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Fan blower for the Bronco?

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    Fan blower for the Bronco?

    Hello all,

    Rookie smoker here, but longtime BBQ fan. I've been wanting a smoker for years and after doing a lot of research, including on this excellent site, finally last weekend I got what I wanted - brand new Bronco. I did my first ever cook yesterday (I've grilled for years but never ever smoked anything) - I hung 2 racks of STL cut pork ribs in the Bronco. That's a story for a separate thread I guess, but I'll say that despite a near disaster, I actually ended with some fine tasting ribs and my whole family was pleased with the results. Meathead, if you are reading this, your Memphis Dust and Lexington Mop sauce are the best!)

    Question: are you running a fan blower on your Bronco, and if so, which model and how well does it fit? I sent in a question today to Oklahoma Joe's support asking what brand/model is compatible, but thought I'd ask the true experts here.

    Thanks for any guidance or suggestions.

    Cheers,
    -yankee

    #2
    Welcome to the Pit from the California Delta. Can't help with your question though.

    Comment


    • yankee
      yankee commented
      Editing a comment
      No worries & thank you - and I love that graphic!

    #3
    Welcome to The Pit. I can't help with a Bronco either, but someone will be along shortly who can.

    Comment


    • yankee
      yankee commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks! The cavalry has arrived. The Pit is awesome.

    #4
    I will let someone else chime in on the compatibility of the Fireboard but BBQ Guru’s Pit Viper fan is compatible per their website. https://bbqguru.com/ . Very popular choice here as I understand it. Now whether you need a fan with the Bronco is a interesting question.

    Comment


    • yankee
      yankee commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks! I'm reading through BBQguru as we speak, excellent resource. (And it appears I passed right by their HQ on my way to get my Bronco last wknd.) Yep the Bronco seems to have a great reputation for maintaining temps over many hours. But I don't underestimate my ability to screw that up. :-)

    #5
    Salutations from Hays, Kansas! I can’t answer your question, but, I anticipate someone will be along shortly who can.

    Welcome!

    Comment


    • yankee
      yankee commented
      Editing a comment
      Glad to be here. Learning a ton already. Thx Sweaty Paul!

    #6
    Yep you can buy the BBQGuru fan and fitting for the Bronco separately from there controllers and then buy a Fireboard 2 controller when it comes out in a couple of days. It will cost you $63.99 for the fan and adapter. Just go to BBQguru.com then Fans and Adapters. Pick the Pit Viper fan and the Weber adapter.

    Then go to Fireboard and buy it and the Fireboard Fan Adapter cable. I think this is all you need. But please check with Fireboard to be sure or some one else on here will correct me.

    Comment


    • yankee
      yankee commented
      Editing a comment
      This is great info, thanks folks. Regarding the Pit Viper fan, I'll confirm that it's compatible with the Fireboard controller. I'm assuming the Pit Viper fan will work fine with the actual Fireboard adapter cable which I think is just a 12V setup. (Yep I saw that the new Fireboard won't need separate adapter.) Re: the Fireboard fan vs Pit Viper fan, good question - I'm wondering if it's more a matter of which adapter fits both the Bronco and the fan, but I'm wandering out of my league here!

    • mountainsmoker
      mountainsmoker commented
      Editing a comment
      zero_credit it is not the fan it is the fitting from the grill to the fan. BBQ Guru has developed several for different grill shapes, while Fireboard is flat and straight.

    • pkadare
      pkadare commented
      Editing a comment
      yankee - I received my Fireboard 2 Drive on Thursday and I can confirm that it will drive the Pit Viper fan, in fact, it will drive it at 100% with just the internal battery. I'm running a test right now to see how long it can drive the fan at 100% only on the battery. 4 hours and 10 minutes in and still going. The battery is definitely getting close to empty but then again, I'd never have to run the fan at 100% for this long. :-)

    #7
    FishTalesNC Uncle Bob Inquiring minds and all.

    I'm interested in anything you do for fire setup for smoking, or grilling, and general management. And any tips.

    Did my first cook this weekend, with some hung pork chops. I forgot/omitted the glaze, because it cooked them very fast, despite holding at 250ish. Wife said delicious. I agreed, but smoke flavor was a bit much maybe? I burned royal oak briquettes with a couple peach chunks per the instructions with the grill and video for the competition style smoke.

