This is my second attempt at smoking anything and my first attempt at smoking a tri tip.
My first smoking experience was a flop. I tried to smoke 1 rack of pork baby backs. I made the mistake of taking advice from a co-worker. "You have to drink lots of beer when smoking." Don't do it. This is untrue.
Anyway, here's my tri tip experience.
At 11:30 I put on my rub, bagged and refrigerated the meat then I lit the coals. Temp came up to about 180 in about an hour. That's when I put the meat in the smoker. I put 2 chunks of 2" by 3" oak that were soaked. The temp dropped and stayed at 150 to 180. I tried opening vents and the bottom door. Tried adding dry wood. I decided to start more coals, get them ready in a metal pot. Once the new coals were all white I but them into the smoker on top of the others. IT WORKED! The temp came up to about 230 degrees f.
I also boiled about 2 cups of water on the stove and added that about every hour to keep the water pan full.
It was all worth it. This tri tip turned out a perfect medium rare and juicy.