I finished putting together my BVS Friday night. Saturday morning, I followed the directions for curing the BVS and lit my first fire. Got the temp up to about 500Â°-600Â°F for an hour or so, then let it cool down slowly. Around lunchtime, I cleaned out the ashes and wiped down the interior with a towel. I started a new fire, put in the water bowl and waited for the temp to come up. I experimented with the vents but I could not get the temp over 200-220Â°F for very long. Highest temps were acheived with the botoom vents open fully and top vents open about 1/3. Fire was burning vigorously (charcoal & cherry), thin smoke, a nice hot fire. The water was boiling hard. Lots of leakage around the upper door - may need gasketing. Air temps were in the mid 60's and a light breeze. I couldn't believe that the water pan could absorb that much heat but obviously, from my experience with the curing fire, it can. So I went ahead and put in some store bought sausages (upper shelf) and just kept feeding the fire. The square wok fire pan did an 'OK' job... but it did require periodic shaking to get the ash to fall, stirring up an ash cloud at the same time. Maybe a gasketed smoke chamber will help because I had to use what I thought was a lot of fuel to keep the temp up, resulting in a lot of ash. About two hours before dinner, I put in some skewered shrimp (lower shelf), some more fuel & some more water. The sausages were beginning to brown at this point but for the rest of the smoke, the meat temperature never got above 155Â°F. The shrimp turned pink and opaque, but no more. So the sausages and the shrimp went into the oven to finish cooking thoroughly. Everything tasted great. The low temps have me concerned about safety. Sunday, I started the smoker early. A nice piece of brisket (2.5 lbs) went in (lower shelf) and I kept the fire fed all day (charcoal & oak). Again, lots of fuel, lots of water and lots of ash but the smoker rarely got to 225Â°F. After 6 hours, the meat was still not getting tender. I grew tired of the mopping, turning, fire tending, etc., My eyes were reddened from staring into the smoke for two days so I decided to give it up. I foiled the brisket and into the oven for about and hour an a half to get the knife and fork tenderness I wanted. I had some ABT's in on the top shelf too and although browned from the smoke, the cream cheese never melted so I ran them under the broiler and we downed them with a few beers while waiting for the brisket. Again, everything tasted great but the low temps have me concerned about food safety. In two days smoking, about 12 hours total, I used approximately 15 lbs of charcoal and 6-7 lbs of wood. Am I doing something wrong or is there something I can do better to get the smoker temp up? Thanks in advance.