Hello all. New to smoking, but have been grilling on Weber kettles for the last 22 years or so. I do alot of cooking and the family and I really enjoy bbq, so it seemed like it was time to learn how to do it properly. I did alot of reading around the site, and ended up purchasing an Old country offset from our local academy here in south Louisiana in July on an impulse. It is the midsize 20" unit, not the smaller Ranchand or the $1000.00 unit with 1/4 inch steel (will post pics once I figure it out!). Have added quarter inch "tuning" plates (not permanently affixed) to the bottom of the smoke chamber to help regulate the temps as I have discovered by using two probes at grate level that there is often a 20-30 degree temp difference from the firebox side to the chimney/exhaust side. I have done numerous smokes using the very informative info I found here and have had really good results with a couple of briskets, butts, ribs and beer can chicken. I found that I have had a hard time maintining temps for any length of time using lump charcoal placed directly onto the grate in the firebox and recently added a charcoal basket to the firebox. I tested it last nite using about 10lbs of unlit kingsford then adding a full chimney of lit to the top. The charcoal seemed to light from top to bottom within 1 1/2 hours, but did maintain a target temp with the intake vent open only about 1/2 inch. I did manage to hold the temp within 5-10 degrees for 7 hours. Now to figure out what to do for the remaining time when fresh charcoal is needed! Thanks alot for all of the info on the site. It really is hard to go wrong if you follow all of the advice and experience here!