Well I seemed to be having trouble getting the temps up to 225-235. It wanted to sit right at 200. I was using cowboy hardwood natural charcoal and mixing in some kingsford charcoal and added Cowboy hickory wood chunks for smoke. I theorized that I was not getting enough airflow and also the temp from one side to the other was about 40 degrees difference so I took out the smaller of the plates and moved the larger one to the firebox side. After a while this got the temps to within 10 degrees side to side, still slightly hotter on the firebox side. I was still having a hard time getting to 225-235 though.
Based on all of that info I think I need to use a basket in the firebox to allow the fire to breath better. Am I thinking about this correctly or could it be something else that I need to change? I don't completely understand what features I need to build into the box/basket to do this. I'll probably use the expanded steel as that seems to work well for others. Is there an optimal shape? What about the distance from the bottom of the basket to the bottom of the SFB and the sides also? My neighbor is a metal worker and has the skills and tools to build it out of other materials as well if there's better options.