Oi all! I have been smoking for a while so I am not totally a noob. Recently I invested in an Oklahoma Joe Longhorn. I completed my mods and did a seasoning run and then the next day a short smoke of some jalapenos just so I could start drinking beer earlier. So here is what I have and what I have done. My question(s) are about how to equalize the heat and about the difference between briquettes and lump. So here we go.
Here is what I have
Oklahoma Joe Longhorn with the following modifications:
Sealed the joints and smoker door.
Put latches on both sides of smoker door to tighten it down a bit.
Lowered exhaust to grate level.
Convection plate that runs just short of half way down the smoker, right to left. It does have the holes in it.
Day 1 seasoning:
I prepped the smoker for seasoning. Used standard briquettes with the Minion method. Fired it up and ran through the dry run. I watched my temps with internal Maverick probes that I made sure were accurate that day. I found that at low temps the heat variation from right to left was just a few degrees. At 300 degrees I hit the biggest variation with 25 degrees difference between the left and right side. Obviously the right side (firebox side) was hottest. I thought this was okay. I used a few chunks of wood to get a good smell going. The smoke color looked good. I finished the seasoning.
After the Okie Joe cooled I cleaned out the firebox. I checked out the inside to see if I could mitigate the heat variation from right to left. Where the convection plate rests on the right side of the smoker I did note the bolt heads from the bolts that mount the firebox to the smoker stuck out 3/8 inch or so allowing for a 3/8 gap between the convection plate and the side wall. I used some foil and sealed this gap up creating no dead space between the side wall and the convection plate.
Day 2 Smoke:
After I used the foil I started prepping for a quick smoke. I used the same calibrated probes inside the smoker, one on the left and one on the right. I also used the Minion method again. This time I used briquettes to start it off but lump in the actual charcoal basket for the smoke. I fired the smoker up and was able to get up to temp easy and fast. What I found out now was that the left side of the smoker ran between 25-50 degrees cooler. 25 at lower temps and 50 at higher temps, (after I pulled the jalapenos I cranked the smoker up to 300 to watch it burn a bit). I also noted that the color of the smoke was darker than what I wanted. I used a handful of wood chunks in this smoke. Because the time for this smoke was so short I did not have to add more lump. One basket full ran for hours and was actually good to find out about.
So here are my questions and please supply your thoughts:
1. How can sealing the gap between the convection pate and side wall fail to equalize the heat? Did this add to the temp problem?
2. Does lump burn that much hotter than briquettes?
3. The dark color smoke I am sure comes from the lump. Is this good, bad, or whatever?
4. Would extending the convection plate help to equalize the heat (I am leaning towards this for the next step)?
Thanks for your input all!