Hey guys -
I feel really fortunate that I was properly able to research and read many forum posts prior to my first smoker purchase.
I have an old, original Traeger that's been bulletproof in use for many years, but I recently battled with it when cooking a whole packer and a few pork shoulders. Even with the digital temp control and fiddling with the 'P Settings' I couldn't get good, consistent temps throughout my cook. No issues with burgers & steaks, but low & slow wasn't happening.
That's when my research on a new smoker started. The plan was, and still is to sell the Traeger to fund the new purchase so funds out of pocket will be minimal.
Looking in the $500 range I found only a few models that looked like they would work well. The OK Joe's is one that kept popping up on forums at under the $500 price point and seemed to perform well with some easy modifications.
Wal Mart has these units regularly priced at $268 which seemed fair, but I'd never seen one of these in person. Last Saturday I drove down to check one out in person. I was lucky in more than one way... They not only had a display unit setup, but they were closing them out at a further discounted price. The display unit was the last one in stock and I had them pull it down and wheel it up front for me. They even partially disassembled it and loaded me up after checking out.
Anyway - I knew what was in front of me so I started collecting the misc. parts and pieces I'd need to help this smoker morph into the lean, mean, cooking machine I know it will be.
- Sealed exhaust pipe & joint between firebox & cooking chamber
- Built up a basket for briquettes and wood
- Added some sheet metal to reduce the intake from the firebox
- A friend built & just dropped off the tuning\convection plate - an unexpected gift!
- Extended exhaust down to the cooking surface
- Added conduit below cooking surface for temp probes to pass-thru
I have a pair of 2-inch Tel-Tru's on the way for the left & right side of the pit. Holes are drilled and I'm just waiting on the parts.
The larger 3-inch stock thermometer that will go back in the top-left factory hole was in the house - it just nailed the boiling water temp test so I figure I'll drop it back in the hole (even though it's not the best placement to gather temp info from...)
Once everything rolls in I'll get it seasoned and tested out. I never fired the unit stock, and expect I'll still have some tuning to do.
I believe this is a fantastic head start though.
Enough with my rambling - photos below.