Assembled my Highland yesterday

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Smoking in Virginia

Original poster
Oct 17, 2018
I just assembled my Highland yesterday and seasoned it for about six hours. Just a couple of observations and responses to other posts I've seen.

Easy enough to do solo although having a second set of hands to hang the firebox (FB) would have been nice.

Drilled four more holes for the FB so it'd be cinched all around. Used black sealant (yes, food safe) putting the FB together and also attaching to the cooking chamber (CC).

For seasoning, put lump charcoal in the FB and lit a chimney-full to add. The temp - at the grill - was a LOT higher near the FB than near the stack so I'll be mitigating that with simple hack and if that doesn't work will get fancy. Oh, added a bit of oak to finish out the seasoning.

No problem getting it hot, and don't plan to use the gauge that came with the smoker. I've sensors on the grill at each end.

First smoke will probably be bacon as I can work to keep the temp low by watching it full time for a couple of hours. Next will be some ribs, and then . . .

Don't know how soon I'll do a brisket but I've the itch and figure that knowing how to keep CC between 250 and 275 will be all I need. The only issue I ever had with my New Braunfels Hondo was putting the point of the brisket too close to the FB and getting charred ends instead of burnt ends.
Congrats on the new smoker. Sounds like you are taking the steps to get it sealed the best you can. Can't wait to see that brisket
Didn't see much smoke come out where it shouldn't but have gasket for the CC door that I'll probably put on before I smoke. Biggest issue, right now, is to control the IR from the FB that I need to control.

And will hold off on the brisket for awhile and will probably do ribs on Sunday - and hope to get the pork belly out of the freezer and thawed for curing. (Too much crap in the fridge right now so that'll take some finagling.)

I'll try to remember to take, and post, any photos I can. I'll be batching it on Sunday so can pay close attention to the smoker.
I know some have put deflector plates in. Others have done a pan of water as a thermal break.
I'll take the two narrower grates, wrap in heavy duty foil, and put one at an angle from above the FB opening and the other flat to hold it in place. Will also use a water pan, of course, on top of that as I'm sure there'll be enough heat.

Goal is to block the IR and slow down the blast of heat.

If the foil/grate hack doesn't cut it then I'll go with heavier plate and do some fancy bending. Lots of examples on the intertubz, and it's just matter of taking the time to do it.
I did try wrapping those two grates on my OKJ at first but realized I got great results without that. I use a foil water pan against the firebox opening and that’s all I need. I’ve got only good things to say about my OKJ. One of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Good luck.

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