I assembled the unit yesterday. Got it for Christmas but other things just seemed to get in the way. I modified the coal pan, 10 - 3/8" diameter holes. Fired it up for the "cure" Temp went way up to 400' and then setteled down between 250 and 200 for the next 2 hours. I used Cowboy hardwood charcoal. So today I made up some of Jeff's rub and prepped the ribs. I cut them into about 7 rib portions and placed them in a vertical holder. As a sidenote I have never had any success getting the silverskin off. I fired it up, put on a couple of soaked hickory chunks, and when it was up to temp I put the ribs in. Also filled the pan w/water. I had a carpentry project at home so I was able to be around the smoker all day. Good thing, I could not hold 220' for more than 1/2 hr. and even then I was constantly fiddling with the vents. I was constantly loading my chimney starter with new coal and adding it about every 45 min to 1 hour. After about 4 hrs I started adding briquettes and that seemed to help somewhat. Water had to be added every 2 hours or so.
Someone else posted this,so I am not the first, I was wearing sandles and managed to drop a small hot coal on my foot. It got stuck underneath the top of my sandals and did it burn!!! We have an above ground pool and I managed to get my leg up high enough to get my foot into the water but I have a couple of good blisters.
I inserted my temp probe into the meat between 2 ribs and more or less in the center of the smoker. About 6 hrs later the probe measured 172' so I removed the ribs and foiled them for about 20 minutes. The ribs at the front of the smoker were very moist, and delicious, but when I was cutting up the rest into 2 rib portions they were much dryer.
I am going to pick up a grilling basket tonight or tomorrow AM as has been suggested in other posts. I know part of my problems was the build up of coal dust and smothering the fire and the mfg. pan does not hold enough fuel. The pan really needs to have a "SHAKER" to remove the dust from the pan to the bottom of the smoker. I'm working on a design now.
I plan on doing a brisket tomorrow, and based on the temp problems I had today I'll prob. do 5 or 6 hrs in the smoker then wrap it in foil and finish in the oven. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.