tomorrow will be my first big attempt with a wood smoker (cheap Brinkman with a side woodbox). I will be smoking an 18 lb turkey that I plan on starting around 5:00am for a 1:00 meal (will have a brisket on the MES). I will try to maintain temps between 300-325. I've posted a few other questions and had lots of helpful answers. For the past two days, I have been playing around with charcoal and hardwood chunk trying to figure out the best route to maintain temps. The other day I tried some duraflame hardwood biquettes. I did hit close to 400 degrees for a brief period of time. However, the the price was about $12 for 15 lbs, and for a 7-8 hour smoke, it looked like I may need two bags. today I am using kingsford and adding a couple chunks of hickory and apple wood. Temps range from 225 to 340. Seems pretty finicky. I should mention that I am not filling the smoke box with charcoal/wood. I start with a chimney starter about 3/4 full of charcoal or hardwood. When I dump, I add a couple chunks of wood and then monitor/ do chores. Should I bee adding more fuel to the smoke box?
Would a hardwood lump( I have cowboy brand that I used in the weber for camping) give me more heat?
I guess I a little confused on how much of a fuel load to start with. Should I start with a lot and then use damper to control?
Any links that can provide answers would also be appreciated.