thank you for your replies. I've introduced myself over at Roll Call and here is a picture of my brand spankin new ugly drum
(I had a complete brain fart when it came time to drill in the handles and ended up with handles at 3 o clock and 8 o clock...ugh)
So far, this thing has had 2 cooks on it (a rack of ribs and a 10lb brisket) and then I went ahead and painted it. I also added the little middle silver piece you see there to run my thermometers through.
I've run into another issue though. I went ahead and lit it up last night post-paintjob and post-clamp job but i couldn't seem to get stable temperatures at all! I waited an hour before going out to make changes to her, and it would hold a temperature at most for 10 minutes and then it would rise.
I don't exactly know what's going on..it seemed to be much more stable prior to the paint job. Is it possible that the clamp is letting air get in (it's a 1" hole but is covered up 3/4 of the way)? Is the paint affecting it? What other factors could there be?