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Adjustable Charcoal Smokers/Grillers

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    Adjustable Charcoal Smokers/Grillers

    Now I know what MCS means, I can confirm I'm infected, despite offloading a few smokers in the past week. I have been musing over a Santa Maria-style grill, as I think the adjustable charcoal grates are pretty neat. I understand Hasty-Bake is best in class here.

    However, I couldn't help but notice this one and the price point appeals, especially given the strong reviews on the Oklahoma Joe barrel.

    https://www.oklahomajoes.com/judge-charcoal-grill

    I noticed we had a similar thread on these grills a few years back ( https://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/fo...charcoal-grill ) and the reviews were mixed (great for searing, terrible for smoking).

    I guess I'm a tad surprised that the grills would not work well for smoking, but perhaps that's simply due to poor quality on the vents versus the actual adjustable mechanism itself.

    Anyone have any updated thoughts on these adjustable grills and if one is worth considering at a price point under 1k?





    #2
    Your timing is interesting. A couple weeks ago OJ had their periodic "free shipping" deal on, saves somewhere around $150, and you actually get the box for $400 + tax. I have the Bronco which is wonderful, but at 18" there are some limits. I saw the Judge and liked that it had over 500 inches of grate and the front door for fuel add to the adjustable height fuel box. And I have MCS as bad or worse than many.

    At 200 pounds it stout and should last well, all things considered it's well built. Not so much for smoking out of the box, leaks a lot at the fire box seams and intake vent. Not a problem for me as I tinker. I RTV'd the sseams, put a Nomex gasket around the lid and front door. The intake slide baffle was loose too, to make it easy to slide, but leaked a bunch. Two .040 thick washers tightened it up just enough to still slide, but not leak much,. I also put on ball bearing wheels and casters on the dead legs to make it easier for an old man to move, has nothing to do with smoking.

    I did a rack of ribs this past weekend for it's first smoke and it did okay. I use lump not briquettes, so that causes a little temp hunting, though for the most part is cycled within a 20 degree window. Since it's new I had to do some playing around so I also tried some small hickory splits. Worked fine, so briquette, lump, small splits, all fuel potential. There's probably some more I can do to improve it, but at this early point I'd call it fair to good at temp control, but not great like I'm used to with the Bronco.
    Last edited by Uncle Bob; May 27, 2020, 10:57 AM.

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    • zero_credit
      zero_credit commented
      Editing a comment
      Is the adjustable rack actually fun to use then, or more of a wasted feature? I wonder how it would work with something like a Fireboard.

    #3
    I have a Hasty-Bake Gourmet .... greatest cooker I've ever owned. I can use it Santa Maria like (although it's the firebox moving, not the grills), or as a smoker. Turns out great Q for sure .... BUT just to trip your MCS triggers really hard, I've been considering what might be better than the Hasty-Bake and meet all of my desires.

    Here's my basic requirements
    • Durable and long lasting - Hasty-Bake is a lifetime piece of equipment
    • Looks good
    • Can burn charcoal or wood
    • Adjustable firebox or grill and performs like a Santa Maria grill
    • Capable of cooking a brisket, turkey, pork butt, ribs, etc like I can do on the Hasty-Bake
    • Capacity must be 500 inches or better
    • Has to be an upgrade across the board compared to the Hasty-Bake
    Here's the two I've narrowed it down to

    http://www.azbbqgrills.com/page-7/

    https://lonestargrillz.com/collectio...=8158634147944

    Comment


    • Razor
      Razor commented
      Editing a comment
      Those look incredible. Wondering, what do they provide that the HB doesn’t?

    • ecowper
      ecowper commented
      Editing a comment
      Razor the Boothill is intriguing because it is both a HB style grill and a reverse flow offset smoker

    • Razor
      Razor commented
      Editing a comment
      Ah ok, that makes sense. Didn’t pick up on that. I could see wanting to have something like that. Either one looks like a heck of a cooker.

    #4
    They do look nice ecowper for sure. I suppose it is a testament to Hasty-Bake that you have to more than double the price to get something even better.

    Comment


      #5
      @zero_credit, I was headed to a tight time appointment when I typed the above, so I'll elaborate further. The moveable stainless fuel pan works well, even considering the rudimentary lift/notch system. It's nearly as large as the cooking grate itself so you have lots of options. Indirect, full bed high or low heat, low temp side/high temp side simultaneous, load all at the intake side (see attached pic) for "smoker" configuration.. And of course searing, though I haven't gotten to that yet on this one, should be spectacular because you'll only be a couple inches below the grate (or less depending on your coal pile)………..close to cave man style. Not a wasted feature at all.

