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  #1  
Old 06-27-2009, 09:59 AM
TOMAHAWK TOMAHAWK is offline
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Thumbs down Tuning plates help needed

I am currently looking to build a new smoker. I have looked into buying one but i don't see one that suite's my needs and when i talk to pit builders the price sky rockets. So the question i have is my pit will be 24" X 60" i will be building a square 24" X 24" firebox offset. As far as the tuning plates i am wondering on how these should be made. I am wanting them to be removable and yet adjustable. And by all the talk on here tuning plates seem to help with the heat and keeping the heat the same throughout the pit. Also will i need a heat baffle above the inlet of the pit to keep flame out of the pit. thanks
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  #2  
Old 06-27-2009, 10:36 AM
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Chas and Cappy will be around soon enough to help you out and they know their stuff.

Oh and aboard
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  #3  
Old 06-27-2009, 01:46 PM
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I found THIS THREAD with a bunch of good info just by looking at the suggested links at the bottom of the page. Should get you started in the right direction.

Honestly I didn't read the entire thread so it may not answer all your questions - regardless.... welcome to the forum!!!
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Old 06-27-2009, 05:08 PM
cappy cappy is offline
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I can't speak from experience on tuning plates, as I've never personally used them. I considered them for my Klose, but decided against them, and haven't personally ever felt I needed them for my purposes. I think where they come in very useful is when you are cooking a large quantity of food (particularly on a mobile or other large pit) and absolutely want to be sure you can utilize as much space as possible with as much consistent heat as possible.

Regarding the Heat Baffle:

The baffle doesn't keep flame out. It is intended to deflect heat (and smoke) from immediately rising as soon as it exits the firebox. The firebox is set lower than the horizontal chamber.

I have a 20" diameter by 52" length horizontal, a 20"x20" upright, and a 20"x24" firebox:

http://img150.imageshack.us/img150/9205/pitcooking2.jpg

The aperture from the firebox to the cooking chamber is only 15 inches wide where the firebox connects to the cooking chamber. It is semi-circular at the bottom to match the cylindrical bottom of the cooking chamber which it is flush with. The baffle is half-pie shaped just like the opening and is 15 inches long but only 5.5 inches at the widest point of the semi-circle. It may even be the very piece they cut from the side of the firebox and it appears to be angled down into the cooking chamber at about a 45 degree angle.

See:

http://img140.imageshack.us/img140/3...xandbaffle.jpg

http://img197.imageshack.us/img197/7...randbaffle.jpg

There is a "lip" in the horizontal chamber (you can see it rising from the bottom of the chamber, where the bottom of the yellow circle I made around the baffle in this picture runs across the lip:

http://img197.imageshack.us/img197/7...randbaffle.jpg

I believe the lip is about an inch and a half, maybe 2" at the most. It is specifically intended to prevent grease from flowing from the horizontal down into the firebox and sparking a grease fire. If your pit is angled so the firebox is lower, it will not take much grease to overcome such a lip because it will build up at that end. So ensure that where you set your pit that you have a slight tilt to the opposite end.

There is an additional baffle from the horizontal into the upright:

http://img41.imageshack.us/img41/499...toupright2.jpg

You can see a nut at the top of the picture. While the baffle from the firebox to the horizontal was a welded crescent piece, this one is removable. While in place, the upright is about 75 degrees cooler than the horizontal. I've never bothered removing it because I use my upright for lower-temp uses, but removed it's supposed to bring the temperatures closer between the upright and horizontal.

Tuning plates are intended to allow normalizing temperatures across the breadth of the pit, assuming the pit is designed well to begin with. Specifically, tuning plates probably won't benefit a thin-steel pit (less than 1/4" thick steel) as much. Nor would they probably be as useful in a short horizontal chamber of under, say, 40 inches. In a 60" length pit as you mention, they would probably be helpful.

In the case of my 52" smoking chamber, the first 10-12" of the chamber closest to the firebox is probably 50-75 degrees hotter. The middle 30 inches is pretty consistent. The last 10-12" is a little cooler. There is also a heat differential between the upper and lower cooking racks.

