07/13/14 - 10:42 Filed in: Big Green Egg | BGE | Maintenance
I recently had to replace the bottom of my newer Large Big Green Egg. I have written blog items in the past where I say don’t just pick a dealer based on price. Pick your dealer based on their knowledge, what they stock in the stores, the knowledge of their sales associates and how they treat people after the sale. This point was driven home recently when my Large Big Green Egg suffered a crack under the draft door and I had to get a replacement base from my dealer. This blog will discuss the process of getting a replacement base, installing it and some improvements that have been made to the base.
BACKGROUND:My Big Green Egg dealer is Oasis Hot Tub & Sauna in Nashua. Once again they came through and made what could have been an otherwise unpleasant experience as pain and hassle free as possible. But let me begin at the beginning. I was heating up both of my Eggs up early one Saturday morning. The newer of my two Larges, purchased in January of 2013, was heating up with the Platesetter installed. I was going to be making some GRILLED NAAN bread at a cooking temperature of 700 degrees (370 C) and I was out checking the temperature of both Eggs. The Egg for the GRILLED NAAN had only reached 500 degrees (260 C). I turned around and was walking out of my grill gazebo heading back towards the Kitchen when I heard a large SNAP!! The noise was so loud in the quiet morning, that it actually made me jump. I had never heard a sound quite like that before, and my first thought was that is NOT good. I walked over to the Large that was preheating for the Naan and looked it all over. I didn’t find anything and so I opened the lid and checked the Platesetter. The Platesetter was fine too. My last guess was the ceramic firebox, but with the Egg full of lump that was upwards of 500 degrees (260 C)I would check that out after my cook. I looked at my other large, but where it was stabilized at only 350 degrees I didn’t really expect to find anything. I headed back into the house scratching my head a bit at what that noise could have been.
About 10 minutes later, I headed back outside to close the bottom metal draft door to try to lock in my 700 degree (370 C) cooking temperature. When I bent over a bit to close the draft door I spotted what had made the sound. There was a 1” (25 mm) vertical crack running down from the base of the metal draft door to the bottom of the Egg. This meant it was in the edge of the bottom of the base of the Egg. My Egg sits on a Table Nest stand and it isn’t very high off the countertop of my base cabinet. By twisting my head I could see the crack wasn’t just at the outer edge. It extended back along the bottom of the base at least 2 or 3” (50 - 75 mm). Obviously I wasn’t happy to see this, but I was actually happy to find the source of that loud snapping noise I heard earlier. The lifetime guarantee of the Egg gave me some comfort, but I had read some stories on various forums where some dealers really gave their customers a runaround or left them to fend for themselves with the BGE Company. I really didn’t expect this type of “hands off” treatment from my dealer and really didn’t sweat it. Nothing is perfect, things break and this one carries a lifetime guarantee.
GREAT SERVICE:At this point I called my dealer when they opened a later that morning and the owner happened to answer the phone. It couldn’t have been an easier experience. He asked me to send him a picture(s) showing the damage. He would forward that to their distributer who will give the approval for a new base. The replacement base will be shipped back to the dealer on their next delivery. If I was in a huge hurry, Oasis said they could make arrangements for me to pick it up at the distributers myself. Since the crack was relatively fine and the Egg was still usable, I said I would wait for them to get it in their normal delivery. Once they got the replacement base in, I could pick it up. After I installed the new base I would return the old base to them. I took the photos a bit later and emailed them to Oasis and later that day I was told my replacement base has been approved and ordered. Contrast this to stories I’d heard on message boards where the dealer stepped out of the picture made the Egg owner deal with the distributer or the BGE company directly. A dealer who is customer service oriented, like Oasis and other quality dealers, insulate the customer from having to deal with anyone else but the dealer. They take care of the paperwork and any red tape. Unlike a regular customer, Oasis deals with their distributer every day and they know the right people to talk to.
