offset smoker tuning plates vs reverse flow

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by cornbread, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. I am new on here I have built a lot of big cookers and smokers over the years. For the last ten years I have not done much with this I have been happy with my last one. I have started a new one I miss the fabrication as much as the cooking.  My cookers have always been direct cooking method and a few indirect . I am trying to learn more about the indirect method with offset fire boxes . I would love any input on tuning plates vs reverse flow  for more even cooking. My barrel I rolled myself from new metal it is 36" wide and 6'-0 long the side walls are flat so I am not sure if reverse flow would work properly. All the ones I have seen are from propane tanks with round ends would it make more sense to use tuning plates and exhaust from the far end or both end?.Or would reverse flow still work and be better.
  2. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    The reverse flow is not dependent on round ends. What I like most about RF Smokers is the plate is a great place to put drip pans or pans of Beans and Au Jus. With tuning plates the pans mess with the control and heat distribution...JJ
  3. Thanks I thought the same thing Did you build yours
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    No I don't have the skills or tools to fabricate but am familiar with the function of most smokers...JJ
  5. buttburner

    buttburner Meat Mopper

    I have home made tuning plates in my OK Joe

    I just lay the drip pan right on them

    doesnt really affect anything since I tuned it with the drip pan already in place
  6. thanks for responding I got some things figured out on that pit calculator that helped a lot with the firebox and flue for the cooking chamber. I wonder how far away from the cooking rack  the reverse flow pan would have to be for good heat on the meat I am going to try to put some photos of what I have done so far hopefully they will load up
  7. thanks for the info Buttburner I am very interested in the tuning plate method it seems like you would always have some compensation for the heat if something is not right and needs to be changed vs reverse flow plan I have 2 cylinders I would like to try both ways and see which is better. Do you like the way your tuning plates disperse the heat and is it pretty even across the cooking surface? I wonder how far away from the cooking rack the plates would have to be spaced and do you get a good draw across the meat when you cook that way?
  8. buttburner

    buttburner Meat Mopper

    this is my setup

    works just fine

    Actually the plates are a little different from the pic. I took the far left one out and spread the rest out some

    but you get the idea

    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I trust you get a good result but with little to no gaps except for the last plate and that pan covering what few tiny gaps there are...It would seem all the heat travels the length of the chamber and up the stack. If the vent was on the other side that would be a reverse flow smoker. The following is more typical, progressively larger gaps going away from the fire box, a pan would defeat the tuning... But hey, what ever works is all that is important...[​IMG]...JJ

    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
  10. Here an answer for a reverse flow with a flat ended cooking chamber:


  11. buttburner

    buttburner Meat Mopper

    re read what I wrote.
  12. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    It would help to point out what you mean rather than make someone who's trying to help guess!

    Seems like Jimmy's got a handle on whats going on. so would you like to tell us how far these plates are spaced or post an updated picture?

    Or should we keep guessing?
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    cornbread evening....   The height of the RF plate or the tuning  plates is dependent on the size and width of the cook chamber...   The tuning plates can be closer to the bottom of the cook chamber than the RF plate can be installed....   That is because, the tuning plates allow air/heat/smoke to be released to the cooking grates all along the tuning plate installation height....    In a RF (reverse flow), the air/heat/smoke must travel the full length of the Cook Chamber and then take a 180 deg turn to head toward the exhaust....  The RF plate causes friction and therefore friction loss in the amount of air traveling to the exhaust stack...  That causes the FB (fire box) to overheat trying to force the air through the smoker...  There are several adjustment that can be made to alleviate the FB overheating situation....     When you get to where you know what you want to build, I will help you with your design.....    

    Good luck figuring out which smoker to build.....

    The tuning plate smoker has a somewhat adjustable temp zones, on the cooking grate.....  I'm not sure what that accomplishes...  It would be like trying to cook a roast at 300 in one part of your oven and cooking chicken or baked spuds at 400 in another part of you oven....    The concept makes sense to me, but accomplishing it seems difficult at best, and regulating the temps seems almost impossible.....

    OK, Now I'm in trouble.....  

    Any members out there that have found a viable use for different temp zones, help us out here.....   Be sure to include detailed directions on how you accomplish that.....  Plate adjustment....  Fire adjustment.... Vent adjustment...   etc.....    

    I need to know how that's done also....  I've heard about it but nothing detailed was ever explained....     Dave
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
  14. Thanks everyone for the info it helps a lot. Dave was talking about the tuning plates having different temps across the chamber. I thought the idea of the tuning plates was to help even it out. Has anyone been able to get pretty consistent temps across the chamber with tuning plates and a baffle or have I been reading the wrong info about these?  I like to stay around 225 when I smoke. I know a lot of this is going to depend on location and getting the draft correct. Does it work well or am I better off with a reverse flow design with a solid drip pan?
  15. Dave, sometimes If the smoker has a "hot spot", I'll use it to fast cook a tid bit of meat or a sausage to eat while I'm cooking, but for the most part I like to have consistent even heat. I guess it wouldn't mater if you where only cooking one leg quarter, because you could move it around until you found the sweet spot, but as soon as you try to cook a dozen at once and you have friends that like to sit down and eat at the same time, that uneven heat will have one friend eating crispy chicken and another with blood dripping from it, and more than likely they wont be back for the next BBQ.
  16. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The reason I brought the different temps up.....  Some folks have said the different temps is an advantage....  I couldn't understand why..   Just cruising through all the  possibilities...   If you want a smoker that has even temps, not much of a choice..... I'd choose the RF.... 

    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  17. buttburner

    buttburner Meat Mopper

    I dont have an updated pic on this PC

    How far mine are spaced is not going to help anyway, he has a different cooker than I have. So he will have to experiment, just like I did.

    thats why they are called tuning plates, they needs to be tuned to your particular cooker. Its not a one size fits all thing
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  18. We are on the same page Dave.  My answer was more directed toward informing and helping people that read this thread understand.  It hard to understand the difference between those dept. store offset cookers and a well built, well design pit.  The heat control on a well built reverse flow out weighs any advantage anyone could come up with for the traditional off set smoker, in my opinion.

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