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Newby questions

 
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H@rry



Joined: 05 May 2015
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Thu Nov 19 15 9:20 am    Post subject: Newby questions Reply with quote

I have an Oklahoma Joe's Highlander offset smoker that I have been using since January and I love it. I have a couple of questions for you smokin' pros:

I use hickory and cherry chunks exclusively, no charcoal. I raised the firebox end a little bit to make sure any liquid drains well from the other end. I put a 1 inch brick under each wheel. Will that affect how well it draws?

Also, I've read that you want a thin blue smoke. When I'm getting the smoker up to temp I leave the side firebox door open so it can get a lot of air. The smoke coming out of the side firebox door is blue but what is going through the smoke chamber and out the chimney is grey/white. Why is that?
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k.a.m.
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Joined: 12 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19 15 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the ring H@rry, looking forward to seeing some pics of your cooks. Smile Not sure how I missed your intro but I did I apologize for that. Embarassed

In my opinion 1" will not effect your cookers draw.
The reason your early smoke is white is because the cooker is not warm enough to draft properly yet so the smoke entering the cooking chamber is slower and heavier. As the cooker warms up the draft increases allowing the heat/smoke to travel easier through the chamber and out the exhaust. This is when you should start seeing thinner blue smoke. What you are describing is normal for offsets when they first light up.
I hope this helps. Very Happy
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Smokin Mike
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 19 15 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's hard to run a small offset as a 100% stick/wood burner. Believe me I've tried. I run lump charcoal and add a chunk or two of wood whenever I need some smoke. You can preheat your chunks by placing them on the firebox and when they start smoldering add them to the coals and that will help with combustion and reduce the amount of white smoke. Another thing I do is place the chunks in the corners of the coal basket (if you have one) and that helps to keep temperature spikes down. If you don't have a major aversion to using lump charcoal give it a try to see if things improve.

I elevate my offset to get the grease running towards the drain without any ill affects. As long as your firebox and cooker are breathing properly then it shouldn't be a problem. However wind direction may have an affect on the exhaust flow. If the firebox air inlets are downwind then it may be starving for some air.
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H@rry



Joined: 05 May 2015
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20 15 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanx for the replies guys.

When I let the fire burn for a long time the smoke coming out of the chimney does turn blue. By that time the wood has burned down to almost coals. At this point it won't maintain heat long enough to cook the dead thing so I have to add more wood to the fire. That starts the gray/white smoke all over again.
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Smokin Mike
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20 15 3:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hickory is really bad at throwing white smoke until it gets combustive. If you allow a lot of air into the firebox the issue goes away but you're going to suffer from over temperature while getting the smoke stabilized. Been there / done that with a small offset cooker. Are you going to try my suggestion using lump charcoal and wood chunks?
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H@rry



Joined: 05 May 2015
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20 15 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Absolutely! I'll get some lump charcoal from Wally World my next trip which will be Monday. Thanx for the advice. Would lump work better than briquets?
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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20 15 3:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you preheat your wood before you put it on the fire it will combust quicker.

If you run a charcoal base, and maintain the coal base with wood and charcoal, you can use less wood overall, and keep a more even heat in your pit.

Or you can burn only wood, but if you go the wood only route, split some of the wood into smaller bits, somewhere between splits and kindling, so that if the temperature drops, you can add the smaller diameter pieces to boost heat quickly.

Fire control is easier if you have a constant pile of coals to keep pouring out the heat.

On my offset I run a full chimney of charcoal to start off with, then 1 or 2 splits every 45 - 60 minutes, about the diameter of my fist, and as long as my fore arm. Every 3rd refuel, I put in more charcoal if needed, to keep the base about 12" x 8" x 1.5 - 2" of hot burning coals, on top of which I add the splits.
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k.a.m.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20 15 3:55 am    Post subject: Re: Newby questions Reply with quote

H@rry wrote:
Also, I've read that you want a thin blue smoke. When I'm getting the smoker up to temp I leave the side firebox door open so it can get a lot of air. The smoke coming out of the side firebox door is blue but what is going through the smoke chamber and out the chimney is grey/white. Why is that?

I based my answer on your comment here H@rry.
If you are having the problem though out the cook then several things can cause this.
What temps are you trying to cook at? It could be that you are trying to cook at too low a temp and when it is time to add fuel you do not have a sufficient coal base to keep it going.
Another cause can be that you are cooking at a good temp but not adding fuel soon enough to maintain a good coal base IE trying to get too much out of a split.
As Mike said pr-heating your logs is a good way to ensure a fast ignition and a cleaner burn on new splits.
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H@rry



Joined: 05 May 2015
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20 15 4:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The smoker came with one temp gauge in the top of it. I added two more down close to the cooking grate. I also added a baffle plate from one of the online sellers - I forget the name. It was $100 with shipping. It is a straight sheet of heavy steel with a 90* bend at one end to go up against the firebox end and has a series of holes that get larger as you get farther away from the fire end. The bent end didn't completely cover the opening from the firebox due to the bolts holding the firebox to the cooking chamber so I stuffed wadded up aluminum foil in the crack. I am a little disappointed in it because I still get about 20 - 30 degree difference from one end to the other. I put an elbow on the chimney to get the opening down close to the grate. I also got some gasket material to try to seal the leaks but I still have some at the bottom of the cooking chamber door. The firebox got so hot it burnt all of the gasket off of it.

I try to cook @ 250 - 275 and try to regulate it with the air coming in. When I've got the firebox side door all the way open and still drop 5 degrees below my target temp I add 6 more chunks. My wood is what I would call a standard stick of firewood cut into 3 chunks. I would say they vary from 4 to 6 inches. I got a guy who brought me a big pickup load level full so I have plenty of wood.
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Smokin Mike
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20 15 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

H@rry wrote:
Would lump work better than briquets?


Yes, lump runs hotter than briquettes.

Here's what I'm calling a chunk. It's fist sized or a tad bit larger.


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H@rry



Joined: 05 May 2015
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20 15 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smokin Mike wrote:
H@rry wrote:
Would lump work better than briquets?


Yes, lump runs hotter than briquettes.

Here's what I'm calling a chunk. It's fist sized or a tad bit larger.



Yep, that's about what I'm using.
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Maniac
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20 15 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I run the wood like soezzy said fist size and as long as my forearm...seems like the longer wood leaves a better or should I say more forgiving coal base than smaller chunks so when I add another preheated split she purrs right along.
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