Hi all. So over the weekend I picked up a Masterbuilt 2-Door Charcoal and Propane Smoker at Home Depot. Here's the link to my specific model: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Masterbuilt-2-Door-Charcoal-and-Propane-Gas-Dual-Fuel-Smoker-20050412/202904343
I also picked up the following digital smoker thermometer: http://www.homedepot.com/p/t/203762557?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=203762557&R=203762557
The only mod I've made thus far was putting on a new regulator with a needle valve: http://www.lowes.com/pd_83441-95532-M5HPR-1_0__?productId=3318634&Ntt=bayou+classic&pl=1¤tURL=%3FNtt%3Dbayou%2Bclassic&facetInfo=
I did this so I can regulate the gas flow and hopefully control the temperature better with the needle valve instead of the main knob on the unit. I figure I can set it to LOW and go from there with gas flow. So far I've done the conditioning of the smoker by oiling down the racks and inside of the doors and heating it up to 400+ a couple of times with dampened mesquite wood chips in the pan. Now I'm getting ready to take my first crack at smoking some meat. I've seen some other mods people have done for covering up the holes on the chip pan, using an aluminum catering tray for the water pan instead of the super small stock pan that came with the unit, and possibly using a cast iron skillet for wood chunks/chips instead of the stock chip pan. I have some newbie questions around getting started:
1) When heating the smoker up prior to putting the meats on, what temp should I preheat to? My expected cooking temp or higher, knowing the temp will decrease with the water pan and meat taking up space?
2) Once everything is on and going, what's the best way to lower the temperature if it's too high? Obviously opening the door is one way to get a quick drop, but once closed again it will rise. I expect to have the lower side vents open about 1/2 way, and the top vent open about 3/4 of the way. Is top vent adjustment the best course?
3) Probably a stupid question, but I plan to use wood chunks. Should I soak them first, wrap them in foil, a combination? I'd like to have an idea on what people have found to be ideal for their situation, and kind of experiment from there.
4) Finally, any other suggestions are welcome.
Thanks for any input. I look forward to sharing experiences here with everyone.