My name is Fred, my wife and I started smoking together about a year ago. I had grilled before but was not really a bbq guy I would make burgers but thats about it. Truth be told that's because that was the only thing I could make that tasted good as I am seasoning challenged, but I am working on that, until then I let my wife do the seasoning and she is pretty good at it.
Neither of us had smoked before, and it all started by chance. Some neighbors across the street moved out leaving an old brinkman 18" brinkman meat smoker on the curb. It took us one cook and we were hooked, of course our first smoke was ribs but we then tried chicken, pork, and turkey and somehow by luck none of them got messed up. After nearly a year on that smoker I started wanting more space and toiled and toild over what new beginner smoker to get; well thanks to this site I decided on a brinkman trailmaster vertical with gasket and latch mods.
I have only gotten to use that smoker once but was pretty pleased I found that I did a good job of siliconing and only noted two small leaks I had to fix for the next smoke. I did however have trouble like others curing I found I could get the bottom half to 400 easy but the top half was a struggle and I got a bit worried my silicone was rated at 500F, and to get the top to 400 the bottom was reaching above 500. So I decided to hope for the best. Mmy hope is if I don't use water in it to smoke and keep her out of the rain I might be okay.
One would think living in KC I would have learned to BBQ. :-)