OK Joe - cant get thin blue smoke

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by rhaugle, Jan 9, 2016.

  1. rhaugle

    rhaugle Smoke Blower

    So my new problem is that I cant get the desired smoke out of my OKJ. When ever I close the FB lid, the goes out within 20 seconds and I get the heavy white billowing smoke from the stack. I know this means the fire is burning inefficiently, But I dont know what to do. Leave the side door open? That doesnt seem to work.  In the FB I have sealed the gaps with gasket, have rotated my grate 90 degrees so it sits about 3-4 inches off the bottom, and I have a charcoal basket in there. When starting up the fire, full chimney full and wait till its all going. Then dump it in the FB, spread it out a bit and put on a few split logs. Wait till they are all burned up for more coals, then put on fresh wood. Wait for the fresh wood to catch on fire, walk away for 5 mins then come back to make sure the wood is still burning. THEN I will close the FB top door/lid, and poof, 20 seconds and heavy, white smoke.

    What else do I need to do to this thing? Do I need another air vent in the side of the FB? I know some people have done this.

    I dont know what else to do...

    Other mods...

    Sealed the entire pit with RTV gasket

    90 degree elbow for smoke stack

    baffle and tuner plates but non of these should affect the FB fire actually burning...

    And yes, the smokestack is wide open.
  2. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Try building a Small Hot fire. This burns more efficiently than a big fire needing lots of O2 to burn clean and you will have better heat control...JJ
  3. mtime7

    mtime7 Fire Starter

    I bought one a while back on clearance and its been sitting in the garage, burned my first fire in it today. Every time I put wood on I would get white smoke for about 10-15 minutes (could be the wood is a little wet) I thought it was normal. My problem was that it wanted to ride at 350 degrees. I think the temp problem might be from me wanting to leave FB door open.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016
  4. rhaugle

    rhaugle Smoke Blower

    This is my fire as of right now. I didnt think it was too big at all.... am i wrong? As soon as i closed the lid i got white smoke again
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016
  5. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    IMHO These type of smokers are too small and dont have enough airflow for adding large pieces of wood especiallly if they are not super dry. Try adding small wood chunks to the hot fire you get at lowes or home depot. They are nice and dry. You only need 1 small piece at a time to get thin blue smoke. Add another hot coal chimney as temps drop...

    My 2 cents
  6. mtime7

    mtime7 Fire Starter

    I would turn that stick and shake the basket  to clear the bottom.

    another thing, I am going to chunk the basket on mine tomorrow
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016
  7. I am guessing the firebox vent is open on the side door. CF
  8. rhaugle

    rhaugle Smoke Blower

    The wood I use is dried and sold in big bags, I can cut it down smaller though. 
    I dont fill the basket up. I basically use it to keep the coals in a smaller area, thinking it will be hotter that way. Are you planning on putting wood onto the FB grate? Or resting on the bottom of the FB?
    Yes. The vent is open....
  9. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Is your wood dry and well seasoned? Try smaller splits and pre-heat them before putting them in. As has already been said, have plenty of air into the FB.
  10. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit

    Are you preheating your splits?
    Add a split...leave the firebox door open until you get clean smoke. As mentioned maybe go with smaller splits.
    You just have to experiment. Fire management takes some practice.
  11. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    went looking through some of my pics pics.. found this...

  12. mtime7

    mtime7 Fire Starter

    I am going to put it on the grate. I am not really sure why I am going to ditch the basket, I guess I just never used one and am not real comfortable with it. Maybe I was thinking it was causing my fire to be to hot
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016
  13. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    My make shift Charcoal Pan, holes punched in all around...Notice the Air Intake on the left side...

    The TBS flowing and smoker at 230°F...
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016
  14. rhaugle

    rhaugle Smoke Blower

    I have been preheating them... not sure the best way to do it, but tonight I was just doing some sausages so I put some splits right in the CC to warm up. I guess I could use the warming plate also? I will try some smaller chunks.. Hope that does it! I have tried everything else I can think of.. From opening the FB side door completely to physically fanning the fire (yes, with a magazine) to get the coals hot enough to start the logs. (this was my 2nd test fire, a while ago).
  15. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    If you think your the only one who has ever fanned a fire with a magazine.... I bet most of us here are guilty of such atrocities....lol   [​IMG]   I'm lazy.. get a hair dryer
  16. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    [​IMG]  Nope!  20" Box Fan on a folding chair...JJ[​IMG]
  17. mtime7

    mtime7 Fire Starter

    I have one of those fans on a stand, I have used it, or turn the smoker into the wind
  18. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit

    Just sit your splits right on top the flat piece on top the firebox. I think the picture you posted of your fire looks fine. Not sure why you was getting white smoke. As I mentioned when I add a split I will crack the firebox door for about a minute. To help the newly loaded split get burning.

    But if you have to fan your fire it sounds like you might not be getting good air flow.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
  19. valleypoboy

    valleypoboy Smoke Blower

    I'm going vote that you're over thinking it. You already have lit coals. Dump them in, put wood on top, close up the doors, open your exhaust 100% (always) and set your intake to your desired level of open. You'll have billowing white smoke for several minutes, but it should taper off pretty fast, once it does add your meat.
  20. I struggled for a time with my BTMLE  also!

    It seemed like  when I got everything sealed and heat distributed evenly across the grates, my fire would try to go out with good dry wood and opening the FB door for a minute to re-ignite the fuel!

    By the time I reached that TBS stage the fire would try to go out. Frustrating, I ended up taking the charcoal box out.  I just burned on the lower grate that came in the FB. 

    I have had great success with out the basket. I have to empty the ash pan once in a while but its not a problem and I have been known to pull the ash drawer back a little to get more air into the FB, a suggestion I got from this site. (Just make sure your not too close to a structure like a garage, "Or a fence" ashes dropped and set the fence on fire!)

    Not sure why I cant make the charcoal basket work for me other than I made it out of 1/2 expanded steel and should have gotten 3/4!

    I can now walk away from the smoker for a little more than an hour depending on outside conditions.

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