A Tale Of Two Grills

“It’s time,” she said.

“But, are you sure? Are you sure you want a new one?”

“It’s time.” SWMBO turned and walked away.  I dutifully headed down to the local appliance store, as I prefer to buy from small local businesses.  After being informed by the six people standing around the counter that I had to wait for Sam, who was on the phone, because he was the guy who knew stuff, I stood there for about ten minutes, until I realized that I wasn’t the first person in line for Sam. There was another guy also waiting for him, so I would be after the guy.

Much as I like buying locally, I’m not big on waiting. I’m especially not big on waiting when there are six people standing there not helping me. So I walked out, crossed the street and went down the block to the local hardware store.  One local merchant was as good as another.

There, a young man who was thinner than Dr. SJ and wore his baseball cap backwards, still with a sticker on the brim, introduced himself as “Colin” and immediately offered to help. The deal was struck within a few minutes. I bet I would still be standing at the other store, waiting for the guy to get off the phone.

More than 20 years ago, I bought my first Weber Genesis grill.  At the time, it was the grill to get, better than all the others. Why wasn’t clear, as it was just a grill, but that was the one, and so that’s what I got.  More than 20 years later, it was still working. It originally came with a red wood handle and shelf slats, which rotted out fairly quickly.

I replaced them with the plastic ones that Weber started using on the model soon after I bought mine. Apparently, the rot problem wasn’t just me. I was never a fan of plastic, but then, I was never a fan of rot either. Since the grill was otherwise working great, there was no other choice.

Over the 20 plus years, it served me well. We grilled all the time, winter included. When I shoveled snow, I always shoveled a path to the grill, because there was a good chance that we would be using it for dinner that night. I never bought a cover, as it seemed pointless to spend all that time covering and uncovering something used so often.  The grill never seemed to care.

Old grill

That’s what a top of the line, fancy, expensive grill looked like back then. It was, for lack of a better word, a pretty fancy grill. For those inclined to give a damn, it was the grill of choice for yuppies, who bought clothes because of the name on the label even if they could get the same thing for half the price without a name. In retrospect, it was good buy. Not too many things last 20 years anymore. I got my money’s worth out of the ol’ Weber.

But the burners were starting to fail. It became increasingly hard to ignite, required massaging, the occasional match, and then there was the rust. When the “crossover ignition” piece no longer crossed over, Dr. SJ told me it was time. She reached her breaking point.

Twenty years later, I wondered whether it was time to consider a different make or model. Things change over time, and maybe there was another grill that would sear meat just as well for a lot less money. The Weber Genesis was still being made, but the price had doubled, and it wasn’t inexpensive before.  Nope, she said. It lasted 20 years, and that was a good enough reason to stick with Weber. So a new Weber Genesis was what I bought, to be delivered the following weekend.

It arrived yesterday, and it reflected what’s become of things over the last 20 years.

new grill

The grilling surface was a little larger, though not much.  The crossover ignition, a big feature 20 years ago, had been “new and improved” by being eliminated. The burners were turned 90 degrees, now front to back instead of side to side.

When the delivery guys left, Dr. SJ came out and said, “what is that thing? It’s so . . .  big, pretentious.”

The grill was pretty much the same as it was 20 years before, but the appearance was entirely different. By enclosing the bottom, but making the two “wings” appear to be massive when they were nothing more than hollow sheet metal, they took the same grill and created the faux appearance of substance.  It looked massive. It seems much larger, more substantial.  It was all an illusion.

And then there was the shiny. Grills used to be black or green. Now they came in stainless steel, which was a huge upcharge. It was supposed to make them look more industrial, because industrial meant they were more serious. Except the steel used was thin and cheap, and discolored immediately. We had friends who bought stainless steel grills, and they were invariably dirty and stained. Instead of exuding shiny, they just looked filthy. Who wants to eat from something that seems dirty?

Colin tried to upsell me on the stainless steel model, but I told him, “nope, black will do just fine.”  But even the black was covered in stainless steel. I guess it’s supposed to make the grill look more impressive, so that I won’t feel foolish for paying so much for a grill.

