Sounds like you're on the right track; I build a pretty big fire to heat the cooker up initially and the coals from that are usually sufficient to keep the next split burning. But I also keep an unlit chimney loaded with charcoal - just in case the BBQ gods are looking the other way that day
Head Groundskeeper - Squirrel Haven Estate, Lenexa, KS
Chief Cook of the infrequently competitive Fullwood Bros' BBQ Team
Cigar Lounger, Malt Beverage Tester
Owner/Operator of: Superior "Stealth" SS2, Brinkmann "Lefty" Bandera clone (retired), Comalco Black Dog grill, and various Weber kettles.
World's fastest Belgian/Cuban Racing Yellow thermapen.