I built my first fire in the smoker box and after about 10 minutes, all of the paint on the bottom 25% has already pealed off and left bare metal. I used the grate, and did not put coals directly on the bottom, under the grate (hot ash fell down, of course.)
I did not line the bottom with foil but will from now on.
I did experiment with a few easy cuts, like fresh Italian sausage and some ground sirloin. The sausage was amazing. The burger was okay but nothing to write home about. I am using hickory right now.