You folks are awesome — thanks much for your interest in helping me fix this!
Is your charcoal evenly dispersed at the bottom?
As far as I can tell yes, i have it about 2/3 way up the egg and it appears flat across the top, as in "as even as i can get it". I also clean it out every time.
Also how do you light the charcoal? Do you light in the middle or on the sides?
Great question. I was using the BGE starter chips, three of them. Someone told me to try using a blowtorch, so I went that route for a while, but i really don't think it's a good idea. It seems to result in a lower overall temp when things get burning. I'm not sure why that is, but there are two things I don't like about it:
1. Charcoal popping and exploding
2. I get the feeling I'm just burning off charcoal rather than starting some huge internal heat source.
Back to 3 starter chips now and it seems to work well. I place them in a fairly triangular pattern about 2" in from each side.
my setup - plate setter legs down, then 1" bricks as spacers, then pizza stone.
Cool, that's fairly similar to mine then.
Thanks very much for the reply