My name is Jason. I purchased a horiz. cylinder smoker with a firebox because I love to cook and have always wanted to try it out. The first attempt was not very good. I tried using charcoal because I couldnt wait to buy wood *grin*! I couldnt keep that thing hot enough and with no experience it was severely underdone (8 hrs was not long enough). Putting cut pieces in the microwave or oven worked really well. Flavorwise I was impressed. 2nd attempt and 3rd attempt I started the box with charcoal and then loaded it up with Pecan to get the whole thing hot and ready to cook. After about an hour to 2 hours I had great coals and I was able to control the temparture with the damper and the chimney choker (dont laugh at my grammar!) :- ) There are two concerns (can I do that?) 1. A tar like matter forms at the seams of the door/hinges. I am thinking it is the tannins and the oils from the wood. During the 1st attempt I noticed this tar stuff dripping from the bottom of the chimney onto my meat (it was in the form of a circle). I thought it was the paint that the manf. used before they shipped it. HELLO?! Why are they using paint on the inside? I noticed a strong chemical taste in the brisket. The ribs werent so bad. They were only in there for about 6 hours. 2. Before the third attempt I scraped the paint off, collected it and threw it away. I cooked brisket and ribs again. Thinking I had done away with the nasty chemical taste I was excited and confident this would be THE BEST ever I have made........... So not the case! I was disappointed (not defeated) that the chemical taste did not go away. SO.......I am almost convinced that it is from the wood. But I am inquiring of the experts! I use pecan and, sparingly, small pieces of mesquite. Is the wood bad? Too green? Am I "smoking" too much? Does the tar stuff have anything to do with the nasty taste? I have to keep the chimney completely closed because when I added the firebox the walls/pieces were bent so they dont mate perfectly. I clearly see smoke, and HEAT, escaping from between the firebox and the side of the barrel. I thought I was having problems my nose or my taster so I tried several different sources to make sure it is not me (being so old at 36 and all). The chemical taste was not present. I know I asked two questions but I am thinking that the scenario(es) relate to each other. :- ) Any critiques or comments? Please fill me in! I would love to push out awesome food!