Upgrading the Ol' Grill

I've used and abuse my poor Weber (Thermos make) grill over the years -- slow cooking pork

for hours on end, roasting peppers for bold salsas, and grilling

hundreds of steaks, chops, and burgers has taken its toll on the big

hunk of metal. So when I set out to grill some chicken the other day, I

wasn't all that surprised to find that, when I opened my grill top, the

metal flame guard over the propane burner had completely disintegrated.

Caked with the drippings of countless meals-to-be, the flame guard

burned and smoldered until just moving the grill slightly rendered the

metal sheet into shards of ate-up scrap.

At first I thought

about getting a new grill entirely. After all, there are far newer and

better grills out there now, stainless steel monsters with four

high-BTU burners and rotating rotisserie racks to boot. Plus, if one

piece of twisted metal had given up the ghost, surely the rusted

looking burner would follow suit. But I quickly decided against that,

and for good reason: With a couple bucks and a little bit of elbow

grease, I could resurrect this dying champ to keep on fighting the good

fight.

I went down to Home Depot in search of a suture to ease my grill's pain.


HD has a pretty broad selection of grill parts and accessories. They've

got burners to replace your dying ones, loads of lava rocks for even

heat distribution, and a variety of splash and flame guards to chose

from. If you've got one of those relatively cheap, cart-style grills,

like me and 35% of America's grill owners,

most of these parts are universal, which means you can upgrade your

cheap jobby to work like a charm for just a fraction of the cost of a

new, expensive grill.

If I was going to trick out the whole grill, I'd probably replace my steel grates with more heat-effient cast iron

ones. And I probably will in the future, but, hey, I've got to have

something to tell people to buy me for Christmas. Instead, I settled on

getting a Char-Broil Porcelain Heat Plate

which eliminates the need for heat-distributing lava rocks and guards

the burner as well. The dual use sounds great, right? But how will it

work in practice? To find out, I installed it and did a test run last

night.Check out the pics of the process below, as well as the payoff.

The install was extremely easy.

emptygrill.jpg
Here's the grill sans-plate.

flameguard.jpg
The heat plate ready to go. All you have to do is install a couple screws for it to stand on, held in place by small bolts.

guardinstalled.jpg
Here's the plate in the grill. It literally just sits inside.

meatongrill.jpg
Of course, I had to test it out. This London broil I had marinating for a day will do nicely.

trippy.jpg
This is hard to photograph. Trippy!

meatongrill2.jpg
The heat output was better than ever. Check out the char.

carvingtime.jpg
Letting it rest. The poor bastard knows what's coming next.

carvingitup.jpg
Checking the temp. Looks good, fellas.

closeupmeat.jpg
Perfect. Click for a larger version.

finishedmeat.jpg 

I'd say the upgrade was a success.

-- John Linn


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