New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Charcoal cookers (such as Weber Kettles)
peteru
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Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Post by peteru » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:03 am

I went to Bunnings Chatswood this morning and grabbed a box from isle 16. There was at least one more sealed box left and they also have an assembled unit in the BBQ area.

My first impressions are that the build quality is pretty much on par with all the other stuff made in China to a low budget. There are rough and sharp edges all over the place. I actually cut myself on the display unit while trying to open the ash tray latch. The sealing is very poor all over and most parts have deformations and bends. The legs already came out of the factory with plenty of rust inside them, although the outside looks fine. The instructions say you should use a 7/16" socket, but that's actually a poor fit and will result in the socket slipping and mangling the screw head as soon as a little bit of pressure is applied. An 11mm spanner fits a little better, but it's not exactly right either. It took me just under 1.5 hours to unpack everything, read the instructions and assemble the unit. About 15-20 minutes of that time was spent swearing at the design and poor assembly of the side table attachment brackets. The screws for these were only about half way tightened (finger tight), yet the heads of the screws were mangled by a power tool. Worse still, it was almost impossible to tighten these properly because the side table locking pin blocks access to the screw from above and there isn't room on the sides of the hex head to fit and turn a spanner from the side.

The lid latch doesn't align correctly. It's out to the left by about 2-3mm. Just enough to need a pull on the handle to the right in order to be able to close the latch. No amount of fiddling with the hinge screws seems to help. The lid thermometer also doesn't line up. Because there are two protrusions that go into holes in the lid. The thermometer can only be installed in a fixed orientation. Unfortunately, this results in the dial not being upright. It's rotated anti-clockwise, such that the marking that should be at 12 o'clock is somewhere near 10 or 11 o'clock.

The owner's manual would be adequate for a Chinese product, but I expect better English standards from a US based company. The first part of the manual is acceptable, but the second half needs some editing and proofreading - right now it reads like a bunch of posts copied and pasted from a forum on the Interwebs.

After assembling the unit, I washed and dried the cooking grate and the warming rack. While doing this, I noticed a little bit of rust on the cast iron cooking grate (which is not a problem) and quite a bit of rust inside the thick tube of the "stainless steel" warming rack. The chrome plating was coming off in chunks. I oiled everything thoroughly and proceeded to season the Akorn. Lighting the fire with a Looftlighter was a breeze (literally) and I had the unit hot in a few minutes. I compared the temperature readings between the lid thermometer and the two probes on a Maverick ET-732. Oven probe was installed just next to the centre insert in the cast iron cooking grate, the food probe was hanging through the top damper to about the same height as the lid thermometer. The reading at the three locations varied quite a bit. As an example, at one stage the lid thermometer temperature was 160C, oven probe temperature was 203C and food probe temperature was 236C. Before installing the lid thermometer, I did a boiling water test. I discovered in this test that as long as at least half of the thermometer stem was inside the boiling water, I could get a reading of 100C. However, if I only submerged the tip (about the same amount that protrudes from the lid once the probe is installed), my readings would be around the 90C mark or about -10%.

After keeping the unit in the 200C-250C range for about an hour, I closed both top and bottom dampers at around 230C. After about 4 hours, the temperature dropped to 50C. At this stage I needed to open the unit to reconfigure it and light a new fire for cooking dinner. When I opened up the lid and removed the Smokin' Stone, I was surprised at how much fuel was used. As I moved around the remaining charcoal to get rid of the ash, I discovered that two or three lumps of charcoal in the centre were still glowing red. Obviously there is a substantial air leak somewhere and the fuel just slowly burns away - what a waste!