      Another mod I didn't mention was installing a silicone plug for probe routing. I also got the OJ "smoker box" option but haven't used it as they intended, but one of the pics below shows how I used the inner rack as a dam to hold the fuel at the very end of the fuel bin in front of the intake baffle. Would a Fireboard system (presuming you meant with fan) work. With the sealing mods I did it probably would. I have a BBQ Guru with viper fan that I used on my recently sold KJ available, but holding within a 20 degree swing is good enough for me with maybe a caveat about cooks in excess of 10/12 hours...…...I don't have enough experience with this particular cooker to judge that yet. As large as the fuel bin is though I doubt you could run it out of fuel in even a typical large brisket cook.

      The above mentioned rib cook was a full on smoker config by my view, the previous, and only other cook so far, was an indirect cook of a pork tenderloin. I think it was perfect, the color in the pic below is pretty close to what it looked like in natural light.

      Now to roll in the things that ecowper mentioned. I already have a high dollar charcoal/etc. cooker similar in concept to the LSG, just different material, design particulars, so for sane people I'm there already. On the other hand, as I told AZ Fogey in his recent write ups on his, if I didn't have the box I've got, I'd be all over that LSG. The thing is, by the time it hits your patio (not even counting tax), you're going to be in it over $3k. To my mind either are worth that, but understand that not everyone has that kind of budget, or is willing to be nutso enough to throw that kind of money at ANY cooker (I know we're not alone, but we are a distinct minority...…..with no special privilege's accorded).

      For the money the OJ Judge can be good value (more so at the $400 number as opposed to the near 600 with shipping cost charged) for the person who has the time and skills, and doesn't want to sink a lot of money into a cooker. It didn't get to near 200 pounds of weight by cutting corners on materials. This is a good. thick steel, design. It's got some nice engineering, but only okay to low end good fab work. But they probably didn't intend for it to be a well sealed smoker as much as a good, commodity+ grade grill with sorta smoking capabilities...……..at least by the standards of experienced smokers. And that might be insight into where this should fit market niche wise. I look at this stuff from the idea that there is no "perfect" cooker, no matter how much any of us have our favorites. All that means is either we found a nice partner in cooking style/capability, or we've adapted ourselves to the dictates of the device (I need my pal HawkerXP to do his chant here). There's a lot of accumulated skill here in the Pit, but outside this world are a bunch of folks on the discovery trail who could benefit from this cooker if they had sufficient insight. It won't be my favorite cooker likely ever, I've got others that fill their niche better, but judged (probably a pun there) on it's own merits, especially with the $25ish mods that make it better for smoking, it's a pretty good and very flexible cooker. A young, aspiring bbq aficionado could have a sound tool to polish their skills...……………..and then maybe someday work up to something like the LSG or similar.

      Click image for larger version  Name:	oj judge 08.jpg Views:	0 Size:	219.2 KB ID:	852757Click image for larger version  Name:	oj judge 02.jpg Views:	0 Size:	216.7 KB ID:	852755Click image for larger version  Name:	oj judge 06.jpg Views:	0 Size:	950.8 KB ID:	852756
      Click image for larger version  Name:	judge pk tloin 01.jpg Views:	0 Size:	360.5 KB ID:	852758Click image for larger version  Name:	judge pk tloin 05.jpg Views:	0 Size:	288.0 KB ID:	852759
      Last edited by Uncle Bob; May 27, 2020, 12:05 PM.

      Comment


      • Uncle Bob
        Uncle Bob commented
        Editing a comment
        You're welcome, though I don't see it as quite a review, more as an informed opinion piece. Max Good has far more experience and knowledge to do actual reviews. For instance, I'm not aware of any other charcoal devices with this level of metal thickness and build integrity (with above exceptions) in this price bracket…...but that's an awareness thing on my part.
        Last edited by Uncle Bob; May 27, 2020, 06:38 PM.

      • HawkerXP
        HawkerXP commented
        Editing a comment
        Go Giants! …………..? no? …, …, …!

      • ecowper
        ecowper commented
        Editing a comment
        Excellent write up and thinking on this

      #6
      I have one of these that I use as my faux Santa Maria. Works quite well and the dual charcoal baskets are a great idea, along with the removable divider. As a grill I think it’s quite versatile.
      https://www.homedepot.com/p/Dyna-Glo...NC-D/203944115

      As a smoker...
      It’s one giant air gap. LOL It leaks EVERYWHERE. Top, bottom, sides...everywhere.
      It works fine for getting some smoke onto something that won’t take more than a couple hours...but there’s no way I would attempt something like a brisket in that thing. Pork butts can be done...but it takes a lot more babysitting than it does in a proper smoker...and smoke will go...wait for it...everywhere. LOL

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