Wrigly -- I am so sorry your post did not get a timely response!
Originally Posted by wrigley
Assembled and seasoned just as the directions called for. I applied a light coat of spray oil and filled up my starter chimney with Kingsford Briquettes. Once I dumped the hot coals in the smoker and attached the top portion of the smoker the temp slowly rose and came to a rest around 400 degrees. I left it alone for about 30 mins then decided to experiment and see if i could alter the temp. This particular charcoal smoker only has the single side door and no other vents. I opened the door and left it open and the temp dropped to about 325 and settled there. I closed the door and left it alone. After near 2.5 hours the temp never dropped below 300ish.
Will adding meat cause the temp to decrease into the 225-250 range or did i use too much charcoal? No.
My suspicion is that you had too many coals in your new rig. Adding the meat will not drop the temps for very long. Actually, your temps were great for seasoning it, but obviously too high for proper smoking. I suggest another test run with about half the original amount of coals a to see how she handles. Once you figure out how many coals get you your optimal temp, then you need to figure out how many coals to add and at what intervals to keep it there. Some experimentation will help you dial your new rig in and get her holding steady 225-250* temps. I would think adding 8-10 coals every 30-45 min. would be a good starting point for your experiment.
You will have to tweak these guidelines if you use hardwood lump charcoal (burns hotter) or use chunks of wood instead of chips (chunks can also burn hotter, depending where you place them).
Your final challenge will be to achieve that Thin Blue Smoke (TBS) we all strive for. You do not want white, billowy smoke -- if you can smell smoke, you're smoking!
Don't feel overwhelmed; these are things you will quickly figure out as you cook and learn how your rig responds to changes. (BTW, allow 10 min. after a change to see how it affected your smoker.) The good news is that its difficult to completely ruin a piece of meat with high temps or too little smoke. It is conversely very easy to wreck a smoke with too little heat or too much smoke.
Last -- but by NO means least -- test and calibrate your thermometers for accuracy!
I'm not very familiar with your Master Forge and was quite surprised that it had no adjustable vents (kinda like an ECB, I guess, although your MF looks way better built than my ECB!). Check the SMF for any suggested mods for your MF unit.