Rodriguez my man.....
I have seen a few of your posts on the wsm. I am probably going to grab a welding blanket as I live in Canada...enough said!
Question on the 2 closed 1 open on the bottem vents....do you find the charcoal doesn't burn evenly if you only have the one side exposed to oxygen. Won't the side of the charcoal pan that is closest to the open vent burn leaving the rest un burnt? Or does that happen and then eventually the rest will burn as a result?
I don't really notice it burning to one side or if it does I just don't pay to much attention to it - I try to leave it closed up as much as possible. But eventually it does just burn the entire ring so no big issues there. On a side note if you are doing a super long smoke (over 15 hrs.), you may need to gently stir the coals around the 15-16 hour mark to knock the ash out and down through the grate. I use a fireplace shovel and do it VERY gently to prevent ash from flying up.
I like lump for anything less than 10-12 hrs. but if I really want a long low-and-slow burn I break out the Kingsford Blue Bag. The reason being is that even when hand stacking lump it is so irregular in size that you get air pockets in the pile, this is what allows lump to burn hotter (more air flow). So lump burns hot and clean and you can damp it down to burn slow, but it still burns faster than briquets. With the briquets being a uniform shape and size it makes a very even pack and the pile burns at a much more controlled rate. This comes in very handy when doing brisket - that way I don't have to try and add charcoal at any point during the cook, it will run the entire time without any issues.