Fine tuning my Tuning plates

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Chasdev
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Fine tuning my Tuning plates

Postby Chasdev » Tue Nov 10, 2015 7:23 am

I need advice on cooking with plates installed in an offset smoker.
I installed plates but failed to recognize they conduct radiant heat to the underside of the cooking surface.
Anyone consider drilling holes in the plates so that they have less metal to directly conduct radiant heat to the underside of the cooking grid?
I like having heat all the way across the smoker but don't like the side effects..
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Re: Fine tuning my Tuning plates

Postby Markw142 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:15 am

on mine, i start off with zero gap and at each plate i increase the gap a little...like 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, etc... it takes the plate side a little bit longer to catch up, but mine usually runs with in 5-10 degrees from one side to the other.....another thing that makes a difference...i actually have to use a level on mine...at zero bubble is where mine cooks even, i can raise or lower the tongue and get different results. Try and imagine the heat as an upside down liquid trying to pour out of the smokestack. (sounds goofy but works for me LOL)
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Re: Fine tuning my Tuning plates

Postby Chasdev » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:34 am

My yard is on an incline so I do have to level the smoker to make sure the grease runs to the drain hole and not back to the firebox end..I may tinker with the tilt and see where the temp readings track.
My main concern is after installing three plates covering 90% of the area under the cooking surface, and after moving the plates around, changing up the gap placement and sizes, even heat distribution right to left was achieved BUT the underside of the meat received a lot of radiant heat off the plates so I think I have to down size the fire and/or cook temp as read off the gauges.
If I get 300 degrees of radiant heat off the plates and 260 on top of the meat, something has to change..either the fire size, some holes added to the plates to reduce the radiated heat, or my thinking about what the above the cooking grid gauge readings should be!
I really don't like baking the meat with direct radiated heat, even if there is smoke surrounding the meat as I bake it..
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Re: Fine tuning my Tuning plates

Postby k.a.m. » Tue Nov 10, 2015 9:43 am

I prefer my plates 6" below the top of the grate to help reduce radiant heat issues. How close are your plates?
The draft of the cooker also plays a roll in temps. If you are pulling hard to the exhaust I have seen the side opposite the firebox get hotter. I run seven 7.5" wide plates in my cooker, the chamber is about 70" long. My plates start at 1/4" and then graduate to about 1.5".
To answer your question I have never heard of anyone drilling holes in their plates they just gap them to suit their needs. Horizon cookers have a convection plate that is drilled it works like plates but is one piece.
Always remember slow and steady wins the race.

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Re: Fine tuning my Tuning plates

Postby Chasdev » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:11 am

Plates are 4.5 inches below top of cooking grate. I could lower them a little but they are 1/4 above the opening of the firebox opening plate, so not much to gain there unless I go below the top of the opening to the firebox.
My thinking is that holes in the plates would reduce conductive heat but still move some of the heat toward the middle..
Here's my set up, the digital probes are wired to the analog sensor tubes..the plates are where I placed them after cleaning the smoker, not were they were during the cook.
I did move them around and also tinkered with running a water pan or not but those factors alone did not cure what I see as the problem.
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Re: Fine tuning my Tuning plates

Postby k.a.m. » Tue Nov 10, 2015 12:34 pm

What is the length of your chamber and how thick are your plates?
Always remember slow and steady wins the race.

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Re: Fine tuning my Tuning plates

Postby Chasdev » Tue Nov 10, 2015 12:44 pm

Chamber is 40", plates are 3/16".
I've been giving my questions a re-think and I believe I have found the answer..
Asking the top Texas meat smoking experts "how can I make my piece of crap $400 smoker work like a $2500 rig" is not really reasonable.
I still need all the advice/help I can get and I thank you guys for participating but I fear this may be an exercise in futility.
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Re: Fine tuning my Tuning plates

Postby k.a.m. » Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:07 pm

Chasdev wrote:Chamber is 40", plates are 3/16".
I've been giving my questions a re-think and I believe I have found the answer..
Asking the top Texas meat smoking experts "how can I make my piece of crap $400 smoker work like a $2500 rig" is not really reasonable.
I still need all the advice/help I can get and I thank you guys for participating but I fear this may be an exercise in futility.

