Can I use my Brinkmann gas cooker as base for Brinkmann charcoal smoker conversion?

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by marianelaine, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. marianelaine

    marianelaine Newbie

    I have a Brinkmann all purpose gas cooker(& turkey fryer) and a Brinkmann vertical charcoal smoker. I want to use propane gas in the smoker instead of charcoal. Can I use the gas cooker base and the smoker together without any modification? If not, please explain why and what I need to do to modify?

  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I don't recall seeing this done yet...let's get into some specifics and see what you have to work with.

    If I understand you correctly, you have a 7-in-1 (all-in-one) or similar outdoor cooker. You want to use the gas burner as the heat source for your charcoal smoker.

    A couple questions come to mind, as I'm not completely sure of your particular cookers:

    1. Is your charcoal smoker a round/bullet type with a drop out/removable bottom/base?

    2. Can everything be removed from the gas cooker base so that you have nothing above the burner housing?

    If the answer to #1 is no, then the gas cooker base will likely not fit inside of the charcoal smoker chamber. If this is the case, the burner would need to be stripped out of the cooker base, fitted and properly supported in the charcoal smoker chamber, and the propane hose would need to be fed through a lower intake vent (or drilled hole) below the burner and preferably underneath it to avoid heat. This is still a risky proposition, having a hose inside the smoker due to possible hose rupture from high temps, gas leakage into the cooking chamber, and possible flash fire or explosion inside the smoker.

    If the answer to #2 is yes, and #1 is yes, then the conversion would be relatively simple, and safe to operate.

    If the all-in-one lower cooking chamber base and the smoker chamber are both round and of interchangable sizes, they might mate-up with a good sealing fit, and your gas conversion could be accomplished that way.

    In any case, measurements of the components to determine compatibility, and some trial and error with fitting the components together, may be in order.

    Come on back if you need more info. Also, any specifics (measurements or pictures) of the two cookers will help to make a better plan of attack.

    Someone else may have done this already and can tell you or post pics of exactly what they did.

    Sounds like a cool little project to do! I'd definately be interested in the outcome, so keep us informed of what you do.


  3. marianelaine

    marianelaine Newbie


    Thank you so much for the informative reply so soon! I really appreciate it. I took the Brinkmann smoker and placed it on top of the Brinkmann propane burner and guess what? A perfect match! The outer metal ring on the upper section of the the propane burner fits right into the notches of the legs of the charcoal smoker! Does this mean that it will all work in unison without any other modification? I sure hope so.

    To go ahead and answer your questions anyway: The smoker ( "Brinkmann Smoke N Grill" ) is the vertical "bullet" style with no actual bottom to it other than the charcoal tub which is removable. Also, there is nothing above the propane burner assembly except for the metal grate which pots and pans normally sit upon while heating. The propane hose and flame control vent are totally outside the outer edge of the smoker and burner. I am starting to think that these two items were made for use with each other! I sure hope so! If you still need to see a picture or two maybe I can send a link of the burner assembly.

    Let me know what you think? Thanks again.
  4. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You're most welcome, glad to hopefully help you out.

    WOW!!!!!! You couldn't ask for a better fit, my friend! I think because they're both from the same manufacturer, the specs are going to be quite similar. I see no need for modifications, unless there would be an excessive amount of air coming in through the bottom, but then, the upper vent could be closed up somewhat to counter-act the high draft through the smoke chamber. It sounds like you're real close to a workable plan.

    I also think you just discovered a multi-level smoker...I bet you can stack the all-in-one cooking chamber with the bullet cooking chamber for a 3rd cook grate and/or higher chamber space if you need/want it. It may not be a perfect fit, but has possibilities.

    Sounds like your close to firing up a re-designed smoker very soon!

    Keep us informed! Happy smokes to ya!

  5. marianelaine

    marianelaine Newbie

    Hi Eric,
    Yes, we were a bit concerned about the open bottom of the cooker- guess we will have to wait and see. I am wondering if an old cast-iron frypan with the handle cut off would be a good container for the wood above the burner? And, we have some mountain mahogany we are thinking of using- have you ever used it?
    Also, I read one post where someone suggested drilling a hole in the lid and putting a cork in containing a meat thermometer, so it would accurately record the temp inside the cooker,without having to remove the lid a lot. Sounds like a good idea, but it seems to me the cork might burn if the temp inside gets to be 350 or so. What do you think?
    We are going to do a test run and roast a chicken later today- don't want go "cold turkey" :) Thanksgiving day and have some major problem with our turkey!
    This is going to be fun!!! Thanks!!
  6. marianelaine

