Temperature control for my Oklahoma Joe Longhorn

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by new2okiejoe, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. new2okiejoe

    new2okiejoe Newbie

    I have a Oklahoma Joe Longhorn that I purchased about a month or so ago.  I have smoked some butts and chicken on it.  The main problem I am having is keeping the temp. high enough.  I know this sounds crazy since most of the reviews talk about try to keep the heat down.  I have installed temp. gauges on each side of the cooking chamber down near the cooking grate.  It believe the hottest I have been able to get it is 260 degrees, and thats on the side nearest the fire box.  Usually when I fire it up, I put in a few briquettes in the firebox, then I put a full chimney of hot briquettes on top of those.  I also add a little wood as well.  Last time I fired it up, I put some oven thermometers on the racks, on each side just to see exactly what the temp was on the cooking surface fom side to side.  The side nearest the fire box was 250, and the other side was 190. I had the intake about 1/3 of the way open, and the stack about 1/2 open.  I know a diffuser plate will eliminate alot of that.  I find myself have to add wood or more charcoal every 30-45 minutes it seems.  Any suggestions?
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    joe, morning and welcome to the forum....  Keep the smoke stack fully open at all time when smoking.... Use the firebox air intake to adjust the heat.....  With more air movement through the smoker, the temps will even out....   Dave 
  3. new2okiejoe

    new2okiejoe Newbie

    Thanks, I will try that.  Any suggestions for keeping it hot longer?  It just doesn't seem right that I should have to add more hot coals every 30 minutes or so.  Don't get me wrong, I love grilling and smoking as much as anyone, but I wouldn't think I should have to constantly be messing with the fire.
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    joe, someone developed the Minion Method.....  Depending on the total time expected to run the smoker, add unlit briquettes.... Put 8-12 lit coals on the pile.... Draft wide open and when temp gets to target, close down draft to maintain the desired temp.... Your smoker must be pretty air tight so the draft is the only place air comes into the fire.... also, a firebox briquette holder that allows for good air flow and a place for ashes to fall thru into the bottom of the smoker helps alot...  Adjusting the draft will take time to learn.... wait 1/2 hour between adjustments or you will be chasing the temp forever....  Once you get the temp figured out, the settings should be very close the next smoke...  here is a thread on a basket a member made.....


    If you can't control the temps, there are air leaks that need attention...   Dave
  5. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ditto Dave,

    There are some mods you can make, one is to lower the smoke stack to the cooking grate.

    Raise your firegrate 4" so you have proper airflow underneath the coals.  Make a fire basket

    Do a search on Oklahoma Joe Longhorn mods and look into tuning plates. and extending the heat baffle.

    Seal any leaks.
  6. new2okiejoe

    new2okiejoe Newbie

    I have made a charcoal fire box and I have lowered the smoke stack to the cooking grate.  I am excited to try these modifications to see if they help.  I am considering getting a convection plate as well.  Any feedback on the convection plate?  You guys use them?
  7. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Mine is a reverse flow so yes it has a (convection) plate.

    Many folks mod the traditional offset with tuning plates .

    Do a search for tuning plates.

  8. [​IMG]

    My royal oak offset with extends chimney mod.
    Ok, so what I learned is briquettes burn longer than lump for sure! And also with mine I see a difference in temperature, 250* on left side, will run 300* on firebox side, with a variable of 50* from thermometer to cooking grate level. I raised my cooking grates up about 2 inches to get more center heat.

    Also I find using a big split of wood or mini logs from cabela's vs. Chunks will burn hotter longer and give u a more even temp across the smoker. Small piles of lump charcoal & small chunks of wood will burn fast especially at trying 2 maintain 200 -225 temps.
    Yes mine is a v-8 fuel pig! And needs tending at least every hour- or so. Lol
  9. denden28

    denden28 Newbie

    I've read a lot of people lower the chimney intake to the cooking grate level. What benefit does this provide?
  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I've read a lot of people lower the chimney intake to the cooking grate level. What benefit does this provide?

