Lets Talk OKJ Highland

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by thedood, Aug 12, 2016.

  1. thedood

    thedood Fire Starter

    I bought an OKJ Highland from Walmart for 138.00. I think I got a good deal. I went to bbqsmokermods.com, I have ordered a gasket kit for the cook chamber and firebox, rtv for the firebox halves and firebox cooking chamber connection, I got the cooking chamber lid latches, a tuning plate, and an expanded metal insert for the firebox. SO I have a few questions.

    1) Should I get the elbow to bring the exhaust to the cooking plate? I have been reading conflicting info on this when there is a tuning plate used.

    2) Should I use a water pan in the cooking chamber?

    3) I ordered a couple of thermometers with 2 1/2" stems to place down near the cooking grate. Was this a mistake and I should have went with 4"?

    4) I also bought a Maverick 733 and am wondering about placing the cook chamber probe, where is the best location? Also do I need to worry about the probe wires getting hot? Can I just run the probes out the cook chamber door or should I plan on drilling holes?

    Thanks for the help.
  2. gonavy

    gonavy Smoke Blower

    That was a great deal, paid full price for mine $234 I think but still feel it was a good deal.

    I did the elbow mod for awhile, but once I got a tuning plate, also from BBQModders, the elbow because useless and actually cause a temp difference from top to grate level, also seemed to cause too much smoke flavor, bordering on bitter.

    Never used a water pan, some do I guess, but I always felt they were mostly for vertical smokers

    I also have the Maverick 733 and pretty much just use it, never changed out from the temp probe that came with the smokers, because the mav is all I use, sometimes with chicken I'll double check when done with my lavatool instant read.  I always have one of the temp probes from the Mav at grate level and one in the meat except for ribs, those I do by time

    I did drill a 5/16" hole just behind the smoke stack and slightly above grate level, for the Maverick probes, they will both fit in the one hole putting them through one at a time and reach anywhere in the CC, then just hang the sending unit on the handle below the stack.

    You'll probably fine that using just wood works much better in the highlander, I use maybe half a chimney of briquettes just for a good bed then a mini log or two to get going once I have a good fire going and some good coals I'll close the fire box and CC lids to start bring up to temp.  Mine loves 240-260 range so that is what I use most cooks, I have never got my highlander to hold 225, doesn't like to do it...lol..Use the FB vent to get the temp stable.  Once stable usually after an hour from fire start, put another mini log of you flavor wood you want to use and put on the meat.  Highlander with all the doors sealed and tuning plate will use a mini log every hour to hour and half with the FB vent open 1/4 to 1/2 inch, once in a great a while I'll need to close down the stack vent half way if the temps start rising to much.  But that is my highlander yours might be difference, make sure you season it good before your first cook.  Good luck with it, I love mine, just took a little time to get use to it.
  3. thedood

    thedood Fire Starter

    @GoNavy Thanks for the reply. I appreciate the information. My mods will arrive at the beginning of the week so weather permitting I will get it assembled and seasoned this week. I made arrangements ro pick up a load of splits. I am getting oak, apple, hickory, and cherry. I am going to cook next weekend. Right now the plan is to cook a couple of chickens, some ABT's, and some scotch eggs. I cant wait.
  4. gonavy

    gonavy Smoke Blower

    Good deal, glad your with us, I have learned so much since joining here.  Forgot to mention to I have a coal basket I made but don't use it any more either, since I switch to wood for entire cook, elbow is sitting in my garage too...lol...also I lost some paint during my seasoning because I went too hot with it in the FB and sitting right up against the FB wall, paint burned off below the CC on the side of the FB.  Not a big problem, probably my fault, I let the fire get up again the FB wall.  I have learned now to keep my fire on the grates and away from any of the walls of the FB, and tend to keep it closer to the vent side, temps in CC are more stable as well that way, couple of inches is all you need.  Easily fixed if you did get a little paint peel, just hit it with a wire brush and some high temp 1500 paint. Never had that problem since, still got a can of paint sitting in my garage, only used a quick spray to fix my screw up.

