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Oklahoma Joe Highland Grill/Smoker current use. Fan, plate, wood with charcoal starter, lip cutdown, future mods and upgrades.

kevinspage

Newbie
4
3
Joined Nov 11, 2020
I have an Oklahoma Joe Highland Offset Smoker.

If I use the fire box as normal it seems very inefficient.
I use 4 temperature probes.
Two of the probes are placed on the grill rack either side of the meat.

Any time I open the top stack damper the heat just goes across the top of the cooking chamber and out the chimney.
The top built in temperature gauge says 350 to 400°F while the long range four probe Wi-Fi temp gauge shows the meat cooking level is 175-225°F

The meat is sitting where humans are told to go in a fire...stay low down out of the heat and smoke.
It takes a large amount of natural charcoal and cherry wood or mesquite to cook. I normally use charcoal with wood chunks to flavor the smoke, not wood.

If I completely close the chimney damper it allows the heat to build up and work its way down to where the meat is but risks having too much smoke linger around instead of moving through the meat.
It takes a large amount of fuel. It’s also hard to keep the temperature up.

When I build my fire with just natural charcoal in the cooking chamber instead of the fire box and completely shut the top damper then regulate the temperature using the firebox damper I use about one third less fuel, the meat cooks faster, in eight instead of ten hours to get to 205°F internal temp.

On windy days I close both dampers and cover the grill with a clean welding blanket.
I can maintain the temperature for the whole 8 hour cook time with one load of 10 pounds natural charcoal.
The smoke flavor is better because I’m not adding new wood or charcoal every hour. Less acrid smoke.

The only problem I have had with this approach is the lip between the firebox and the cooking area makes ash clean out harder.
I also loose half of my cooking area to the fire when offset smoking but I can smoke then sear steaks with the same setup.
Yes after reading some research on steaks I cook them first then sear them but that’s a whole other topic.

The results seem better, better smoke flavor due to burning less acrid new fuel.
It takes less stoking, is more setup and forget and is more efficient on the fuel.

What would be the best upgrade and fuel efficiency improvement?
  • Install a plate across half the cooking chamber from the firebox forcing heat under and up through the meat? I would leave the chimney in place. It seems moving the chimney would just allow the heat to escape closer to the source and not move through the meat. True reverse flow would require a good seal between the plate and smoker walls to keep heat from escaping and going out the chimney.
  • Set up a temperature controlled fan on the firebox and switch from charcoal to pre-warmed dry oak with charcoal starter for fuel?
  • Cut down the lip between the firebox and cooking chamber to make ash clean-out easier and continue building the fire in the cooking chamber to both offset smoke and direct sear?
  • Maybe a combination of firebox fan, lip cut down, removable plate and switching to charcoal starter and wood for smoking?
Thanks!
~Kevin
 

chef jimmyj

Epic Pitmaster
Staff member
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Easiest fix...Drop the Stack to Grate level. This causes the heat to flow at Meat level rather than across the top of the cook chamber. Below is an old and LONG thread covering all the Mods members have made to their offset smokers. Page 2 shows the Stack Mod I described. The second thread is what another Oklahoma Joe owner has done...JJ


 

CFLJOHN512

Meat Mopper
SMF Premier Member
241
379
Joined May 9, 2020
Easiest fix...Drop the Stack to Grate level. This causes the heat to flow at Meat level rather than across the top of the cook chamber. Below is an old and LONG thread covering all the Mods members have made to their offset smokers. Page 2 shows the Stack Mod I described. The second thread is what another Oklahoma Joe owner has done...JJ


This is the easiest fix. It completely changed my offset when I had one years ago.

It would help to take some bricks, cover with foil and set in the bottom of the smoker area. It’ll help with fluctuating temps.
 

tag0401

Smoking Fanatic
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
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Joined Apr 5, 2018
I put a “baffle” plate in my ok joe and that is all I have done to mine. I have made two cooks with the plate installed and I use less fuel and my temps between the grate and the dome are now pretty close. I also keep about a 20 degree difference between each end of the chamber.

Here is my test run result with the baffle plate
 

kevinspage

Newbie
4
3
Joined Nov 11, 2020
I have an Oklahoma Joe Highland Offset Smoker.