    marianelaine Newbie

    OH- another question- should we be concerned about the distance between the wood pan and the burner and the distance between the wood pan and the water pan? Right now we are just using the already attached grate holders where they are, but thinking they might have to be moved up or down. With the water pan on the lower grate, it looks like the only cooking area we will have is the upper grate, right under the lid, for the bird. The cooker came with 2 grates, but the lower grate would be the one holding the water pan right now. But it would be nice, if as you say, we could have a 2 area cooker, especially if we want to do several meats at once.
  7. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hi, you're getting a good start from what I'm reading! Good job! Just got off work here and saw you came back on...

    I put some of my responses into your quoted text, so I could keep track:

    Sounds like a great plan! Yeah, you want to play with it and see just what it will do for you. If any issues come up you'll have time to correct it. You can always finish the chix in the "O" (oven), if everything just starts going south on you and you can't seem to get it to recover in time.

    You'll have to experiment with the distance of the smoke wood holder from the fire. This will be sort of a tuning process. The closer the smoke wood is to the fire the more intense the smoke will will start out somewhat heavy and white in color, but should tone down after 5-10 minutes...if the smokes comes on really heavy and very soon after adding the smoke wood to the holder, you are probably getting too much heat to the smoke wood.

    The perfect smoke for best flavor is when you can smell smoke coming out the exhaust vent, or it stings your eyes, but you either can't see any smoke, or very little at all. Oh, a couple of tricks to slow down the smoke is to put it in a foil pouch closed up tightly...the smoke will wisp out ever so slowly...done that alot myself with really small chips. Also, you can use a burned out tin can to put the smoke wood into, then place in your pan...this slows it down to a more moderate degree, then, covering the can with foil or the cut out lid slows it down more. Chunk smoke wood (2-3" thick) burns slower, that's what I like to use.

    If you have alot of smoke for a long period of time, you will need to raise the smoke wood higher from the burner so the pan will be a bit cooler. One trick which you will learn over time is this: when smoking at higher or lower temperatures, or when the weather conditions are different (colder, more wind) requiring different burner heat output, this can change the smoke output as well. It's hit and miss until you learn how your individual smoker likes to cook to give the results you are looking for.

    Don't get frustrated with the learning curve, as it happens to pretty much everyone with a new or modified smoker. We'll help you get through it, OK?

    One advantage you will have is being able to raise/lower the pan's position in relatyion to the heat source...not an option with most vertical smokers unless mods are done to that's a plus.

    As for the water pan, it serves 2 purposes which you may be able to do without as you progress through a few smokes and see what works well. The water adds humidy to the cook chamber, which aids a small degree in keeping the meat more moist. It also acts as a thermal mass to keep the cooking temps more steady.

    Now, with adding a cast iron smoke pan, you will be adding a second source of thermal mass, so the water could possibly be omitted. Alot of folks here do not use any water in their smokers, especially when a heavy load of meat is being cooked, as each piece of meat gives off some moisture to the cook chamber, thus helping to keep the humidity in an acceptable range.

    I mostly do wet smokes myself, but have done dry smokes, and noticed very little difference in the finished product. So, it would be a personal preference issue in my mind. If you can hold acceptable chamber temps, without excessive spikes or drops, then the water would be an option for me, and in your case, would allow the addition of the second cooking grate. Well worth toying with it to possibly double your capacity.

    Don't mean to get long winded here, just trying to give you as much info as I can so you can understand the process better. This will help you to be able to make faster adjustments with your smoker so you can start to really enjoy cooking on it.

    Sounds like you're diving right into this with a good attitude...that will better your chances of success more than anything.

    You'll pull it off...I can tell already! [​IMG]

    And I do like to hear success stories, so the more I can help the better!


