Thanks to all for the "tips and how to's" that got me this far.
The MES performed very well. Consistent and controlled temps throughout the smoke. The temps were as accurate as one would expect. +10 deg to -4 deg. Variations inside the cabinet were 15 deg depending on location. This is a very good smoker.
I'm glad I read the reports everyone spent their time posting. A BIG help in the decision on this unit.
The first day was spent cleaning and conditioning the smoker. 4 hrs of alder to "bread it in".
The bird was a 7.5# @ $0.35/# rollback from WM. Enhanced. Several spices were rubbed from cinnamon, nutmeg, five spice, cajun spice, cracked black and salt. Will use again.
1.5 hrs at 100 deg with no smoke and all vents wide open. Hoping to form a pelicle for good smoke penetration. That worked well.
4 hrs @ 225 deg using 1/2 cup of mesquite. Smoke lasted the 3.5 hr cook time. I think that was due to preheating and burner cycling. Not sure why, first smoke u know. Very good smoke flavor. I would use it again.
No water in the pan as the bird was enhanced. Steam rolled out of the smoker the entire time.
Top damper closed the entire time.
Things that went wrong. (that I know of)
Skin. Tough enough for the dog to use as a chew toy but it had great flavor.
I guess I should have oiled it or something? Not sure what to do to get the skin edible?
The BIRD. Will not use a roasting hen again. Tough as a black-footed swamp rabbit I shot once.
I am going to use the remainder of the bird for soup or stew or something that has to cook awhile.
Maybe "smoked chicken on a shingle". The flavor will be great.
Should have oiled the water pan and drip pan for easier clean-up.
All in all, everything went well. Very happy with the smoker and my first yard bird.
There are no mistakes, only valuable learning experiences!
Pointers to help with my "learning experiences" gladly accepted.
The finished bird.
The gizzard, liver, "popes nose" (what is the PC term? sorry, no offence intended) and part of the back were eaten as "test pieces" during the smoke.
The cook always gets the good stuff.
Had more pics but couldn't get them to load here.