I'm charcoal "challenged", so I converted my Weber Smokey Mountain 18.5 to propane

EdP

TVWBB Member
I'm charcoal "challenged", so I converted my Weber Smokey Mountain 18.5 to propane

Got it as a gift over the holidays, struggled keeping a proper fire going, and had mixed results.

Smoked St Louis ribs, country ribs, beef ribs, and pork shoulder.. all good but not great, and trying to maintain temp was taking the enjoyment out of what I thought should be a relaxing experience. :mad:

The reason I expressed interest in smoking was for brisket, and I wasn't comfortable making the time commitment when my charcoal skills were weak.

Found some info on converting to electric, propane, and LNG. Some very helpful people on another smoker forum gave me some tips.

I bought this stuff for about $40








One of the bottom vents is cut open and a flat rock lets the propane burner sit level on the charcoal grate (didn't need to use the legs). I also drilled some holes in the bottom for more air.
I've run it a few times at 225 for several hours and it works great.







I've smoked country ribs twice, and beef ribs. The final products were super.








And now I'm ready for a packer brisket. :cool:
 

EdP

TVWBB Member
By george, that's one way of doing it.

Wonder why Weber never tried this?

Welcome to the forum, Ed. :cool:

Thx

I've noticed here and on other forums, charcoal/heat problems are a common reason for smokers' disappointment with their final products. I can't maintain a proper fire for 10+ hours.

This is working great for me.
 

RyanS_MN

TVWBB Member
This is awesome. honestly if i could buy a propane bottom from weber i'd pony up for it. I love charcoal but having the option to switch bottoms for propane when i'm lazy would make a world of difference. Right now this looks like a permanent conversion so i'll stick with charcoal but keep us posted. It's been almost a year so i'm wondering if it's still doing well.
 

BFletcher

TVWBB Wizard
Very clever! Congratulations on the great workmanship and success. I would not mind having a Char-Broil propane smoker for certain use but I do have fun playing with charcoal and its requirement for a little hands-on intervention (it is my escape). If you put this on Facebook... be prepared, lol.
 

russ olin

TVWBB Diamond Member
WHAT say it aint so! That's just something that you just don't do! You will be shot at daybreak. LOL just kidding
Nice bark on those ribs.
 

EdP

TVWBB Member
This is awesome. honestly if i could buy a propane bottom from weber i'd pony up for it. I love charcoal but having the option to switch bottoms for propane when i'm lazy would make a world of difference. Right now this looks like a permanent conversion so i'll stick with charcoal but keep us posted. It's been almost a year so i'm wondering if it's still doing well.


Yes, it really works well. I'm using half logs now, they fit in the smokebox and burn a long time.

I've posted a bunch of smokes in the photo gallery subforum here.





 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
Heat is heat!!! Whether if it’s from charcoal propane or an oven
Well, not exactly. Wood, charcoal, propane, and electricity all have different combustion gases and moisture content (electricity having none of these). Good barbecue can be made with each of these fuels, but with certain adjustments.

Really like this mod...I've asked EdP for permission to add it to the Gas/Electric Conversions page on TVWB.
 

Lynn Dollar

TVWBB All-Star
I'll play the contrarian here. I don't like the idea of smoldering wood on a hot plate. That's gonna create a lot of dirty smoke.

Wood on charcoal chunks will do the same, unless at some point the wood bursts into flame. At the start of a smoke with wood chunks on charcoal on a WSM, there will be a lot of white dirty smoke at the start, but it goes away fairly quickly. Its a problem with any charcoal/chunk smoker. I try to avoid this on the WSM by no longer cooking at lower temps, I think Harry Soo and others using charcoal/chunk smokers cook at 275 and above, the higher heat improves air flow, which improves combustion of the wood.

That's my theory and I'm stickin to it :)

It seems to me, this smoldering wood on a hot plate is producing the wrong kind of smoke for the duration of the cook.

But if ya watch older versions of Steven Raichlen's PBS show, he uses soaked wood chips on WSM smokes, and I gotta wonder what that food really tastes like. That's the worst kind of smoke, its like burning very green wood in an offset stick burner.

Also, the people who use a smoke generator on a pellet grill, I forget what they're called, but its some type of tube placed on the cooking grate that increases smoke, but the smoke is dirty smoke. I question that.

