KnucklHed BBQ, you describe me to a tee! If I can't overthink the project, I'm either sleeping or in the ICU! I will try the Smokenator without water next time and keep a close eye on my temps.
I did originally start by controlling temps by the lower vent, but the maker of the Smokenator recommended controlling by the top dome vent, so I made the switch. As long as I don't get an A-Maze-N smoke box and need the oxygen to keep it going, I'm flexible on which vent to use to control. I am sure that doing the charcoal open, either on a single side or like JMSeltzer's video showed, a fire on two sides with a drip pan in the middle would work fine. But I like the protection from heat the Smokenator gives which should theoretically give me more food grate space. But if all else fails, I pull the puppy out. I had no problem getting to 250F once I added just the small fire to the other side of the charcoal grate opposite of the Smokenator.
I hear you about the smoke thing. When I did the coconut shell smoke, I got a whole lot of white smoke and I was very worried the ribs would be ruined. They weren't, so I was pleased about that. On the flip side, the smoke ring on the ribs was very thin. I plan to try coconut shells with chicken next and see what happens there, doing it very similar to what you recommend, then adding more charcoal and finishing at 350F to crisp the skin. Thanks for the advice on the water pan, I be sure to pull it completely for the chicken.
mbshop, Thanks for the ideas. The foil approaches you describe sound very much like they are emulating the Smokenator, or vice versa maybe. I see that most Weber users are using the lower vents to control temps. And I will drop the water for the time being. When I do ribs, I use a Texas Crutch, wrapping for an hour or so after brushing the ribs with freshly made apple juice. I will keep my eyes open for fire bricks, I made a "pizza stone" for my oven here out of half-height pavers that has worked very well. I may try a couple of those as a test and see how they hold up.
landarc, I will try this, both with and without the Smokenator.
Ultimately, I know that with a one or two sided fire, I can smoke ribs, I just want to maximize my cooking area so I can cook more. I will look for a rib rack or see if I can get one cobbled up locally. Compared to U.S. ribs, the racks are not so big and fairly shorter so a rack would work very well.
Thanks to everyone for the ideas and input. I am sure it will help me improve my smoking abilities and that is what I am after.
Another Tandang Overseas - Weber 22.5 OTG/Smokenator 1000/Pizza Kettle - 2 Thermapens - Mabuhay BBQ