Another new Okie Highland Owner!

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fendersrule

Smoke Blower
Original poster
Jun 15, 2021
147
164
Pulled this thing home last night at 10PM. Looked really weather beaten. Faded. The Firebox obviously looks like it's been used a bit.

Grew up with Pellet Grills, then moved to a WSM (probably my most recommended smoker), and finally got an offset. Truth be told, this wasn't a blind buy as my neighbor has made some of the best, smokiest BBQ I've ever had, including texas restraunts, with his highland.

Detached the firebox to help load it better. It looked solid, but far from "sexy"
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Today I spent about 2.5 hours gathering materials, going to the car wash, scraping with a paint scraper, and oiling with canolia oil. No chemicals. The only wiping that was done was with oil.
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Two mods were necessary from an engineering background, even without having using it (I've co-operated a highlander before) is that 1) the draft could be increased, and 2) it's more appropiate that the exhaust should draw near the grate. I decided to tackle 1) the same day during cleaning.
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I welded an M8 bolt on the inside of a 3" "exhaust pipe extender" (available at every auto parts store), then used 400F semi gloss paint to finish the job. This is so that the exact same stock hardware can be reused on the extension pipe.
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Here's the final product. Fitted with a Pit Boss drip pan (which it came with) with a new set of drip pan inners. Grates were pressured washed and cleaned completely. Everything is oiled, and ready to go.

Stock stack, ultra cleaned and ready go to:
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Final:
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Smokin Okie Smokin Okie
 
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That's lookin good , you made a good buy !

What does the exchange between firebox and cook chamber look like on those smokers ? Do they have a baffle or convection plate ?
 
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nice buy and clean up! Look forward to seeing what you pull off of it.
So , tell us more about the dodge in the garage!

Jim
 
That's lookin good , you made a good buy !

What does the exchange between firebox and cook chamber look like on those smokers ? Do they have a baffle or convection plate ?

Thank you! Stock, they don't have any baffle at the connection. My neighbor makes his own baffle and I think he has an extra peice for me to use.

We're doing a BBQ even on Sunday, so I'll be cooking for 6-7 on this my first go-around. Eeek!
 
The first offset I ever bought and still use it, especially for smaller cooks. You've probably already seen it, but there is a baffle plate available here and I have an older version of it.

After using my Joe for a couple of years, I decided that I needed something bigger for larger cooks, so I bought a 48" custom offset. See the rabbit hole that you can go down in this game?
 
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The first offset I ever bought and still use it, especially for smaller cooks. You've probably already seen it, but there is a baffle plate available here and I have an older version of it.

After using my Joe for a couple of years, I decided that I needed something bigger for larger cooks, so I bought a 48" custom offset. See the rabbit hole that you can go down in this game?

My neighbor brought over a big square steel plate. You can see it in one of the firebox photos, wrapped in foil. It angles the air to go upwards. He made me install it immediately due to his experience of too much hot air directly hitting the right side of the grates.

Pretty impressed. All three ribs cooked evenly. No burning on the top or bottoms.

The baffle you sent does the opposite, Shoot the air underneath. I think this baffle system wouldn't be compatible with lowering the exaust near the grate since in that case you want air to move upward at the very end. (I don't think it's recommended to do both). Plus cleaning...ehhh. The benefit though is that it gives you a extra 25% of cooking space, so I can see the benefit in that.

There's lots of opinions on baffles and directions. Some like 'em. Some don't. What my neighbor brought over works well, although I haven't used the grill without it. Basically the idea behind the metal plate is it get more usable cooking space (not as much as the lavalock baffle though) by getting the hot gasses up faster when it enters the cooking chamber. This would be compatible with the lowering mod since you're basically making a "rainbow" effect.

Probably should do a biscuit test w/ and without the metal plate he brough over.
 
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Here's a couple pictures of theoretical airflow with some minor modifications. This is all keeping the Okie Joe a "top down" cooker. The "baffle plate" everyone talks about is changing how it performs to be a bottom-up cooker, and many people do not prefer that. So don't just blindly add that without understand this!

Here is the Okie Joe Stock form:
stock.png


Expected results
* Right 1/3 grate will be pretty much unsuable.
* Left 1/3 grate will be colder than the right 2/3. Potential "less smoke" penetration on the left side.
* Both hood gauges are going to read way hotter than grate temps.

Conclusion: This is a funcitonal design, albiet doesn't seem efficient or consistant.

