Saturday was the usual monthly gathering of local boardgamers, and I was cooking BBQ for a dozen people, not including myself. I was going to put chicken, burger and bangers all on slow smoke for a couple of hours, so we could break when we wanted. I turned the grill on, and 20 minutes later went back to put the meat on.
Cold. After trying the obvious, I took the cover off the business end, and we could see that although power was getting to the fan, the auger wasn’t going round. The only thing I could think of was that in the recent awful weather, my pellets had got damp, and seized the auger. The only question was had it just seized, or had I burned out the motor too.
I decided I didn’t have time to take it apart, so cooking switched back to the kitchen. Although it was no longer BBQ, I managed to cook 24 chicken thighs, 18 large pork sausages and 20+ burgers, all in the oven. It was a challenge, I can tell you, but it all came out hot, and people seemed to enjoy it. One redeeming thing was that I had made the burgers myself, which meant they were a savoury and tasty mix of beef and pork.
After everyone left, I dropped an email to the Traeger dealer, saying I hadn’t yet diagnosed the problem, but could he let me know what the price of a new motor was. To my surprise, he replied Sunday morning, with the costs, and some suggestions.
So Sunday morning, the whole thing came apart. I discovered that the auger wasn’t jammed after all, and when connected to the fan power lead, the auger went round like a good’un. The problem was that it wasn’t getting power – my controller was fried.
Now this is ironic, as it is the part that I am currently planning to replace with my Barbduino. However, my plans to do this are not finalised, and I need the grill for the weekend after next, as my brother and sister-in-law are coming up to see me.
Fortunately, I was reminded by a pal on the online BBQ forums that I have only had this grill since last September (it seems much longer!), so the controller was still under warranty (the motor, if it had burned out due to the pellets getting damp, wouldn’t have been). So I contacted the dealer with the news, and he is sending me a replacement.
So all’s well that ends well. It is the first problem I have encountered since buying the grill, and the bit that broke is eventually going to be replaced with something that will be easier and cheaper to replace, if necessary, as it will be modular. Furthermore, now I have finally taken the cover off, the inner workings are no longer a mystery to me, and I am sure of the exact details of what I am doing (i.e. where the leads are going to run, etc.)