As I've previously set out in my review of this smoker, I had trouble from the beginning keeping my heat up in this unit. No matter how warm the weather, keeping a constant temp at or around 225 was impossible (a real 225, not 225 on the unit's thermometer). I've talked to others with the same problem. I took some suggestions from fellow expert smokers on this forum and made some modifications.
First, I added fireplace gasket rope to the doors. This helped keep the smoke and the heat in. It still leaks some smoke, but not so much to worry about. Here's a pic of the smoker heated up and smoking after the rope was added.
I removed the old burner and purchased a new one from Tejas Smokers. This is a super sturdy cast iron burner that more than tripled the BTUs of my old burner. I know this may be overkill, but until you've stood over a smoker all day that won't get hot enough, don't judge! The burner was the perfect size. I also took the suggestions of others and bought one with a needle control valve. After I removed the old burner, I found some thin metal from the top of a drum and cut it out with a cutting torch. I then attached the burner to the metal and attached it to the smoker.
I also had to cut a hole in the back of the smoker to accommodate the burner and the orifice.
I then hooked up the new gas line which I also bought from Tejas to match the burner. It came with a regulator and a shut off valve, which I like, and which I've found is really handy.
I fired it up and it burns beautifully!
I can already reach temps twice as high as my old burner. And while I likely won't need to get it that hot, it's nice to know I won't have any problems even on the coldest of days. I'm also able to maintain a constant temp suitable for slow smoking thanks to the needle valve.
All in all, I spent about $100 and a couple of hours. I feel like I have a great unit now and I didn't have to spend twice or three times that to buy a new one. I'm a cheapo, so this is the kind of project I like: fix something you've got for less and make it better than you had! I know it's not as pretty as a new one, but I'm proud of it.
Now, I'm ready to throw some meat on this baby and see how she does!!