    Have questions.
    1- Do you monitor ambient temp when hanging, and if so, how you do that? Hang a probe from it's own hanger?
    2- How do you dial your vents to get the temp. The intake vent seems more likely to adjust the fire, while I don't get chimney, other than recirculating the smoke and maybe choking the fire a bit.
    3- When I shut it down, I noticed smoke leaking from a couple of handle and rack screw holes. Obviously not worried about losing smoke out the side when it has no other place to go, but wondering if you've gasketed or siliconed or something...
    4- Blower questions like above?

    Is fzxdoc's PBC method worth exploring for the Bronco?

    Do you guys have the OKJoe flame thrower lighter?

    The cult grows: OJB! OJB! OJB!

    Comment


      #8
      Not sure why after your first cook you are jumping on a fan? Some feel you need to learn your cooker's ins and outs before going with the fan / control. ..., ..., ...
      Last edited by HawkerXP; June 8, 2020, 07:51 AM.

      Comment


      • yankee
        yankee commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks HawkerXP, and it's a fair question. I'm trying to gather the info first so I can get the right equipment; by the time I actually have a fan, I will have had a few more cooks under my belt. Also, I'm more willing to risk poor results when it's just me eating, but if it's for the whole family / guests, I want to reduce the risk. I think I'll get to the point where I don't need the fan... emphasis on the "I think" part.

      • HawkerXP
        HawkerXP commented
        Editing a comment
        Please excuse me as I didn't want to come across as some bbq snob, I certainly wish you well with whichever way you go.

      • yankee
        yankee commented
        Editing a comment
        HawkerXP - not at all! That's why I'm here, I appreciate all feedback, tips, and guidance! If I could pass a perfect pork rib over the virtual fence to all of you, I would! :-)

      #9
      Sorry I'm late to the party, I was out in the shop welding up a grate mod for one of the other cookers.

      Okay, yankee , Potkettleblack (thanks for the flag). First off, I'm with HawkerXP on the work with the cooker before going to air/controller assist. I've got a DigiQ and Viper fan that I've had for 8-9 years, still works good, but sleeps in it's tidy little carry case in the pantry. I got it because I, like others, struggled mightily with temp control on the kamado. I made the classic errors associated with ramping up heat too fast and then getting trapped by the thermal mass of the kamado ceramics and not being able to bring the temp back without over reacting the other way. Pilots call it porpoiseing, up, down, up, down. Argh. In time I learned how the beast worked and figured out when to anticipate the rate of temp climb and do a better job of doing the adjustments to the air flow necessary to dial in to the desired temp. Perhaps that experience helped when I got the OJB, but I have to tell ya, it's one of the easiest cookers I've ever had for getting the set temp on target and relatively quickly. Since it has way less thermal mass than the kamado, if you over shoot it doesn't punish you near as much on the adjustment stuff. The little number tabs on the intake and exhaust are a bit flexible even with the jamb nut at a tight enough position to hold them reasonably well. I use lump, so briquettes might vary some, but I can cruise at 250ish for several hours with both dampers in the vicinity of the 2 setting. I may have them open more than that for the first 15-20 minutes after dumping chimney started coals on the fuel bed in the pan, but once it gets within 20-40 degrees of my target I adjust back to the 2ish range. It does respond quickly to small changes of either stack, so choose the one you feel most comfy with.

      As for lighting go to either the Oklahoma Joe's site for the Bronco, or query YouTube for the Bronco and view the company vids on various ways to light for desired length of cook. They use briquettes so lump would be slightly different. But for a first hand experience, I usually dump a small chimney worth of lump on the fuel bin, it works out to be roughly 1/5-1/4 of the fuel load from the chimney, the rest in the fuel bin light from those over time. I top that with one or two flavor chunks of wood, less for chicken, more for beef...…...again, a personal preference/experience thing. As for length of time, the 10ish hours from a full fuel basket load is realistic, but there are folks on YouTube that show how to get up to 15 hours. With lump I do spend some time arranging the chunks with the idea of minimizing the amount of space between them so that the fire will move more evenly than if it had to span larger voids. That probably helps with keeping the temp fluctuations down. I recently did some ribs and a bit over 5 hours of cook time used roughly 1/3 if the initial fuel volume, so longer cooks won't be hard to achieve unless you're working at higher temps or on big hunks of protein that need mucho hours. If I'm doing a 15-20 hour cook though, by the time I'm running low on fuel the meat has taken on all the smoke it's going to, so moving it to the conventional oven to finish isn't what I'd consider a hardship or annoyance.

