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Case Study: New Burner or New Bar B Q?

That was the question of the weekend for us. Yes, the snow is now gone and we can actually look at our back yard and wonder how we are going to get that all cleaned up (but I digress). The other issue, was whether we should buy a new Bar B Q (about a $175 – $450 expense) or try to replace the ruined burner (made of aluminum, and rusted through to the point of being a safety hazard) which would cost anywhere from $24.95 to $52.00.

Now normally I would just open my wallet and buy a new bar b q, but I knew that although it sounds much simpler, there is a great deal of “assembly” still to do. The replacement of the burner could be fiddly and complicated, but it would still be simpler than building the entire bar b q (remembering I was going to have to do that with a new system as well). The replacement would also mean I had to clean out the bottom of the bar b q (with the shop vacuum, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought).

I was about to buy the common garden variety cheaper burner replacement, when I saw there were cast iron versions of these devices as well. I reached for it and felt how heavy it was, and that made me want to buy it. The aluminum version seemed flimsy in comparison, and I have done this replace with an Aluminum burner before, and wasn’t very impressed with what I got (it was better but not much better).

We ended up buying the $50.00 cast iron burner, along with some new lava rock, and after doing the job 4 times, and getting out a hack saw, the whole job was completed, with a minimum of swearing and arguing (which was a good thing). My guess is the burner will last a good long time, in fact I may have to remember to remove it, when I finally dispose of this bar b q, but we have used it a few times, and it seems to work to our satisfaction, and it does not make the grill look like a flamethrower either.

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  1. We went through a similar decisionmaking process this spring. We replaced our burner with an aluminum one, as past experience indicates that the rest of the BBQ disintegrates around a cast iron burner.

    Our new burner was quite straight-forward to install; pulled the cotter pins from the old and lifted it out, then clipped the new one in place. We switched from lava rock to ceramic briquets many years ago, and love the even heat. We are considering a second layer of them, actually.

    Our two favourites are beer-can chicken, and salmon fillets.


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