No slop on the door like you describe. It does have to be lifted a bit to latch it closed. I haven't added any fire brick, tho I do have a ceramic floor tile in the bottom of the smoke chamber and the fire box. Not kiln fired so the one in the FB cracked to pieces with the 1st burn.
I'm using a terra cotta flower pot water tray as a diffuser for now. I also picked up a new water pan at Academy if I ever go that route.
Still experimenting with a sheet metal heat distribution pan coming out of the fire box. If it works out I have a neighbor who can make me one out of plate steel.