DISASSEMBLY:The Egg base arrived at Oasis fairly quickly and I actually took several weeks to pick it up, because of various family events and Eggfests occurring on the weekend. The base comes packed in a sturdy cardboard box which has some folded cardboard inserts in the 4 corners to secure it from moving inside the box. Two people from Oasis put it up on my truck for me, and I was quickly on my way. Since I have assembled both of my Eggs two or three times now (due to relocations within in my grill gazebo), things went fairly quickly. I was careful not to cut the nylon straps holding the top of the box and the body of the box together. Instead I carefully slid the straps off so I could reuse them when I packed the old base into the box. I placed some cardboard sheets on top of my outdoor table so I could use it as a landing space for the various parts being removed. The cardboard served as a cushion and kept the charcoal dust off the table top. I placed the plastic spring retainers that came with the Egg on the bolts of the spring hinge hinge. You should hang onto these for when you install a new gasket or need to replace the lid or the base. I decided to try a slightly different approach to see if it would save some time. I removed the lid by loosening the lower metal hinge band on the base only. I didn’t loosen the top half of the metal hinge band, but kept it attached to the lid. Using some welders gloves I removed the domed lid and attached hinge band and landed it upside down on the chimney on the table top. I didn’t want to lay the lid on the lose bottom hinge band. Also be sure the lid is balanced correctly on the chimney before walking away. I removed the fire ring next and landed it on the table. Next I removed the usable charcoal from the fire box and stored it in a foil pan. After it was cleaned out, I removed the firebox and placed it on the table. I used the ash tool and dust pan to clean out the bottom of the old base. Then I used my shop vac to remove the remaining loose charcoal and charcoal dust. I put on the welders gloves and removed the cracked base from the table nest and set it aside. I lifted the base up by inserting one hand through the opening for the draft door. Be sure to wear something to protect your hands from the sharp edges of the draft door.
REASSEMBLY:It was now time to put things back together. Now I could have put the carton with the new base on the ground upside down. This way instead of removing the top and lifting the base up and out of the carton, I could remove the entire bottom of the carton up and off the base. Obviously it is easier to lift the light weight cardboard box off the base, than it is to lift the heavy ceramic base up and out of the carton. I don’t know if I had eaten my Wheaties this day or what, but when I took the carton off the truck it didn’t seem too heavy. I was told it weighed around 100 pounds (45kg) and when I tested it out while still on the truck I decided it wasn’t too heavy or too bulky. I would skip using a two-wheeled hand truck and just carry it over near the Egg myself. I also decided I would just lift the base out of the box the normal way without flipping the box upside down. The base came out of the box relatively easy and I soon had it sitting on the table nest. There is a metal brace that ties the Egg to the adjacent cabinet which I installed at this point to make sure the Egg didn’t move or tip over when I was working on the lid. I carried the lid, still attached to the upper and lower hinge bands, back over from the picnic table and placed it back on the base. I moved the lid around until I had the ceramics of the lid centered over the ceramics of the new base.Then I pulled the lower band down as far as I could onto the ceramic lower base and tightened it down quite snugly, but not completely tight. I tested the lid by opening and closing it and then I did the so called “dollar bill test”. This is where you open the lid and place a dollar bill across the gasket and close the lid again and tug on the bull. You should always feel resistance when you attempt to pull the dollar bill out. The area near the hinge is always tricky, it is hard to get adequate pressure at this point. On this day I lucked out. The hinge area was fine for me while near the handle was a little light. I put some wood shims on to protect the flat hinge plate and used some vice grips to twist the hinge plate in a way that increased contact in the front of the Egg and lessened it slightly in the rear near the hinge.
The second time was the charm. After raising and lowering the lid to check the positioning and running the “dollar bill test”, all was well. I then used a torque wrench to finish tightening the hinge band on the base. Things went quickly after this. The ceramic firebox went in first, followed by the ceramic fire ring. I poured the reserved lump back into the Egg and topped it off with some fresh lump. The grill grate went back on as did the ceramic cap and my work was done. It had gone relatively quickly and painlessly so far.The last item on the agenda made up for it a bit. I needed to return the old base to Oasis and getting it back into the box proved to be more challenging than I ever expected. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but the main problem was the triangular cardboard corner shims kept shifting out of position before I could get the ceramic base in. After much colorful language was employed to no affect, the lightbulb went off in my head. I got some double-faced tape which I used to secure the corner pieces in place. I put the top back on the box and used the nylon straps to close the box back up. I returned the box to the dealer and they took it off the truck for me, had me sign some paperwork and I was on my way. Job done!! I am going to finish up by mentioning some changes that have occurred to the Big Green Egg since I got my last one 18 months ago.
The old draft door (upper) can be easily distinguished from the new door by the black rubber tips on the door pulls of the new draft door.
