The build is pretty generic. I used an 18" grill and the no weld technique for my charcoal basket. 3 intake vents and 4 exhaust vents. I am using "the topper" aka 1/3 of another drum for my lid. I have 2 racks, i think the first is 24" from the bottom of the charcoal basket and the second pretty much at the top of the main drum, the topper gives extra room at the top.
On all of my smokes I have used the top rack. I use a wireless temp gauge with 2 probes. I hanging right at rack height and the second in the meat.
I am having a lottle trouble maintaining a steady temp. First smoke was ribs, pretty basic preseasoned from the store for a quick trial run. It was a hot day 95-100 F. The temp was trying to get super high, 300 range (obviously super high is relative, I was shooting for 220-250). I had all 4 exhaust vents open and i started with 1.5 open in intake. Temps kept rising slowly but steadily during the 4 hr smoke and I ended at abt .75 on the intake.
The next smoke was abt 15# of pork shoulder. It was an over night smoke 16 hrs. I loaded up my basket, it seems to hold 20-22 lbs of charcoal. I started at abt 8 pm and got my temp in the 220-230 range pretty good with a similar vent setup that I started with for the ribs. The temps kept rising and I kept adjusting the vents down till I was abt .5 intake vents open (2 closed and the ball valve at abt .5). I had alwayz read most people leave all exhaust vent open. I ended tho closing 3 of the exhaust vents tho to stay in ky temp range. i did open my intake to prob 1.25-1.5. The meat turned out awesome but I had to stay up a lot of the night maintaining temps. And I only used abt 1/3 of my charcoal for that 16 hr smoke, which surprised me. I included a post smoke charcoal basket pic.
Smoke 3 was 2 whole chickens. I smoked them for 3-4 hrs. I had added a fireplace gasket to the topper lid to try and help seal the lid, but the lid was greasy and it did not stay. I might degrease it and try again, maybe. I had a similar experience than with the shoulders and closed exhaudt vents much earlier on. It seems to like the exhaust vent closed more.
I think I am getting quite a bit of air coming in through the lid seal. Anyone have any ideas on what I can do to help maintain constant temps? I can take pics to help. Here are some that I have. None that are very descriptive of the smoker...