Upgrading the Ol' Grill

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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.

Here's the grill sans-plate.

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.

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

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

This is hard to photograph. Trippy!

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

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

Checking the temp. Looks good, fellas.

Perfect. Click for a larger version.

I'd say the upgrade was a success.

-- John Linn

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