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Unread 06-18-2010, 01:35 PM   #1
markdtn
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Default New Member-Bandera Cleaning Question/Thoughts

I am a new member, I have been lurking some recently and really enjoy what I see.

I have a Bandera, about 12 years old, We use it 4-5 times a year. We make pulled pork, brisket (not as much as I like-my wife is allergic to Beef :( ), whole chicken, chicken breasts, chicken wings, and sausage generally to freeze. We also make ribs, but don't freeze them anymore-they never seem as good the second time around after freezing. Anyway, I did the raised firegrate and baffle mods about 2 years ago, they made a huge difference! (for the baffle I just ran a flat piece of 1/4" with about a 45° angle instead of the bent down ears on the end, it works great and was much easier to make.). I gave my father a Bandera for Fathers Day a few years back with the 2 mods, but he doesn't use it. I'm thinking of re-allocating it back :)

Now that I am on here and have read the Bandera 101 doc, I am thinking about firebricks in the bottom of the chamber. I have a few questions:
1) I always have some gunk in the bottom when I get through, how do you keep the bricks clean, or does it matter?
1a) The firebricks in the photos are very thick. Anyone have success with thinner ones?
2) If my door seals well, is there any need in worrying about a rope or other additional seal?
3) I clean my cooking grates, chicken stands, water pan, and roast rack by taking a wheelbarrow full of water and soaking them for about a day when I am finished cooking. Then I take the pressure washer and wash them. Seems to work well. First cook of the season, I run them all in the dishwasher first. Are there any issues with this method?
4) When I went to clean it out for the first time this season, one of the upper angles that the cooking grates sit on had rusted out on a corner. Is this normal for one this old?


I'm sure I will think of something else. I am glad to be on here.
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Unread 06-18-2010, 04:38 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markdtn View Post
I am a new member, I have been lurking some recently and really enjoy what I see.

I have a Bandera, about 12 years old, We use it 4-5 times a year. We make pulled pork, brisket (not as much as I like-my wife is allergic to Beef :( ), whole chicken, chicken breasts, chicken wings, and sausage generally to freeze. We also make ribs, but don't freeze them anymore-they never seem as good the second time around after freezing. Anyway, I did the raised firegrate and baffle mods about 2 years ago, they made a huge difference! (for the baffle I just ran a flat piece of 1/4" with about a 45° angle instead of the bent down ears on the end, it works great and was much easier to make.). I gave my father a Bandera for Fathers Day a few years back with the 2 mods, but he doesn't use it. I'm thinking of re-allocating it back :)

Now that I am on here and have read the Bandera 101 doc, I am thinking about firebricks in the bottom of the chamber. I have a few questions:
1) I always have some gunk in the bottom when I get through, how do you keep the bricks clean, or does it matter?
1a) The firebricks in the photos are very thick. Anyone have success with thinner ones?
2) If my door seals well, is there any need in worrying about a rope or other additional seal?
3) I clean my cooking grates, chicken stands, water pan, and roast rack by taking a wheelbarrow full of water and soaking them for about a day when I am finished cooking. Then I take the pressure washer and wash them. Seems to work well. First cook of the season, I run them all in the dishwasher first. Are there any issues with this method?
4) When I went to clean it out for the first time this season, one of the upper angles that the cooking grates sit on had rusted out on a corner. Is this normal for one this old?


I'm sure I will think of something else. I am glad to be on here.
Welcome,

I have my fire brick foil wrapped and just unwrap them when they get nasty. I felt lucky to find the bricks I did and didn't worry too much about the thickness. They aren't that expensive really, experiment. If you are getting steady and even temp without a modded door, I wouldn't worry about it much. I have been wanting to do it to keep the draft strong and even for longer cooks. As for the grates, I brush mine when they are hot and thats it save for once or twice a year when I power wash them. The support channel, I couldn't say. The inside of my SKD is so greasy between cleaning I don't think there is any way anything could rust in there.

Enjoy the forum.
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Unread 06-18-2010, 05:03 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PimpSmoke View Post
Welcome,

I have my fire brick foil wrapped and just unwrap them when they get nasty. I felt lucky to find the bricks I did and didn't worry too much about the thickness. They aren't that expensive really, experiment. If you are getting steady and even temp without a modded door, I wouldn't worry about it much. I have been wanting to do it to keep the draft strong and even for longer cooks. As for the grates, I brush mine when they are hot and thats it save for once or twice a year when I power wash them. The support channel, I couldn't say. The inside of my SKD is so greasy between cleaning I don't think there is any way anything could rust in there.

Enjoy the forum.
I agree with bro Pimp. Wrap the bricks in foil and change out as needed. I've tried sealing the door, with failure. I'm not sure it's needed, but I use mine as a stick burner. For me, wood is free so fuel cost is not an issue and the time it takes to babysit the cooker is quality time for me. Grates get brushed off after cooking and toasted and brushed over a hot fire while firing up for the next cook.
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Unread 06-18-2010, 05:21 PM   #4
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Welcome, I have fire brick in the bottom of the fire box. Saw no need to put them in the cooking chamber. Works great.

