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What mods should I make to my OK Joe Longhorn?

Joined Mar 30, 2013
I just bought a Oklahoma Joe Longhorn smoker and want to do some upgrades. I did my research before I bought it and know about the air leak issues and such. Ive compiled a list of upgrades I want to make and am looking for some feedback on the best ways (and most inexpensive while effective) to do the upgrades. 

#1) Tuning Plate: Best to buy one of these and install or fabricate myself? If its too much of a pain to fabricate which one is the best to purchase and where from?

#2) Sealing the leaks: Ive noted varying degree of air leaks after my burn in smoke of the smoker at the following places:
  • Firebox cleaning door [major]
  • Firebox access door [minor] (all around)
  • Smokebox access door [moderate] (all around)
  • Chimney joint that connects the chimney 90degree turn to the smoke box [moderate]
       What is the best way to seal each of these?

#3) I installed a galvanized steel 3" 90degree elbow to lower the intake down to grate level in the smoke box, any suggested changes or is this good?

#4) I am thinking of getting 3 Tel-Tru thermometers, 1 on each side of the smoke box at grate level and 1 mounted on top of the smoke box with a 3" stem.

#5) Charcoal Basket for the firebox to hold the charcoal.

Anything else I should consider?

Thanks in advance!



Meat Mopper
Joined Dec 3, 2012
I have one, there are posts on what I did

to answer your questions-

1-plates are easy to make. I got 1/4" steel plates 6" wide and 18" long. I dont know how long the plates on the angle are, I can measure them if you want. I tack welded those together, but they are heavy and stay in place pretty well on their own I also put some HD foil on the corners as you can see in this pic

2-do not worry about the firebox leaks. you want airflow from the box. those leaks wont hurt anything. Sometimes I run with the firebox door cracked open a bit... You can seal the smoke chamber if you want, I dont think its a real issue either

3-I would stay away from galvanized, but the chamber is not going to get hot enough to do anything to the coating, but you should stay away from it

4-Thermos are always a good idea, I dont have them. I have a digital grate temp, then I marked my stock thermo's edge at the 225, 250 and 275 mark when the grate temp thermo read that. good enough for me

5-good idea

also would put a piece of that 1'4 plate under the fire grate, so hot ashes dont come into contact with the firebox floor. I figure this will help prevent the firebox burning out in the long run and ads a little but of insulation

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Meat Mopper
Joined Jul 13, 2012
SFL, Welcome and ENJOY your new OK Joe!

Nice job using the elbow to lower the smoke pickup point! That's a great mod.

Check out this mod to the air intake butterfly on my Oklahoma Joe Longhorn:



I wouldn't worry about the leaks on the firebox door and ash drawer other than what you can simply resolve without gaskets or seals (e.g., bending the ash drawer a bit can seal it tighter).It gets too hot for any seals other than welded steel to last.

For the cooking chamber door seals you can use high temperature black automotive RTV gasket sealant. Just clean both sides with alcohol and apply a thick bead of RTV to the door's edge perimeter. Then spray PAM cooking oil around the other surface of the seal on the edge of the cooking chamber, where the door's new RTV seal will mate up, and close the door and leave it alone for a few hours. The oil will let the new RTV seal release from the body of the cooking chamber, and you will have a good seal.

Pack the gap where the chimney goes into the body of the cooking chamber with steel wool using a screw driver, then spray with PAM.

Diffuser Plate:

I made my diffuser plate from an 18" X 24" piece of 16 Gauge steel, with bends at 2" and 8" from one end, so that the 2" section is vertical, the 6" section is sloped, and the remaining 16" section is horizontal. I drilled holes thru the sloped and horizontal sections starting smaller on the sloped section and getting bigger across the horizontal section.

Charcoal Basket:

You can make a charcoal basket from 2 pieces of 12" X 24" expanded metal. 3/4" hole works well. Lowe's often sells this already cut in these dimensions. Just bend each piece into a "U" with a 6" X 12" vertical section on each side and a 12" X 12" bottom section. I used a small benchtop bending brake, but this can also be done around a piece of 2X4 lumber while wearing leather work gloves. Offset the 2 "U" sections 90 degrees to each other and put one on top of the other. The bottom will be double thickness 12" X 12" and take twice as long to burn thru, and the edges of the sides can be joined securely by welding, or even by twisting short lengths of steel wire as twist-ties. Brackets and bolts could work too. I used a MIG Welder turned down real low.

You can find many other mods if you type "Oklahoma Joe" and "OK Joe" into the site search line at the top of the page.
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Joined Jan 17, 2014
ButtBurner, i just got a okj and i think im going to try whar you've done.  Where to you put your water pan with your setup?


Fire Starter
Joined Dec 16, 2013
I don't use a water pan in my OKJ, but if I did I would have it as far to the right as I could, up against the start of the angled diffuser plate.

gary s

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
OTBS Member
Joined Jan 6, 2011
Be sure and put up some pictures of your cook,

PulledPork   how did your mods turn out?



Joined Jan 19, 2014
I just also purchased a Oklahoma Joes pit from Lowes this wednesday. After bringing it home and noticing the gaps the firebox has due to being 2 pieces, I can now understand why some people have a hard time fighting temp and keeping it consistent. Being that I have a flux wielder that Ive used for minor jobs here & there I decided to weld the firebox completely inside and to the pit to make it as tight as I can. I also seen other people make a baffle at the firebox to try and get the pit grates somewhat consistent on both sides, so I got a couple of plates from Lowes and tried them out and was pretty happy with the results. After all the minor mods I did this week I fired up the grill saturday evening to season it and Today I smoked 2 racks of pork ribs and a 3 lb brisket to get my feet wet, temps were great and somewhat consistent between 220-250 for 4-5 hours. I used a 12 lb bag of charcoal with a basket that I made mixed with oak.

The results



Fire Starter
Joined Jun 11, 2010
I know im reviving a old post, but im wondering what mods people have done to the Joe Longhorn as far as the cooking grates go?


Smoke Blower
Joined Nov 25, 2014
yeah i was wondering this too. my old Brink Trailmaster had the same porcelain coating that ended up chipping. Im wondering if i should upgrade to stretched steel. 


Smoking Fanatic
Joined Jun 14, 2013
My grates are original in good condition still. My issues with the OKJ is air flow. I have defuser, tuning plates, sealed firebox door, sealed firebox halfs, sealed between fb and cc, and bigger exhaust to match whats welded in cc. If there is just the slightest of wind I have to turn so wind is blowing into fb. It also uses a lot of wood or charcoal whichever one I am using. I do have a basket. Ribs (6 hours including bringing temps up) take 20 lbs of charcoal plus my fruit wood. Just seems like flow is not right. It is consistent work. Lately I start with about 8 lbs of charcoal and switch over to wood because it's just to expensive to use all charcoal.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Aug 13, 2015
It sounds like your flow is not right because of some of the mods. Now we just need to figure out how to get you more air flow.
How many tuning plates do you have? Could that be causing your airflow issues?
Are you using a charcoal basket?


Smoking Fanatic
Joined Jun 14, 2013
Not sure how many plates but about 3/4 across with small gaps between last 2. Temps from side to side are good. I did lower the hole from fb to cc when I added the defuser. I added defuser and then cut the bottom down to even with cc and widen side to side. I had a thread here showing all my mods. I can not find it using TapaTalk. I will try on my laptop and post a link. I feel the fb is to big and mounted to high.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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