Friday, March 26, 2010

Rebuilding the Weber Gas Grill

I bought my Weber Genesis Silver B Gas Grill back in 2001 and it has served me well over the past decade. I purchased the triple burner grill at Home Depot for around $500 so you could say that after a decade that it has payed enough dividends to be worthy of replacement with a new shiny stainless steel version. The cost for purchasing what I would like to buy in a new Weber would be around $900 plus tax.

If I went a different direction and did a Kalamazoo or something in that category the cost can be as much as $4000. You would definitely have the coolest grill on the block but that was more expensive than my first new car back in 1976!

To be honest I really hadn't taken really good care of the grill over the years. I never bought a cover for it so it was exposed to the elements constantly. The simple act of buying a cover probably would have extended the life of the grill at least another five years but I just never got around to parting with the extra fifty bucks to make that happen.

When the original cast iron cooking grates needed to be replaced I replaced them with porcelain cast iron cooking grates which also rusted out after around four years. Same thing with the flavorizer bars which were replaced at the same time.

This winter during a snow storm I went out on the deck and lifted the lid of the venerable old relic and the hinge broke off of the cast aluminum cooking box signaling the end of its useful life. When the first warm day came around I went out to examine the grill and came to the conclusion that everything except the cart was pretty much rusted out and needed to be replaced.

I went to the Weber website soon after that looking for a new grill when I noticed that the cooking box and the lid had a lifetime guarantee and that got me thinking. Sure there are fancier grills out there but this unit had always worked perfectly for me around 99.9% of the time. It cooked steaks extremely well and it was big enough to handle most of the gatherings at our home. If I was going to buy a new grill it was going to be approximately the same size so why not see what it would cost to rebuild the existing grill since most of the cart and the thermoplastic trim pieces were in decent shape.

I called Weber and they sent me a new lid and cooking box out to me at no cost under the guarantee. I then ordered new stainless steel burner tubes, slide-out bottom tray, catch pan holder, warming rack, warm up basket, stainless cooking grates, stainless flavorizer bars, control panel, burner control knobs, and a new left frame to replace a part of the cart which had rusted out pretty good.

The amazing thing about Weber is you can buy a grill from them a decade or more ago and they still have the part you need in stock to keep your grill running and looking like new. Weber is very loyal to their customer base and when you give them a call they treat you extremely well.

The total cost for all the parts to restore the grill was slightly under $300 and I now have a gas grill that looks just like new and is actually better than it was when I bought it a decade ago because of all the stainless steel parts on the inside.

There are a lot of fancy grills on the market these days. One of the more interesting innovations are infrared ceramic burners. Since the patent rights have expired on this innovation almost every company out there has come out with some version of it for their grills.

The advantage of the ceramic burner is the heat that it can put out. You can definitely achieve a Ruth Chris or Morton's type of char on your steaks with one of these units. You don't have a lot of warm up time with these burners either. Your turn them on and you are pretty much ready to go.

I have friends that have them and the problem is they burn way too hot for my liking. If all you do is steaks maybe that is OK...but if you like to do other things lower and slower on your gas grill and it has a 100% ceramic burner configuration it can be real problem.

I think that if you go that direction you should purchase a hybrid so you have a charring station powered by the ceramic burner and old fashioned burner tubes for more controllable temperature in the majority of the grill.

Weber for some reason hasn't jumped on the ceramic bandwagon. They do have some higher priced models with a high temp char station but they haven't bought in yet as far as ceramic burners go.

My steaks on my Weber Gas Grill just happen to be fantastically charged anyway without the use of a ceramic I didn't really feel the need to take it to the next level by going that direction.

Getting back to rebuilding the grill. First of all it is a bit of a messy job. Make sure you buy some WD-40 and spray all the bolts, screws, washers, and nuts the night before you attempt to take the old grill apart. You will find the job will go a lot quicker if you follow that one simple step.

Taking it all apart took around an hour and putting it all back together was a little quicker. Weber has manuals online for all their grills no matter how old they are so if you just follow the directions you should have no problem. Another thing that they do which is neat is that they send directions which each replacement part that you order.

The bottom line on all this is there are a lot of different directions you can go when it comes to purchasing a new gas grill. I endorse Weber for the simple fact that twenty years from now they are still going to be around with the parts and advise you need to keep your grill working like new.

Weber is the most popular brand of grills and barbecues in the world and there is a reason for that. They are a family owned American company located in the suburbs of Chicago that treats their employees and customers like family. They build quality products and they stand behind them. I guess that is why I will always have a Weber on my deck or patio.

I plan to also purchase a Green Egg in few weeks. If you haven't been to a demonstration of what this type of grill can do you really need to check it out. We considered buying a pizza oven this year but the rep over at the BBQ store swore that the Green Egg would do just as good a job with Pizza and bread plus we could smoke and grill in it too!

He said he hated to talk himself out of selling a wood fired pizza oven that runs around $3500 but he said the Green Egg for around $1000 with all the bells and whistles was a much better investment. The money I saved by simply rebuilding the Weber will go toward the purchase of the Green Egg.

I do smoke a lot of ribs and brisket during the summer. I have always used a cheap Brinkman bullet type water smoker with very good results. The one thing I don't like about the unit is it is messy. I have had both the charcoal and electric versions. I prefer the electric because you are just burning wood chips and not charcoal which cuts down on the creosote plus keeps a more even temperature.

Switching to the Green Egg for my smoking needs will represent a change in technique because it does not require water or restocking the unit with wood chips. You pretty much set it up once, leave it alone, and open it up ater a set time. I have tasted ribs and brisket done on the Green Egg and they are just as good as ones done in the little water smoker. Once we get the hang of it I will report back on how it is working.