Questions from a new smoker around even heat

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by dmelia1, Jul 9, 2016.

  1. Hello all. New to smoking. Just seasoned my Olkahoma Joe's Highlander last night and noticed that my right side temp Guage consistently runs between 30 and 50 degree cooler than the right. Strange because this is right next to the firebox. I installed firebox and smoke chamber gaskets, lowered the exhaust stack to grate height and added tuning plates. Seasoned with Royal Oak lump charcoal and a few pieces of chunk hickory for smoke. Played with my inlet and had no trouble raising smoker up over 300 degrees and lowering back down but no matter where I stabilized the heat at the right side read cooler between 30 and 50 degrees. Any input here folks?
  2. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    First, factory gauges are notoriously inaccurate. You can check them in boiling water. If they are not within a couple of degrees, I would replace them with River Country therms.

    Second, after you know that your therms are good, try adjusting your tuning plates.

    Other Thames that, you may just have to adjust where you are cooking. Let the hot and cool spots work for you with different meats, etc.

    Good luck with it and good smokin', Joe.
  3. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Joe nailed it.  More than likely it's going to be the therm that's off.  Do as he said and you should be in good shape.
  4. donarkie

    donarkie Newbie

    1st thing IMO should be done with any new pits, to be outfitted with tel tru thermometers.
  5. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Don't break the bank right out of the gate. River Country therms are just as good as Tel-Tru and much less expensive. The same goes for the Thermowand over the Thermopen.
  6. donarkie

    donarkie Newbie

    You will not break the bank out of the gate to spend a few dollars on a quality thermometer. Your entitled to your opinion. You spend what you feel, but for "me" I will stick with Tel Tru for the notoriety, reliability in accuracy for back yard & competitive bbq circuit pits.

    You want your pit to be consistent even heat throughout. If your cooking for friends & family you have all butts throughout your cooking, they should be cooking all at the same temps. Both of my pits ( my 8ft trailer & my smaller sticker burner) cook evenly continuously. Accurate thermometers aid in this and will help you find the cooler spots to correct. Whether tuning plates, or what I built for both pits an adjustable tuning plates with several 7 1\2" dampers with 3\16" steel in my smaller & 1\4" in my larger pit. Controlling the heat from one area & to increase evenly throughout  can be done. I know, I done it and successfully in my pits.

    The problem is....nobody wants to spend the time diagnosis the problems with there pits. They figure buying something off line is the answer or go off what someone recommends that it will work successful in their pit...or has it? to only find out their pit is still inconsistent in temperature or I can live with 25 or 15 degrees difference between each side of my cooking chambers.

    Its your pit, you should know it better than anyone else. You should be spending the time to correct all the hick-up's in your pit to product great BBQ not OK or decent BBQ. My 8ft stick burner I owned for over 16 yrs , I corrected my temperature problems, took me over 2 12 yrs with trial & error with flue baffle & stack. But I maintain even temperatures throughout. 2 months ago I bought a new small backyard pit, Old Country Wrangler. Took me NO time to analyze the issues this pit has. I made the corrections need performance wise & aesthetically too. This pit runs very well evenly & consistently whether it is medium or long cooks. But all starts off with great accurate thermometer's. I prefer Tel Tru's.  

    I started off cooking from them cheap tin can cooker 20 plus yrs ago. 4 old timer took me under their wing and taught me everything they know. Most of these guys passed on will find different techniques or talents are used in the BBQ community. Some are stubborn and head strong about what they do as correct BBQ. If you ever gone to a competitive event (which I have many times), you will find how many of them teams do things differently "successfully". If your serious about BBQ as I am, & want to produce great BBQ you will look at upgrading your pit. Spend  500.00 for a mid range quality pit with thicker metal, all welded seems, with the stack placed in the correct position isn't all that much money. The less mod's you have to do, the better your pit will perform. Then you will learn & have fun producing great BBQ , NOT struggling & be dispirited and putting out fair to midland BBQ. The quality of the pit was shared with me over 20 yrs ago. I saw a difference, I was blessed to have to choice of buying my 8ft offset stick burner from one of them 4 old timers. And I still own it. That's when I saw my BBQ skills change.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2016
  7. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit

    I agree with Joe...I have had river country gauges on my big smoker and they have been fine and they get used hard.
    Most of the brand name gauges are is just a matter of preference.

    With the highland you got a few options with the uneven temps.
    1. Use the temps to your advantage - cooking chicken on the hot side
    2. Get a convection plate from horizon for your highlander, Or make tuning plates.
    3.Get a heavy cookie sheet that fits your smoker. Put it on the firebox side with a pan of water on top of it - more of a temporary fix but should work.

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