Well, I finished the standard char-griller mods this morning, and after seasoning I figured I'd give her a test run on a whole chicken and some lean beef ribs.
The only novel modification that I incorporated into my smoker was to use some "u-channel" instead of "z-channel" as is often seen on these smokers.
No baffle/tuning plates, nor did I flip the charcoal pan.
Ribs were rubbed with 2:3 salt to pepper and the chicken received a salt/pepper/brown sugar/chili powder rub.
1/2"x1/2" u-channel with 5/8 stove gasket
While the stove rope and u-channel was very effective, I had a severe air leak occurring at the door of the SFB. This lead to temps shooting to 325*. Some foil fixed this and brought the temp spike back down.
Once I found the sweep spot on the smoker, I could relax for a moment and tried a new strong ale. Decent.
I kept it at 225* for most of the smoke. I probably should have gone a bit hotter for the chicken, but I was more concerned about making sure I could run at 225* without a struggle.
About 4 hours in. Ribs pretty much done.
The red/pink color is exaggerated in this image, but you can see they were pretty skimpy ribs.
A bit of chicken. I took this up to 170 in the breast and let it rest for 30min.
All said, I am very happy with this smoker. Tomorrow I will be smoking a 5lbs brisket flat, a rack of baby backs, and some hot sausage. More pics to come, then.