I'm Dave from Plant City, Florida. The convenience of shiny gas grills served my BBQ needs well for my first 50 years on the planet. When I realized that my current shiny gas grill was falling apart I started researching a replacement. That led me to SMF and a few other great websites reading grill reviews and opinions. After I read some of the smoking techniques used for low-n-slow cooks, I decided that I wanted to try that instead of buying another shiny gas grill.
The platform that I found as a starting place for my smoker was a commercial catering food warmer, at least I think that's what it had been in it's previous life. It's gigantic! 20 cubic feet.
I used charcoal for first couple of cooks with wood chips thrown on for smoke. The results were encouraging and my wife converted from "I don't like smoked food" to "that's the best chicken you've ever made".
The form factor of this contraption doesn't really lend itself to charcoal being burned in the same box as the food, though. Plus, it was too hard to control the heat and required multiple charcoal changes through the course of a several hour cook.
So, I decided to try propane for heat and pellets for smoke. A single propane burner (from a crab boiler) underneath the box works great as a heat source and I can get about two hours of heavy smoke from pellets burning in a vented aluminum basket (from the same crab boiler) placed off to the side on the bottom shelf.
The next couple of cooks were much easier to manage and turned out great so I'm going to stay with this setup until I outgrow it.
The advice that I got here from the forum members has been extremely helpful and probably saved me from a couple hundred dollars worth of ruined meat. Hopefully I'll be able to contribute some helpful advice to the forums as I learn more about the world of low-and-slow cooking.