Howdy! Mills up here in Montana, and glad to be here! New to the forum, but I've been a smoker for about 6 years. Self-taught, lots of trial and error, mostly error, but I can confidently call myself a 'Reasonably competent individual' on the subject of smoking. Get ready for a novel! I like to type! I started the journey when I was living in Nevada. We had some friends that were from Texas, and let everyone know, at every opportunity, that they could smoke (Since they were from Texas). We went to a couple of BBQ's and (Please bear in mind, I didnt know much about good smoked meat at this time.) it wasnt very good. I thought, maybe smoking isn't for me, but I kept on trying to learn. Looking back, I discovered that it was all technique, you see, that individual usually started a big fire at 0200h with mesquite (and only mesquite) and cracked his first beer. (Note - I, by no means, think that this is wrong, in fact, I think a drink (or a few, as the case may be) should be part of the ritual!) He then proceeded to burn through a whole bunch of mesquite and beer for the next 12 hours. He was also a student of the 'Huge Billowing smoke clouds' school of smoking. As such, his wife would end up tending the smoker for the last 2 hours, as he couldn't stand all that well, and pulled out some carbourized chunks of former-meat. MMMMMMMMM-mmm! Good Times. These folks ended up leaving, and when they did, they abandoned their smoker, an older Brinkmann Smoke King Deluxe, I think. I adopted it, and it needed some love. I had recently been laid off and had a couple of weeks until my next job started. Since I had the time, I set about making repairs. Part of the previous owners ritual was to hose it down, while it still had a fire going in it, and as such, it had no paint, and a 'little bit' of rust. I proceeded to get my wire-wheel out and some hi-temp paint (Black and gray). Once completely stripped, I painted a base coat of black and cut out some flame stencils. I then proceeded to give it gray ghost flames (Because Since has proven that putting flames on anything makes it at least 20% faster!). Soon Brutus (My wife named it) and I were ready to go! The first thing I tried to smoke was a Brisket. Let me disclose that I know a bit about cooking, and grilling (But didnt know squat about smoking yet!). I did a little homework on it and off we went! I Trimmed the packer, rubbed it down with mustard, patted it down with rub, and set to smoking. I was using lump charcoal with hickory chunks. I was keeping the temp at a steady 255, with TBS. I got to thinking about when it would be done. In my head I was arguing "Well, 120 is rare, 160 is well done" "I will just take it up to 145 and we will be good to go!" The eagerly anticipated 145 arrived and this piece of meat most likely had a IIA Ballistic rating. Not so good. Further homework revealed that I needed a LITTLE more time on the heat. The next one turned out much better, and I worked on improving ever since. Once again, I'm glad I found this forum, from lurking, I have learned a bunch and look forward to continuing my education!