      I haven't gone to the BBQ Guru site to see what fan adaptors you guys are referring to, but have given a small bit of thought as to what I would do if I felt the need to experiment with the equipment I have. I'd figure out a plug/adapter for the existing intake pipe rather than drill any new holes in the barrel. It just seems the easiest/best place to my thinking. The Bronco is a fairly tightly sealed unit with the excellent lid gasket. The weak point is the joining point of the upper and lower barrel halves. I put a bead of RTV around it with an extra circle around each bolt point and have never had a wisp of smoke or drool of grease show from there. If your unit is already assembled, it's not the end of the world, in time "seasoning" will close those points off. You just may have a bit of extra clean up, and minor temp management issues to deal with until it seals itself.

      If you've got any more questions or thoughts fire away. FishTalesNC will be long most likely, maybe typing at the same time I am, and he'll add some advice I've overlooked most likely.
      Last edited by Uncle Bob; June 8, 2020, 11:39 AM.

      Comment


        #10
        Uncle Bob - thank you so much for this thoughtful info. Not surprisingly, despite lots of reading and video watching while researching which unit to buy, and then some more after purchase, my first challenge was the heat shooting up too high too fast, and stressing out that I wouldn't get it back down to where I needed it; after "porpoiseing" some, I ultimately stabilized it, sort of, but with lots of monitoring and occasional air adjustment. Good initial lessons, including that I need to work on my charcoal lighting techniques (I'll be watching the videos you suggested), and just do more cooks in general. I hope to get to the point you're at: having the fan if I want it, but not really needing it!

        I agree w/ you that I'd like to avoid drilling any holes in my Bronco. I'm capable with a drill, just prefer not to do it in this case if I can avoid it. mountainsmoker pointed me to the BBQGuru site, and I'm leaning towards their Pit Viper fan and Weber adapter, as it seems the cleanest fit to the Bronco's intake channel.

        Other random comments:
        -The only mod I did to the Bronco was based on some YouTube videos I watched: I removed the lid gasket/pins, applied some RTV around the lid, reattached the lid gasket/pins, and let it sit for about 2.5 days w/ some weight on the lid. Hopefully that helps the lid gasket stay in place for awhile.
        -I also contacted customer support and got CharBroil to send me their replacement upper intake channel; the one that came w/my unit seems to have that issue of the gap where it connects to the lower intake channel, although not as wide of a gap as I've seen w/ other users online. I should have that part this week.

        Comment


        #11
        Sorry I haven't chimed in, yesterday was dad's 80th birthday and I took the chance and traveled to the coast to "celebrate" with him (we fist bumped, thats as close as we got to each other, but it was worth it).

        First off - congrats on your new cooker! I think/hope you will love it, I couldn't be happier with mine!

        Secondly - frame of reference for my comments - I've used 22" and 26" kettles w/ SNS, and a PBC prior to my Bronco. So when I say "man this sucker is stable" I'm sure someone with a pellet cooker is laughing at me, but its relative to my (lack of) experience.

        Thirdly - I agree with HawkerXP re: gaining experience with the cooker before adding mods, etc.

        That said, I personally don't see the need for any sort of temp controller (and absolutely do see the need for it with my kettle, though I'm too chicken-bleep to start drilling holes in it). IMHO the air intake system on the Bronco is pretty ingenious and in my experience provides surprisingly stable temps. I'll talk about how I light it in just a sec, but this graph is very typical of my cooks with maybe one early adjustment to the vents needed followed by hours of no-fuss-no-muss.

        Click image for larger version

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        Potkettleblack also had some questions about lighting and temp management. This is what works for me...

        First of all, I have most often used KBB and have used Weber a few times in it. I haven't used lump, though I'm planning to do so after listening to the hour long barrel discussion online the other night! Anyway... the process I use is the same regardless of brand, except Weber takes a little longer to light so I'd give it maybe 10 more min. I'll refer to this image (and unfortunately talk about them in reverse order - oops... all the best laid plans, etc.)

        Click image for larger version

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        Fire Starter Placement
        #3 - When I first seasoned the Bronco, and the first couple of times I made chicken, I put two fire starters on either "side" of the charcoal basket as shown in the photo. I did that because I wanted max heat. I no longer bother to do this even for chicken, I simply don't need it (see #2) and might as well save the extra fire starter.