And just because ya can't see the smoke generated by a pellet pooper, doesn't mean there's not smoke. On my offset stick burner, there's a lot of time that I can't see smoke coming out the stack, but if I hold my hand over the stack, I can smell smoke on my hand.

I'd be very interested in what kind of smoke this propane burner creates.
 

EdP

TVWBB Member
I'll play the contrarian here. I don't like the idea of smoldering wood on a hot plate. That's gonna create a lot of dirty smoke.

Wood on charcoal chunks will do the same, unless at some point the wood bursts into flame. At the start of a smoke with wood chunks on charcoal on a WSM, there will be a lot of white dirty smoke at the start, but it goes away fairly quickly. Its a problem with any charcoal/chunk smoker. I try to avoid this on the WSM by no longer cooking at lower temps, I think Harry Soo and others using charcoal/chunk smokers cook at 275 and above, the higher heat improves air flow, which improves combustion of the wood.

That's my theory and I'm stickin to it :)

It seems to me, this smoldering wood on a hot plate is producing the wrong kind of smoke for the duration of the cook.

But if ya watch older versions of Steven Raichlen's PBS show, he uses soaked wood chips on WSM smokes, and I gotta wonder what that food really tastes like. That's the worst kind of smoke, its like burning very green wood in an offset stick burner.

Also, the people who use a smoke generator on a pellet grill, I forget what they're called, but its some type of tube placed on the cooking grate that increases smoke, but the smoke is dirty smoke. I question that.

And just because ya can't see the smoke generated by a pellet pooper, doesn't mean there's not smoke. On my offset stick burner, there's a lot of time that I can't see smoke coming out the stack, but if I hold my hand over the stack, I can smell smoke on my hand.

I'd be very interested in what kind of smoke this propane burner creates.



I'm new to all this, but I assume this runs like any other propane smoker.

When I start the burner and put half a log on I do get white smoke initially during the 20-30 minutes it takes to warm up, but the wood does ignite. Sometimes opening the door puts it out and it reignites after it's closed. I move the box for pics, but leave it directly over the burner.

You really can't see the smoke once it gets to 225-250. It's pretty much down to ash after about 4 hours.
 

Lynn Dollar

TVWBB All-Star
I would think it to be just the opposite, open the door increases air flow and wood combusts into flame, closing shuts off air flow ?
 

EdP

TVWBB Member
I would think it to be just the opposite, open the door increases air flow and wood combusts into flame, closing shuts off air flow ?

It usually blows it out, removing the lid's done that too. And the burner flame can go out removing the lid quickly.

I drilled holes on the bottom for more airflow, but maybe need to add more.
 

Rusty James

TVWBB Gold Member
I'll play the contrarian here. I don't like the idea of smoldering wood on a hot plate. That's gonna create a lot of dirty smoke.

Wood on charcoal chunks will do the same, unless at some point the wood bursts into flame. At the start of a smoke with wood chunks on charcoal on a WSM, there will be a lot of white dirty smoke at the start, but it goes away fairly quickly. Its a problem with any charcoal/chunk smoker. I try to avoid this on the WSM by no longer cooking at lower temps, I think Harry Soo and others using charcoal/chunk smokers cook at 275 and above, the higher heat improves air flow, which improves combustion of the wood.

That's my theory and I'm stickin to it :)

It seems to me, this smoldering wood on a hot plate is producing the wrong kind of smoke for the duration of the cook.

But if ya watch older versions of Steven Raichlen's PBS show, he uses soaked wood chips on WSM smokes, and I gotta wonder what that food really tastes like. That's the worst kind of smoke, its like burning very green wood in an offset stick burner.

Also, the people who use a smoke generator on a pellet grill, I forget what they're called, but its some type of tube placed on the cooking grate that increases smoke, but the smoke is dirty smoke. I question that.

And just because ya can't see the smoke generated by a pellet pooper, doesn't mean there's not smoke. On my offset stick burner, there's a lot of time that I can't see smoke coming out the stack, but if I hold my hand over the stack, I can smell smoke on my hand.

I'd be very interested in what kind of smoke this propane burner creates.

I have had little luck with placing wood chunks / chips directly on the fire without introducing creosote smoke. My only exception is with propane and wood chips (haven't tried wood chunks with propane yet).