CH-CH-CH-CHANGES:At first glance it was easy to see one change that had been made to the lower metal draft door that is at the base of the Egg. Rubber tips had been added to the pulls used to close the inner mesh spark screen and the outer metal door. I will admit to having burned my fingertips grabbing the pulls when the Egg is hot. So I was excited to see the addition of the tips, not because I was dying for the rubber tips. I was hoping a redesign of the door might have also solved one of my pet peeves about the Egg. Currently the outer solid door was actually able to open a bit farther than the inner screen door. With the outer door out of the way, the inner screen door could bow outward and project into the path of the outer door. So when you were heating up the Egg you would open the outer door all of the way to get the temps up fast. Once the Egg (and the draft door) was hot and you went to close the outer draft door to regulate the temperature, you would find the bowed out screen door was preventing the outer door from closing. You would have to push the inner screen door in at the end to remove the bowing and let the outer door pass. The metal draft door gets very hot and the interfering doors were a real aggravation. For something the price of the Big Green Egg this lack of attention to detail was always a bit shocking to me.
The old draft door allows the outer draft door to open up beyond the inner screen door. When this happens, the inner screen door bows out preventing the outer door from closing.
The new draft door still allows the outer draft door to open beyond the inner screen door, but when it does the inner screen door does not bow outward toward the outer door. This means the inner door does not block the path of the outer door.
Happily the new and improved draft door has dealt with this problem. The outer door can still actually open more than the inner screen door. But the inner screen door does not bow out when the outer door isn’t in front of it, solving the interference problem totally. They also dealt with a third problem that didn’t bother me too much until I saw the alternative. The doors slide on two curved metal tracks and they always were a bit stiff and difficult to move. This could sometimes be frustrating when you were trying to make small adjustments to your temperature. You would have to put more pressure on the finger pull on the door than it seemed like you should have to. The door would suddenly move but not in fractions of an inch like you wanted, but whole inches. You were always in danger of overshooting the mark. I got in the habit of mentally noting the current position of the door before moving it, so I could get back to it if the door suddenly shifted way more than I wanted. The new doors slide easily and once I get used to this adjustments will be simple and easy. Ironically I still sometimes overshoot my mark on the new draft door due to user error. I am so used to the old stiff door I often push the new door way harder than is need. This I can learn to deal with though and I am thinking I may see if the new draft door will fit on the old base of my other Egg. I like these improvements enough that I’d like to have this new and improved door on both of my Eggs.
CONCLUSION:My Egg cracking and everything that happened afterwards could have been quite a chore and and a pain in the butt. But several things came together to make this relatively painless. I can’t stress enough the importance of choosing the right dealer. Base your selection of a dealer on the big picture and not just price alone. There are many good dealers out there, like Oasis, who put the customer first and have great customer service. They are not necessarily going to have the rock bottom lowest price, but on an item that you may own for 20 or 30 years what is $50 or even $100? Give me many many years of hassle free customer service vs. saving a little bit a sale time. My dealer took care of all the phone calls, paperwork and any red tape there may have been for me. I made one phone call, snapped a couple picture and I just picked up the new base when it came in. A second factor was I have done this operation half a dozen times now. Between setting up my second Egg and needing to move both Eggs onto new furniture, I have gotten pretty good at getting the dome adjusted correctly. If you are relatively new to the Egg or aren’t a D.I.Y. kind of guy or gal, you might want to see if your dealer will do it for you somehow. Perhaps they will make a paid service call to your house or will do it for you if you bring the old Egg up to their store. I am just guessing here because I never needed this option. I am thinking that a good full-service dealer would work with you to figure something out. In my case life is good again, my cracked Egg base has been replaced for free and I have it back in service. No company is perfect and things do break from time to time. It is how companies deal with these issues that separate the good from the bad. For my first Eggsperience with a service issue on my Big Green Egg I give my dealer and the Big Green Egg Company both an A plus.
SOME RELATED LINKS: Here is a link to an earlier blog entry where i discuss things to look for when selecting a Big Green Egg dealer.
SELECTING A BIG GREEN EGG DEALER 2013 Blog Entry.
BACK TO BBQ BLOG 2014
ARCHIVE OF BLOGS: 2014
INDEX OF BLOGS: ALL YEARS