Congrats on breaking that puppy in, you will love it once you get to know it a bit more.
2) 1st smoke, so I imagine I was running hot however it just felt like I was burning the fuel too fast...I had to shift the coals fairly frequently once I hit the 5 hour point.
A diffuser will work wonders for you. Try making about 10 foil balls, wrapping a 12" terracotta plant base and lay in your water pan then wrap the top with foil for easy clean-up.
3) I know this was me being lazy however how much coal are you supposed to put in the ring? I filled it to roughly level with enough space to put 15 lit coals for minion. Any ideas?
I use 20# for a competition cooking above 250 (Kingsford Blue), really depends on the wind. If it is windy, I get about 7 hours before I have to start knocking ash of (a Kingsford thing). With no wind, I could easily get 12 hours from a 20# bag.