Greetings... I recently upgraded from a mod ECB electric smoker to a Grill Dome (large). I have tried to use it twice but I cannot keep the coals going long enough to cook anything. Yesterday, after speaking with the person that gave it to me, I tried piling the charcoal and putting a square fire starter, the temp rose to around 190 then fell. He said that the point is to start a the coals and let them burn down.
Then i tried using a coal chimney, heating that up and putting it on top of the coals. The temp rose to around 400 for about a half hour and then fell. My chicken got to around 150... almost enough to eat.
Also, I use cowboy charcoal.
Any suggestions are welcome, pictures would be awesome. Is there a chance i put it together incorrectly? Either way, I am at wits end. I need to smoke meat for around 40 people in a couple of weekends and I feel like if i don't practice, bad things will happen (I'm out of town next weekend).