Next I tipped about 1.5-2kg of lump charcoal onto the remaining hot coals and gave everything about 2 minutes of Loftlighter loving. Roaring fire in no time. I then put in the cast iron cooking grate in place, without the Smokin' Stone diffuser and put an Aldi 38cmx30cm rectangular pizza stone on top of the cooking grate. I then put an Aldi 33cm round pizza stone on top of that and brought the temperature up until the lid thermometer indicated about 340C. In went a fairly thin pizza, with cheese, mushroom, chargrilled capsicum, smoked chicken and red onion. It was done in 3 minutes and was probably the best cooked pizza I had in the last 10 years. Just a bit of colour on the cheese on top, golden and black spots on the bottom and lovely crispy dough bubbles at the edges. I liked the pizza so much, I didn't even sit down to eat it and proclaimed the purchase worthwhile just on the quality of the pizza.

Next we prepared 4 more pizzas and each one was cooked at slightly different temperature, ranging from 250C to 380C. When the lid thermometer reading was 250C it was too cold. No blistering or black bits that give that great flavour. At 380C it was too hot and the entire bottom of the pizza was black, however it did not taste burnt, it was quite a nice caramel flavour. Here's a tip - don't put pineapple on a pizza - the water content retards the cooking and the pizza just won't come out right. We did one pizza that had pineapple on SWMBO's half. Her half was boiled, mine was perfectly crispy.

At the end of the cook I closed both dampers and turned out the lights. As I was leaving, I noticed a faint red glow around the bottom damper. I think it's a gap between the body of the ash pan and the damper slider body. I'll have to have a closer look tomorrow, because the poor sealing is really a major bummer about this unit.

After a day with the Akorn, I am happy with the product concept, but it is being let down by cheap manufacturing. Some bits just don't quite fit right together, there are rough and sharp edges and I'll probably have to spend several days tweaking and fine tuning with high temp silicon sealant just to get it to perform the way it should have done straight from the factory. On the other hand, it's produced the best pizza I can get my hands on and I am looking forward to more cooks just to see what I can do with it.
____________
"Beauty lies in the hands of the beer holder."


urbangriller
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Re: New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Post by urbangriller » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:13 am

peteru wrote:Here's a tip - don't put pineapple on a pizza.
:D
Common Sense is so rare these days it should be a Super Power!

DaveW
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New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Post by DaveW » Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:46 am

Great write up Peter, thanks for the effort :)
DaveW

Proud owner of 'Red Mist' Royal Kamado, 'The Green Imp' Sakura Imperial Kamado 'circa 1970 and a Weber GA that, well....... goes anywhere! :D

Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life!

DaveW
Posts: 349
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:50 pm
Location: Penriiiiiffffffff NSW

New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Post by DaveW » Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:46 am

Oops, double post, this new Tapatalk update is killing me!
DaveW

Proud owner of 'Red Mist' Royal Kamado, 'The Green Imp' Sakura Imperial Kamado 'circa 1970 and a Weber GA that, well....... goes anywhere! :D

Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life!

urbangriller
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:46 pm
Location: Perth WA

Re: New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Post by urbangriller » Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:56 am

peteru wrote:When I opened up the lid and removed the Smokin' Stone, I was surprised at how much fuel was used. As I moved around the remaining charcoal to get rid of the ash, I discovered that two or three lumps of charcoal in the centre were still glowing red. Obviously there is a substantial air leak somewhere and the fuel just slowly burns away - what a waste!
Light a small fire, throw something on that will smoke. Then shut everything down and you should see it leaking smoke, this will give you an idea what needs fixing.

Chris
Common Sense is so rare these days it should be a Super Power!

