Greetings smoke enthusiasts!
Complete and utter newbie here. I have lurked for a short while (since I knew I was getting a smoker for my birthday!) and picked up lots of tips for getting started. I wanted a smoker because smoking on the Weber gas grill wasn't giving me good results, and after reading a lot of the threads about smoke I now realize it was probably mainly due to my getting Thick White Smoke rather than Thin Blue Smoke. I know better now, but I still am glad to have the smoker as the capacity is so much greater and I think it will be a lot easier to run.
So my husband got me the Wally's low-end GOSM propane smoker (the one with the single vent on top) and I did my first smoke today, after seasoning it per instructions found on this site. Did a little bit of testing using the Maverick ET-732 (which I really like--works great!). It looks like the temperature range I am getting on the lowest rack is 240 to 345 degrees (with gas set to low vs high). Outside temperature was 83. Kind of disappointing as I'd hoped to go lower but I think I can work with it.
For my first smoke I chose turkey parts: a whole breast and two thighs (brined 12 hrs). I put them both on the lowest rack, put a water pan containing chunks of carrot, celery, and onion underneath, and a 10" cast iron fry pan under the smoker box (see--I've been doing my homework!). I put an oil/sage/thyme wet rub on the turkey, and used apple chips in foil with one pencil hole in the smoker box.
After stabilizing the smoker at ~325, I put in the turkey parts. The temperature at the rack dipped quite a lot, down to about 290, and never did come all the way back up to 325 during the 2-hour smoke. I think I was trying to much for getting plenty of smoke, too, because I ended up using 3 foil packets of chips (a handful each time), since they seemed to take so long to get going, then only gave visible smoke for about 5 minutes before going out. The spent chips looked black, not ashy, when I removed them so I don't think they ignited.
Anyway, I wasn't terribly happy with the results. Operationally things seemed to go well but the flavor of the meat is strange. Not creosote-y, but just odd. The skin was rubbery too. I think I either used way too much sage in the wet rub, or way too much smoke in the smoker. The turkey is edible but I would not serve it to company.
Anyway, I just want to thank everyone for the generous advice you all offer!