As I understand it, the initial tuning plate is usually butted up to the heat baffle to immediately begin diverting heat underneath the plates. Each successive plate is gapped just a little wider from the one before it. There is a certain amount of radiant heat from the tuning plates themselves, depending on how close they are to the bottom rack (probably not as big an issue on your 24" diameter pit).

I'm not certain how most people mark the location of their tuning plates once they're satisfied with the location. I know some had numbered the plates and marked the locations with small weld marks.

However, a tuned pit will respond differently empty than loaded with meat, and even depending on the type and amount of meat loaded onto it. However, it will still provide less variation in temps across the pit than one without tuning plates.
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Old 06-30-2009, 02:27 PM
Simon Simon is offline
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Thank you cappy for your great explanation

btw, great pit !

But please allow me a additional qustion. Just look at a few pics of one of my latests BBQs.

I put 3 Tenderloins on my 20 x 48 inch, opposite side of the firebox, on the upper shelf.



after 2 hours I saw this:



yall see the right side - direction to firebox - a bit darker. Right, upper side.

also the finished tenderloins:



I suppose that comes form the air flow inside of the pit. The warm heat "flows" from the firebox right down to the smokestack left up of the cooking chamber.

I just thougt, perhaps tuning plates will degrease this effect, and realizes a better temperature disribution inside of the cooking chamber ?

And also reduces the direkt heat flow form right down to left up.

What do you think, will a tuning plates be a help ?
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  #6  
Old 06-30-2009, 02:46 PM
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Have you tried rotating and flipping the meat while it's cooking in the pit? That in itself should help but if the problem still persists, then I'd consider tuning plates.

I can't tell by the pictures you posted but does your pit have an upright?
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Old 06-30-2009, 02:51 PM
Simon Simon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northsider View Post
I can't tell by the pictures you posted but does your pit have an upright?
thanx for you anser. Yeh, think rotating will be the easiest way. Will try it nex time.

My pit has no upright, only a horizontal chamber.
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Old 06-30-2009, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
My pit has no upright, only a horizontal chamber.
Gotcha, I should've seen that when you posted your description on the problem.
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  #9  
Old 06-30-2009, 04:27 PM
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imfree2Q imfree2Q is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Thank you cappy for your great explanation

btw, great pit !

But please allow me a additional qustion. Just look at a few pics of one of my latests BBQ´s.

I put 3 Tenderloins on my 20 x 48 inch, opposite side of the firebox, on the upper shelf.



after 2 hours I saw this:



ya´ll see the right side - direction to firebox - a bit darker. Right, upper side.

also the finished tenderloins:



I suppose that comes form the air flow inside of the pit. The warm heat "flows" from the firebox right down to the smokestack left up of the cooking chamber.

I just thougt, perhaps tuning plates will degrease this effect, and realizes a better temperature disribution inside of the cooking chamber ?

And also reduces the direkt heat flow form right down to left up.

What do you think, will a tuning plates be a help ?
You have what I call pit wind going on.. In other words your air flow is rushing to the smoke stack and out it goes... Yes tuning plates will help.. But more important is that you need to slow the air down.. You will have to play with your intake in relation to the out take.. Bottom line slow the air down Make it back up in the pit somewhat... Good luck!!
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  #10  
Old 06-30-2009, 06:35 PM
cappy cappy is offline
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Regarding the airflow, I always leave my exhaust wide open.

I have my air intake open only about a finger width:

http://img37.imageshack.us/img37/175...nafingerwi.jpg

And that's with this size fire going:

http://forum.texasbbqrub.com/showthread.php?t=36718

I use my bottom shelf and only use the top one if I'm perhaps smoking a lot of burgers, or putting sausage or something up there. Large meats go on the bottom shelf.

Here's where 4 turkeys would be positioned (cheesecloth is covering two of them, in case you wonder what that is):

http://img5.imageshack.us/img5/3296/4turkeys.jpg

Here's where 3 briskets would be positioned:

http://img197.imageshack.us/img197/5...tscooking2.jpg

My horizontal is 20x52, similar in size to yours. I don't use the first 12 inches on long cooks. The briskets and turkeys usually finish within an hour of one another, with the ones closest to the firebox coming off first.
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