Offset Smoker, needs some tweaks

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Cap'n Mike

Original poster
May 24, 2023
I was recently gifted an offset smoker.
First the details
It was constructed of 1/8" industrial pipe. It weighs close to 300 lbs
The firebox is 14" pipe, 20" long
The smoke box is 14" pipe, 40" long.
The vent stack is 4" pipe
The grates are 1" industrial deck grating
I replaced the 3 thermometers on the smoke box, and they all read fairly accurate, within a degree of each other, and all showing very close to 210 Degrees in boiling water.
I will eagerly admit it needs a serious cleaning

I smoked some wings this weekend, just to get a feel for it.
The center temp was 225. The left temp was 195, the right 175.
The stack was 200F, with the intake vent 75% open and the exhaust about 20% open
From the photos, you can see there's a serious hot spot just left of center. Anything placed there is just charred.
My major concern is first, finding better distribution from the firebox, to address that hot spot, then getting a better heat distribution throughout the smoke box.
I was looking at tuning plates, but the grating on the left side rests solidly on the deflector from the fire box.
Would it be effective to trim the smokebox grates so they sit lower in the box?
I have decent metalworking skills, but lack the welding skills to completely rebuild this thing.
All I'm looking for is a functional smoker to do a few ribs, butts, and some random 40lb batches of wings.
Thanks in advance!


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The pit looks fine, but learn to run temp from the firebox and not the exhaust. The exhaust should run wide open through the cooking process.
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The pit looks fine, but learn to run temp from the firebox and not the exhaust. The exhaust should run wide open through the cooking process.
Yes this open exhaust regulated intake. closing the exhaust creates a back pressure and then overrides the intake and can cause incomplete combustion, ie bad smoke. I would scrape it clean of any build up and start cooking the crap out of it, while doing so learn the temperature differentials across the grate and use them to your advantage.
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That looks to be a solid smoker. Its made to be a " bottom up " smoker, due to the baffle on the exchange between firebox/cook chamber, and the exhaust is at the top of the cook chamber. Its meant for air/heat to come up from below meats, flow around them, then out the top.

Most cookers that are bottom up use some kind of convection plate or tuning plates to distribute heat. Horizon and Yoder , which are really the same design as the old original Oklahoma Joe, use a convection plate. There's probably pics on their sites. There's some other sites that sell convection plates specifically made for the cheap offsets.

But if you've got some metal fabrication ability, you could easily make one yourself. And could start with getting an old baking sheet to put in place, just to play around with it and see what it does.

Old Country sells a set of tuning plates to go with their cookers. They're nothing but thin 1/8th steel, about 4" wide and long enough to rest across the cook chamber. They come in a set of 7 or 8 and allow adjustment of each plate to create openings. Something like that would not be hard to make also.

Bottom up cookers aren't meant for high airflow, the tuning plates sort've clog things up, you need just enough air to burn a clean fire.
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if you had the ability the cut the hood off the opening from the firebox to the cook chamber. The opening on the firebox side is already designed in a way that will shoot the heat to the top of the cook chamber, but the hood over the hole in the cook chamber is pushing it toward the middle. I believe it would run even temps. Cut the piece off in the pic I just did some major tweaks to mine and this is the new opening from the firebox to the cook chamber and it works amazing. Not sure what’s up with the pic click on it and it will come up.


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