Sunday, July 21, 2013

How To Repair A Broken Big Green Egg Plate Setter

It is no secret that I love my Big Green Eggs.  I think a quality made ceramic cooker like the Big Green Egg is the best grill/smoker/pizza oven for the back yard.  

The ceramics do a phenomenal job insulating, reflecting, and storing heat much better than any metal cooker that I have used.  The down side is that ceramics can break if dropped or knocked over.  While it isn't likely that you are going to knock over a 200+ lb BGE, the plate setter is a much more likely victim of "acute deceleration syndrome" (aka - hitting the ground after being dropped).  

Alexis' plate setter on the left, mine on the right.

The plate setter is the insert used in an Egg to convert it to indirect cooking.  The legs make it tempting to place it upright on its side when not using it.  Never do that, you're just asking to break it.  I know.  I've done it twice now.  

Fortunately, there is a relatively easy and durable fix.  I broke my plate setter in 2008 and it has worked flawlessly since the repair.  A few weeks ago I broke Alexis' plate setter so I thought I'd document the repair process.

You'll need
  • 1 or more broken plate setters
  • JB Weld
  • gloves
  • paper plate or disposable tray
  • plastic knife or a putty knife
  • clamps or weights

First make sure the broken edges are clean and free of debris.

JB Weld is a steel reinforced epoxy that you can buy at most automotive stores like Autozone or Pep-Boys.  They have several varieties including JB Kwik and one in a putty but the one you want is the Original Cold Weld formula that comes in two separate tubes.

Mix equal parts of the JB Weld together.  I find the easiest way to measure is just draw two beads of it side by side like this.  You don't wan't to be messing around with teaspoons and such.  This isn't fast setting like Superglue but you still want to work purposefully and get this done in 10 minutes or so once you mix the two.  

Use the knife to spread the JB Weld over one of the broken edges.  You don't want it too thick but you want to cover it evenly.

Place the broken piece in place and press together.  Any excess will ooze out.  Wipe the excess away withing a few minutes using a damp rag.

Clamp firmly and let cure at room temperature for 24 hours.

If you don't have clamps and the break is at the leg (most common), you can just put it under weight like this.

Before using the first time, I like to put it in the Egg cooking at 350f for 45 minutes and then ramp it up to 500f for 10-15 minutes.   While there isn't much epoxy exposed and it is already cured, I just want to make sure that any fumes that the JB Weld might emit are gassed off before using for cooking. 

Now it is as good as new and should be ready for years and years of faithful service.  Note that this works best for clean breaks.  If pieces shatter it will be more difficult to repair.