I'd already cleared a spot for my new Big Green Egg next to my smoker. I took some measurements while at the dealer to insure that the Egg and the side shelves would fit under my 10' x 10' EZ-Up.
First a quick little story about strange coincedences. The dealer asked me if I wanted to wait until all of the Eggcessories were in before the delivery was scheduled. The side tables, cover and grid lifter were backordered for 2 weeks. I said no, I could come pick those up and install the side tables myself. My delivery time was set for 5 business days away from the day I came back and bought the grill. We were expecting several rainy days during the upcoming week. I mentioned to the dealer that I had an EZ-Up shelter so my unit could be delivered and assembled in any weather. They said they would call me if they could do it any sooner. The next morning I drove to a General Store/ Yuppie Market also about 15 miles away to try to get some Wicked Good Lump to use in the BGE. They were the nearest store to me that carried my lump charcoal of choice: Wicked Good Weekend Warrior Blend. While there I was asking questions about year round availability, how many bags they typically kept around etc. The lady checking me out said: “I haven’t seen you in here before, you must have gotten a new grill?” When I mentioned I got a new Big Green Egg she was intrigued by the odd name and the description of it, but hadn’t ever seen one. I was pulling out my phone to show her a picture of the floor model I’d snapped, when the phone started ringing. It was the BGE dealer calling to say they’d had a cancellation, would I like my installation in about an hour?
I’m sure you know what my answer was! I made it back just before Rob, the setup person, arrived with my new baby. I had taken some measurements at the dealer and had already made sure there was room under my 10‘x10’ EZ-Up for the Egg. It would just fit nicely next to my CG Smokin’ Pro. Rob had already built the Nest (the rolling cart that was to house my BGE) back at the dealer. He said it took about 20 minutes and was far easier to assemble there than out in the field. The box seemed like it was about 30” x 30” x 36” high. It was securely strapped to the bed of the pickup with two separate tie-downs. There were several other smaller boxes containing my PlateSetter, cast/iron grill grate a few other Eggcessories that were all in a large box that was also secured from moving. Rather than take the large and 160 pounds heavy box off the truck, he cut the box apart and we removed the pieces one by one. The various pieces were nested inside one another in the box separated by card board shims. This included the dome lid which was nested upside down in the base. There was a plastic bag with the various fittings and some paper work.
After the Nest is assembled the next step is to place the ceramic base of the BGE. This is one of the steps where it is handy to have a helper.
The first step (after the Nest, which was pre-assembled) was to set the bottom half of the Egg inside the Nest. The Nest legs have some sort of high temperature rubber like material at the top to help cushion and hold the Egg. The Egg had a specific way it needed to go on the nest in terms of orientation, and one of the legs couldn’t block the lower sliding draft door. That latter item was a little tricky, since the draft door’s frame was slightly wider than the legs of the nest. Once positioned over the legs correctly a little “gusto” was required to get the bottom of the Egg to drop all the way into the Nest. The next step was to install the ceramic firebox chamber which needs to be oriented a certain way to align an opening in the firebox chamber with the sliding draft door opening in the bottom half of the Egg. After that, the 4” ceramic fire ring is set on top of the firebox. This serves to give some spacing between the coals in the firebox and the grill grate. The last step for finishing off the bottom was to install the cast iron fire grate in the hole in the bottom of the ceramic firebox.
After the lower half of the BGE is firly seated in the Nest, it is time to install the ceramic firebox (left) which only goes in one way. You must orient it so that the opening in the firebox base aligns with the opening for the sliding draft door at the base of the Egg. The 4” high ceramic fire ring goes on top of the ceramic firebox.
To complete the bottom assembly, you place the cast iron grate in the bottom of the ceramic fire box.
