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I have a first-generation Amerique (one of the last I think, since the improved models came out the next month), and I've had some issues with the metal of some of the parts. The drip pan below corroded through. No rust, just corroded through. The drippings made a mess over the floor over and over, until I figured out what was going on and put drip pans under my drip pan until I replaced the original with a deep serving pan. Also, my woodbox started getting areas of weakness, and some crud built up on the underside in a corner, and it too eventually corroded through, and now the the top door won't close properly. The replacement box for this old model was $146 with shipping.

Is there anything I'm doing wrong? I've lined the box top and the floor with aluminum every smoke, and punched a hole for the drain. I've had a few grease fires during the 10 years, including a Thanksgiving turkey. I'm sure that's healthy with all that aluminum in there. But otherwise, I just put dry-rubbed meat in the smoker.  Should I put a big, rimmed cookie sheet under my meat to catch the hot and/or corrosive drippings so they don't ruin meat that should be able to withstand this kind of use?

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OK, here goes again, as best I can remember. I don't know when CS changed the Amerique design, but I bought mine new in Aug 2013. I haven't seen anything like the corrosive effects you describe on the stainless interior, and the exterior looks brand new (it lives in an unheated garage). Just for comparison, I cover the smoker floor, the heat shield, and the drip pan with HD foil before every cook, and after every cook I wipe down the entire interior with a damp rag as CS recommends, just to remove excess grease. I also clean the cooking grids every time, just my obsession about anything that directly touches food. I don't know what grade SS CS uses but I'm surprised that you've got so much corrosion. If it were me, I guess I'd call CS and ask for their thoughts. Sorry this isn't as helpful as you might have wanted.

Mine also lives in an unheated garage and the exterior looks pretty new. I cover the woodbox lid and the floor with Extra-HD foil. There is no "heat shield" in this smoker, unless it's what you call the woodbox. I don't clean the sides and I do let the grease accumulate in the drip pan, which isn't lined (yet!). I clean the racks pretty thoroughly just before a smoke, so they don't gather dust or rust, and I spray them with Crisco Pan Release just before each use (makes the cleaning SO much easier!).  I don't recall a recommendation for wiping the sides down after every use, and in fact I do remember many recommendations to leave the walls dirty for flavor!

I bought mine in April 2012.  No problems.  Now, about the rust or corrosion. No matter how well I wrapped the lid to the woodbox on this smoker and on my Smokin-it, and no matter how well I lined the bottom of the smoker with foil and made sure it went up the sides, I always had great/drippings migrate beneath the foil.  Some of the seasonings used in smoking can be rather corrosive for lack of a better term.  Acidic?  Sure. And combined with heat, and over time, they can etch metal, even stainless steel. However, I have not experienced any of that. Maybe it is in my future.

It is important to not confuse a great smoking patina with rust. Also, it is possible that the area that rusted could be a weld.  Why?  I don't know.  Just a possibility.  As for the wood box, let me ask the big question:  do you get charcoal after a smoke or pure ash?  Charcoal is indicative of no combustion.  Ash means the wood caught fire. Fire is nothing more than oxidation, same as rust, but with a lot of heat. Combine that with whatever drips on or gets under the foil and you can expect deterioration.

And to you last question: No, you are doing nothing wrong.  Just realize nothing lasts forever and that is why spare parts are available.

I don't know when the models were changed, but I've had my Amerique since August 2013 with none of the problems you describe. I line my drip pan, the smoker floor, and the heat shield with HD foil before every smoke, and things still look pretty new. I do know that Al foil is easily corroded over time from experience with the foil pan liner in my gas grill. If I don't replace it every month or so, it corrodes through.

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