ECB to Gasser ?

Discussion in 'ECB Owners Group' started by mosparky, Oct 3, 2015.

  1. I see a few post where folks say they are converting to gas, but other than the odd "set it on a fryer base", very little feed back about how to or what works/don't work.

     I have a 30yr old smoken'grill. Charcoal. It's so old, the charcoal pan has a 2 inch hole in the center (factory), no idea why they abandoned that design.

     After finding this site, I've decided to give the old girl a face lift. I want a propane smoker, but it's hard to find one that will do a 20 lb bird at thanksgiving. They are out there but it will be awhile til I can afford it. The ECB cost me $24 then and are $50 now, so there are limits to what I will spend on this one versus put towards a Smoke Vault. I like to repurpose.

     The turkey fryer is certainly the easiest way, but I don't have one and unless I find a screaming good deal, not likely to. I do however run across throw away gas grills from time to time, I've been thinking as others have, about useing the side burner in the ECB. This is not without it's challenges. I find nowhere that anyone has done it with success, how, or where they hit a brick wall and gave up.

     Most side burners have about 10,000 btu which comes to more btu / cubic inch than the most popular cabinet smokers. It should be plenty big enough.

     Anyone care to share their experiences and how to's/ why nots ?

     I will be doing the charcoal mods and a few of my own to get me by til I can  make a move on the gas conversion.
  2. Are there any thermometers that fit the original hole, preferably with little to no protusion. what seems to be the minimum protrusion.
  3. bill1

    bill1 Smoke Blower

    10000 BTU/hr = 3000W.  

    Brinkmann has sold 2 different electric heaters for the ECBs, one around 1200W and the other ~1450W.  Some have complained the lower wattage units are underpowered, partic for colder climares.  (The ECB has virtually no insulation in its design.)  Since the gas burner you're contemplating has over twice that power, you should be fine.  In fact, it may be an ideal choice.  I suspect turkey fryer burners are TOO many BTUs.    

    MoSparky, you need a fresh thread for your question.  No one will notice it here.  

    Most BBQ thermometers use a much smaller hole.  You might try rolling a small sheet of steel to the curvature of the ECB dome lid (an electrical junction box cover is cheap works well for this,) paint it black on both sides, and then screw it to the lid with 4 small screws or rivets in the corners.  You can drill a small hole in the middle to mount your replacement thermometer.  

    I assume you want a  more quantitative one with real degree marks delineated on it.  
  4. Thanks for the responce and info. I was hoping to get the ECB folks where they live and cut thru the MPS/ MES ect crowd.

     I agree on the turkey fryer. I beleive most are in the neighborhood of 30,000 btu to 40,000 btu  which is about two to almost 3 times the stock MPS 30 which is close in volume to the Smoke n grill. ECB.

     For the record, my numbers were off on my initial post. 10,000 btu is actually about 2/3 the size of a factory MPS 30. Might have to re=think this a bit.
  5. bill1

    bill1 Smoke Blower

    I'm just saying, based on comparison with their electrical counterparts, whether MES electric or Brinkmann electric, that 5000 BTU/hr will be plenty of power.  Two or three times that amount will heat up the smoker 2x or 3x faster but can probably still be throttled back to a usable temperature for steady state cooking.  Eight times that amount probably can't.  

    And I meant the question about the thermometer needs its own thread.  Both the propane conversion question and the thermometer question are perfect for this ECB Owners Group.  
  6. lemans

    lemans Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Charcoal tray has holes drilled I the bottom
    For my wood chunks. Super in the winter
  7. bill1

    bill1 Smoke Blower

    Nice looking smoker Lemans!  Do you know the BTU rating of your propane burner?  Was if from a commercial turkey fryer?  Can you show us close up pictures of the burner? 
  8. bill1

    bill1 Smoke Blower

    Maybe the more practical question Lemans is how much can you throttle back on the gas with it?  Can you maintain a good steady low-temperature heat with it?   What sort of times and temperatures are your smokes?  Scaling from electric, I'd estimate just a couple thousand BTU/hour gas flow so a 5-gallon propane  bottle would would give you about four 6-hour smokes at ~250degF for a Brinkmann/Weber style bullet smoker.  Are those numbers close?  
  9. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    Not trying to change your thought process but have you thought about converting it to electric?