If I use the fire box as normal it seems very inefficient.
I use 4 temperature probes.
Two of the probes are placed on the grill rack either side of the meat.

Any time I open the top stack damper the heat just goes across the top of the cooking chamber and out the chimney.
The top built in temperature gauge says 350 to 400°F while the long range four probe Wi-Fi temp gauge shows the meat cooking level is 175-225°F

The meat is sitting where humans are told to go in a fire...stay low down out of the heat and smoke.
It takes a large amount of natural charcoal and cherry wood or mesquite to cook. I normally use charcoal with wood chunks to flavor the smoke, not wood.

If I completely close the chimney damper it allows the heat to build up and work its way down to where the meat is but risks having too much smoke linger around instead of moving through the meat.
It takes a large amount of fuel. It’s also hard to keep the temperature up.

When I build my fire with just natural charcoal in the cooking chamber instead of the fire box and completely shut the top damper then regulate the temperature using the firebox damper I use about one third less fuel, the meat cooks faster, in eight instead of ten hours to get to 205°F internal temp.

On windy days I close both dampers and cover the grill with a clean welding blanket.
I can maintain the temperature for the whole 8 hour cook time with one load of 10 pounds natural charcoal.
The smoke flavor is better because I’m not adding new wood or charcoal every hour. Less acrid smoke.

The only problem I have had with this approach is the lip between the firebox and the cooking area makes ash clean out harder.
I also loose half of my cooking area to the fire when offset smoking but I can smoke then sear steaks with the same setup.
Yes after reading some research on steaks I cook them first then sear them but that’s a whole other topic.

The results seem better, better smoke flavor due to burning less acrid new fuel.
It takes less stoking, is more setup and forget and is more efficient on the fuel.

What would be the best upgrade and fuel efficiency improvement?
  • Install a plate across half the cooking chamber from the firebox forcing heat under and up through the meat? I would leave the chimney in place. It seems moving the chimney would just allow the heat to escape closer to the source and not move through the meat. True reverse flow would require a good seal between the plate and smoker walls to keep heat from escaping and going out the chimney.
  • Set up a temperature controlled fan on the firebox and switch from charcoal to pre-warmed dry oak with charcoal starter for fuel?
  • Cut down the lip between the firebox and cooking chamber to make ash clean-out easier and continue building the fire in the cooking chamber to both offset smoke and direct sear?
  • Maybe a combination of firebox fan, lip cut down, removable plate and switching to charcoal starter and wood for smoking?
Thanks!
~Kevin
Thanks for the reply's and info! I purchased the below Items. I'm hoping to control temp using a simple bi-metallic strip damper that requires no power on the smoke stack. Convection ovens and air fry ovens use fans to stir the air. I'm going to mount the fan and motor below through the grill wall to push the hot air at the top down and maintain even temp throughout cooking chamber. It will need 120v power.

1605112097162.png

LavaLock® Smoke Stack Lowering Kit for Oklahoma Joe's Highland SKU: LL_TBS-6 $26.95

51ilLWNGNsL._AC_AA100_.jpg

TipTopTemp Attachable Grill Temperature Regulator TTT-02 $39.95


81Ca6e--4xL._AC_AA100_.jpg

General Electric WB02T10289 Range/Stove/Oven Fan Blade $16.25


71YyiXfMe8L._AC_AA100_.jpg

DG31-00005A Convection Fan Motor Replacement Part for Samsung Range, Microwave Oven (120V 60Hz) $10.80
 

Berettaclayshooter

Meat Mopper
191
100
Joined Jul 14, 2018
I have a highland reverse, but the stamped sheetmetal baffles were a joke. I made a baffle from 1/4" plate. It does to things; one it is lower in the CC and two it holds the heat much better. I now have 10 degree temp difference between the sides. I also made a new stack that is tall enough to get proper draw. Dampers on stack are a poor idea to me, this snuffs out your fire and causes crappy smoke which imparts a bitter flavor to your food.
 

chadwb

Newbie
1
0
Joined Jan 22, 2020
Thanks for the reply's and info! I purchased the below Items. I'm hoping to control temp using a simple bi-metallic strip damper that requires no power on the smoke stack. Convection ovens and air fry ovens use fans to stir the air. I'm going to mount the fan and motor below through the grill wall to push the hot air at the top down and maintain even temp throughout cooking chamber. It will need 120v power.

