This is the advice I give to first time DrumHeads in Training....
First and foremost is, making sure that the Lid fits
airtight so as not to have uncontrolled airflow.
Second is starting with a small amount of lit coals
And Third is to catch the target temp on the way up.
Not knowing what kind of gauge you are using to
measure temp, I will say that there is a 50*
difference in temp from the outside grate to the middle of the grate.
This is how I manage mine:
I start 13 Briqs in the Chimney...
Once they ash over good I add to my
fire basket that's been filled with unlit Charcoal, mixed with a few fist sized chunks of hickory or cherry, somewhere around
the top middle of the pile....Like this....
I have all intakes open up to 190*
Once at 190* I close two intakes almost entirely. leaving about a 1/8" crack, I use magnets to control air flow.
With the third intake I choke it down by at least half and watch my temp gauge.
I let it settle in around 200* on the gauge,
knowing that the center of the grate is actually 250*
I'll let it burn like this for 30 minutes while I prepare the meats to go on..
During the settling in, I can tell how the Drum is responding to the airflow and whether I need to throttle up or down the intake..
Once I load up the Pit I'll check it in 30 minutes to see how it is responding..and make adjustments accordingly...
You have to be patient with it as it will take it's sweet time to respond to minor adjustments, but once it settles in to your target temp, it will cruise forever, you just need to limit the time that you take the lid off, which means if you're looking, you ain't cooking...
And give it a good bump every 5 hours or so to knock the ash down...
Remember, Relax and have fun with it....