Fire Management Problems

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Original poster
Dec 16, 2022
I have an Oklahoma Joes Longhorn combo and have been messing around with the smoker. I have done ribs and a pork butt so far and they turned out good, but I get major temp fluctuations from 275-225. I start by doing a full chimney of lump charcoal and get it burning properly then put it in the firebox and let it go for a bit. Once it settles the temp is around 300* then put in 3 warmed wood chunks and let them get going. The temp gets to about 275 then I put the meat on. Then about 30 mins later the coals seem to be about gone and the temp is rapidly declining to about 225. I then add more chunks and it gets back to 275 then about 30 mins later it gets back down to 225 and I don’t know where to go from there as the coals are gone and the wood is about out. I am new to smoking and would love some input on how steady your temperature should be and some tips.


Smoking Fanatic
Jun 14, 2021
Welcome from North Carolina.
It sounds like you're using chunks not splits. Splits will last you a little longer and give you a better coal bed. I haven't used a Longhorn before but it's made from thinner metal not as efficient. Adding fuel every 30 minutes is about right. Temp swings from 275-225 isn't bad in a stick burner. They require you to babysit them. Keep cooking on it, the more you use it the more you'll figure it out.


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Dec 27, 2015
Southwest Minnesota
Welcome to the forum from Minnesota, enjoy your time here! Newglide has good advice for you and keep cooking on it to learn how it reacts.


Master of the Pit
SMF Premier Member
Jan 1, 2020
Sacramento, Calif.
Damn sorry to hear that. Yeah, tending fire on manual smokers/grills is a bitch. I tried a weber for a few years i could only grill fast and hot cause i sucked lol. Thank god for my gravity fed masterbuilt. Hope you figure it out have you tried asking on an oklahoma joe's fan site on facebook?


Smoking Fanatic
Jan 31, 2022
New Mexico
I used a ok joe highland for several years. I settled on adding wood every 15 minutes or so and never got better than +/- 50 degrees over an entire smoke. Very hard to prevent temp spikes, then they crash fast. If you are adding wood every 30 minutes, sounds like it's working well for you, to me.
Despite the temp swings, it still put out great BBQ.

If it's like the highland, Make sure you have a water pan towards the fire box and consider a stack extension.

Steve in AL

Dec 7, 2022
I have been learning how to run my new MB gas vertical, using wood chips. At least with the gas burner, fire management is not much of a problem. Been doing brined chicken thighs/leg quarters lately (with apple and cherry - tastes great!) and of course the smoker temp drops noticeably when I first put the cold chicken pieces into the hot (250* or so) smoker. But the temp recovers and I keep adding some new wood chips every 20-30 min or so for a thin smoke, adjusting the burner to aim for an average 250" temp. At that temp, about 2.5-3 hrs gets the chicken up to approx 175* and its ready to go to the table.


Nov 12, 2022
I also HAD the OJ combo smoker. I was tired of the same things as described in your post. I sold it and bought an ORIGINAL OJ smoker. Its MUCH heavier steel and once heated, i hold temps very well. I used the ols smoker for about 5 years and now, will never look back!


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
Jan 27, 2015
Just a couple of thoughts. First a temp swing from 225 to 275 isn’t all that crazy for a stick burner that is smaller and thinner gauge.

Next lump tents to burn hotter and faster than the normal stuff.

For longer cooks try adding 3/4 coals when you add your wood. This will help keep you coal bed strong and will help stabilize the heat a bit better but honestly you not going to get it much better and it’s perfectly ok! is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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