I'll start by saying that I have never before cooked with charcoal, always used propane. I started smoking over a year ago with a propane smoker. Well I decided to make the jump to a lower end offset smoker. I ended up purchasing a brinkman smoke n pit from home deopet. I did the research and completed all the mods, added a gasket, extended chimney to grate level, made a 11"X12" charcoal basket, made a baffle along with tunning plates. Well I finally finished the mods today and decided to season the smoker tonight, 2 hours @ 250ish. Filled the basket about 1/2 full with unlit then added a chimney full of lit charcoal. Problem was is that I wasn't able to get the temp above 260 deg, the two ends of the cooker stayed within 20 deg so the tunning plates seemed to help. I just thought I'd be able to get above 260 deg. Do I need to make sure the basket is completly full in order to get higher temps or are the tunning plates keeping the temp from rising. The offset box seemed extra hot, paint was flaking off and the sides where the basket are touching the inside wall turned white. Like I said I know nothing about charcoal so any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, I had all vents wide open and I had to really struggle to get the vent on the offset box to move, was stuck in place.