Hi I have a 7 in 1. It is a great little smoker
with either charcoal or propane. But I dare you to figure out what the 7 stands for though.
The first thing you notice about it is that the firepan is almost impossible to access thru that tiny little opening between the firebox and the water pan. If you want to add some briquettes or lump or even wood chips there is not room to get anything in there. Oh sure you can take it apart and add stuff to the fire at the cost of most of your heat and a big delay in the cooking time.
I thought of many solutions before I came up with a really good mod. You take the water pan and bash a great big dent in the bottom of it. Its aluminum and with some careful bashing it bends quite easily.
Put the dented in part right in front of the little access door and viola lots more room to maneuver now instead of a giant pain in the a$$ it is easy to add coals, lump or wood chunks.
I know its your bright shiny new smoker and you don't want to hit it with a big ole hammer but trust me it makes everything a whole lot easier.Dent as seen from the inside of the water pan.Dent from the bottom of the water pan.Dent from another angle, instead of a one inch gap to add things you now have about a 3 inch gap.Showing the more than doubled access to the firebox.
On really hot days I found that I had to turn the burner so low that any breeze at all snuffed it out. Not really a safe thing. On cooler days there is more gas flowing and thus no chance of the flame blowing out on you. So I use charcoal on really hot days. Days like we are having right now the smoker works like a hot damm. ( excuse the pun )
It produces some awesome smoked meat with great looking smoke rings.
I bought a smoker blanket that is made just for the 7 in 1 from Cabelas.
In cold weather the blanket saves at least 30% on my gas consumption. it paid for itself the first winter I used it. Another big plus is that it keeps the wind at bay.http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/te...requestid=7042
Its $40.00 and worth it, but you can probably get a welders blanket a lot cheaper but with out the cool cabelas logo on it though. Mine is styling. I had to re-locate one of the handles on the smoker because it didn't line up with the handle holes in the blanket by about 2 inches. Drilled two bolt holes and pop riveted the handle in its new location,pop riveted a rivet in the old hole so it wouldn't leak heat and smoke then Viola! everything now lines up perfectly.
PS Have the top vent wide open while smoking , it doesn't look like there is much thin blue smoke coming from the smoker but if you open the lid during smoking ( which you really should avoid to keep the heat in) You will see lots more smoke in the smoker body than you would think from the tiny bit escaping from the vent. Like ronp says if you can smell it , its smoking. while using propane you can increase the smoke quite a bit by adding a couple briquettes into the firebox and putting the chips/chunks on top of the charcoal. Hope this helps.