I have been refining my skills with barbecue for several years now. I started with a cheap upright smoker in the beginning. While this smoker was a piece of crap, it was JUST good enough to keep me interested in doing better. After the first season of that (and the long winter that followed)… I had plenty of time to research better smokers. I was a bit intimidated,at first, by the offset stick burners, and opted for the Weber Smokey Mountain 22 1/2″… Couldn’t be happier! Not a cheap investment, but worth every penny IMHO. The Weber has served me a couple of years without fail. Having a few seasons under my belt, (in more ways than one), I have decided to have a go at “open pit”. I purchased the expanded steel grate yesterday, and picked it up today. I will end up with a 3’x4′ cooking surface. My girlfriend and I are having a party this summer and I have volunteered to do the cooking. I hope this is going to be big enough. I’d like to do 2 shoulders, 20 chicken halves, and a few racks of ribs (if space permits). I just need to pick up 25 block or so, a couple sheets of plywood, some leather gloves, and a shovel. I figure it to be less than $200 when all is said and done.