different areas when cooking and during the canola oil burn in, maybe 3 or 4 drops total. This should seal up completely after a few more cooks.

      Talk about holding rock solid temps! I smoked a ham on the cooking grate Saturday. Going by the factory thermometer, I was able to hold a steady 225 for 3 hours straight, for the entire cook. Temps might have varied 5-10 degrees at the most! Those dampers do their job...and fairly quick too. In about 45 minutes after closing both dampers, the barrel was just a little bit warm to the touch and I was able to keep my hand there with no discomfort. During the burn ins I was also able to raise or lower temps in a fairly quick amount of time.
      I really liked having a diffuser plate to use with this. It helps to create more evenly spread heat within the barrel, and also gives you the flavor from juices hitting the hot plate and smoking. You also don’t risk a fatty piece of meat, such as chicken, from extinguishing your coals. The ham I cooked on it came out juicy, flavorful and with just the right smoke flavor, I used 3 hickory chunks during the cook.

      To try out the grilling features of the OJB, I started out with an easy cook, which was just burgers and hot dogs. In order to get the coals closer to the cooking grate, you simply turn the diffuser plate upside down, then set your charcoal basket on top of the diffuser plate. By turning the diffuser plate over, it raises the cooking level up a few inches. Doing burgers on the OJB was not life changing or anything, just a good solid grilling machine as well as a great little? smoker.

      I haven’t used this enough to give a really thorough review of its cooking prowess yet, but from my little bit of time with the OJB, I have no doubt I’m really going to like it. It’s also a lot of fun to use, and has a lot to offer.....from its versatility to its many useful features. After I’ve done a few sets of ribs and a brisket, by hanging, I’ll report back with more.

      EDIT: I forgot to mention, all this for only $299.! I used my Lowe’s Card for $15.00 (5%) off that price.
      I wonder if you could do me a favor and measure the height of the exhaust stack and the distance from the back of the wheels to the front of the legs. I have a narrow area to place it with a chain link fence and I want to make sure I can open the lid completely and not hit the fence. thanks

      Comment


      • Panhead John
        Panhead John commented
        Editing a comment
        lbyer The stack itself is 5” high from the lid, but the bolt and nut which the damper is attached to, adds one inch to that. It is exactly 23 1/2” from the back of the rear wheels to the front of the legs. Remember though, with the shelf attached it adds several inches to the overall width.
        Last edited by Panhead John; June 16, 2021, 07:36 AM.
    • Richard Chrz
      Club Member
      • Mar 2019
      • 1661
      • La Crosse, Wi

      #20
      Great write up! Looking forward to following along on your progression with it.

      Comment

      • Dalmore
        Club Member
        • Sep 2015
        • 62

        #21
        lbyer I took a couple of photos that might help you with your sizing question. As I measure it, you need a tad over 10 inches from the back of the hinge to the surface behind the Bronco in order to open the lid.

        Click image for larger version  Name:	IMG_20210611_195621.jpg Views:	0 Size:	3.02 MB ID:	1044182

        And with both shelf and handle in place, the Bronco is right at 36 inches wide.

        Click image for larger version  Name:	shelf width.jpg Views:	0 Size:	3.37 MB ID:	1044183

        Hope that helps!
        Last edited by Dalmore; June 11, 2021, 06:12 PM.

        Comment


        • lbyer
          lbyer commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks Dalmore! How about a measurement from the front of the wheel to that wall when is the lid is open. That's the one I really need.
          Last edited by lbyer; June 15, 2021, 09:04 PM.
      • droopie69
        Charter Member
        • May 2015
        • 188
        • Cordova, TN

        #22
        I wanted to get one of these for a while and did some online searching the other night. Ace Hardware had them on sale for $50 off and if you are an Ace Rewards member, another 10% off and free pickup in store or delivery. I am getting mine delivered next Sat for less than $300 including tax. It didn't include assembly but that shouldn't take much.

        Unfortunately, I don't even see the Bronco on Aces' website anymore. Maybe I got the best of them and they took it down! I am going to order the cover for it too. Can't wait to get it next Sat and do a Dad's day cook for myself Sunday!

        Comment


        • droopie69
          droopie69 commented
          Editing a comment
          Hey Uncle Bob you aren't kidding about steel. I work in for a manufacturing company and since September, steel has gone up over 400%! I am glad I finally decided to pull the trigger when I did. I read reviews here and online and decided this would be a good unit to be my first barrel smoker. I currently have a Weber kettle with the Slow N Sear. I can't wait to fire the Bronco up!

        • lbyer
          lbyer commented
          Editing a comment
          I ordered mine online from Walmart on 6/16 for $299.99 with free shipping. From the FEDEX tracking, it looks like it is being shipped directly from the factory in Georgia.

        • droopie69
          droopie69 commented
          Editing a comment
          I can't complain about getting it hand delivered by Ace Hardware for free, vs. paying shipping to have UPS deliver it. Ace put it in the garage, UPS probably would have dropped it (literally) in the driveway. I am about to go to work for a few hours, but I'll when I get home, I'll unbox and setup and do a seasoning burn and post up my thoughts. Probably doing a light cook tomorrow...just some balogna and hot dogs.
      • Dalmore
        Club Member
        • Sep 2015
        • 62

        #23
        lbyer I'd call it 36 inches. Might have a 1/2 inch or so to play with but that's a pretty tight margin of error.

        Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_20210616_050931.jpg
Views:	56
Size:	2.26 MB
ID:	1046174

        Comment


        • lbyer
          lbyer commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks Dalmore...

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