For what it's worth, I fold a sheet of heavy-duty foil into a double-layer pocket, open one side of the pocket and fill with dry chips, seal, and poke a single round hole in the middle of the packet with a pencil or Phillips screwdriver. I've had no issues with creosote this way when using gas.

I don't use chips on charcoal, but I do place chunks directly on the (WSM) grate before adding charcoal. Some creosote smoke is inevitable, but usually burns off after everything comes up to temp, and I believe the higher the better (250 ~ 275 compared to 225 or less).
 

Steve Haack

TVWBB Member
I'll play the contrarian here. I don't like the idea of smoldering wood on a hot plate. That's gonna create a lot of dirty smoke.

Wood on charcoal chunks will do the same, unless at some point the wood bursts into flame. At the start of a smoke with wood chunks on charcoal on a WSM, there will be a lot of white dirty smoke at the start, but it goes away fairly quickly. Its a problem with any charcoal/chunk smoker. I try to avoid this on the WSM by no longer cooking at lower temps, I think Harry Soo and others using charcoal/chunk smokers cook at 275 and above, the higher heat improves air flow, which improves combustion of the wood.

That's my theory and I'm stickin to it :)

It seems to me, this smoldering wood on a hot plate is producing the wrong kind of smoke for the duration of the cook.

But if ya watch older versions of Steven Raichlen's PBS show, he uses soaked wood chips on WSM smokes, and I gotta wonder what that food really tastes like. That's the worst kind of smoke, its like burning very green wood in an offset stick burner.

Also, the people who use a smoke generator on a pellet grill, I forget what they're called, but its some type of tube placed on the cooking grate that increases smoke, but the smoke is dirty smoke. I question that.

And just because ya can't see the smoke generated by a pellet pooper, doesn't mean there's not smoke. On my offset stick burner, there's a lot of time that I can't see smoke coming out the stack, but if I hold my hand over the stack, I can smell smoke on my hand.

I'd be very interested in what kind of smoke this propane burner creates.
How's the tank life for the conversion? For what it's worth, one of the reasons I ended up getting a WSM is because I wasn't getting the smoke results I wanted on the gas grill I was using as an intro to smoking. I love the idea of propane, but so far in my experience you have to have a mostly full tank to be sure you can get through a rack of ribs, even with the ease of holding it between 225-235. I even thought about getting one of those Camp Chef smoke boxes that come well reviewed, but I was concerned about how much propane I'd have to go through for that too. I dunno if having a different kind of burner helps with efficiency?

HOWEVER, right before I found my smoker on craigslist, I bought one of those A-Maze-N tube smokers that uses pellets, and the work on the grill was so much better than any of the wood chunks I tried to position on the flame tamers. Once you get it rolling it only produces a little white smoke for a minute or two and then it settles in nicely. It's so good that even though I have a smoker now, I'm going to keep using it as an auxiliary for stuff I don't necessarily want to fire up 4-5 hours of charcoal for (and for fish, it made some great salmon but I don't think i want to put that gunk in the WSM).
 

EdP

TVWBB Member
How's the tank life for the conversion? For what it's worth, one of the reasons I ended up getting a WSM is because I wasn't getting the smoke results I wanted on the gas grill I was using as an intro to smoking. I love the idea of propane, but so far in my experience you have to have a mostly full tank to be sure you can get through a rack of ribs, even with the ease of holding it between 225-235. I even thought about getting one of those Camp Chef smoke boxes that come well reviewed, but I was concerned about how much propane I'd have to go through for that too. I dunno if having a different kind of burner helps with efficiency?


I kept track of a 20lb tank last year and it ran for about 30 hours. I was running it between 225-250. Here's a pic of it running at 275 the other day https://tvwbb.com/showthread.php?77870-Picnic-Shoulder-for-6pm-My-first-high-heat-smoke



 

Steve V.

New member
On a larger scale...I know a guy who caters large events. He has a trailer towed pit that is about 8-10 feet long. I was looking at it one day and noticed a pipe running in to the back of the pit. I asked him about it and he told me that he runs propane with the wood to maintain the temperature throughout the day. He said it frees him up to attend to other things at the event. He doesn't actually burn the wood with the propane. He just runs it to supplement the wood burning. I guess the same could be said for our Webers if set up properly.
 

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