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First Brisket on a BGE w/ a Flame Boss.... couple questions

I just smoked my first brisket (they've always intimidated me before... was hesitant to put in all that work and not have it turn out great... but I just bought Aaron Franklin's book, and I felt inspired).  It was only my second smoke on my BGE, and my first using the Flame Boss.


Overall, I was happy with the brisket.  I followed Franklins method as closely as possible (I couldnt find 16 mesh pepper, I used a coarser grind.... and I couldnt find butcher paper, I wrapped in HD foil). But I ran into a couple snags and questions along the way, so I'll ask you guys.



1. Whenever the Flame Boss would kick on, I would get a ton of smoke pouring out all around the draft door, by the fan. I did end up tightening it up a bit with a couple thin pieces of wood wedged in there, but was still getting a lot of smoke coming out the bottom. Is this normal? If not, what am I doing wrong?


2. Before the cook, I calibrated my dome thermometer, but I didn't rely on it for this smoke because I was using the Flame Boss.  On average the dome thermometer was reading 75-100* hotter than the FB clip.  I know the dome temp should be hotter than the grate temp, but by that much? I question it, because my 11lb brisket was done in 7.5 hours at 275*, at least 2 hours faster than I thought. Can you calibrate a FB clip using boiling water? If so, how do I adjust the FB?


3. The FB fan was on.... a lot. It was cold outside, but not terribly cold, mid 30s or so, with a 10-15 mph breeze.  I filled an XL BGE right up to the top, and I ran out of charcoal after about 10 hours of cooking (after the brisket was done so quick, I decided to throw on some fresh Polish sausage). On a previous cook, with the same amount, and brand, of charcoal, it went for 18 hours with ease using just the dampers to control temp, but it was also 80* outside that day.  Again, Im not sure if I was actually running hotter than 275*, but is it normal to burn charcoal quicker using a FB?


4. Water pan. Im using the largest aluminum pan that will fit between the plate setter and the cooking grate without having to raise the grate.  Im using a couple large washers to elevate the pan off of the plate setter, and filling it as full as possible with water.  I feel the water evaporates quicker than it should, as I had to refill it during the brisket cook.  Again, this may be a sign that I was running hotter than I thought, but is having to refill the water pan normal?

And with all of this being said.....now I cant wait to do another one.