Monday, August 1, 2011


After nearly two years of Kathy getting after me to make a BBQ, I finally did it.  You see, we can’t go to Home Depot, Zehrs, Canadian Tire, or Wal-Mart to buy a BBQ here.  If you want a grill to cook steaks, sausages, or hamburgers on, you’ve got to make it yourself.  To that end, we’d brought a nice set of enamel grill racks with us, but I had to draw a design for the BBQ and then get a local welder to make it (someday I’ll have my own welding machine to do stuff like this, but we didn’t want to wait THAT long!).
What finally pushed me to do it this time was Kathy’s statement that she had some nice sausages to BBQ for Canada Day... if only we had a BBQ to do it on :)  That was it.  I got out my paper, pencil, and tape measure, and started to sketch out a design complete with the appropriate measurements.  Then I took it to our friendly neighbourhood welder and gave him the sheet with the design, along with a verbal explanation.

Commissioning stuff to get made here, especially western-style stuff, is always an adventure because despite drawings and explanations, you’re never quite sure what you’re actually going to get.  If they’re not familiar with the thing you want them to make, they’re going to make up what they don’t know.  For this reason, I stopped by the welding shop each day to see how things were coming along.  Of course, since I can’t stand over him and watch every step he makes, by the time I come along, some things will already have been done and it’s too late to change it.

For instance, even though I hadn’t drawn it in, the welder decided to fabricate a tubular steel frame for the firebox.  Thus my inside dimensions became his outside dimensions, and the racks no longer fit snugly just inside the firebox (where they could be removed but otherwise not move) but now sat on top of it (where they could slide over and even off the BBQ.  So I had him weld a couple of steel stops in place.

And instead of using heavier angle iron for the legs as I’d put in my drawing, he built them out of light tubular steel.  This was good in the sense that it made the BBQ lighter to pick up and move around.  But when you opened the lid, the weight of the lid shifted the centre of gravity sufficiently to the rear of the BBQ to cause it to tip over backwards.  His solution?  Weld a long, narrow container near the bottom of the front legs in which I could pour some cement to provide the weight needed to keep the thing from tipping over.

Okay, so it’s not perfect.  But after it was painted black, it looked pretty good.  And it worked.  Next time, I’ll make some modifications.  But for now, it makes Canada Day sausages just fine :)

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