    Denny, evening.... I have no proof and have done no testing but, having the chimney extended down near the food grate, eliminates the "dead zone" where there is no air flow just above the RF plate....  Without air flow, the food will have a cold area around it from the food.....  I would like to think the lowered stack will increase the air flow on the cooking grate and act like a convection oven and speed up the cooking process....            Dave
  11. titaneddie

    titaneddie Newbie

    So my wife bought me this same smoker for father's day.  Had been working to get one custom made but she didn't know so now even though I would not have chosen this one, that is what I have,  you know how it is, if momma aint happy....

    First look over my concern was the opening from the fire box to the cooking chamber, I will be getting a plate for that but in the meantime I am using a water bowl to deflect some of the heat.  Upon seasoning the smoker getting the temp up was difficult and keeping it there was impossible.  I chalked it up to using some scrap logs of unknown origin to build heat.  So the next day I throw a butt on, same problem but I was using good charcoal and hickory, no matter what I did I could not get the heat right.  Now, I'm no newbie been smoking for twenty years and have used a bullet smoker, a bandelero (my favorite until they sold out to china) and a few others and was always able to work with them as is but this one had me stumped.  Ended up finishing my butt in the oven.  I got to evaluating what was happening and discovered that the coals on the bottom of the firebox were black and cold.  This means no air circulating so I was only cooking with the top layer.  My solution was to get two bricks the kind with 3 holes in them and put them down in the firebox.  Take one of the grates from the bottom of the cooking chamber and use it as well as the one that came with the cooking chamber but turn them lengthwise on top of the bricks, gives a bit more height and the holes in the bricks allow more airflow. Worked pretty good a lot better than the first time.  Got a charcoal basket coming but even with that I think I will still leave the firebox grates raised.
  12. Try this to get more height and better airflow under your fire:

    brandon509 likes this.
  13. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi Remmy Was at Lowe's the other day only saw galvanize bolts, is that what you used?? Read some where about galvanize not being soo good to use??
    Thanks Dan
  14. There's not enough material there for it to matter (IMHO). I wouldn't use a plate of galvanized metal in the cooking chamber for something like a baffle though.
  15. oddball

    oddball Smoke Blower

    I'm currently using a Char-Broil model which will likely be replaced at the end of the season/year.  Hoping to get the OK Joe on sale/clearance at the end of the summer season.

    In any case, a few thoughts based on my current model:

    1) lower the smoke stack to grate level.  This lowers the heat (heat rises) and smoke to the cooking level and helps to manage your temps.

    2) tuning plates.  Another must have to help disperse the heat more evenly from end to end.

    These two mods alone should get your temps more even and consistent.  Actual heat and fire longevity are mostly a by product of outside temps and leakage.
  16. And those are a function of material gauge (thickness) and fabrication tolerances (quality). I can appreciate what the folks who fire up their smoker in sub-freezing temps have to do make it happen!!!
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2013
  17. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Great advice given..with regards to the Minion method try lighting your charcoal basket at the edge furthest from the cooking chamber.

    No need to just dump the lit coals on top..outside in works just fine
  18. New2OkieJoe, I have the same smoker and it is a nice mid range smoker but has some flaws. the biggest is the amount of air leaks. The door, the firebox and the chimney all have rather gaping gaps. These need to be closed up as best you can. I used tin foil to temp seal them but am looking for the right material to make it permanent. Then the other issue I had was the same, using too much charcoal! This thing will go through it like crazy! Try using split logs 3-4" around and about 8 inches long or so. I get a MUCH better temp and smoke from this. It made a HUGE difference. I start with a full chimney starter of charcoal and then add two good sized logs, bring the heat as high as I can get it and then adjust down. If I add 2 logs about once an hour or hour and a half I keep at my fav temp of 250-275 consistantly. It works for me. Hopefully some or all of this will help! Oh and I also found that I have to keep an eye on the ash tray so it doesnt get too full and stiffle the fire. Good luck! Smoke on brother!
  19. What length bolts are you using?
  20. I have the same grill, the first two mods I did was seal the cooking chamber and the firebox lid. The second was install a dryer vent 90 onto my stack. The reason for that is to maintain a more even heat thru the box. As we all know heat rises and with a straight shot across the top it tends to lose a lot of heat. I saw a 20 degree difference with these 2 mods. However i still have to add wood/charcoal about once an hour.

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