Last year I got a nice new Charbroil knock off of the venerable New Braunfels Silver Smoker.
My first attempt at smoking some ribs didn't go well. I couldn't maintain anything near a consistent smoking temperature.
I didn't want to waste a lot of money on meat, so I decided before I put any more on to smoke, I was going to make sure I could get a fire going and keep it within the smoking temperature range.
It was impossible to manage the temperature and I couldn't figure out why. I read lots of posts on this forum and I talked to other people that had the same smoker I have. My brother has the original Silver Smoker and I consulted with him on the phone many times. Still, never got anywhere.
I was really bummed out. All last summer, I did practice burns for weeks and weeks, trying different woods, charcoals, etc, etc. When I put the smoker in the garage for the winter, I was pessimistic I would ever figure out what I was doing wrong.
I finally figured out what the problem was. The door of the smoker is defective. When it closes there is about an eighth or a quarter inch gap that lets in air and makes it impossible to regulate the temperature.
I solved the problem by placing a huge chunk of oak on the lid so it seals.
I did one test burn and confirmed that was the problem on Monday. On Tuesday I smoked my first real honest to God ribs (St. Louis). They were so good I can't wait to do another slab. Even so, I think I'm going to do a brisket next.