Well, my idea about which stuff to take out of modded smoker, was right on! IT WORKED MUCH better for stick burning. I've still got a ways to go to learn this stuff, but I think I am on the right path now. Thank you Cliff Carter. and others, for all your help and patience.
See this thread to see what I removed. BIG DIFFERENCE!
3:00 PM -Started smoker with very full chimney of lit charcoal (mix of both lump and briquettes.) The "empty" smoke chamber quickly rose to
L. grate level @ 290* & R. grate level @ 310*
L. top rack @ 330* & R. top rack @ 314*
3:15 PM - Added 3 split chicken breasts to top rack, 8 drumsticks to lower grate, and slab of ribs on left side of lower grate. 15 minutes later, temps changed.
much lower on bottom grate for a few minutes, even reached 100* lower on bottom vs. top, for a few minutes.
But it leveled out at about 35* to 55* difference between top and bottom. Top being the hotter.
15 min. after that L. bottom grate was 230* & R. top rack @ 280* and I added a warmed small split let burn off for about 8 min. before closing firebox lid.
Temps climbed to L. grate @ 291*, and R. top rack to 300*
Two larger breast were done (172*) at the 1 hr & 15 min. mark. Smaller breast, not yet.
I added the large split and let burn off for 15 min, and then It took another 30 minutes for small breast to reach 163*
Legs were on the lower grate, so they were cooking more slowly and not ready yet.
I moved legs to upper (hotter) rack near the sfb side to finish.
At 5:00 PM I pulled the small breast and the legs off smoker. 1 hour & 45 min. for legs, and the small breast.
I did crisp up the legs inside the sfb as that was going to be our dinner. They were great! VERY juicy and tender. I did not brine at all.
Now here is a bunch of photo's in order of the cook. You may have to read comments again to put photo's with results. LOL
One split inside, and this one outside warming.
1 chimney of coals.
1st split burning off
Ready to close lid.
TBS.... Yes it is there. Only time I saw solid smoke was when I picked up a dry Maple branch size of my finger, and broke it up and tossed it in.
2nd small split burning off
Some were done.
Large 3 X 4 X 7 split burning off
Ready to close on it.
I'm a happy camper with how this cook went today. NO fowl smoke at all, but a great smoke flavor in food.
Now that I know I can actually burn wood and not just smolder it, I need to learn how to do it with less coals. I used 2 or maybe 2 1/2 chimneys total.
Ribs weren't done until the 5 3/4 hour mark, or I would have used even less coals.
Overall I'm ecstatic with my first success burning wood in smoker. Actually I have been giggling! LOL
AND NO BLACK SKIN!