Hi everyone, new forum member and new smoker owner as well. I cured my new Brinkman following the instructions in the manual: vegetable oil on inside pieces of both FireBox (FB) and Grilling section 3.5 lb of coal added to FB and 8 lbs to grilling section started fire, all coals lit up and red hot closed lid with recommended FB and Smoke Stack (SS) vent openings After 42 minutes, the temp reached the recommended 250 degrees. Kept it there for 2 hours, then tried to get it up to 400 degrees by adding more coals in both FB and Grilling sections. Could NEVER get it hotter than 325. After a couple more hours, shut vents and put fire out. I figured from a curing perspective, this probably was pretty close to getting the job done. Today, I tried just putting coal in the FB only to see if I could get the temp up to 225 considering it took me 42 minutes to reach that temp with coals in FB and Grill section yesterday. I want to try and smoke a chicken as my first test. I could never get the temp higher than 175 degrees after 2 hours. At that point it started going down in temperature. For these tests I was using Kingsford coal although after reading the forums, it's not what I would cook with. I simply wanted to do this testing with a cheaper coal considering I wasn't cooking anything. I played with opening up the vents on both the FB and SS, which helped to increase the temp if I opened them up all the way, but never raised it close to the temp I needed. I don't have any modifications to this grill (just put it together on Saturday). I don't see any obvious gaps in the smoker. Would appreciate any help. I'm on vacation the next two weeks and I had visions of smoking chickens, ribs, pork shoulder, you name it. If I can't get this figured out, it will be nothing more than a grill. Many thanks.