ok, so finally getting back to this.
thanks for the replies everyone.
results after first smoke were average to below average.
Butts came out inconsistent. A few areas were great but most of it appeared dry and didn't pull very well. Had good smoke flavor to it, but meat was not where I would have liked it.
possible areas I went wrong:
1) did two 8 lb butts instead of one. on 2nd and 3rd racks. Maybe heat couldn't consistently get to each butt?
2) started at 530 in the morning and at 630 in the evening needed to take out of smoker to feed hungry family. Temp was about 188 on internal thermo. Did it need more time? or was temp wrong and I overcooked?
1) In at 530 at 225
2) used water pan
3) apple wood chips. replaced every 30 minutes or so. Got good thin white smoke (not blue - but not a huge pillow of smoke. was definitely thin)
4) smoked until 3:30 with temp about 155. Pulled and wrapped in foil with little bit of apple juice.
5) Only opened door 4-5 times. Seemed to be good moisture in smoker with no heat loss
6) vent wide open entire time until stopped smoking. then i closed and upped temp to 245-250. was only way for temp of butts to rise