First of all thank you for the great resource you have provided, I have done tons of searching and learned alot from others experience. I recieved a Char-Broil offset smoker as a wedding gift and have been pumped to get going. I am a big time tinkerer (cars, guns, bikes, anything that is mechanical) so of course I found the countless threads on the mods for this smoker and went to work. I made a charcoal basket out of expanded steel and elevated it in the fire box using some broken bricks. I extended the chimney to grate level, made a heat shield, added two rails and rested one of those baking trays with the slots so dripping fall through to the bottom pan on the rails in the smoke box to allow smoke to rise evenly across the box. Installed two thermometers and had a probe on the grate in the middle of the meat.
Night before I started a chimney starters worth of briquettes and threw it in to season a bit. The day of my first smoke I got it fired up again first using Kingsford Competition briquettes and then later added some Frontier Lump Charcoal I had pre-heated in the chimney.
Problem was no matter what I tried I could not get the smoker to go over 175, I kept adding pre-heated charcoal and the firebox was almost 3/4 full at one point., I had the chimney open all the way and the firebox vent in every possible position at some point trying all possible options. I used crumpled foil to seal the box a bit better and still low temps. Ultimately I had to just use it to smoke and then put the meat in the oven at 250 to cook, so, what did I do wrong and how do I make my next smoke a success?