Best way to regulate heat?

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Original poster
Oct 13, 2013
Omak, WA
Hello All,

Several years ago my mother-in-law moved from the ranch to a smaller place and regrettably the old smokehouse that was used for generations was no longer accessible so we built a new one (see attached pics).  At the ranch, my Father-in-Law used to tend the fire when we made sausage every fall where the stove you see was actually inside a much larger smokehouse. Some years we the fire would burn too hot and fat would render out, other years we only got a light smoke, but most years the finished product was just right.  A nice cold smoke (85 to 100 degrees F) is what we were after, but the process was very dependent on the weather, the number of new holes in the old smokehouse, the wind and how often Ray checked the fire.

Ray passed away several years ago and unfortunately he took the art of coaxing a good product out of a well ventilated (OLD) smokehouse with him.  When Joan moved into a smaller place in town, she still wanted to keep the generations old sausage making tradition alive so we built this small smokehouse so the next generation could help keep this annual tradition alive.  The old stove was brought into town and I am now trying to learn how to keep the fire under control with a firebox separated from the smokehouse so as to keep the temp in the smokehouse from getting too high. 

I've been lucky the past couple of years, but I'm afraid that at some point our cold smoke intent might end up with a whole lot of rendered fat on the floor of the smokehouse because the fire got too hot.  I'd like to master this, but without Ray's guidance, I feel I'm at a disadvantage. 

Can anyone offer some suggestions on how I can keep a consistent temp that produces a good smoke without getting too hot?  



Try running it without anything in just to see what it will do.Do you use any kind of thermometer to see your temps in the smoker. That's going to be your best friend!
Practice with it and then practice with it some more.

Start with small fires to see how it works out.  Judging by the size of the chamber, it won't take much of a fire to get you between 80-100

Also, glad to see that folks are keeping traditions going, way too much knowledge is leaving with our older folks these days...
John, morning.....   Hey, I put together an "overkill" drawing on controlling smoke and heat in your exact smoker...    Check out the drawing...   ask away about anything......

And if you need any help, I'll come over to your place and give first hand knowledge...

...  click on  pictures to enlarge......

With regards to thermometers, can you or anyone else recommend a good low tech thermometer that can give an accurate read if internal temp without being influenced by the temp differential that exists in either side if the smokehouse wall? With regards to placement, I assume at the peak if the roof and maybe on all 4 walls about 1/3 if the distance from roof to floor.
Dave & CrankyBuzzard,
Regarding placement if fire in the stove, should it be as far back in the stove as reasonably possible, as far front or doesn't it matter?
Dave & CrankyBuzzard,
Regarding placement if fire in the stove, should it be as far back in the stove as reasonably possible, as far front or doesn't it matter?

If you follow Dave's drawing and advice, I'd say a centrally placed would be fine. I had forgotten about this design, it's a proven work!

As for therms, do you want analogue, digital, wireless, etc....
Looking at your stove, I would build the fire toward the door...  get a good bed of coals going and add a small split ever 1/2 hour or so...  Now, that's just a guestimate...    Then the back lid, on the stove, slide it toward the front of the stove about 1/4 inch to allow for fresh air into the stove to cool it down... or slide a hunk of wire under the lid to allow for air to enter...    then adjust the heat with the slide damper on the front of the stove..   keep the coal bed going by adding more splits..  

Really good air flow is a good thing in a smoker...
I use a meat thermometer inserted into the front door. The only down fall is that it only goes down to 100° . I thought an old indoor/ outdoor therm would be the ticket I think they go down to-30°.Or you can get dual prob digital one. They are the way to go. Hope this helps good luck& smoke on! is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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