Hello everyone, I'm excited to join your community of smoker vets and newbies alike. I live just outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan. I've loved to cook for years, when I was younger I cooked at two different restaurants and served tables at others. I love to grill, but some of my most favorite food is smoked BBQ. I decided it was time to expand my horizons and try to embrace the art of smoking myself. Like many other beginners on this forum, I went for the $74 vertical smoker at Walmart to begin my adventure. Its the Char Broil Vertical Charcoal Smoker 365. Very similar to the Brinkman vertical smoker (as you all know). If I had a little more room outside, I would have grabbed an offset smoker, but I'm pretty happy with my choice. I ordered a cover for it from Char Broil as well in hopes to keep it nice for awhile. After I assembled the smoker, I followed the procedures for 'seasoning' that were outlined in the manual. So as it stands now, my smoker is ready for its first use. Since I'm new at this, i've been doing research and discovered that people are modifying these smokers to achieve better performance. If someone could help me confirm these I would appreciate it. -Fireproof felt to help seal the doors -Charcoal pan with holes to help maintain a hotter fire -Aftermarket thermometer for more accurate temp readings Where is the best (and quickest) place to get these things? I'm aiming to do my first smoke this weekend and would like to get these things in place beforehand if possible. If not, I'll work with the stock stuff, and upgrade when possible. Is there anything I missed that I should consider? In hopes of creating a successful, and original BBQ this weekend, I trolled through many sites and forums for recipes on rubs and sauces. I found two recipes that I like and modified them to cater to my own preferences. So I can bring to the table an original rub and sauce for this weekend's smoke. I'm using a 14 spice dry rub and have made an original BBQ sauce from scratch seasoned with that rub mixture - both of which lean to the spicy side. I plan to make another sauce on Saturday while I'm smoking that is a bit on the sweeter side. I'm trying to decide what ingredients to put into my water pan for this smoke. I was thinking fresh apple slices, worcestershire sauce and sliced onion. I'll be using a combination of hickory, applewood and oak wood chips. For my first smoke, I was thinking about doing a couple racks of ribs. But I thought I would ask the community for opinions on what would be a good first smoke. I hope to get some use out of the smoker for the next couple weeks before I attempt something like beef brisket. If anyone would be willing to enlighten me on some tips for my first smoke, I would greatly appreciate it! One tip I saw was to cover the water pan in aluminum foil. Anything else I should know or be aware of before I try this thing out? Any help would be greatly appreciated, and thank you in advance for your feedback!