Well I would like to start out by saying I am new and figured I would get it all out that I am generally a smoking rookie, been doing it on and off for 2 years and have had some and not some sucess. I smoke on a brinkman vertical water smoker, and have made mods to my charcoal basket as to get the smoker hotter. I still am having problems bringing it up to temp, the hotest I have registered was 200 degrees. and at times I cant even keep that temp stable. I still have the stock therm on the door. Maybe I should replace that. I always run into the same problem i just cant get it hot enough, and things take longer to cook then what I read they should on the internet, way longer.... I use a grill basket to but my charcoal in and leave the vents mostly open to circulate air. I build the first fire in a chimmney. I was wondering if I should attemp using just straight wood to smoke if that would make a difference any bit of advice would help, thanks again in advance. I almost get so fustrated with it that I dont do it as often as I would like or as often as I have done in the past.