I originally posted my New Braunfels (NB) restore in the newb section. Haven't been around much since I posted about a couple of Dino Ribs smokes.
Since I live in West Lake Hills & the Tree Huggers around here get their panties all up in a wade with the drought we're in, there's no outdoor cooking unless the "fuel source of propane, natural gas or electric." YUUUP, you heard me right, in TEXAS and some tree huggers make it where you can't run the smoker. So Google being my friend and answering some many of my questions for my last 15 years in the Army, I typed up "wood smoker propane modifications" & found all kind of insanity! Some propane bar burners, some raping of gas grills, but the easiest seemed one about a turkey fryer burner in the fire box. Hmmm? That's easy enough, ordered up a high pressure from the ole interweb with an adjustable regulator and a hose. I had a 100lb tank from what I call a "torpedo heater" so figured I ordered the hose to fit the fitting, it's the wrench style fitting.
I tried to run the hose thru the intake, didn't like it, so I broke out the plasma cutter and zapped a hole in the fire box under the cooking chamber, drilled a hole in the bottom of the firebox & mounted the burner. Ran the hose with a spring thing for heat dissipation, loaded the whole thing in the truck and made a run to the local propane shop. Besides the comment of "it's doesn't have a safety shutoff something or other for if the burner blows out to shut off the flow." "It should work fine." They drained and refilled my tank for $80 something, loaded back up, when home, unloaded, hosed up on the balcony and all good!!
I used it all last winter and was constantly fiddlin with the regulator. I just couldn't lower the pressure enough without the burner flame popping out. So I ordered a ball valve to go after the regulator. Installed that, soaped up all the connection and as ole Phil says "we're cooking with peanut oil!" Well, not really, more like PROPANE! I jacked the regulator pressure up till it sounded like my turkey fryer, then use the ball valve to regulate flow. NOW, we're cooking LOW & SLOW! I can draw er down to about 200* on a Texas July or August day! Which means just under 100* of cooking temp and 100*+/- of ambient temps!! NOT bad!! In the winter, depending on temps and whether or not I throw my old Army Wool blanket over the cook chamber, I can get upwards of 450*, probably more, never tried!
I needed a way use "wood for flavoring not fuel" to meet city ordinance! So I removed my expanded metal fire rack and welded this up to hold a cast iron skillet for wood chunks.
I also added some lava rock to hold heat. Though I eventually moved them into the bottom of the cooking chamber and covered with foil. Works better keeping the heat in the cooker instead of trapping in firebox.
I also didn't like just having a hole in the cook chamber and drippings flowing out the bottom, so I welded in a drain valve.
I've a Brother who cuts trees that go on one of those band saw sawmill things, so I get all the pecan, mesquite, oak scraps I can use. I bring em home, chop em up on my miter saw, then put them in a large cast iron skillet on the grate. Works just fine, I can add or subtract chunks for level of intensity of smoke flavor in the wood. Another benefit is I'm not using NEAR the wood as before, so my wood hauling is almost nill!!!!
Yes, someone already got their nose in my bidness, called because they smelled wood burning (so they thought), the city tree hugging inspector showed up. I showed her the setup, she didn't get it even when I quoted her ordinance. Told her to call the Fire Marshall since it's actually a Fire ordinance not a tree ordinance. He shows up, I raise the lid, he looks in, looks under, says "yuup, cooking with propane, he's good!" She said something about the wood smoldering, he said "That's flavoring not fuel." She left. He asked "WTH did you come up with that?" So I filled him in. The only thing he mentioned was that if the burner blows out and the chamber fills with propane, then ignites itself, it's bye bye barbque!" I told him, "yeah that's why I sit right inside that glass door with a digital thermometer watching the exhaust." Never had another issue & I've never had another issue with the flame blowing out after adding the ball valve to regulate flow, not pressure!!
So here's the safety warning!
DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME, UNLESS YOU'RE STILL WILLING TO BABYSIT YOUR SMOKER! AND IF THE FLAME BLOWS OUT, SHUT THE TANK OFF, OPEN THE COOK CHAMBER, NOT THE FIREBOX TO ALLOW FUMES TO EVACUATE! BEFORE RELIGHTING!