Convert Big Chief to propane...

Discussion in 'Other Builds' started by triple nickel, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. I have a nearly new Big Chief and can't get thicker meats like sauage much over 130 degrees...I bought the insulation blanket plus installed the shipping box and still the temp remains low...The temp is running about 170 in the smoker but the meat remains low...Has anyone converted a Big Chief to propane???Any ideas are appreciated...Thanks in advance...
     
  2. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 OTBS Member

  3. tjohnson

    tjohnson Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm not sure converting your Big Chief to propane would actually be worth it.

    A propane burner may put out too many BTU's and be too hot inside your smoker

    The element in the Big Chief is only 500 watts

    I would try a 1,000 watt hotplate, before I tried converting your Big Chief to propane.

    The insulation kit is pretty wimpy.  I used to use a moving blanket around my old Brinkman, during the winter.

    Todd
     
  4. I think a big chief might melt with a propane burner in it . I had one that I couldn't sell . I took the price down to $5 and never got a call on it . I kind of think they're only good for jerky that has been cured and fish , or use it as a cold smoker by putting an amns or something in it that wouldn't create much heat . When I did ribs or something in mine I would smoke it for an hour or so and then finish in the oven . If you have to buy a hotplate to put in it I would say put that money towards another smoker . I know people mention craigslist from time to time so you might take a look on there . Especially right after Christmas . Maybe some one would get a smoker as a gift and not want it ??? Also people that buy one and not care for smoked foods etc. I'm not trying to shoot down your modification idea , but I just don't think putting much effort or money into a big chief is worth it . Now if you have whatever lying around you could always give it a try . I know some people swear by them , but I didn't think much of mine.
     

  5. After some expiermentation I had positive results...In 40 degree weather  I was able to get the temp over 200 degrees...I added 3 charcoal briquettes in a can next to the flavor pan, plugged off the vents, put card board box on top as insulation presto heat...Chum fishing tomorrow need to smoke some good salmon...Got to go check my summer sausage...Thanks for all the responses... 
     
  6. I have been using the big chief smoker for years and i do not think a propane burner would work.

    I think it would be to hot. However i don't use the insulated blanket i just wrap an old coat around the unit and set a temp control unit at top 170 and it should and will take a long time to bring the meat up to the 153 i am looking for.

    During the colder months like now. I smoke out side most of the day and try to pick a sunny day so i can have the unit in the sun then using the temp control that i added to it i bring the temp up in stages. 150 for a couple hrs with smoke 160 couple hrs with smoke  and then 170 with the coat on it and then i will bring it in to the house and just use the heat only to finish off.

    You can also just do a water bath for the sausage. Just bring the water up to 170 and slowly cook the meat until it reaches you target temp.

    Most sausage is done that way i think and it does not make the meat less smoky. Works great.

    My favorite is to use the Big chief for the whole thing though. For that i need to bring in to the house.

    Smells better then potpourri.

    Realy though it smells no different then just bringing the smoked meat in to the house to put away.

    Happy Smoken[​IMG]
     
  7. Please elaborate on the temp control unit...Maybe I should install one on mine...I'm also looking for an adjustable vent like on the bottom of a weber bbq...I would close off the vents on top of the BC and install the vent to help regulate the heat...Just having trouble locating one...

     
     
  8. I use the Ranco ETC-111000

    I will find the wiring diagram that i used to make it for plugging in the Big Chief. It is not that spendy.

    I will get the info for you.

    Karl
     

  9. Thanks Karl!
     
  10. After some expiermentation I had positive results...In 40 degree weather I was able to get the temp over 200 degrees...I added 3 charcoal briquettes in a can next to the flavor pan, plugged off the vents, put card board box on top as insulation presto heat...Chum fishing tomorrow need to smoke some good salmon...Got to go check my summer sausage...Thanks for all the responses...
     

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