Thanks everyone for the feedback. I finished my build today, well mostly. :-) I drilled all 8 bottom vent holes as you suggested, although I did skip the upper U-bolts. After reading all your thoughts, I will probably end up putting in the upper U-bolts. I added an additional thermometer in the lid, more towards the center so I had a better idea of the actual cooking temps.
For a test, I decided to throw a full rack of spares on it and see what happens. I mostly filled the fire basket with some Kingsford that has been hanging around too long and lit about half a chimney and lit it off. Since I'm in the wood business, I have no shortage of Pecan, Hickory, Cherry, Mesquite and other varieties. I put three chunks of Pecan, dry, about fist size pieces on top of the basket before I dumped the hot coals on. Turned out to be a bit more wood than I needed, It was more smoke than I prefer, but that is the reason to test.
About 20 minutes after dumping the chimney of coals in my fire basket, with the top vent wide open and two bottom holes open, one on each side, the temp climbed to 280 on the top thermometer and 220 on the side one. I closed one bottom vent hole and about 45 minutes later both thermometers settled in at 220.
Not perfect , but for the first cook, I call it a huge success! Thanks Poppa!
Big Poppa UDS Smoker
New Braunfels Bandera Smoker
2 Weber OTS
Weber Genesis Gasser