Peeling Coating during 'Seasoning Process' OK Joe Highland (Help!)

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by absinthedragon, May 16, 2016.

  1. Greetings SMF community,

    A few weeks ago I decided to upgrade from my old home made Clay Pot Smoker, to an Oklahoma Joe Highland Smoker.

    I finished the assembly Sunday evening and didn't have time to 'Season' it (break it in), so I waited for this last weekend.

    I had time on Sunday and started a little before noon. Got the inside all coated in Vegetable Oil (as the instructions state), then did the following:
    1. Got a small Charcoal Fire going in the Firebox with all doors and ports wide open until it was nice and warm.
    2. I then closed the Main Lid and Firebox Lid, but left the stack and access door for the Firebox wide open.
    3. The temp climbed to just under 200 and stayed there for 20 or so minutes.
    4. I then closed the smokes stack half way and the Firebox Access Door (leaving the vent wide open) and the temp climbed to 225. I kept the temp around 200 - 225 until the end of the 2nd hour of 'seasoning' and was slowly adding wood to the Charcoal.
    5. At the end of the 2nd hour the temp was starting to drop as most of the charcoal was burned off, and I opened the Firebox Access Door and added a decent amount of wood to raise the temp and try and get a nice hot temp to help finish curing the exterior finish and burn off the rest of the manufacturing chemicals.
    6. I got the temp up to 300 with a nice wood fire in the Firebox and once it reached this temp I could smell something with a 'chemical' odor, so I new the higher temp was helping to burn off the last of the oils, etc that were left on the inside.
    7. I kept it at 280 - 310 for about an hour with a nice fire going in the Firebox to make sure it was nice and broken in and properly 'seasoned'.
    8. At the end of the third hour I went out to open the doors and start to let the fire die off and let everything start to cool, and noticed the coating on the Hot Box Cover had peeled off.

    I contacted OK Joe Customer Service as this should not have happened, and asked for a replacement top.

    The OK Joe instructions for breaking in the smoker are very vague and don't talk about temp or duration at all. Now I know the Thermometer is on the opposite side of the smoker from the Fire Box, so it was 300 at the thermometer, it must have been VERY hot in the Firebox.

    Has anyone seen something like this before?
    Did I do something wrong?

    Any helpful comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated!


    Absinthe Dragon
  2. Hello.  Yes most of us have had that VERY experience.  The therm is probably wrong so the temp. may have been?  [​IMG]   The temp. in the firebox was much higher.  Neither would not have changed the outcome much.  Depending on what I was doing I'd get my offset to 375 regularly.

    IF memory serves me (getting older),  30 yrs. ago when I was building smokers a custom made smoker like that  would have cost you between $500-$1500 depending on where you lived and any "extras" you could think of to add on.  That would have been made from 1/4" thick pipe and 1/4" plate.  It would also have been wire brushed back to bare metal and had at least 2-3 coats of a GOOD heat resistant paint.  Now 30 yrs. later you have bought that smoker for under $300.  The manufacturers put as thin and cheap coating of paint on those as they can get away with.  They work well enough but the paint is CR**!  I'll bet in less than 1 year the firebox will be covered with surface rust.

    So!  You have 3 options:  A.  Grab a can of good heat resistant paint and a hand wire brush.  Fight the spots as they come up to preserve the smoker and stop rust.  B.  Get out your grinder and cup brush.  Take it back to bare metal and spray it with 2-4 coats of good quality paint(only the exterior).  Re-season.  By the way, you never mentioned spraying/wiping the interior of the cooking chamber with cooking oil before starting to season.  Did you do that?  That is part of the seasoning process; it would not have changed the paint outcome.  Option C.  Pay someone to strip it and do a proper paint job.

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news but there it is.  Keep Smokin!

  3. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I saw that you coated the inside with vegetable oil, so you should be good there. If you are keeping your smoker outside, you just got a one year head start on the external maintenance. You would probably need to scrape, sand and paint your FB on a yearly basis. Everything else stays in good shape, but a FB gets really hot.

    Good luck with it, Joe.
  4. Thanks Danny & Joe!

    I actually got a call back from OK Joe (CharBroil) customer service yesterday.

    They said that direct flames or coals against the side will cause the paint to bubble and peel like it did.

    This makes sense, as during the third hour I got a fairly big fire burning in the Fire Box so I know there were flames touching the lid for extended periods.

    They offered two fixes for me.
    1. Send out a new Fire Box Lid.
    2. Send out a can of the High Temp Paint.
    I chose to go with the paint so if something else happens I have extra on hand to fix it.

    (I did ask that if the paint doesn't fix it if I can still get the lid, to which they stated I could as I am still under Warranty)

    I also asked for clarification on the "Curing/Seasoning" temps as the instructions are vague.

    The recommended temp is 200 - 250 for at least two hours for curing/seasoning.

    I will remove the peeling paint, repaint, then re-cure/season the grill (including the Veg Oil I did the first time).

    Thank for the feedback!


  5. Hi Morgan.  Sorry I didn't read the part about the veg oil.

    [​IMG]   I LOVE the response you got from the service desk!!!!  I actually have tears in my eyes from laughing!!  "They said that direct flames or coals against the side will cause the paint to bubble and peel like it did."  AHHH!!  This is a FIREBOX for a smoker!!  [​IMG]   Just what part of FIREBOX don't they understand??  [​IMG]   It's not a warming cabinet; you have to build a fire in it!  The fixes they offered are just as funny.  A new lid.  The paint on that will also bubble up; or a can of their cheap paint to cover it up!  THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR HELP!  [​IMG]

    Thanks for posting the replies.  I have not laughed this hard in a while!  Don't you just LOVE customer service??

    I am sorry.  Not laughing at you.  I know this is NOT funny to you but this is typical customer service from many companies.  The good news is I hear good things about your new smoker.  As Joe said the firebox is always going to be a problem but a REALLY good paint job can help cut down the maintenance.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

  6. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    I don't have an OK Joe, but after around 10 cooks in mine I notice the paint is peeling in a couple of small places on the firebox only. I figured this was from building a roaring fire to start things off and high temps from then on. Sorry, but no "high temp" paint will hold up under that for long. Part of the game to me.
  7. Had the same thing happen...

    Gonna smoke some wings tomorrow and pork butt on Friday or Saturday. Then I will be repainting the firebox and re-seasoning. Been waiting to get my tuning plate and firebox for almost a week so I could season with them in there. Not gonna wait any longer before I actually get to enjoy some meat off this thing. At least I'm not alone in experiencing the cheap paint from the factory...
    absinthedragon likes this.
  8. I feel your pain Guitars N Smoke...

    The suggested paint has worked better than the factory replacement that was shipped to me.

    Good Luck!


  9. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    So the firebox temps are higher than the pit temps. Unfortunately they use the same paint on both surfaces. The paint can't hold up to the temps in the firebox but are okay for the pit. As mentioned you will need to get some high temp paint if you want to fix it. You may be able to get by with the stuff sold at the big box hardware stores, labeled as stove paint or BBQ paint. But you may want to go to the Automotive store and look into header paint. Depending on the brand it will have a temp rating of 800-1200 degrees.
  10. I will definitely look into the header paint you mentioned. Thanks for the advice!

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