Thanks for the advice everyone!
Im convinced on 'some' of the mods. Ill get the charcoal pan sorted before my first cook, I'll also put in a thermometer under the upper cooking rack (best location?). I'll also do the air inlet mod at some stage but I think I'll start with sliding_billys recommendation of a ceramic bowl covered in foil slid underneath.
I dont like the look of the rope gasket, would much rather something solid and metallic, will have to think about that one...