I turned my son-in-laws 20" x 42" no cooking OK Joe into a cooking machine so don't say you cant make yours work.
I would use five 6" wide plates in the chamber this will allow you to have more open gaps to adjust and reduce some of your plate surface.
You can also take the plate closer to the fire box and go from one corner of the plate to the other taking off about a 1/2" of the width so that the plate rests on the high end of your firebox to cooker chamber opening and angles down away from the firebox.

This will allow you to have your plates lower to your grate. Then re-size your tuning plate length.
Always remember slow and steady wins the race.

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Re: Fine tuning my Tuning plates

Postby Chasdev » Tue Nov 10, 2015 3:11 pm

THAT sounds like a plan! Thanks, I'll get to work on it!
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Re: Fine tuning my Tuning plates

Postby Chasdev » Tue Nov 10, 2015 4:09 pm

I measured the width of the firebox outlet baffle plate at 14" so the plan is to cut the plates down to 14 which gets me 5.5" to the cooking grid with 3" distance to the belly of the cooker.
I can taper the first plate to 13.5 at one end to get the 6" to cooking surface clearance but that will reduce the plate to cooker belly distance to 2.5".. I don't want to restrict the flow from the firebox, or am I wrong about that?
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Re: Fine tuning my Tuning plates

Postby Markw142 » Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:28 am

i have one of the Oklahoma Joe's with the Horizon plate installed, and it cuts the hot spot down to a couple of inches above the fire box. I would say, play with your fire size as well. Each pit pretty much has it's sweet spot that it likes to run. If you're building a camp fire and then choking it down, you're going to get too much smoke, If you have too small of a fire you'll end up with lite smoke when wide open...It takes time and practice, and keep track of what setup works best for what condition, You'll get a feel for it.
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Re: Fine tuning my Tuning plates

Postby k.a.m. » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:46 am

Chasdev wrote:I measured the width of the firebox outlet baffle plate at 14" so the plan is to cut the plates down to 14 which gets me 5.5" to the cooking grid with 3" distance to the belly of the cooker.
I can taper the first plate to 13.5 at one end to get the 6" to cooking surface clearance but that will reduce the plate to cooker belly distance to 2.5".. I don't want to restrict the flow from the firebox, or am I wrong about that?

While I prefer 6" that is not always possible on small diameter cookers. 4.5" to 6" will work just add the narrower plates to increase your openings and try it.
Always remember slow and steady wins the race.

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Re: Fine tuning my Tuning plates

Postby Chasdev » Thu Nov 12, 2015 2:10 pm

While I wait for the tuning plate mods to come back from the shop, I read an old post that talked about raising the floor of the firebox to bring the fire closer in height to the firebox outlet opening.
The original poster liked the effect doing so had on his smoker so I was wondering if it's worth a try?
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Re: Fine tuning my Tuning plates

Postby k.a.m. » Thu Nov 12, 2015 2:30 pm

I would try one mod at a time. Trying multiple things can get confusing and be deceiving. On a cooker of your size and design I would be trying to keep the fire as far away from the opening as possible to help decrease the hot spot entering the chamber.
Always remember slow and steady wins the race.

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Re: Fine tuning my Tuning plates

Postby Chasdev » Thu Nov 12, 2015 3:22 pm

Makes sense, I've already got steep learning curve here..
Just got the tuning plates back, here they are.
I went with six, 5"wide and the same length as the factory baffle so the distance to cook surface is 5.5".
I may not need or run with all of them, but I figure while they were at the shop I might as well make sure I won't have to go back for more...
Now to figure out how to convince the wife I need to buy more meat with the freezer full of beef ribs...
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