  8. marianelaine

    marianelaine Newbie

    Hi Eric, thanks so much for ALL the good info!! The test chicken turned out pretty good!! The mountain mahogany chunks (really dry) caught on fire so we put some water in the cast iron pan and then it worked fine- no overpowering smoke taste - seems to be a mild type of wood- or that may be because it was probably dead and downed for years before we picked it up. (next time we will soak it a LOT.)
    We noticed that it did not use a lot of water from the pan- were not sure about how hot it was inside, but had a thermometer stuck in the bird breast and it took about 3 1/2 hrs to get to 160. The outside was very tasty, but we noticed the smoking did not really penetrate into the meat very far.( I did brine it for 3 hours before)
    There is no exhaust vent on the lid, but there was a LOT of smoke coming out around the lid so today we put a stove gasket all the way around it to keep the smoke in- I am assuming the more smoke the better, or am I wrong?
    We did have a problem with the wind blowing out the gas flame( as you thought we might) so will have to figure out some kind of covering for the bottom, as it is all open.
    I was surprised to hear some people do not use water in the smoker! I kind of liked having the pan there, because it kept all the drippings from dripping onto the wood chunks in the cast iron pan. If you are dry smoking does it matter if grease drips onto the wood? Seems to me that might cause a fire.
    We really appreciate all your suggestions, because, as you say, it saves time so we don't make so many mistakes since we are so new at this!! I did buy a regular oven thermometer today so we can put it in on the grate to see the inside temp. Maybe later we will get one of those computerized units that have 2 lines going into the grill and the meat- then we can try the cork idea out.

    We might try Russian Olive wood next- I did look at the forum on woods briefly the other day but will look at the link you sent also. I was wondering if sagebrush could be used-- we sure have a lot of it around here and it might be good for poultry, since sage is used to season it.
    Thanks so much again- will get back to you if our turkey is a success!!
  9. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Please do! And feel free to come back anytime...picking my brains keeps me sharp!!!!!!! [​IMG]

    Enjoy that turkey-day smoke! Oh, speaking of turkeys, try to stay under the 14# range if you times can get excessive if too large, especially if cooking chamber temps are's better to run a little hotter than cooler.

  10. Had never thought about using my turkey fryer base as a heat source for my brinkman Smoker. Thank you for the idea. I to have tried the fit and can not wait to make some adjustments so that I can smoke a couple of pork butts. I will keep you posted of any mods I make to mine, just in case it might help someone else.
  11. adam c

    adam c Fire Starter

    Today is my first test run of my propane heated el cheapo Brinkman smoker.

    I have the charcoal pan sitting directly on the base with a small pan of chips in side. The wood is smoldering nicely without flaming. I have the water pan and the meat racks sitting in their normal positions.

    The propane base is easily keeping temps at 230' even on this cold and slightly windy day. I'm about 3 hrs in with a chicken and a small pork roast. So far so good.
  12. glgoodwin

    glgoodwin Meat Mopper

    How did this turn out??? I am really anxious to hear an update!!
  13. arfieroman

    arfieroman Newbie

    I have been doing this for almost a year now. I originally bought the electric element for this "ECB" and it would not maintain a steady temp, especially on a chilly or breezy day. Decided to try it on my Brinkman fish cooker base and it fit perfect. I can regulate the temperature and keep it steady for how ever long I need. I however have never tried a cast iron pan for heat mass, just the charcoal pan filled with chips or chunks that have been soaked for about an hour, and have never been dis-satisfied.
  14. glgoodwin

    glgoodwin Meat Mopper

    WOW. I am really impressed. I have always had my ECB and my Brinkman propane cooker for deep frying turkeys and other things. After reading the post above I decided to use the propane cooker as the heat source for my ECB. It worked perfect. I have had a propane somker for years and didn't know it. I can reguate the temp from no heat all, for cold smokes, all the way up to nearly 400*. I let it cook for 6 hours today doing some CSR's and it the temp barely moved at all even in 30* weather and some wind. My ECB has had some mods. The charcol pans has a bunch of 3/4" holes drilled in it. I found that if I put the wood chips around the edge of the charcol pan the don't come in contact with the flames from the burner and smoke great. I think I will put some lava rocks in the charcoal pan an the wood chips should be able to go right on the lava rocks.

    I am going to get some pics tomorrow and post the thing first apart then how it goes together. This is really cool...
  15. adam c

    adam c Fire Starter

    I was pleased with the results. The smoke was lighter than I would have liked, but I think that might have come from placing the meat on the grate just above the water pan rather than on the top grate. I'm afraid the smoke bypassed it. Also, I only ran it for about 4 hours. Next time I will probably move the meat to the top rack.

    Other than that, it worked just like I expected.
  16. csmith2884

    csmith2884 Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    For my smoker when I use propane I use a juice can with the wood chunks inside and just the top open. I put just a bit of the can bottom right in the flames and get smoke right away. Move in or out with tongs to adjust if needed..also I don't soak the wood chunks before use which is handy too.

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