Oklahoma Joe's Smoker Help Please

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by kmanslay, Jun 1, 2015.

  1. Hey everyone thanks in advance for any help.

       I'm not really new to smoking meats but am new to doing it right I have been grilling and smoking for several years, and if I do say so myself am very good at grilling, but smoking meats no where near as good as I'd like. I can never get anything I've smoked to turn out the way I like and how I think it should. I used to be a truck driver and have been all across the country so have had the opportunity to get a lot of different styles and some very good BBQ and have always wanted to make myself, I try it's good but not what I think it should be. I get it to turn out tasting good but it has more of a bite and chew not as tender as I think it should be and as some that I've had.

      I just recently purchased an Oklahoma Joe's Highland Smoker from Walmart seemed to a good compromise to what I'd really like to get which is the Horizon Ranger I like the big vertical smoking chamber on the Horizon. But what I mainly wanted was a good heavy duty grill smoker, which the Oklahoma Joe's seems to be and especially for the price the Oky Joe's seemed the best way to go $288 compared to almost $1800 for the Horizon. Any comments on the Horizon would be appreciated is it worth it? Do I really need it?

      I know I get long and drawn out sorry. What I'm hoping is that someone can answer for me is about the mods I've seen done to a lot of the smokers I've seen here so far. 

    I've seen where a lot of people have put an elbow on the exhaust to bring it down closer to the cooking grate why and does it really make that much of a difference?

    Baffles, convection plates and tuning plates I think at least I understand to a degree what they do any advice again greatly appreciated. How far should I put them across the CC?

      Charcoal basket I can see as a definite must do.

      I have a digital dual read thermometer one probe for food and one CC temp. The thermometer that came on my smoker mounted higher up on the lid will be reading somewhere around 350 plus and the digital that I have setting on the cook grate near the food is reading 250 - 260 can there really be that much of a temperature difference? I believe the digital is reasonably close to an accurate reading.

      And one other thing if someone can answer my food temperature will get to within 25 - 15 degrees of the target temperature and seems to stall, temperature rises fairly steady up to there and doesn't get any higher am I doing something wrong or do I just need to be patient and wait longer?
  2. wichita chief

    wichita chief Fire Starter

    Welcome!! You came to the right place to take your skills to the next level. I have an Okie Joe's Longhorn which is similar to yours just a little larger I believe.  I  looked at the higher end smokers before I got mine as a fathers day gift to myself (via the niece and nephew) and really liked the loaded Yoder Wichita. It's only $1400.00 more than mine. I decided I should get my feet wet and see if I liked using a wood smoker before I spent that much on a luxury "want". So far I have used mine with good results. I have to give credit to all of the awesome members on here for providing me with the knowledge to be able to smoke with great results. I recently did some modifications to mine to even out the heat and to allow me to control the temp better. I added a "heat management plate" (convection plate) to mine and built a baffle to extend the plate to block off some of the overly large opening from the firebox to the cooking chamber. The opening now is in line with the dimensions called out using the calculations for the smoker build guidelines calculator. I sealed the top and bottom of the firebox halves together with big green egg gasket material. I built a charcoal basket to contain the coals and keep it above the grate it sits on rather than falling through and blocking the air flow. These made a dramatic improvement for me. I may eventually use a seal on the cooking chamber and the firebox doors. Mine don't seem to leak as much as some people say theirs do. I did not seal the firebox to the cooking chamber as upon inspection at night with a light there is very little light seen. I did not use the elbow idea. It seems counter intuitive to me to create an area towards the top of the cooking chamber where "dead" air & smoke would be trapped. Good controlled airflow is a point most knowledgeable people on here stress. My plate directs smoke (and heat) along the bottom and spreads it out and it then exits towards the other end top. Smoke which hangs around and lingers can make meat bitter and taste of creosote. I also upgraded to Tel-Tru thermometers. There are many good threads on here detailing different mods people have done to Okie Joe's smokers. Some make sense. Some seem like anal fixing a non existent problem. When I get some time I'm going to make a post on how I changed mine and how it works now. I want to use it a few more times and I want to make my charcoal basket larger first.

         I believe you are describing the point in a cook where there is a "plateau" and it seems like the food isn't cooking properly. It's usually about 160-165 deg. I saw an excellent article explaining it and it's cause. (Moisture in the meat warming and cooling it via evaporation) was it's explanation.  Don't change your temp just wait it out. I am by no means a pro at this but thanks to everyone I at least have a clue. Which is more than many people I know who "smoke" meat to a crisp.

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