Here's the Okie Joe w/ a 8" x 8" steel plate angled upwards in the cook chamber near the firebox. This is my current configuration (neighbor's recommendation):
Plate_Stock Exhaust.jpg


Expected results
* Right 1/3 grate should in theory be more usable. Will confirm with a biscuit test. It's obviously still going to be a hot area, but it may be that you could start to use a few more inches of it.
* Consistent temps for the left 2/3 of the cooker. I confirmed this with my 3 racks of st. louis ribs, they all cooked absolutely perfectly with no hotspots.
* Both hood gauges are going to read way hotter than grate temps since the hot air is still traveling above.

Conclusion: This is not a bad configuration, but more fuel and less smoke flavor (potentially....)

Here's what it would look like w/ the stack lowering mod and the plate in place:
plate+lowering.png


Expected results
* Right 1/3 grate should in theory be more usable. Will confirm with a biscuit test.
* Should still get consistent temps for the left 2/3 of the cooker. In theory, less fuel is needed since hot air will be traveling closer to grate level.
* Both hood gauges are going to going to read hotter than grate temps since the hot air still rises, but the discreptancy of the hood gauges vs grate gauges should be less (right now in second config they are more than 100F off).

Conclusion: More consistant bark over a wider area, potentially more smoke flavor and potentially less fuel usage due to lowering the heat path which means the same amount of fuel would run hotter at the grate.

IMO, this is the type of design (any of the three configurations) I prefer vs the "baffle kit" that many people immediately jump for without thinking it through that makes the Okie Joe a bottom up smoker. There's some drawbacks to that design.
 
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Cooking more on the Oklahoma Joe modified w/ the upward baffle and stack lowering kit. I also have 2x exhaust stacks fitted.

A couple things I am noticing:

I'm finding that the extension on a 3" pipe is not significantly improving airflow enough. Even doubling it up like what I have, you will still have some circumstances where the fire is not catching appropiately. You shouldn't have to open the firebox lid and wait 30-60 seconds for small warmed up okie joe-sized splits to catch.

Keep in mind that I have the stack lowering kit, which I almost believe is slowing airflow (choking air).

I've noticed that ever since putting the stack lowering kit on, I get smoke leakage around the stack end of the smoker. I used it a couple times without the stack lowering kit, and smoke didn't leak anywhere on the smoker. This tells me that air flow is hindered, as it now appears smoke is "collecting" towards the exhaust area.

Another sign is smoke at the firebox has no problem drawing outward, towards the side access door opening, instead of it being always "pulled" into the cooking champer when the door is left open. Another sign that there's not enough pull, especially with the stack lowering kit.

Since I have a welder, grinder, and a cut off wheel, I think I will build a small collector out of 12ga and get a 4-6" pipe.
 
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Heres' a couple pics of my last smoke.

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Here's an example of smoke coming out of the firebox door. Correct me if I'm wrong, but a proper amount of pull means that this shouldn't happen.

This is also with a double stack. The Oklahoma Joe actually has a little less than a 3" diameter--it's about 2 7/8" at best:

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Again, I have a suspecion that the draw is pretty low, even with the extended pipes, and I probably made it worse with the stack lowering kit:
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So to correct this I could A) remove the stack lowering kit and just have smoke exit the top like it was and this may make it draw to more of a barely acceptable level or B) make it right by doing some fab work.

So I chose B)!
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I bought 11 ga metal scrap for $20 which will be MORE than enough to build a collector. They only stock 4" and 6" square pipe. I left because I was looking for 5", but the more I've thought about it, a 4" w/ a collector on an okie joe should pull very nicely--this going from a 3" to a 4" will just about double the pull, so I will return in the next few days to grab 36" of 4" pipe. Planning on about 31" or so in length, slightly smaller than the cook chamber. I bought some rod so that I can make a cool damper control.
 
Following as I am curious to see how it comes out. I like your idea though and think it will improve your draw. I have COS also. Mine is the Chargriller Grand Champ XD. It was right for my budget. Would love a high end 1/4" smoker but not in my cards. my smoker has a grate level exhaust but the lowest point is just above the bottom grate. I wish they made it a bit lower. I tried messing around with lowering the uptake also and felt like it restricted my draw and the exhaust side temps increased a lot and I got smoke pushing out of the firebox door also so now I just run it as designed with a stack extension. Hope your project works out. I will be watching for updates!!
 
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