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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 11, 2010 8:23 PM. The previous post in this blog was Woo hoo! I mean, aw crap.. The next post in this blog is A city with no basic services. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Sunday, April 11, 2010

More crumbling infrastructure

We've blogged before about our long-term relationship with a certain 25-plus-year-old Weber grill. So many fabulous meals have come off that appliance -- hundreds of classic ones, and many more than that just plain excellent.

This weekend, the weather invited us to fire the Weber up a couple of times -- salmon and halibut, barbecued chicken -- but as we put the grill through its paces, we stumbled upon evidence of two disturbing recent developments.

First of all, our charcoal "chimney," which is used to start briquets without air-polluting lighter fluid, has lost a key bolt, which holds the top of the handle and a heat shield onto the main cylinder:

That we could live with -- the thing's only a few years old, but it's not built to last too long. But much worse, the grill itself has lost one of the circular vent covers that closes off the lower air intakes when the grill is not in operation:

The center post that holds the little wheel in place has just rotted away.

What to do? Don't ask us -- we went to Catholic schools in northern New Jersey in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. And people, we didn't have shop. Barring the appearance of a good Samaritan with serious metalworking capabilities, it appears that both these items are headed for deposit in an upcoming neighborhood spring cleanup.

Granted, they both still work. But it's just a matter of time before that chimney gives out in a major way when it's loaded with flaming trouble. And although the grill still burns fine, without the vent cover it won't preserve the unburned coals the way it is supposed to. Whatever we save in time value by postponing the replacement of the grill, we'll lose in wasted fuel costs.

They don't even make the grills like this any more. For many years, the circular vent covers on the underside of the kettle have been replaced by a fan-type device that sweeps ash into a catch-pan and closes the vents (now a new shape) at the end of the grilling session. Perhaps we could buy just a new kettle bottom unit, and try to plug the legs and lid from the old one onto it. But that seems likely to cost almost as much as the purchase of a brand new grill -- and what if the old legs or lid don't quite fit the new kettle bottom?

No, it appears that our options are to repair the old equipment or chuck it all. If the latter course is forced upon us, well then, we can't say we didn't get our money's worth out of the grill. Though the chimney should have endured a lot longer.

Comments (15)

Drill out the little hole where the post was, and put the vent cover back on with a small (1/2" long) screw and washer pushed through from the inside, and the vent cover outside, with another washer & nut, tightened only enough to hold it on & still permit airflow adjustment. You may need to retighten occasionally, or add a second nut when properly adjusted. Still lots of life in the old Grill.

Looks as the trusty old Weber has become a bit rusty and is due for sacrifice to the corrosion gods.

But then you could always call Jordy for a scrap value quote. Who knows it might live again as part of the new WTC.

And, Amazon sells a dandy Stainless Steel chimney for only $16.29 plus shipping.

Huh. I have the mini-Weber, table top version and it still has the vents as yours does. I bought it a couple of years ago.

Home Depot has the chimneys for around $12, I think. I'm going out there tomorrow or Tuesday and will check.

As for the chimney - they are totally expendable, you can pick one up for less than the Amazon price at Fred Meyer. As for the Webber, yours has seen it's day, go on Craigs List, I found and bought one like yours for $10 about 5 years ago. The new ones make cleaning very easy and cool if you want to spend a bit more and buy new. Or, if you really want the ultimate in BBQ (and you will pay for it) get a Trager - whatever you do, don't get a gas grill, it's just not the same.

I almost won a Traeger once, but it wasn't meant to be. I'd prefer to stick with blue-collar charcoal. No gas -- forget the flavor issue, I'd blow up the house.

Find a local neighborhood hardware store. Even if its not in the neighborhood, theres one in Sellwood and another (real big, real good, real famous) in Parkrose.

Bring both the chimney and the circular doohickey with you. Tell the nice folks you want a bolt, nut, washers, and for the chimney, lock washer, to fix things up.

In less than 5 minutes for less than two bucks, you'll be good to go.

I grew up in Jersey in the same era. My dad actually made a charcoal chimney out of a left over piece of aluminum duct from the split level heating system. He just cut two half moon vents in the bottom and wired a handle to it. I'm not sure but he might have invented the concept. My first weber lasted about 25 years but suffered the same ultimate demise. My condolences. But there are new ones out there.

I would highly recommend the Traeger. I have had one for about 5 years and love it. Great flavor and incredible control of the temperature. Wonderful for smoking or slow-cooking meats.

Go big and get one of these: Once you start cooking with real wood and have the ability to raise and lower your cooking surface it's hard to go back to anything else.

I feel your pain, brother. Ran into similar problems with the vent assembly on my workhorse Weber. Found a good number of sources for replacement parts on the web. Check it out.

Gas grills are a communist plot.

Or, check out thrift stores, garage sales, and even the community exchange site at your neighborhood clean-up - you might be able to find an old grill there, and between two old grills, have a fine, working one again.

First, I was at the Beavers game where you almost won that Traeger. I remember those chicken dances, and wondered if that would be worth it for a new grill.

As for the Weber: I replaced mine about 6 yers ago. It had 16 years on it, and I went through several of those chimneys.

I bought a new gas-light charcoal Weber - I'm sure you've seen them in the stores. It has a nice deck on it, and uses those little gas cylinders. Ten minutes on the gas and the charcoal has enough of an ember to light the rest.

Retire that old thing. You wont regret it. I still can't go to a gas grill, but I am happy to use gas to light the charcoal!

The moral of the story? Put the weber indoors in the garage or basement for the winter. We had an old one that we left outside during the winter and it lasted about 20 years. The new one we bought three years ago (with the sweeper things in the bottom) is in the garage for the winter.

As for the chimney, ours has rusted in several places and I keep putting in new jury-rigged bolts here and there. It will go soon, but not yet.

The thing is, I use them from time to time all winter. I am proud to have grilled in snow this year!

You're one up on me, Jack. Our old one was outside all winter because I was too lazy to put it away!


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