I was really bumbed about the new smoker, so the next dat I fired it up again with temp probes and gauges on each rack. Although temp was set at 250, all probes were reading about 200. Then the light bulb went off and I removed one of the drip pans and centered the other. Within 5minutes all probes were reading 250! DUH, as the pix below showes, the built in temp sensor was only 1/2 inch above my drip pan, and there was just enough heat slipping past the back edge to make it shut off the heating element, but not enough to warm the rest of the smoker.
At least I realized my mistake before packing it off to send back. LOL