Originally Posted by vetmp
Recently I switched from cooking on a Smoke Hollow No. 6 LP Gas Smoker to an Oklahoma Joe Offset smoker. I used it for the first time the other night. I was using Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes and Western Wood chunks. I had a real hard time getting it up to temp without using a ton of wood and charcoal. Is there a better way? Should I be using lump charcoal to get the pit up to temp then just using chunks or splits for a little extra heat and the flavor? I am back in a rookie season as I have never cooked on an offset smoker before now. Any advice that y'all could give would be greatly appreciated.
I have the same OKJ offset smoker, and can get it up to temp with no problem using Kingsford Briquettes. However, that was not the case out the chute when I bought it back in late June.
First - if you are reading your temp with the thermometer on the top of the hood, you are running even cooler than you think. Need to measure the temp at the cooking grate level, it is cooler down there than at the top of the hood. In my case, around 30-40 degrees. If you have not yet, I highly suggest at the very least getting a couple of oven thermometers - you can pick them up fairly cheap at a grocery store, they have little stands on them and sit on the cooking grate - put one on each end.
It did not take long, I ordered the Maverick ET-732 wireless cook and meat probe, really makes keeping an eye on the chamber temp very easy without having to open the hood.
Ok so, I discovered fairly quickly, I had some leaks around the chamber lid, and the firebox lid. Smoke would come out all around both of these lids. I also discovered the right side of my cook chamber was significantly warmer than the left side. I ordered a convection plate to help even those out a little more. I ordered a Nomex gasket and applied , for the cook chamber lid and firebox lid. I purchased a 90 degree elbow, and installed it in the smokestack to lower it closer to the cooking surface.
I also ordered a charcoal basket made for my OKJ, from Horizon, to help with the minion method.
Lastly, there is a significant gap between the firebox door and the firebox. Let's too much air in - causes fuel to burn faster. On each smoke, I wrap a few layers of alum foil ( one piece folder over a few times), around the firebox edge by the firebox door, on each side, till I get it sealed as good as I can.
You can see what all I did with some pics, in this thread:
The last smoke I did after all these mods - I started with about 7-8 lbs of Kingsford Briquettes - unlit - in the charcoal basket, hollowed out some in the middle, then lit about a dozen briquettes in my chimney starter, once they were glowing red, I poured them in the middle and was off to the races. No trouble at all getting up to temp, adjusted the firebox draft plate to keep it where I wanted it, and it stayed there consistently within about 5 degrees, for almost 5 hours before I had to add any more.
I hope this helps,
I am very pleased now with this smoker.