We didn’t cook on the grill that night. I have no idea whether it actually sears meat as well as the old grill.  And it will be another 20 years until I know whether the new grill is made as well as the old grill was.  Later in the afternoon, after the new grill was delivered, Dr. SJ and I went outside and she said, “what is that massive thing?”  I told her, “you’ll get used to it,” as she shook her head.

I just hope it works well, as I know she’s going to mutter the same thing every time she sees it. That’s how she is.  If we made the right choice, I’ll be hearing that for the next 20 years.

37 thoughts on “A Tale Of Two Grills

  1. John Barleycorn

    Your sniveling participation and expectations during this undertaking are unremarkable.

    Return the Webber and hire a qualified professional.

    1. SHG Post author

      I made Colin throw in a Weber spatula at checkout. Whatever issues I have with the grill, I’m keeping the spatula.

      1. John Barleycorn

        18/10 lazer cut stainless on the spatula for sure.

        As per your new grill, I am sure the cast job on the hearth body will outlast you but the assorted fastners and the spot welds on the rest of the unit will not.

        P.S. You will know when you have found a good machinest, who like to weld for fun, when he chuckles as you write out the retainer check after your initial consultation.

          1. John Barleycorn

            Excellent, a pimped out BBQ project may be just the thing to clear your head of all this reminiscent nonsense over the summer.

            Besides you will have a whole new appreaction for cleaning the drip pan, via orders from the Dr., after you master the contemplative art of cleaning your sons chip pan.

            P.S. A lathe for a graduation gift with a no questions asked interim storage gaurentee and a gift certificate for seven lathe relocations via a reputable shipping company will increase the probability that your future grandchildren will be at least a tenth as resourceful as a typical Cuban.

  2. Turk

    My Ducane lasted 17 years. I bought a Weber Genesis last fall (green) when the old one had too many issues to list here.

    But. If something lasts 17 years (or 20) — while living outdoors in the northeast — never quibble about the price. You got your money’s worth.

      1. bmaz

        Well, I have a Ducane too. Massive and well built, works great after 12 years unprotected outside in its built in location. My upshot is taking out the gas runners every two or three years and cleaning them keeps the flames igniting and evenly distributing nicely. Bet that holds for a Weber. Now you can grill me for being off topic.

        1. SHG Post author

          This is why you are a fascinating fellow. Please tell me more about your massive and well built Ducane. That’s a euphemism, right?

      2. Turk

        Yeah, my takeaway is you get 15-20 years out of a grill you ought to celebrate that grill, not complain.

        1. Sgt. Schultz

          If you get 20 years out of a grill for half the price, it’s better than if you get 20 years out of a grill for twice the price. Your “ought to celebrate, not complain,” is kinda simplisitic and idiotic, standing alone.

          But nowhere does SHG complain about the price. If anything, he said pretty much the same thing, that when something is expensive but lasts 20 years, at least it’s worth it. My takeaway is you should stop taking drugs on Easter morning and work harder on reading comprehension.

        2. Billy Bob

          Sorry,… you got “burned”. Ha. Our guess is, you won’t get the 15-20 years, assummming
          you live thaaat looong? What if a tree falls on it, or it explodes?
          In the meantime, you go vegetarian (because of high B/Pee and cholesterooool) and won’t need it. Can yoga and standing on your head in the front yard be far behind? All in a day’s pay at SJ. Be there, or be square!
          P.S., Dr./Mrs. SJ must be a very understanding soul. You married the right one.

  3. BobN

    Love my 24 year old Weber, still going strong. replaced the rotted side table slats and handle a few years back and the rusted grates a couple years before that. However, from the look of the new montrosity, I hope to keep it going for a least another 10.

  4. Dan

    To the choir:

    Unless the bottom was rusted out (unlikely) any and all parts on the old Weber are readily obtainable and easily replaced. The crossover and burner pipes can be lightly cleaned with a wire brush, and cleared inside with a coat hanger. That would have eliminated the required massaging. The igniter is a $10 part, and Jr could have replaced that in 10 minutes. A thrifty like myself has been known to strip necessary parts from forlorn Webers left curbside (“This darn thing won’t light– time to buy a new one…”). A cover will reduce necessary maintenance by 70%.

