I smoked my first ribs on my new CharBroil Silver Smoker yesterday. Despite elaborate preparation on my part, and even with the help of my brother who has lots of experience with smoking, almost nothing went as planned or expected. I'd like to get some feedback on some of the questions that occured to me as the strangeness unfolded yesterday. I'll break down the story into chunks, because it was a long, strange trip. I might be wrong, but I think my first mistake was loading up the chimney with too many briquets. I was using them to light the pieces well-seasoned almond wood I wanted to use for smoking. After the charcoals turned white I poured them into the firebox and put three big pieces of wood on them. (I'm thinking this was way too much wood, mistake #2) In short order the wood was burning nicely. I let it burn a while to make sure it was really well lit. I had the chimney vent fully open, and the air intakes on the firebox open about an inch. The smoker lid was closed. When I was sure the big pieces of wood were burning, I shut the firebox door. I watched the thermometer shoot up to 350 degrees. I adjusted the chimney, leaving it open just a crack and also nearly closed the air intake doors, leaving them open about a half inch. I expected the tempreture to start dropping. Instead, the temperture was still slowly climbing. OK, well, I'll just totally close the chimney and the air intake doors and then the temperature will start to drop, right? But when I closed off the chimney and air intake doors the temperature didn't drop. I waited five minutes. No change. Five more minutes, still holding at a hellish 350 degrees. OK, I have an idea. I open the smoker door and let out a little of the heat. When I close the door, I watch the thermometer zoom right back up to the 350 range. My best guess at this point is that I have too big of a fire going in the firebox. I carefully remove one of the three big pieces of burning almond wood. I still have all the vents and chimney closed. I watch the thermometer. No change. Another five minutes, ditto. OK, now I decide I've got to remove the briquets. I take out the remaining pieces of almond wood, remove the grate, and then scoop out the all the burning briquets I could. I put the grate back in and two of the original pieces of almond wood. By now, due to the intensity of the fire in the box, I estimate the hunks of almond wood to be about half burned through. I opened the chimney vent and air intakes to get the almond chunks going again. When the wood was obviously going, I started adjusting down the air intake and exhaust. After about 15 minutes I was delighted to see things starting to look like they were under control. I got the temperature down to 220 and watched as it held there for 10 minutes. I went in the house and got my ribs ready to bring out. When I get out there everything looks good. Now the temp has been holding steady at 220 for over 15 minutes. I take a leap of faith and plop the ribs in the smoker. For almost an hour the temp stays right in the 220 area, no adjustments to air intake or chimney necessary. I check the temp every 5 or 10minutes, it holds steady. Then I look, and somehow it got up to 330. Whoa! I close the chimney about from 3/4 of an inch to a 1/4 inch, and close the air intakes similarly. The temp doesn't budge. I close the air intakes and chimney completely. The temp doesn't budge. By this time the ribs have had about an hour of 220 degree heat, and probably 15 or 20 minutes of 330 degree heat. I haven't opened the barrel of the smoker at all. But since it's been an hour, and I want to look in on the ribs, I open it up, thinking it will help disperse some of the extra heat. The ribs look good, and I loose the extra heat. But as soon as I close the door, the temp goes climbing up, way past the low 200s, and it's heading for 300. With the air intakes and the chimney CLOSED! Now I'm starting to freak out a little. OK, I need to get the temp down, and soon. So, I open the firebox and take one of the two hunks of well-burned almond wood out. I set the burned wood aside so I can add it in later. The wood removal worked, I got the temp to come down. I re-opened the chimney and air intakes and was able to keep the temp hovering in the 220s for most of the next two hours. Ok, that's Part One. I'd appreciate any comments or feedback, particularly on the subject of overloading my firebox (obligatory "That what she said"). And also on the topic of temp control. I expected closing the air intakes and chimney vent to choke off my fire and lower the temp. But when I closed everything down, the temp refused to go down. My guess, and I'd like to hear what you think about it, is that I had way too much fire, and thus residual heat, built up and merely closing off the vents was going to take a really long time to affect the temp. What do you say?