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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Treager Grills

     This blog will be about the saga of our new Treager Grill, but first, let me start with a picture I took over our fence this morning.
     Now that we have that out of the way, you may enjoy my story about our new smoker/grill.  As I set out to figure out what I wanted, the most obvious source of information for me were our friends, Tim and Wendy Boucher who are presently at Lynchburg competing at the nationals sponsored by Jack Daniels.  Based on their recommendation I checked out the website for Treager Grills, an Oregon firm.  I liked what I saw and was pleasantly surprised to find a dealer right here in North Charleston.  I went over to Ferguson Enterprises on Rivers Ave and bought one of the smaller units, a cover, a digital controller, a dome thermometer and three bags of pellets: an apple, a mesquite, and a pecan.  Yes, I said pellets.  It works like one of the increasingly popular pellet stoves for heat.  There is an auger that feeds the pellets into a firebox under the control of a thermostat.  Although half the size of my natural gas grill, it weighs at least twice as much.
     Saturday I assembled the unit and replaced the existing analog controller with a digital one.  I had to work on my back lying down under the unit.  I followed the instructions and even marked the connectors with a Sharpie for safety sake.  I rolled the unit around the house and into our screened porch...not easy.  I filled up the hopper with apple pellets and turned it on as recommended to burn off any manufacturing odors.  Having done that, I next attempted to check it out regulating at a lower temperature.  Here's where the difficulties started.  It regulated at 450 degrees no matter where I set the thermostat, and the fire was smoky and smelled bad.  I shut it down and Sunday I emailed their service department and got a reply in five minutes!  They (Frank Carson) said to call 1-800-TREAGER.  I figured it was an automated response (it wasn't) so I waited until Monday to call.  Frank explained that I had swapped the wires to the auger and the fan.  Well, I fixed that and then had to clean up a very sooty grill.  The auger is supposed to run at a minimum of 15 seconds on and 65 seconds off.  The fan is supposed to run continuously.  The opposite was happening.  Once I got it wired correctly, everything worked fine.  On the "smoke" setting it will now cook at temperatures as low as 130!
     As a graduate electrical engineer and long time radar maintenance guy, I was more than sufficiently embarrassed at mis-wiring the controller.  Now that it is ready to go, I am looking forward to trying some new things.  I'll send some pictures of my successes.  The failures we will eat, but not advertise.
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