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The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke
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New & Improved Draft Door - Install

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As I wrote in my blog entry CRACKED EGG, the new base came with the new and improved draft door. I liked it better than the old one immediately. It solved three problems without causing any new issues. I liked it enough and also for the sake of a consistent experience that I decided the next time I talked with my Big Green Egg dealer I would see about ordering one. That opportunity came quicker than I expected when my ceramic Fire Ring cracked a few weeks later (see CRACKED EGG II). The new door cost $39.00 so I went ahead and ordered it and picked it up when I picked up the replacement Fire Ring. I installed it on a week day where there was going to be some time before I needed to use both Eggs. This blog will document the experience and the things that went went and some of the lessons I learned when things didn’t go perfectly.

My first concern was the right calk to use. It was interesting because although the Egg can reach temperatures of over 1,000 degrees (540 C) the high temperature
CLEAR silicon sealants all seemed to top out at temps of 500 or 600 degrees (260-315 C). This seemed strange but I saw posts on the Egghead Forums where folks were (successfully it seems) using these sealants that were rated at the lower temps. I finally went to a relative new Big Green Egg dealer in my town who carries fireplaces as well. I figured where they had experiences with the high temps of fireplaces and wood stoves and Big Green Eggs, they would not only have the answer they might have the sealantt as well. As expected they said they had the sealant I needed and it was the one the Big Green Egg distributer recommended they use. It was a Rutland-RTV High Heat Silicone Sealant rated for 500 degrees. The dealer understood my concern and said that area doesn’t get as hot. I am guessing that is because the firebox craves inward and away from the base of the Egg and this separation distance helps keep things cooler. Armed with the sealant I was ready to go.

WHY THE NEW DRAFT DOOR?:
After using the new draft door on my replacement LBGE base I realized it had three advantages.
• The finger pulls have rubber tips to help you avoid burning your finger tips.
• The inner screen doesn’t interfere with the outer solid door if you open the outer door too much.
• The door opens and closes very easily making adjustments easier and more precise.
CONSISTENCY: A last advantage for me is with the same doors on both Eggs the user experience is the same for me. I don’t have to think about whether the door on this Egg is very hard or very easy to open. They are identical.

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TOOLS:
Here are the tools I ended up using to replace the gasket. Your mileage my vary.
  • Rutland RTV High Temperature Clear Silicone Sealant.

• Phillips Head Screw Driver (#2 medium sized head)
• 5 in ! Tool or Putty Knife. The 5 in 1 Tool is like a putty knife on steroids with additional notches and shapes on the side of the blade to do other tasks.
• New Draft Door and Hardware. There are instructions inside the kit.

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STEP 1 - Removing the Old Draft Door:

This was the area I was most worried about but in many ways turned out to be about the easiest part of the job. You need to remove the grill grid, fire ring, clean out the charcoal and then take out the firebox before proceeding with the work. Then you loosten the four bolts using the Phillips head screwdriver on the outside and 3/8 wrench on the inside. This Egg I have on for two years now, But there was no difficulty removing the bolts. I then got the five and one tool under one of the flanges of the draft door and it pried off very easily. This surprised me a little bit and I was glad it came off this easily. Frankly I was a little worried about the door being stuck on so well that the sealant would take some of the glazed ceramic with it. I was able to use the 5 in 1 tool to get off 90% of the remaining silicon. Then I use rolled up balls of some of the used silicon, my fingernails or my fingertips to peel off the rest. I really didn't want to use a silicone solvent where I was going to be putting the draft door right back on with new silicon. I also didn't want to use a metal tool and risk removing the glazing. Removing the remnants of the two horizontal beads of silicon Took just under an hour. It was the most time-consuming portion of the work, but certainly not rocket science.

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STEP 2 - Prepping for Installation:

Several people have suggested to me that it might be easier to have a second person to help put the new draft door on. I did several dry fittings of the door before making my decision to go it alone. I did have someone who could help me, but I elected to go it alone. It seemed like a second pair of hands might actually get in the way due to the close quarters. I pressed the draft door on with bolts in the top two holes to help position the draft door properly. One thing I learned while test fitting the new door was the bolts are a little fussy and non intuitive to place. They don’t go in perpendicular to the face of the radiussed draft door, they go straight in front to back. Besides being curved, the sides of the Egg are also angled in the vertical direction. My plan was to place the top edge of the draft door & top bead of silicone on first using the bolts too help me get the proper location. Then I would swing the base of the draft door upwards and to the rear to make contact with the ceramics just below the draft door cut out. This looked good when there was no silicone on the draft door so this was the original plan going in.