        #2 - I'll light one fire starter in the middle of the charcoal basket if I'm cooking something ~5 hours or less, or if I'm going to want to achieve higher temps. So this is now how I light it for chicken, hanging pork tenderloins, etc. Even ribs. Lighting it here absolutely impacts how long it'll burn though, so if I need a longer cook...

        #1 - I'll light one fire starter on the side of the charcoal basket if I'm cooking something "low & slow" and/or 6+ hours. FWIW, I think this is where Weber briquettes shine since they last so much longer. Pretty sure I can get 10 hours out of a basket of Weber lit this way. Anyway, point is lighting it on the edge like this absolutely maximizes the burn time of the basket. So I do this for butts, briskets, chuckies, etc.

        Only other thing to mention is I do try to tuck the fire starters under the coals a bit.

        Lighting & Pre-heating
        Once my fire starters are in place, I just place the charcoal basket in the Bronco (on the ash pan which sits on the ash pan support) and light the fire starters. Make sure the air intake vent is 100% open! I made that mistake once and left it closed accidentally - it won't really light. I leave the lid completely open and I wait 30 min. After 30 min, I'll just double check it caught well, and then I add any wood chunks (if I'm using them - see below). I also add the heat deflector, the cooking grate or the hanging rods, my ambient probe, and then I close the lid. If I'm shooting for hot & fast I'll set both of the vents to 100% open while it preheats, otherwise I'll usually set them at around the "3" mark while it preheats - I don't want to starve it of oxygen too early and would rather let it breathe now and close it down a bit after I add the meat, which naturally lowers the temps as well. I give it 15-20 min to preheat... at that point I'm checking my ambient temp and adjusting vents as needed, and making sure I have good smoke. If I'm still rolling "pope smoke" I'll wait a bit, usually 5-10 min more and that settles down.

        I haven't tried fzxdoc 's PBC lighting method on the Bronco so I have no direct experience with it in this cooker. I used that method extensively and successfully on my PBC, and even taught my parent's the same method since they have that cooker now. I just haven't seen a need for that method on the Bronco, and the way I light the Bronco is so much easier to me and working beautifully.

        And to answer another question - I also don't have any flame thrower capabilities for lighting at this time!

        Monitoring Temps
        I typically do, but I'm getting bolder as I'm getting more experience with it, and not worrying about it as much for chicken halves, or skewers of cubed chicken thighs, etc. The question specifically was - how, when you're using the hangers? Here's a pic, I tried to circle it to show how it loosely wound it around a hanger rod once.

        Click image for larger version

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        Same general rules apply re: staying out of the "meat shadow". I also only use one, and generally try to have it at the mid-point of the meat (vertically speaking).

        Vent Control
        Something I carried with me from my kettle experience is that I do try to keep the outtake vent AT LEAST as open as the intake. Generally they are about the same, but if I'm going to err a bit I want the outtake to be open more. I think if you keep it closed more relative to the intake, you end up keeping in more "bad smoke" trapped in the cooker and can get a funky flavor. Maybe I'm full of bologna too.

        As for the numbers on the vents... I'm getting used to them as a guideline. But there are so many factors right? Outside temp, wind, precipitation, direct summer sunlight - and they all have some impact. Generally what I'm seeing is this:
        • Wide open - 400+
        • 4 - 375+
        • 3 - 325-ish
        • 2 - 275-ish
        • 1 - 225-ish
        That said I really don't need to mess with them much after lighting, one tweak and I'm good usually. I might see a spike in temp if a new wood chunk catches, but thats it.

        Smoke & Flavor
        There was a comment about "too much smoke flavor". In general I think barrels benefit from the "smoke fog" - fat dripping down and burning, with the resulting smoke rising back up and flavoring the meat (and I've noticed no lessening of this when using the heat deflector). This is unique, I understand its not for everybody, and may be perceived as "too much" if you're used to lighter smoke from a pellet cooker. Also, I typically do use wood chunks, but not too much (and not nearly as much as OKJ shows in their lighting video)! The few "bad cooks" I've had on barrel cookers I'm 99% sure were due to too much wood in top of the briquettes. For a long cook I might use a couple of palm sized chunks at most, less for shorter cooks obviously. I am also still playing around with placement and combustion - I had a sub-par cook that I'm pretty sure was because I spread the "end of a bag" of wood thru out the basket and what I got was constant combustion during the cook which had an adverse affect on flavor. I think. So when I place the wood chunks in, I try to put the "first" one on the edge of a lit spot so it catches well during the preheating phase. Any additional pieces I'll place elsewhere relative to lit briquettes to try and "time" them during the first couple of hours of the cook. But in general I'd be very wary of adding too much wood to a barrel - err on the other side of things.

