Tuning plates

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Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
Nov 22, 2006
Haltom City Tx
I just read the post from gunslinger about tuning plates. and looked at the link of the smoker being made. Looks like to me it would restrict the smoke. I have both my fire chamber opening with restrictor plate and my smoke stack cut in below the cooking grates. Ive been able to maintain heat evenly in my barrel, thus called the rolling effect. Has anyone else tried this method and what were the results.

Marvin, Where are your stacks in relation to your fire box? Most smokers that use tuning plates are of a reverse flow design where the exhaust stack(s) are on the same side of the smoker as the firebox. There is an opening at the end of the tuning plates that allows the majority of the smoke to pass up from the lower chamber to the upper chamber where the food rack(s) is located. The smoke flows across the top of the meat back toward the stack. The tuning plates absorbs the heat from the fire box and distributes it more evenly into the food chamber reducing and/or eliminating any hot spots. The tuning plates are set on a set of rail and can be adjusted as necessary to even out the temps. Any gaps between the plates will allow smoke to enter the upper chamber with the remaining smoke entering the chamber between the last tuning plate and the end wall of the smoker.
Dutch thanks for the reply, my stack is on the end of the barrel opposite from the fire box. My barrel is 30" round x 6' long. My fire box end is 30" x 30" x 5' tall. The fire box it self is 2' tall. the rest of the upright is an oven. Now i understand the reverse flow method and the tuning plates. Ive been reading about them a lot.

Thanks again

My smoker is not of the reverse flow design. The tuning plates were added to keep the temp more even throughout the entire length of the cook chamber. It works very well. I always had a problem with the end closest to the firebox getting too hot and the other end not getting hot enough. With the tuning plates I can utilize the entire area of the cook chamber without cooking to fast or to slow. Before I would have to take a temp reading in different spots in the chamber and cook my food where the temp was best. Now the temp is uniform within a couple of degrees.
As far as flow goes, I did have to open the passage from the firebox to the cook chamber more. I did also add a damper there as well. Not to control temp, but the shut the smoke to the chamber off when I open it. No more watery eyes.
Thanks Gunny, I should have pointed out the fact that tuning paltes aren't just for "Reverse Flow" units.
Thanks for the reply gunny, I was cooking yesterday and noticed by my fire box it was running about 45* hotter than the front guess i never paid attention before. So ive been at the shop all day retuning and moving my reflector plate. I wont know until i fire it up what its going to do. Did you run the plates all the way down your barrel like on the pics i saw. Any ideas would be appericated. And you and your family have a merry christmas.
The plates do run the entire length of the cook chamber. How I tune them depends on how much area of the chamber is in use, how fast or slow I want to cook and how much smoke I want. I can actually move my plates close together and effectually stop smoking and just cook. I'll leave the end closest to the exhaust pipe open and the smoke will, for the most part, go right from the end of the plates right out the pipe. I will still get a little smoke. This doesn't seem like a big deal, but when I'm using a strong wood and if I feel I've gotten all the smoke the meat needs I can use this technique and all but stop the smoking. Now I could just use an oven to finish up, but to me, it takes the fun out of it. Although I have used an oven on occasion. And Merry Christmas to you too.
Thanks for all the info gunslinger after burning my smoker again, I found that I had more than just one problem. Until now I was only using on end of the barrel for cooking and was having to open the fire box door to keep fire from choking down. What I realized is when I ran angle iron inside the fire box to hold up the grates there was more opening under the fire and not enough above. So I cut out the front angle and welded feet on the grates to lower them so now I have even air across the fire. Then I cut the tuning plates and layed in the barrel like in the pictures. I have the barrel within a 10* diffrence end to end. Thats much better than before. Again thanks for the help.
Sometimes it's a struggle to get these things dialed in, but when you do all is right with the world.
I have fought my firebox for years and just recently have gotten things where I can leave it alone for several hours and don't have to worry that I'll come back to dead coals.
Glad you're getting it together though.
i'm not quite sure if this got answered clearly, but with using tuning plates will less smoke get to the meat? i understand that if the plates are too close together near the fire box that the smoke will just travel under the tuning plates until there is as opening, right?? 

i'm getting ready for this stage of my side fire box build and am wanting to use the tuning plates to keep my temps pretty close through out the smoker
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