Hi there! My name is Chris and I'm from Kitchener, Ontario. I'm a long-time sampler of smoked meats, but have just got my very own smoker. I have a Napoleon Apollo vertical water smoker - very similar setup to the Weber Smoky Mountain.
Anyways, I tried to do a dry run today, and I need some assistance. I used the Weber chimney starter to get a chimney full of lump charcoal going. I might have dumped the charcoal a little prematurely because the smoker only got to about 250 before pooping out after 30 minutes. So in addition to premature charcoal dumping, I wondered if I wasn't using enough charcoal. So I got another chimney full ready and dumped it on the charcoal that had already been poured in. Got the temp up to 275-ish (all vents wide open), and maintained that for an hour and a half. I closed all the vents halfway to see how well it holds to 225-250. But shortly after that, the fire went out again.
What am I doing wrong?
Also, how hot should a smoker get with all vents open fully and all levels of cooking grates on?