Monday, December 2, 2013

Significant Grilling Upgrade

The home that Dr Desert Flower and I bought is almost as old as our son, and the "Capt'n Cook" gas grill in the back yard was put in by the original owners shortly after they moved in.  Having rendered a long service life to the previous owners, the grill endured renters for the last two years, who probably did the mechanism no favors whatsoever.  I began a mechanical & metallurgical survey to assess the situation.

- Cooking grates were rusted and severely degraded.
- Coal surfaces completely oxidized and in places, no longer existed.
- Cast iron burners had oxidized, cracked, and completely failed in 4 out of 4 burners.
- Grill interior was inhabited by spiders, crickets, and several species of mold or fungus (I did not culture them to check for species)
- Grill exterior pedestal base was anchored to 4 garden paving stones, apparently securely.
- Grill's exterior lid and hinge appeared to be functioning normally, but black interior paint was peeling and significant degraded.
- None of the ignitors worked.
- The canvas grill cover was the Newest Feature of the entire grill (most likely bought to hide the grill's true nastiness).

The Capt'n Cook was sold by "Barbecues Galore" out of Irvine CA.  I looked them up on the interwebs, and called their number:  "25 years old? we don't carry replacements for those burners or grates any more, you'll have to buy a new one."
Me: "Do you remove the old grill?"
"No sir, we
do not remove old ones."
Me: "So I'd have to take it to the dump or a salvage yard?"
"Yes sir"

So the interwebs provided me with a company called "OC Barbecues Plus" located not far from the home we had been renting previously in Laguna Niguel.  I drove down there to "look at" the various different BBQs choices available - everything from $300 to $25,000 (yes, $25K, some people have more money than sense).  An extremely knowledgable young saleswoman showed me several models.   I showed her the pictures of my Capt'n Cook and told her I was looking for a 4 burner gas grill to replace it.  She had the burner & grate and cooking surface part numbers memorized, and quoted me the cast iron, stainless clad, and full stainless steel costs.  It was going to cost me $400 in cheap cast iron, or $600 in stainless steel parts, to retrofit my 25 year old Capt'n Cook.  And then, the carbon steel support structure Might buckle with the weight of the new parts, and that would be costly and dangerous.  I gathered brochures and vowed to return on the weekend with DDF.

When DDF and I returned, the knowledgable saleslady was not there, but a young man who had previously worked at BBQ Galore and had upgraded his employer & vocation was there.  He also had the parts and costs memorized.  He showed us the brochured models, and DDF said to me "just get a new one, a good one, that will last a long time".  The salesman noted "the cooking surfaces come with a lifetime warranty, and customers normally bring them back after about 5 years and we just give them new replacements, no charge" - those stainless steel grates are $60 a piece, and see the brunt of the cooking thermal stress.  I was sold on the Summerset Sizzler 32 inch in full 304 stainless steel.  A thousand for the grill, $550 for the "cart" (the stainless base it sits on), and installation.  I left them with the pictures and set up a time 3 days hence for the install.

Ripping the old Capt'n Cook out was harder than I anticipated, but the OC BBQ Plus installer and I got it out, re-leveled the surfaces, and set up the new Summerset Sizzler.  I cleaned it with mild dish soap, dried it, and then broke it in with a test burn back in October.  I've grilled at least 20 steaks on it - Rib eyes and New York Strips, All Raw, all organic, pasture raised sustainably ranched beef.  Everyone one of them has been delicious.

The only difficulty I had was when I installed a new sprinkler head up-hill of the grill, and it's spray pattern Perfectly injected water droplets into the ignitor tubes of three of the 4 burners, causing me to have unjustified indignation - "it rains once and none of these light anymore!?!?"  OC BBQ Plus kindly sent out their service tech, who patiently showed me the water accumulation, dried it out with a paper towel on the end of a paper clip into each ignitor tube, and viola, the grill worked perfectly again.  I have since slit the Capt'n Cook cover to allow for the side shelve "flaps" and it's been working quite nicely.  The cover sort of looks like a French-Foreign-Legion hat now, but still blocks any stray sprinkler or rain water from getting into the grill.  I gave him a big bag of guava for his troubles.  I also adjusted the sprinkler head to have a significantly smaller spray pattern and not repeat the water intrusion.

If you are looking for a grill in Orange County, I Highly Recommend OC Barbecues Plus on Crown Valley Parkway.  They have helpful, knowledgable, friendly personnel, and carry quality products.  If you come to visit us, and you like your food grilled (animal protein or vegetarian vegetables), it will be grilled on the shiny new Sizzler, to perfection.

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