The next step was to install the top lid, which is the trickiest part of the entire installation. There are two circular steel rings that serve as clamps that hold the upper and lower pieces of the Egg together. There are holes all around the lower steel ring. 6 of them serve to receive stud bolts for the front and side shelves. In my case I bought the pair side shelves but they were on back order. Rob had brought 4 extra stud bolts along so he could have the bolts in place when he installed the steel clamp ring on the lower half of the Egg. There is a spring assisted hinge that attached to the upper and lower steel clamp rings via 4 more stud bolts (8 total) and lock nuts. There are 4 holes on the upper clamp rung for attaching the front handle. Lastly the clamp rings themselves weren’t a closed continuous circle. There was a break located near the hinge at the rear of the Egg where the clamps ended and had a 1” piece of the ring that turned out at a 90 degree angle. These returns received a nut and bolt that is used to draw the two returns closer to one another and served to tighten the ring on the upper and lower pieces of the Egg.
Here is a side view of the top and bottom lid clamps & the spring hinge on the right. In the middle of the side you can see a silver stud bolt sticking out which will be used to secure my back ordered side shelves.
The steps were to install all 8 of the stud bolts for the hinges and get it securely fastened. Next the four stud bolts for the side shelves were installed on the lower ring. Then the clamp bolts positioned and the bolts were attached, but not tightened. The two clamp rings and spring hinge were lowered onto the bottom half of the Egg and oriented so the hinge was in the back and the handle was in the front. The lower ring was tightened a bit more to help secure it. Then the upper dome lid was lowered onto the lower half of the Egg. You want to make sure the top and bottom halves of the Egg are coming together evenly all around the felt gasket. You also need to make sure the top lid is centered directly over the bottom lid. Then the upper clamp is positioned so it grabs the upper lid at an even height and location and the upper and lower lid clamps are tightened down SECURELY. The instructions advise that it is normal for the 90 degree metal returns on the clamps to bend as you tighten the grip on the two halves of the Egg. After the top lid is secured, you finish tightening down the lower clamp ring. Once both clamp rings are securely tightened there are a pair of plastic clamps that has been keeping the spring hinge closed, that now gets removed. For the final step Rob used a dollar bill to test for a good seal. You place a dollar bill in various places on lower gasket of the Egg. You then close the lid and try to pull the bill out. You are looking for a little resistance everywhere around the perimeter of the felt gasket. My Egg passed the “dollar bill test” the first time around. Oh I almost forgot: the dome thermometer gets installed. It has a probe that passes through a hole on the front of the top lid. It gets secured with a slide on clamp.
The last item was the dome thermometer. It has a 3” long probe which passes through a hole in the lid and gets secured on the inside of the dome with a slide on clamp.
So my Egg was assembled in just under an hour on site, plus the 20 minutes Rob said it took him to build the Nest. He said it wasn’t hard, just quite a few pieces and nuts and bolts. After seeing my Egg get assembled, I asked myself whether I would pay for the assembly next time if it didn’t come free. I didn’t have to think too hard, the answer was still a resounding Y-E-S! Several reasons for that actually. By having the dealer bring everything out to me and be there as it was opened any damage is on him. He is also there to open all the boxes and discover any damage caused during shipment to him. If anything is damaged during assembly, once again it is not my problem. The dealer is also responsible for getting a good seal between the upper and lower lids/gaskets. If the seal isn’t good, the dealer would have to come back out and adjust it. The dealer also has to load up the truck and tie everything down so it doesn’t get damaged in transit. Also you would need to have a pickup truck, van or something larger. This isn’t something you could fit in a car. Another nice touch is the dealer takes away the large and small cardboard boxes, so you don’t have to deal with cutting them up and disposing of them.
Now if you were struggling to come up with the money for a BGE, could you do this yourself? Probably. As long as you are used to working with hand tools. You would want to have a second person to help you when you are trying to lift, place and finesse the upper an lower halves of the Egg. You would need to read the instructions very carefully and follow the steps precisely. For example I could see if it was my first time, I might have missed putting the stud bolts on now to receive my back ordered side shelves later. It is also handy to have two pairs of hands when attaching the lid clamps and hinge assembly. I watched my Egg go together and I feel I could have done it myself, but for the previously mentioned damage and liability issues I was glad to let the dealer do it. The fact the delivery and installation fee of $75.00 had been waived, made it a total no brainer.
So now my Egg was assembled and the next big decision was: “What do I make for my inaugural cook?” The answer to that question and how it turned out are the subject of the next blog entry.