Being an engineer I set out to fix what I considered to be my big issues, temperature regulation and smoke generation. I got a PID controller from Auber Instruments and a Maverick ET-732 to address the temp issue and I then broke out the drill and plasma cutter and fabbed up some adjustable vents. One at the right side bottom by the smoke box and one on the top near the left side. Each vent consisted of three 1/2" holes that could be adjusted. I also drilled about a dozen 1/8" holes in the bottom and sides of the smoke box. A test run showed the PID controller could control temp to within +/- 1 deg. from set and I was getting good smoke with both vents wide open after warmup with some white ash where before I had none. Confident now I decided to smoke a large chicken at 275. Even with 33 deg temps outside, the temps held steady and smoke was good. After about 4 hours the chicken was at 172 IT and off it came. Success! The chicken was tender and juicy and the smoke flavor from the mesquite chips was awesome.
I think with just a few more minor tweaks I will have a finely tuned smoking machine. I have since purchased an AMNPS and some different pellets and I am looking forward to cold smoking some cheese soon. I am so glad I found SMF. There is a ton of knowledge and experience here and the recipes....I cannot wait to try some. Thanks a ton.