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What is your procedure for lighting the smoker? Do you start a chimney full of charcoal and then add it on top of unlit coals (the minion method)?
When you say "draft wide open" are you referring to the intake or the exhaust? or both?
Where are you located and what was the weather like?
To light the smoker, I used lighter fluid. I picked up a chimney last night at the store. I have been reading through posts on here as time permits and everyone says they are the way to go. I have seen references to the minion method, but have not been able to find a full description of how to do it yet.
At first both were wide open, but then I closed the chimney side down to just slightly open to help hold the heat in. This seemed to help a little bit.
I am located in Central PA, and the weather was in the upper 60's with a very slight breeze and alternated between cloudy and sunny most of the day.
Here is Jeff's article on the minion method:
I would try the minion method and see if that helps.
Also, how well is the cooking chamber sealed? If you have a lot of air leaving around the door it will keep your temps down.
The cooking chamber door does not seem to be sealed very well. I get smoke coming out around the edges of the door. What would be a good way to seal it?
If the lid is just loose you can add some clamps to keep it closed tightly. Something like this:
If the lid does close tightly but there are gaps where the door doesn't line up with the smoker you can add a gasket to the door to help seal that.
Until you have your leaks under control you will have some level of temp issues.