Sealing, If your door does not leak OK but just cause you don't see smoke doesn't mean it's not leaking. I used this, from McMaster-Carr. http://www.mcmaster.com

Fiberglass sealing tape, PN 8813K31 10 bucks a roll and that's allyou will need for everything.

Adhesive. PN 7573A31 7 bucks a tube.

I sealed the chamber door, fire box door and side fire box door.

The adhesive on the tape is worthless but the above adhesive works great,

Cleaning, think you are maybe over doing it. I use foil sheets from Home Depot and throw them away after a few uses.

If you need new grates you can find them at Brinkman. It's normal for them to rust if you are not using them.

Next, buy a digital thermometer and stick it down the chimney. You should be cooking with the vent wide open so this way there is no need to open the door.

Then buy a RED thermapen, they are pricey but worth every penny. Don't listen top the guys that tell you that another color works better, they speak with forked tongue.

Good luck and let me know how things go.
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Unread 06-18-2010, 06:22 PM   #5
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I clean my Bandera cooking grates & water pan by pressure washing WITHOUT the whole day soak, works fine that way too. Nor do I put them in the dishwasher.

Anything steel rusts. You can slow the rust down by oiling it, painting it, or galvanizing it, things like that. How long it takes to rust through depends on how carefully you maintain it and how much water it comes into contact with. If you don't clean the ashes out of your firebox and the gunk out from under your cooking grates, those will trap moisture and hold it against the steel, rusting them out quicker. Suggest you pull out your cooking rack holder, clean & dry it, and look at it carefully. If it has enough substantial metal on it, you can pop rivet on patches. Of course, if you have a MIG or TIG welder then you wouldn't even be asking this question, but you could cut it back to sound metal and weld on what is missing.

It might not cost all *that* much to have a sheet metal shop remake those shelf supports out of stainless or aluminum about 2 grades heavier than the original steel.
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Unread 06-18-2010, 11:28 PM   #6
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Thank you all for your insight. Just to clarify a few things:
-My grates are fine, no rust at all. I just ordered another from CharBroil yesterday. Couldn't find anything else close in size. I only wash them because I am afraid of mold. Kind of funny, because I have never done anything to the grate on my Weber grill except scrape it with a spatula over hot coals before I put meat on it. Anyway, I wash them and store them separately from the smoker (leaned up against the house next to it)
-My firebox is rusty. I paint it once a year whether it needs it or not-who am I kidding, it always needs it. I do clean out the ashes a day or so after I am done. I do have a MIG and am going to replace at least part of the firebox this winter.
-When you say take out the cooking rack holder, clean it and dry it, I don't think I can. Pretty sure mine is welded into the chamber. I will look carefully tomorrow.
-I may try to have new angles made of heavy stainless, that is a good idea. I have access to some useful scrap from time to time, just have to monitor the scrap bins and pay scrap price.

Thank you again for your advice.
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Unread 06-19-2010, 08:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markdtn View Post
Thank you all for your insight. Just to clarify a few things:
-My grates are fine, no rust at all. I just ordered another from CharBroil yesterday. Couldn't find anything else close in size. I only wash them because I am afraid of mold. Kind of funny, because I have never done anything to the grate on my Weber grill except scrape it with a spatula over hot coals before I put meat on it. Anyway, I wash them and store them separately from the smoker (leaned up against the house next to it)
-My firebox is rusty. I paint it once a year whether it needs it or not-who am I kidding, it always needs it. I do clean out the ashes a day or so after I am done. I do have a MIG and am going to replace at least part of the firebox this winter.
-When you say take out the cooking rack holder, clean it and dry it, I don't think I can. Pretty sure mine is welded into the chamber. I will look carefully tomorrow.
-I may try to have new angles made of heavy stainless, that is a good idea. I have access to some useful scrap from time to time, just have to monitor the scrap bins and pay scrap price.

Thank you again for your advice.
I did take a look today and the rack angles in the firebox bolt on while the angles in the smoke chamber are welded on. Mine is a New Braunfels from Academy and is about 12 years old.
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Unread 06-20-2010, 07:52 AM   #8
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Wally World carries an oven liner which is heavier than foil but still very easy to bend. With a very little bending it fits perfect in the bottom of the Bandera. These can actually be re-used if you wanted to wash them and were a little careful. They sell in a 2-pack for $1.50.
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Unread 06-21-2010, 12:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimwissman View Post
Wally World carries an oven liner which is heavier than foil but still very easy to bend. With a very little bending it fits perfect in the bottom of the Bandera. These can actually be re-used if you wanted to wash them and were a little careful. They sell in a 2-pack for $1.50.
OK, thank you. I will try that.
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Unread 06-22-2010, 01:48 PM   #10
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On the fire bricks, look at the 101 Sticky again and you will see that the bricks are SPLIT. That means they are half the thickness of a normal brick. Call a couple of brick yards, some one will have them. You will need a cut off wheel and a circular saw to fit them tight.

In the firebox, the bricks don't get dirty unless you are burning something you should not be. I just scope the ash out and blow what remains out with the air compressor.

In the smoke box, just layer foil to catch any drips. My bricks are laid to tight to do anything else.

On the baffle I did the same thing and mounted using the firebox bolts already there.
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