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Gas & Electric Conversions For Weber Smokers

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Several folks have converted the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker into a gas or electric cooker. Some people do this because they live in an apartment, condo or townhome where charcoal or gas grills are not allowed. Sometimes they do this for greater convenience and less hands-on tending of the cooker.

Afterburner Mini-V Gas Conversion

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This product is designed to convert a WSM to LP or natural gas. A 1" hole is drilled in the charcoal bowl to accept the gas burner. Smoke is generated by placing wood inside a steel can positioned over the flame.

In years past, people reported having problems achieving low temperatures using The Afterburner with the WSM. It ran hot, and when you turned it down low the flame could go out. Perhaps the new Mini-V model is an improvement.

You can visit the Afterburner website to learn more about this product. You can also search The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board using the keyword "Afterburner" to see what people have to say about this product.

Weber Go-Anywhere Gas Conversion

Gas converted WSM on 18-1/2" kettle base
Photo 1
Gas burner tube and regulator
Photo 2
Interior view of gas burner tube
Photo 3
Close-up of additional charcoal grate clip
Photo 4
Interior view of additional charcoal grate
Photo 5
Flavorizer bar protects burner tube from drips
Photo 6
Close-up of gas control & igniter
Photo 7
Gas burning inside cooker
Photo 8
   

Jason Hixon from Naperville, IL learned that charcoal grills were prohibited by city code in his apartment complex. He adapted parts from a Weber Go-Anywhere gas grill to create a gas-fired Weber 18-1/2" One-Touch Silver kettle grill. By replacing the kettle lid with the WSM middle cooking section and lid, Jason's kettle does double-duty as a gas-fired Weber Bullet.

Photos 2-3 shows one gas burned installed in the kettle's charcoal bowl. One burner is sufficient for running the WSM, but Jason plans on adding two more burners for grilling purposes.

Photos 4-6 show brackets added to hold a charcoal grate above the gas burner. Jason plans on using this grate for wood chunks when smoking and for ceramic briquettes when grilling. Photo 6 shows a Flavorizer bar placed over the burner to protect it from drips.

Electric Element

Electric smoker element and spare WSM access door
Photo 1
Thermostat control for smoker element
Photo 2
Marking the access door for cutting
Photo 3
Electric element installed in access door
Photo 4
Interior view of access door
Photo 5
Thermostat plugged into electric element
Photo 6
Access door installed on WSM
Photo 7
Looking inside WSM at electric element
Photo 8
Close-up of electric element in charcoal grate
Photo 9
Electric WSM in operation
Photo 10
Electric WSM running at 235*F
Photo 11
       

David Ward from McDonough, GA created an electric WSM (e-WSM) using a universal electric smoker element with adjustable thermostat and a spare access door.

"This unit has a removable thermostat and the element has flanges on both sides for connecting to the access door," says David. "I used a Dremel tool with a flat cutting wheel to cut the opening, then drilled two holes for the 8x32 bolts." The element is fastened to the door using stainless steel nuts, bolts and washers.

David installed the element on a spare access door so that he can easily switch between charcoal and electricity. "Just insert the element diagonally through the opening, turn upright and latch the door." He uses an empty, foil-wrapped water pan to prevents drips from fouling the element.

For now, David has the legs on the electric element resting on a second charcoal grate placed on top of the charcoal chamber. He plans to eliminate the second grate by making a metal bracket that extends the legs to the regular charcoal grate.

As for smoke, David is using the A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker with this setup. "I'm putting the pellet tray on the charcoal grate below the electric element and it generates smoke regardless of the element temp," says David. "I can start with no smoke for about an hour of low heat to dry the sausage casings, then toss in the pellet tray and step up the temp every hour or so like normal sausage smoking until I get to the desired internal temp, usually 152°F."

Describing Photo 11 showing the electric WSM running at 235°F, David says, "This is after 30 minutes of warm-up with all vents open and the element on the highest setting. Should work great for snack sticks and sausage. I also tried it at lower dial settings. It held 125°F and 155°F with no problems and should hold anything in between."

You can read more about David's e-WSM conversion at The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board.

Updated: 04/20/2015

Photos of Kettle gas conversion: 2010 by Jason Hixon.
Photos of electric conversion: 2015 by David Ward.

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The Virtual Weber Bullet is your best source for Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker information and discussion on the Web. Popular with competition barbecue teams, the WSM is an easy-to-use water smoker that's equally at home in the backyard. See the WSM and its component parts; get recipes, usage tips, and modification ideas; check-out BBQ-related resources; and discuss the WSM with owners and enthusiasts in our online forums.
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