Ciapek
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New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Post by Ciapek » Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:31 pm

Just a thought, when you mounted the ashpan, did you hook the ashpan lug over the retaining rails or under the rails in the firebox.
If incorrectly fitted the rails spring load the ashpan away from the unit and cause an uneven seal.
Just a thought.....caught me out while assembling....lol


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titch
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Location: Sth East Melbourne

Re: New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Post by titch » Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:33 pm

Ciapek wrote:Just a thought, when you mounted the ashpan, did you hook the ashpan lug over the retaining rails or under the rails in the firebox.
If incorrectly fitted the rails spring load the ashpan away from the unit and cause an uneven seal.
Just a thought.....caught me out while assembling....lol


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Who's the man, I tapped mine up a touch to seal the bottom better.
Very lightly tapping , right ! lightly.
Cheers
Titch

Ciapek
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Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:51 pm

New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Post by Ciapek » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:09 pm

@ titch....I hear you.......runs outside......pushes spring rails up a little......reattaches pan, and grins with accomplishment while sipping on a well deserved Friday Bourbon........
Thx for the tip !





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titch
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Re: New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Post by titch » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:19 pm

Ciapek wrote:@ titch....I hear you.......runs outside......pushes spring rails up a little......reattaches pan, and grins with accomplishment while sipping on a well deserved Friday Bourbon........
Thx for the tip !





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Now push chest out , go inside and do a Woohoo to the family,
:D
Cheers
Titch

peteru
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Re: New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Post by peteru » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:10 pm

Ciapek wrote:Just a thought, when you mounted the ashpan, did you hook the ashpan lug over the retaining rails or under the rails in the firebox.
I'm pretty sure that I got the ash pan installed correctly. The round ash pan knob has been correctly inserted into the U shaped section of the retaining rails by sliding the pan in from the front. The two spring loaded clips on the sides are latched, but they don't really exert much pressure on the ash pan. A quick inspection of the seal around the entire bottom perimeter shows that there are no obvious gaps around the seal, but the seal isn't too squished/pinched either.

I also had a closer look at how the bottom damper assembly fits against the ash pan. It seems the bottom edge of the damper has been sealed with some black silicone and is probably airtight. The same can not be said about the top edge. I can see gaps all along and there is no evidence of any silicone. If I get a chance, I'll pull out the screwdriver tomorrow and see what's what.
Last edited by peteru on Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
____________
"Beauty lies in the hands of the beer holder."

Ciapek
Posts: 215
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:51 pm

New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Post by Ciapek » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:12 pm

@ titch...no point....they all think I lost all my marbles years ago.....lol
If it wasn't for the Melbourne rain I'd light the fire pit and cook a Kransky on a stick.......
Mmmmmm...Kransky with cheese, chilly and mushrooms......tempted...


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titch
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Re: New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Post by titch » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:15 pm

Ciapek wrote:@ titch...no point....they all think I lost all my marbles years ago.....lol
If it wasn't for the Melbourne rain I'd light the fire pit and cook a Kransky on a stick.......
Mmmmmm...Kransky with cheese, chilly and mushrooms......tempted...


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Make your own.
Krans :P ky that is.
Cheers
Titch

robboc
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Re: New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Post by robboc » Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:12 pm


peteru
Posts: 487
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:16 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Post by peteru » Sun Apr 06, 2014 2:54 am

Just a brief follow up on my review of the Chargriller Akorn...

Now that I have had mine for a while, I am very happy with it. Just about every criticism I had initially is now a non-concern. I took the lower vent off, bent the metal slider just a little so it seals better at the ends and used a little bit of silicone around the vent frame to stop any air flow. I can now put out the fire reliably and quickly as there are no draughts. I love cooking on the Akorn (on average 3-5 meals a week) and it uses hardly any fuel. One 5kg box of Hotrox charcoal lasts me a month or more. With a Looftlighter, it's ready to go in about 5-10 minutes.
____________
"Beauty lies in the hands of the beer holder."

urbangriller
Posts: 9453
Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:46 pm
Location: Perth WA

Re: New kamado at bunnings similar to BSK

Post by urbangriller » Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:57 am

I think the Akorn is a great entry level Kamado, yes it's built cheaply and it is cheap by Kamado standards, but if you understand that at the start, it should give years of service and some of the best meals you have had!
And it's kinda Cute!

Image

Cheers
Chris
Common Sense is so rare these days it should be a Super Power!


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