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Oklahoma Joe Bronco Drum Lighting

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    Oklahoma Joe Bronco Drum Lighting

    A buddy of mine picked up a Bronco for a steal of deal... $134 closeout, including a supply of KBB and was pre-assembled.

    Says he's having a hard time keeping temp up for any length of time with the OKJ's recommended lighting method. So I figured it's time to turn to the Bronco experts here (looking at you, FishTalesNC , Uncle Bob , Jerod Broussard et al...)

    I've shared fzxdoc 's 15-10-10 PBC method with him, but have y'all figured out another go-to technique for the Bronco? And what's the preferred fuel?

    I also read about the early run models with the issue of the intake tube pieces not fitting together neatly, and I don't know if his has that problem, or even if it is really a problem to worry about, but appreciate any advice.


    @BourBonQ I'm not sure what is meant by "any length of time", if you're talking a relatively short period like one or two hours then something is malfunctioning or not being done correctly. That said, I haven't done any what I would consider long cooks like 10ish hours yet. I've done 400 degrees for 2+ hours, and 275ish for 4 hours and various in-between and have always been fairly steady maintenance of temp and had fuel left when done. I only use lump just because that's what I like, no technical fire management reason. I have seen a slight amount of variance a time or two with the lump when, to my eye, the gap from one chunk to another was "wide" enough that it may have slowed the progression of fire from one chunk to another (my best guess anyway) but it would recover in short order. If he's got sufficient fuel then it's an air or arrangement issue most likely. Typically, once the intake and exhaust flaps are set for a desired temp that sustains for 5-10 minutes it will continue to cruise at or near that temp for as long as fuel quantity allows. I'd start with making sure the intake is clear and connected correctly. The exhaust is short so a quick visual will confirm it's clear. The ash pan support ring has holes to allow airflow from the bottom center intake port (make sure that's clear as well) to circulate around the ash pan and then to the fuel basket atop that (a three piece stack; ring, pan, basket) Set up correctly the feed air gets to the fuel easily. When I light my lump I typically do a minion method with the chimney lit starter pile dumped roughly in the middle and let it burn outward in the basket. OKJ has more than one way to light fuel (briquettes their choice) in their videos and for longer cooks (say 10ish hours) I will use a similar method with the lump starting the fire on one edge with starter cube and let it progress across the basket from there. Let us know what you find out.


    • BourBonQ
      BourBonQ commented
      Editing a comment
      Yep, gettting an hour or two, them temps falling off, out of cooking range, using KBB and spreading a lit chimney of coals on top of a layer of unlit coals in the basket. Not sure of quantity in chimney or the basket. I've pointed him to the alternate lighting methods shown on OKJ's website, and have instructed him on the tried and true 15-10-10 PBC method.

      Thanks for the input.

    Something is amiss, whether its his lighting process, the pre-assembly (potential issues Uncle Bob has already mentioned), or possibly the fuel itself. I've used KBB on all but one cook so far, and used Weber briquettes on the other one. I've done chickens for a couple of hours at 350+ and had no issues, and done a couple of longer pork butt cooks and I have yet to run out of fuel. In fact - not even close.

    One easy "fix" to try would be to simply get a new fresh bag of KBB. The "supply of KBB" that came with his purchase could very well be suspect.

    Outside of that, I'll just share my lighting method(s). I've toyed with a few things, but haven't seen a need to try the PBC method yet. In fact, based on my experience so far, I think that might be overkill for the Bronco. This is kind of what I'm settling into that works well for me...
    1. Fill up the charcoal basket. I overload it if I'm planning on a 6+ hour cook.
    2. I put my fire starters in place in the basket next. 2 of them if I'm doing chicken (one on each "half") since I want higher temps, and only 1 for anything else. I've tried placing the 1 in the middle, and it works just fine but I do think it burns faster than placing it on the edge as OKJ suggests. I try to bury the fire starters a bit.
    3. As Uncle Bob said, get the ring and pan in first, reasonably centered, then I set the basket on top of those. I do NOT put the diffuser in place yet.
    4. I open both vents 100% (critical since I'm lighting it inside the Bronco - forgot once and it had a huge impact even with the lid up), then light the fire starter(s), and I leave the lid up and let it roll for 30 min.
    5. I check it after 30 min, and its always ready to go at that point, even with the slower lighting Weber briquettes.
    6. I put the diffuser in place, close the lid, and close down the vents a bit depending on what temp I'm shooting for.
    7. I let it preheat like this for 15-30 min, whatever it takes or whatever I need while I'm finishing prep.
    Thats all I've had to do, it really has been easy to work with. If pics help, I have a couple in this thread of the basket pre-lighting and of my vent settings during the cook - it was 5+ hours at 285F and I had fuel left. There's more pics of when I initially seasoned it in this thread that may help as well.

    Hope that helps... curious if he gets it figured out. Let me know if any other pics would help, I'm doing a chicken this weekend and a pork butt the following weekend. Lemme know!


    • BourBonQ
      BourBonQ commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for all the great info!


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