    You can get 1500W hot plate for around $25. Then you just stick it in the bottom and place a cast iron skillet with your wood in it on top and you are good to go. If you wood burns too fast you can cover the skillet in foil to cut back on the air flow. 
  10. bill1

    bill1 Smoke Blower

    The conversion cost is minimal either way.  But ongoing cost of "fuel" is much cheaper with electric too...about 50 cents per smoke (at ~$0.12/kW-hour) for wallplug power vs. ~$5 per smoke for propane (at $20/5-gallon refill).  But if you want to take your smoker camping or to the beach, propane, charcoal, or firewood is the way to go.   
  11. lemans

    lemans Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    So... To tell you the truth the burner was given to me so I don't know btu but I have smoked 8 hours on it ...
    It would cost me the same for propane as it would for 20 lbs of blue
  12. bill1

    bill1 Smoke Blower

    So, LeMans, you get at least 8 hours on a propane bottle.  And you could keep temperatures under control?  Without  taking off the lid or opening the door?
  13. lemans

    lemans Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Once you adjust the flame it stays pretty solid
    Temp ... Except for the wind .. But the weather effects many cooks..
    It's not a wsm but it's temp are fairly even
  14. thinblueduke

    thinblueduke Meat Mopper

    I can't be sure, but I think what bill1 is getting at is whether you can keep the cooking temp low (say 225) and steady.  With a high-output burner it seems like it might be tough to keep it low enough, especially in warm weather.

    I usually use gas on my ECB, and sometimes an electric hotplate and small skillet for cold smoking.  It's more a result of meat availability than anything else, but that's a discussion for a different thread.  I use disposable butane gas canisters, the size of spray paint cans.
  15. I thought breifly about the elect conversion and it's not an entirely dead issue, but last resort. I sometimes have to deal with rain and snow on the most traditionally used days. (Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas) Dealing with a powercord in rain is not my favorite pass time. I used to install water wells and had to prep electric connections that were going to be 400 ft or more underwater. I can certainly waterproof an extension cord conection, it's just not a skill set I'm in a hurry to revisit. I very well may make an electrical conversion as well.
  16. bill1

    bill1 Smoke Blower

    thinblueduke, Thx for the interpretation Brother.  That's exactly what I'm saying/asking.  

    mosparky, I think LeMans is giving us an existence proof that propane turkey fryer burners can work in a bullet smoker.  We don't know for sure the lineage of his but it's probably from a bird burner.  So that's good news ,eh?  

    I note the higher BTU models frequently come with an air inlet adjuster, or at least that's what I think is shown here where the braided gas line enters the mixing area: 


    If you haven't acquired a burner yet, I think that's a great feature to look for.  The reason I was initially skeptical:  my experience with propane BBQ grills is that there's only a (guesstimated) 5-10x ratio between high and low heat/power settings.  If, at steady state, you really only want a couple kBTU/hour heat input, I feared you couldn't get it with a 50kBTU/hr turkey fryer--it's be like hammering nails with a pile driver.  

    But that's because BBQ's (at least mine) has no control over the air mix ratio.  If you have that (like the Bayou Classic--and don't you love the name?)  you probably can get a 20-100 ratio of heat between max and min.  Which probably is good for a plus/minus 10degree range, which would be good enough for me.  And the people I cook for.  

    I'm digging that little needle valve on the gas line too as a great added feature to help throttle between high and low heat.  

    And wouldn't that 50kBTU/hr max setting heat a bullet smoker and water pan up fast.  That's 15kW!  Us electric guys will feel so inadequate.  And propane smokers are portable too.  

    I stand by my original post that the 10kBTU/hr BBQ-side-burner is probably more appropriate for these small bullets.  But this might be a case of selling engine options on 1960's cars...better to have too much power than not enough.  

    Make it happen.  And report back.  

    But always have a spare propane bottle on hand.  
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2015
  17. lemans

    lemans Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm going to take some detail pic of the set up
    For all of you. Works great not pretty but functional
  18. lemans

    lemans Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  19. bill1

    bill1 Smoke Blower

    Thanks LeMans.  A close-up of your burner would be great with something to give us a sense of scale, like a ruler on top.  Then we can estimate the number and size of the gas jets (holes).   Best of all, if you have a box of letter drills and could tell us which one best fits in the holes, we can probably determine your burner rating to within 20%.  That's s good info to know for lots of reasons.  
  20. lemans

    lemans Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


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