    Etc.

  5. bmaz

    Anyway, the shiny new Weber Genesis is still only the second best grill you own. Don’t hurt the Healey’s feelings.

  6. fiver

    Webers are round. That’s what makes them Webers. Sure, the Weber name can fool some East Coasters, but it’s the Weber dome that is its true signature.

    Because it’s not just about the sear; it’s the ability to get the sear and then use indirect heat to finish it off to medium-rare perfection.

    And real Webers use charcoal.

    True curmudgeons remember back to a time when men were men and saber tooth tigers were frightened of our flames. But for today’s kids, it’s all about the feelz. “If the grill makes me feelindustrial, why doesn’t its metallurgy match my feelings?” A truly spoiled generation has lived its outdoor life with safe (shoveled walk), sterile (Who wants to eat from something that looks icky?), instant blue fire at the press of a button.

    In the process, their “nostalgia” becomes all about their feelings. It’s not like they can reminisce about that time they started the grill with a lemon, zinc nails and steal wool. They don’t carry a Zippo. They know nothing of a chimney that can have the coals ready in five minutes, let alone the hours it used to take in the Pleistocene. The history of beer soaked mesquite chips is nothing to them

    So they reminisce about their feelings for their old outdoor kitchen appliance and hope their new outdoor kitchen appliance will make them feel the same. For today’s kids, it’s not about the sear, the smoke, or temperature control.

    For them, it’s all about the feelz.

  7. phroggie

    I’ve enjoyed my E-310 for ~12 months, also in black because logic. Got the same feelz as you on the day that I assembled mine, but it’s not as under-engineered as it may appear. 20 years? I doubt it; maybe 15, with new $80 grates every five. I guess we shall see. At least it looks nicer than the 1985 model, even if it is hollow.

  8. Tom H

    Your story is my story, we bought a Weber when we got married and decided to replace it for our 20th anniversary. Now, 6 years in I can tell you Barleycorn knows his stuff.

    You are a better man than me, my replacement was a shiney, top of the line 6 burner job with price to match, I couldn’t stop myself.

    1. SHG Post author

      My wife thinks this one is over the top. Not a chance in hell we were going for the bigger, shinier one.

    2. John Barleycorn

      How’s the rubber flex gasket of the ignitor button on that unit of yours holding up Tom?

      The design evolution of this particular part is hauntingly familiar to frustrated CDLs trying to explain away the evolving nuances of a suppression motion to their clients with glib references to judicial temperament, prosecutorial powers, and an ever so slight shoulder shrug.

      That being said it shouldn’t be too long now before an appeal lasts twenty years.

  9. Ross

    I bought an E-320 to take to the Middle East when we moved there for work in 2008. It was a great grill, and the person I sold it to was thrilled. When we came back in 2010, I bought a Genesis Silver C (like your old one but with a side burner) for $125 at an estate sale in the deal of the century. It was assembled, but never used. It’s been great. Just to cover all the bases, I also have a Weber Kettle for those days when I want to use charcoal.

    You can do a brisket on your grill. Make a smoke pouch out of foil, fill it with water soaked wood chips and punch some holes, and put it on the bar above one of the end burners (only light one burner). Put the brisket, covered in your favorite rub, over the unlit burners. Cook at 275 to 300 until tender, about 8 hours. Almost as good as one done in a wood burning grill, but with a fraction of the effort.

  10. Patrick

    Got that grill several years ago and it holds up fine in the Mid-Atlantic. The reason I write here is to suggest you not cover it. At least around here, that just causes humidity to condense under the cover and things will rust faster. No cover and at least it dries up in the sun. YMMV.

    Have fun, and if you ever feel the need to spend too much money on something that uses charcoal, the Big Green Egg is great. Got it as a gift from my wife, and it now sees a lot more action than the Weber 20 feet away. It’s kinda neat to drop 12 pounds of shoulder on it in the afternoon and come out the next morning to great food, all with a minimum of fiddling and no refills.

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