Originally Posted by cd2448
I'm going to buy a charcoal smoker. Brinkman or something, about $80. What possible harm can come of it?
The problem with the cheap rectangular Brinkmanns is the charcoal pan. It's literally just a porcelain coated pan, which doesn't allow enough air to reach the coals. In just a half hour or so, they ash up and smother themselves, which means you constantly have to open it up and stir the coals. Of course every time you open the door, heat escapes and compounds the problem.
I modified mine by drilling several holes in the pan, and placing a small round grate inside. (It was a Weber replacement rock grate.) This lifts the charcoal above the bottom of the pan so the ash has somewhere to fall, and allows air to come in from below. It's now MUCH easier to maintain the proper temperature without constant attention.
I also put a large paving stone in the bottom of the smoker, to provide some thermal mass. Seems to help.