Simply put a Flame Thrower Control Valve incorporates the ignition into the valve, eliminating the need for a separate spark generator. Gas shoots through the tube and when it catches the metal tip of the electrode, it literally throws a flame vertically in the firebox like a torch.
This control valve for gas grills is called a flame thrower because it literally throws the flame onto the burner when ignited. Gas flows in a tube along side the valve. There is an electrode that is placed by that tube. When the gas flows through it meets the metal tip of the electrode and creates a spark. Then a flame shoots out the tube (like a torch).
One of the most common parts to stop working on a gas grill is the ignition. Though many times this is not the case. The problem may lie simply with a battery needed to be replace, grease dripping on the metal tip not allowing the electrode to spark or just a simple readjustment of the electrode to the burner.
If you hear a spark from your spark module (or a sharp clicking noise in a rotary or piezo module) that part is still working. If the wires are in tact and the ceramic electrode body and metal tip are also in tact, they may just need adjusting so that they hit the burner just right.
This differs from the flame thrower.
The flame thrower valve has a rotary (piezo) ignition built in with the electrode connected to the valve placed next to the actual flame throwing tube. This is so that each burner will have its own independent igniter. By turning each knob. With this system, the electrode is located behind the control panel and is housed far from any grease.
What we are finding is there are no "aftermarket" replacements. This is due to their unique design. They are manufactured with dual orifices. One orifice is threaded directly on the end of the valve as with traditional valves including DCS, Fire Magic, Alfresco, that is used for the gas to flow through the burner. There is a secondary orifice designed into the valve that is used in sparking the ignition. This type of valve is widely used in imported grill brands (Jenn-Air and Turbo) and thus difficult to find a replacement for. You cannot use any flamethrower valve as a replacement because of the secondary orifice which already is preset to specific gas types and btu's. In addition, the electrode and wires are manufactured into the valve making these irreplaceable as well.
We are finding now that many of these valves are needing replacement due to the leaking valves, the flame thrower tube disintegrating or the wire that connects to the electrode needs replacing. The wires cannot be replaced as these are manufactured with the electrode in a single piece.
Many parts including burners and heat shields are also manufactured using lower quality materials in the imported grills. Having burners in good shape (no holes on the top or sides of the burners or no clogged holes) is very important in keeping these flame thrower valves from getting damaged. Any flame back fire from the burners can cause extreme heat and behind the control panel can destroy these valves and the igniters and wires attached to them.
This makes these valves subject to damage and no replacement.
Any valves that would be available to repair these grills would not be flame thrower valves. They would have to replaced with a traditional style valve. One that does not combine the ignition. This means that you may have to light the grill manually with a grill lighter or some modifications to the grill can be made to accommodate a traditional universal battery operated spark generator. A battery ignition can be mounted inside the fire box (since there will not be a hole manufactured in the front control panel to accommodate the ignition module.) Just a thought before you throw away your grill.