Tuesday, September 2, 2014

STEP ONE: Borrow the fingers of a five year old!!

I actually did some work on Labor Day. My job was to replace the burner elements of my gas grill. My grill is probably 6 or 7 years old, and I’m one of those guys who is grilling something all year long. I’ve worn the thing out.
So, there I was wearing yellow dish washing gloves, no shirt and plaid shorts, with sweat pouring off the end of my nose, peering under the hood of my Commercial Series 2000. There was a half of an inch of black sludge lining the walls. In the catch pan underneath was a two inch glob of meat drippings that had to be scraped off with a hard metal spatula. The actual cooking grate had its own greasy lining, mostly on the underside, the residue of a thousand chicken breasts, jumbo shrimp, New York strips, hamburgers, hotdogs, pork chops and the occasional pork tenderloin. I had bought some sort of environmentally agreeable citrus-based natural cleaner to spray on all of this mess and was skeptical of its value. There’s a reason that old fashioned oven cleaners were “environmentally disagreeable.” Because they could strip the chrome off of a trailer hitch in two seconds! You either wore gloves when you used that stuff or you lost fingers.

I was pleasantly surprised. I sprayed the stuff all over everything and waited two minutes like the directions suggested. The smell was an unholy mixture of rotten oranges and ammonia. But after two minutes and a little elbow grease, the black sludge started melting away like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz.

After all of this cleaning it was time to install the “universal elements” which were advertised as “easy to install.” Like most advertising, this claim proved to be bogus. Actually they would have been easy to install if my hands were the size of a five year old child’s. There was a crucially important step in the process that required you to line up the tiny holes on the two telescoping tubes. These tiny holes must be aligned because if not there would be no holes through which the gas flames could travel, turning your gas grill into a giant metal eunuch. To accomplish this vitally important step in the installation, I was provided with a single screw so ridiculously small, so agonizingly tiny that to merely pick it up required the fine motor skills of a concert pianist. I’m not kidding. Here are some pictures as proof:

Needless to say, this procedure took half of the morning. Luckily, I have some of those tiny screwdrivers, the ones you use to repair eye-glasses. I felt like I was diffusing a bomb. There I was, hands shaking, reading glasses trying not to slip off the end of my sweating nose, struggling mightily to thread a quarter of an inch screw into a sixteenth of an inch hole without completely losing my religion. The first one took twenty minutes. Each of the next two took only slightly less time.

Finally it was all done and working like a charm. Time to take it for a test drive.

I grilled up some brats, tomatoes and fried bread and it was a magnificent triumph.

Totally worth it!