View attachment 470337
LavaLock® Smoke Stack Lowering Kit for Oklahoma Joe's Highland SKU: LL_TBS-6 $26.95

View attachment 470338

TipTopTemp Attachable Grill Temperature Regulator TTT-02 $39.95


View attachment 470339

General Electric WB02T10289 Range/Stove/Oven Fan Blade $16.25


View attachment 470340

DG31-00005A Convection Fan Motor Replacement Part for Samsung Range, Microwave Oven (120V 60Hz) $10.80
Any
Thanks for the reply's and info! I purchased the below Items. I'm hoping to control temp using a simple bi-metallic strip damper that requires no power on the smoke stack. Convection ovens and air fry ovens use fans to stir the air. I'm going to mount the fan and motor below through the grill wall to push the hot air at the top down and maintain even temp throughout cooking chamber. It will need 120v power.

View attachment 470337
LavaLock® Smoke Stack Lowering Kit for Oklahoma Joe's Highland SKU: LL_TBS-6 $26.95

View attachment 470338

TipTopTemp Attachable Grill Temperature Regulator TTT-02 $39.95


View attachment 470339

General Electric WB02T10289 Range/Stove/Oven Fan Blade $16.25


View attachment 470340

DG31-00005A Convection Fan Motor Replacement Part for Samsung Range, Microwave Oven (120V 60Hz) $10.80

I'm interested in the results you got with the fan. I'm looking at getting an offset smoker and adding an electronic control. I have one from Auber Instruments that I use on an old Kamado, but I need more cooking area. The controller does a great job on the Kamado.
 

kevinspage

Newbie
4
3
Joined Nov 11, 2020
I used two fans, a stack extension and a charcoal basket to tweak out my Joe.

7159qfwkrrl-_ac_sl1500_-jpg.jpg 1605112097162-png.png 91-folbdkxl-_ac_sl1500_-jpg.jpg p1010341-custom-jpg.jpg
The top fan works great. It makes the Joe into a convection smoker.
Much less or no turning necessary to get even cook.

p1010355-custom-jpg.jpg

When the fan is on it lowers measured grill temps as it mixes and averages all air in the smoker.
The only temp difference is the radiated IR heat from the charcoal basket.

p1010356-custom-jpg.jpg

I use a stainless steel charcoal basket set inside the main body of the grill and two grates between it and the end of the grill.

p1010348-custom-jpg.jpg p1010341-custom-jpg.jpg

I built a temperature controlled fan from a couple parts off Amazon, an industrial temperature control module and an ac fan.
I used nano tape to attach controller to fan and UV cure epoxy to insulate the 120v AC connections. Bread and zip ties to strain relieve AC and temp cables.
I drilled and tapped a 1/4" 20 hole for the temp probe on the back of the grill just above the top of the meat level.

p1010343-custom-jpg.jpg

The controlled fan on the intake works great to keep the temp steady. Truly a set and forget process now. In the past I had to constantly mess with dampers and temp was changing wildly. Having the charcoal in the cooking chamber seems way more efficient on fuel usage opposed to using the firebox. Radiant heat from direct IR raises the temp on the fuel side of the offset but the top fan does a good job of equalizing chamber temp.

p1010349-custom-jpg.jpg

I put a welding blanket over my Joe to increase efficiency. I cook year round so the blanket is necessary on the zero degree days. I use it in the summer too. I have read a closed off output damper can cause the smoke to deposit on instead of move through the cooked item. I use natural Cowboy brand charcoal and make sure it is mostly ashed over before starting the cook. I only leave the top damper open 1-5% and add small amounts of mesquite, apple or cherry wood to smoke. I have not had an issue with smoke depositing and I use way less charcoal. One basket can last for an entire 12hr cook. I often go to 205F internal temp on meat.

71f06vin3wl-_sl1500_-jpg.jpg

I use a long range four probe Wi-Fi temp gauge. It shows four temperatures anywhere in the world on unlimited devices.
I usually have a tablet on the fridge, my phone and Bluestacks PC Android emulator set up with the app to monitor temps.

p1010380-custom-jpg.jpg

Happy Grilling!! ~Kevin www.kevinspage.com.
 
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