I finally joined a forum.
I have been smoking things for a couple of years, using a Brinkman 2 door ($39 from Walmart). As usual, it had a lot of mods, and I am beginning to appreciate how poorly it holds heat, and is useless in cold weather. My other smoker is a 20 year old, Char Broil copy of the Weber, which refuses to rust. Probably made in America. I finally used it again for a brisket, and it worked pretty well - I mounted it on blocks and piled dirt around the base so the open bottom was essentially buried - and it held a steady 210-220 for about 4 hours at a clip.
The Brinkman is rusting badly - and I am either going to modify a replacement with insulation etc this winter or in the long run, built something involving a small flat topped used woodstove as the firebox, and a scrap oven as the smoker. I go for small, since I am only cooking for 2 or sometimes 4. Big rigs are cool, but of limited use.
Recipewise, I believe in brining, I used house brand mustard as a base for rubs, I do ribs, salmon, and a decent small brisket. I often smoke "country ribs" as a meat for chili.
Oh - I also make can homemade chili or salsa every October.