91vw03 is right - lots of ash buildup in the bottom of the cooking chamber.
Also found out this weekend that Sam's self starting charcoal is the wrong stuff to use. Actually got some serious puffs when I added some more charcoal to the firebox. Boy was that exciting.
OK - sealed off the cooking chamber on all sides with angle iron attached to the bottom of the cooking chamber. Stopped maybe 90% of the leakage between the lid and the lower chamber of the smoking side. Man, this thing leaked more than the Titanic.
Went back to the store and got some regular - non-lighting kingsford - added that to the firebox and the temps came right up and held just fine.
So, sealing the firebox, and cooking chamber and using better charcoal is getting me closer to actual cooking. I also think I'm going to get a welding blanket and throw it over the firebox -
I've got the temp diff from one end of the cooking chamber to the other down to about 20 degrees - I'm pretty happy with that -
I'm going to build an expanded metal charcoal box like 91vw0 suggested and try that.
I may move the chimney down to the firegrate level, but since I'm using the BBQ Guru, I haven't decided if that would help any.
Hope one day this week I can get some ribs and actually start cooking for the first time.