        Ok... man, getting off my soap box now! Hope something in all this helps someone...

        Wait - a question about leaking smoke... I've read about that, but never seen it first hand. That said, before seasoning it I did apply lava lock high temp silicone around the seal of the upper & lower body, and around screws. Maybe just maybe it worked and was worth it.

        OJB... Ojb... ojb...

        Comment


        • Potkettleblack
          Potkettleblack commented
          Editing a comment
          As always, this has been very rewarding. Just ask and receive. Thanks guys.

        • yankee
          yankee commented
          Editing a comment
          Ditto! Excellent info, thank you so much FishTalesNC and Uncle Bob

        • GroceryBoy
          GroceryBoy commented
          Editing a comment
          This is an excellent description of the set up and cook on OJB! Great job FishTalesNC! I would just add you will note the FireBoard is very popular with this group. It is a really great device. I would also say don’t worry about temp spikes. Moves of 30, 40, even 50 degrees spikes don’t hurt anything. If you don’t believe me put your Temp probe in your oven! You will be shocked!! Most of our cookers, including the OJB do a far better job of holding temp then our ovens do.

        #12
        FishTalesNC i think I had too much wood and didn’t get the fire started enough. Pope Smoke is a good description.

        Comment


          #13
          Seems like you should be able to fit the fan on the intake port near the shelf. The pit viper or similar is 0-12V barrel plug and will work with most controllers (I know billows has a different plug). If it just press-fits in there or you can adjust it with some rings Or adapters to press-fit etc, please don’t mess around drilling holes.

          the intake vent on the pk360 is circular and the fan fits right in there also. I was super happy when I realized that.

          I use the controller on the PBC because it lets me set any temp from 180-450F and at 225 controls the temp for up to 24+ hours and handles weather changes without haveing to do anything. I also had rigged it so I could Remove the fan rig and run it as stock and suggest you do the same to OKJ so you can revert.

          so it doesn’t need it but it’s a nice to have.

          Comment


          • yankee
            yankee commented
            Editing a comment
            Polarbear777 thanks! Re: the intake port near the shelf, I don't think an adapter would fit there because the damper doesn't come off, so I'd never have a fully unblocked circular opening to the intake, but maybe as you mentioned, the fan itself might press-fit there. If not, another option might be to remove the upper intake and just attach the fan or adapter to the opening of the lower intake. Haven't bought a fan yet, will post when I do. Taking the Pit's advice to get used to the OJB first!

          #14
          FishTalesNC just wanted to say thanks again, I'm in the early process of cook #2 (7+ lb Boston butt) and used your method to light my OJB, just waiting for the briquettes to catch a bit more before I add some wood, close the lid, and start getting it to 225. Your detailed description was very helpful! I have a feeling I'm going to have a much smoother experience this time in controlling the temp (knock on hickory).

          One question for you, or anyone: what is the "meat shadow"?

          Cheers!

          Comment


          • Polarbear777
            Polarbear777 commented
            Editing a comment
            If you locate a probe too close to the meat, it doesn’t accurately measure the temperature of the cooker, usually too low.

            The “shadow“ is the effect of the cooler meat creating a cooler zone near it, depending on airflow if course.

          • FishTalesNC
            FishTalesNC commented
            Editing a comment
            Good luck, you’ve got a day full of delicious smells ahead!

          #15
          Thanks! Ah - ok, re: the meat shadow, gotcha. Hopefully the probe isn't too close to the meat. Guess I'll find out! Also, after running really consistent temp for 20-25 mins, it suddenly plummeted like 20 degrees in like 2 mins! Not sure if it was juice from the meat dripping through the diffuser onto the fire, or what. I re-stabilized the temp... and have a lot to learn.

          Comment


          • HawkerXP
            HawkerXP commented
            Editing a comment
            20* is not bad, adding a big hunk of cold meat and yes, the dripping goodness will drop the temp some.

          • Uncle Bob
            Uncle Bob commented
            Editing a comment
            To add to HawkerXP you're in the learning phase of finding out how your cooker performs. You may be learning today that as you chase the temp because you're watching it closely (not a bad thing at this point in your experience with it) that some fluctuation is "normal". A 20 degree swing isn't much as long as it's part of a cycling pattern. If that's the case here you'll learn to chill and just let the cooker do it's thing....…………..it's a comfort thing.

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