When I bought my silver smoker 8 or more years ago, I then went on line to read about all the modifications I needed to do to make it a good smoker. I was a bit disappointed about my purchase after that. as at the time I had little time or money to do the mods. I can tell you that with just a little practice, I have been able to put out good meat with only the addition of coal baskets, some foil for a simple deflector and technique.
When I use this smoker, I tend to fill it with 4 chickens, 4 BB or 2 Briskets cut in half (or any combination of above) and run it for about 10 hours. I fine tuned the air 8 years ago and it has rusted in place and not been an issue since. (OK, I could take better care of it.) Heat regulation is done more by meat placement. I have used it for many things, but love it for a heavy smoke on large cuts. With the mods I am sure it becomes much more refined, but you can work with it just the way it is.
The biggest thing you have to worry about is the hot spot. You can work this to your advantage as it can be used to sear the outside to help keep the moisture in and then move the meat away to cut back on the temperature and let the smoke do it's work.
Charcoal baskets - I was able to get 2 baskets made so I can switch out baskets to add a new fire when the other one gets low. 2 baskets fit side by side with no problem.
I dump a lit chimney on top of this and get around 4 hours. 5 if I add a little wood and or coal during the burn. When one basket gets low, I use tongs to transfer some of the coals from on basket to the top of the other to light it in the chamber.
Hot Spot - I have found when the smoker is full and meat needs to be next to the fire box, I use the foil that the meat was seasoned on to fold into a deflector that is held down by the meat. To keep things even, I pull the meat from the cool side, and roll the other chunks to the right and put the cool piece by the fire.
Here you get an idea. With BB and Brisket I roll every 2 hours. This would be 4 hours into the cook. I know that if you have never done this before, it would be unnerving. Half my meat is burned and the other is raw. Actually the foil should be folded down and at an angle away from the fire box under the grate. I was experimenting at this time.
After 8 to 10 hours I put the meat in a roaster overnight at 200 degrees to finish it off. (I have a horrible time staying up past 10pm) With the BB I start breaking it up at 8am and keep working at it until my afternoon party. The brisket, I slice on my meat slicer and bag the extras for a later date.
Sure it can be a crude smoker with temperature swings, but I have learned that you just need to relax and not worry. As long as you use a thermometer to make sure the meat is done, you don't need to use a roaster, but I like to hold it at 200 degrees as that is when the collagen breaks down and allows your meat to get nice and tender.
I hope this helps for the others that buy a silver smoker with no idea what they are getting into and then gets told it isn't very capable without a bunch of added cash. You can do it, you just have to play to get to know it.
Simple rule of thumb. Don't plan a dinner party with your first smoke when you don't know anything about your smoker. (I have been to that party. Tasty but very tough brisket until a crockpot saved it hours later.)