    Also forgot to mention put your next split on top of the fire box flat plate to warm up, that plate will get to about 200 degrees or better, you can also use it to cook sides, but mostly I use it to pre-heat  splits, they will start much faster, and reduce any creosote they give off when first starting.  When ever I put a new split on leave the FB lid open for a min or two, you won't lose too much heat in the CC, but it will allow the split to get going good and the initial creosote smoke will go out the top of the FB instead of into your CC where the meat is..
  5. thedood

    thedood Fire Starter

    @GoNavy Thanks! I had read about preheating the splits and that sounds like logical good advice to me. Do you coat the inside of your cc when seasoning? What about the outside. My original plan was a good hot fire to burn the gunk out then let it cool. After that wipe the cooking surface down with crisco and run the cc temp  about 400. If I need to do the whole inside I will get a couple of cans of pam to spray it. Was also thinking about spraying the outside of the cc down as well.
  6. gonavy

    gonavy Smoke Blower

    I did both inside and out with paper towels and cisco veg oil, did the burn in for about two hours then wiped down the outside after it cooled down, sprayed the inside CC with original pam , tired to rewipe paper towel didn't work very well so..lol.. swiped out the ash out of the firebox, didn't do anything else with it.  I did a five hour cook the next day turned out some great ribs.  Haven't had any problems, no rusting of any kind and I have had it going on two and half years.  Have had to change out the nomex every year on the firebox and have had to rework the whole FB vent bolt thing to make it work right, but other then that I love this smoker.  Don't know if how I seasoned it was right, sure some one will correct me if I am wrong, but it has seemed to work well for me.  I do keep mine cover, I use the Ok Joe cover, it was made for the longhorn so it is a little big, but works fine, just had to get a new one, only lasted two seasons, but for $39 two seasons is a good deal IMHO..
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
  7. thedood

    thedood Fire Starter

    @GoNavy I bought a cover for mine as well. It will be sitting outside so I figured that was a good investment. You mentioned you had the Maverick733. Did yours come with 2 pointed probes? I thought they had a pointed probe for meat and a blunt probe for air. I guess it doesnt matter. So in theory I can monitor two cuts of meat or one cut and the cc temp.
  8. gonavy

    gonavy Smoke Blower

    exactly the 733 probes are dual purpose so they both have points, you can use in any combination, both meat both air temp CC or one of each, one meat one air, for CC probe comes with little metal clips they work great.  Learning to set up the mav can be a challenge...lol...the direction are a little vague, and confusing at first, just check back or pm me I can help out, I had to have the directions sitting in front of me the first few times, but after two seasons with it, it a breeze to operated, but it definitely is not readily apparent.  Heads up you can only set the unit with it linked up and both probes attached, took awhile to learn that one, also turn on the rec unit first then the sending unit, links up ok then, after that you can set up which probe is for meat and which CC or both of either then the type of meat or change the temp range etc...as far as the probes go the wires will turn black I do a lot of apple juice spritzing etc...but even with out that they get dark after the cook.  I wash them in the sink by hand and they clean quite well using a scotch brite pad, clips included, they well be black as well, never had a problem, still on the original probes also over two years old, only replaced the batteries once, been putting every thing back into the original box when done, great for storage...lol
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
  9. thedood

    thedood Fire Starter

    @GoNavy Thanks for the info. My stuff came in today so I will be assembling my smoker this afternoon, curing in the morning and do a short smoke tomorrow afternoon! Woot!
  10. thedood

    thedood Fire Starter

    I assembled my smoker last night. There was a huge gap between the firebox top and bottom, like an 1/8 inch in spots.  I used high temp rtv prior to assembly and after I could see daylight. They need to add more bolts, two on each end isnt enough, there needs to be two more on each side in my opinion. After assembly I added a bead of rtv to the seam to fill in the cracks. I am going to be curing and doing a cook later today, if the weather cooperates. If it is sucking air I am going to take the firebox back off and put a rope gasket between the to halves and seal it that way, unless someone has a reason I shouldnt.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
  11. Thanks for the info GoNavy!!! I'm just learning to use mine

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