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STEP 3 - Installation - Applying the Silicone to the Draft Door:

Before applying the silicone, you remove the inner and outer doors. The directions said you apply a horizontal bead of silicone on the upper and lower horizontal edges of the draft door. They suggested using the old draft door to give you an idea of the proper placement. There was nothing tricky here. The bead of silicone ran along the edge, which I had already gathered from reading the directions. The interesting thing was, they did NOT have you apply a vertical bead of silicone, which surprised me a bit. I ran about a 1/8” bead of silicone along the entire length of top and bottom edges of the new draft door. This silicone came in a tube like toothpaste and you squeezed the tube to squeeze it out. This was much easier for me than using a caulk gun. I used a bead that was about 1/8” wide (3 mm) which proved to be too narrow, but I am getting ahead of myself here.

STEP 4 - Installation - Placing the Door Take 1:
As planned I used the bolts to help position the top edge of the draft door properly before pressing it into place. Once the door was seated at the top, I swung the bottom up and back to swing it into position. This is when I realized I had made not one, but TWO mistakes. The first was I should have used a bead of silicone about 50 percent wider (3/16” vs 1/8” or 4.5 mm). The sealant was not filling the gap in many places. This was particularly true at the top edge where I discovered my second mistake. I had placed the top edge up against the ceramics and when I swung the bottom edge up and into position, the draft door’s top edge lowered in the process. This left a streak of silicone exposed to view and took away from the amount of silicone on the draft door. There was not enough silicone left on top to make a good seal. When I looked at the bottom edge, I didn’t have enough of a bead down their either. So off came the draft door and I spent 10-15 minutes cleaning the fresh silicone off the Egg and the rear of the draft door.

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STEP 4a - Installation - Placing the Door Take 2:

I then placed a 50 percent wider bead of silicone on the back of the draft door and came at things from a different direction so to speak. For “Take 2” I also used the top bolts to help me get the proper position on the ceramics before pressing the draft door into place. The big difference this time around was I tilted the draft door to match the slope of the side of the Egg. This way in theory the entire draft door made contact with the ceramics all at once. Positioning it this way was indeed more difficult due to having to tilt the draft door too. I carefully moved it into position and it made even contact. I pushed and held it in place while I put nuts on the top two bolt and tightened then down finger fight. You must hold the draft door securely against the ceramics, it seems to have a slightly different radius than the ceramics it mates with You must hold it in place like this until you have snugged down all of the bolts. Looking at the top joint I had a nice continuous bead. I then pushed the two lower bolts through the draft door and through the ceramic walls of the Egg. This was not easy because of the odd angle you end up pushing them through at and some silicone had plugged the holes in the draft door. While I was doing this, I also had to keep pressure against the door to hold it in the proper position. So I poked around with a bamboo skewer until I located the position of the holes in the ceramics. I snugged these two bolts down and then went around and tightened all of the bolts sequentially in several tightening sessions. The door also had a nice bead of silicone along the bottom edge. The hard parts were done.

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STEP 5 - Clean Up & Follow Up:

I ran my finger along the top and bottom edges of the draft door to smooth out the bead of silicone and remove any excess. I checked to make sure there was no excess silicone in the door tracks and reinstalled the two doors. Just when I thought I was done and was giving the work a final inspection, something occurred to me. There was no vertical bead of silicone called for and I noticed there was a small, but visible gap at each end of the draft door. In theory air could get in from the ends, particularly the left side which fairly close to the draft door opening. I tried pushing some stiff paper in to see if it would emerge out of the other side near the opening to the Egg. It didn’t and it appeared like the draft door frame flattens out a bit where the frame bolts to the Egg. I decided to take a ride to the dealer where I bought the silicone and check out one of their display models to see what kind of gap they had at the end. The gap I had was certainly no more than any of the display models at the store, so I am going to relax for now. I will admit to being a bit puzzled though as to why they don’t have you run a vertical bead of silicone.

LESSONS LEARNED:
Here are the things they don’t mention in the instructions or How-To videos:
  • To be safe allow about two hours total time for this installation. About half of this will be taken up cleaning off the remnants of the old bead of silicon.
• Be sure to do a test fitting or two of the door. Use the two top bolts to help you get it in the approximate positions. You will need to be able to place it with the door tilted at the same angle as the sloping sides of the Egg.
• Note the positions and angles of the bolts. They aren’t facing in the direction you might think.
• While doing the test fitting decide whether a second set of hands would be helpful for you. You may not need them for positioning the draft door, but you may find they come in handy to hold the door snugly up against the Egg while you tighten down the bolts.
• Be sure to use a wide enough bead of silicone. about 3/16” (4.5 mm) or slightly more.
• Have a bamboo skewer handy so find the lower bolt holes in the ceramic if the sealant oozes out of the holes and you can’t see the holes in the ceramic.

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