Last year, I purchased my OK Joe Longhorn after looking at several options. It was replacing my NBBD to give me a bit more cook area. I've been satisfied with the way it worked, but wanted to improve it in some way.
I've read a lot about different modifications folks have done to improve the Longhorn on this forum and a couple of other places. Recently, I had a welding shop add a baffle between the fire box and cook chamber as well as make a charcoal box and cut some tuning plates. I spent a couple of days seasoning the new additions using charcoal and oak firewood. I checked the temperatures across the chamber with my digital probe and found it to be much more consistent than before the mods. One thing this testing did for me was to show me that the two thermometers mounted at the top of the cook chamber were off a bit - boiling water registered 150°!!!
Being ready to give the changes a try, I bought four slabs of pork spare ribs on Friday and prepped them to cook on Saturday. When I got the smoker started, I used my digital thermometer at cooking grate level to verify temperature. I cook ribs at 225°, so I started loading them when the probe temp went past 200°. I was able to maintain 220-225° with no problem, which seemed fairly consistent across the chamber. I have used the 3-2-1 method of doing ribs - 3 hours of smoke, wrap and cook 2 hours, then unwrap and give a final hour of smoke. They have always come out absolutely perfect. With yesterday's cook, the ribs were falling off the bone when I took them out of the foil wrap, which for some people would be fine, but I prefer them to be like competition ribs - very tender bite that doesn't pull all the meat off the bone. In other words, they were a bit overcooked.
Now, to the point of my post. The main difference in the smoker is the tuning plates which are 1/4" steel.
Do the tuning plates have that kind of effect on cooking time (temperature)?
If so, do I need to reduce the temperature somewhat so I can still get the length of cook required for ribs (or anything else)?
Edited by BArnold - 6/10/14 at 11:03am