Put it together this weekend and cured it. Construction is pretty flimsy. Anyway I have some observations and questions:
During thew cure, I used about 5-6 pounds of charcoal in a chimney starter. No water bowl. Dumped them in the smoker and temp immediately soared to about 325 (according to the temp gauge that came with the smoker). I had planned to calibrate against a digital thermometer I had (but it didnt go above 199).
The temp started on a pretty steady decline about 20-30 minutes in and within 2 hours was down to around 215. After another hour it was around 180. I played with top and bottom vents along the way and they seemed to have almost no impact on temp.
1. How much charcoal and water should I use to get to 225? And how long can I expect to maintain that temp before needing to add more fuel. It is pretty clear to me that adding fuel from a chimney will be painful if you are actually smoking meat (i.e. you would have to take the grills out) - so I assume you need to use tongs and add briquettes individually?
2. How are you supposed to use the vents (2 below the fuel pan, and 2 at the top of the smoker) to control temp?
Thanks in advance for any help. I am hoping to do a beef tenderloin and some ribs this weekend.