Outback Combi hooded review?

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Re: Outback Combi hooded review?

Postby BraaiMeesterWannabe » 21 Sep 2016, 08:17

You are a lot more patient than I am. I would have demanded my money back by now for sure.
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Re: Outback Combi hooded review?

Postby DaveJFT » 25 Apr 2022, 17:27

So, 5 seasons and 6 winters on and the Combi is still going …though not without a bit of aging, naturally. I have tried to look after it - it’s not been used or left out in the rain and when it’s not in use it’s kept under its cover, under a lean-to on the side of my shed. Structurally the trolley is no worse than it was the day it was assembled; there is some surface rust coming through the thin coating of paint but other than that it’s ok. The wheels haven't yet fallen off despite the Nylocs being no use. The charcoal half doesn’t often get used (mainly because I’m trying to use up some rather poor charcoal I bought which doesn’t make charcoal cooking much fun) so it still cleans up almost as new. The hoods still clean up nicely and the body is ok but showing a little bit of rust coming through where I had to repair it after the delivery debacle those years ago. It’s the grille half of the gas side that has really suffered the effects of time and usage.

The skillet plate and the two burners beneath still clean up well and look almost as new but the lava rock basket and the two burners below that are looking very old. The bottom looks like it’s about to fall out of the lava rock basket and I can’t find a replacement and though the cast iron burners are still structurally ok, about ½ of the holes have become blocked with rust and crud making for very difficult and uneven cooking. Then, last summer the clang-clang igniter stopped working too. It is going to need quite some TLC ready for this summer.

I’ve done a couple of mods to it of the past few years. Quite early on I found that the temperature differential between the gas bed and the higher up in the hood was huge, I could not use it as a smoker and on breezier days with the hood closed the food would take an age to cook and the burners would constantly be blown out. I surmised that this was due to the huge letterbox aperture left by the clearance needed to hinge the hood back. I remedied this by fitting a length or aluminium plate pop-rivetted across the back to close the hole and bent inwards slightly to allow the hood to hinge cleanly. This seems to have cured the susceptibility to breezes and I can now smoke on it to. My wife came up with the idea of fitting a kitchen roll hanger under the LH shelf. She did this by threading the kitchen roll onto a length of rod (in our case, a plastic plant support) and hanging it by a piece of cord from a pair of stick on hooks. That contraption has lasted 3 years and it still going strong …clever girl – and with the original kitchen roll too!

While investigating how the grille burners had aged and the cause for the barbeque not lighting I found two of the “cross-fire channels” lying on the grease tray in the bottom of the barbeque where the spot welds that hold them to their brackets had given way. They looked like they had been there for some time – probably dropped middle of last season – but I hadn’t noticed because the flame was still jumping between the burners no problem. I had one of them drop during the first year and I could not get the screws out to replace it so I Araldited it back to its bracket. That one is still going and is as strong as ever so, as (again) I can’t get the screws to budge, despite soaking them repeatedly in WD40 for two days, I’ve Araldited them too. However, I’m not sure I needed to because after watching a YT vid I noticed that there is a slot cut in the underside of each of the burners which is what allows the flame to jump between the burners and is why it was still jumping even with he broken cross-fire channels. I do still need to get the two grille burners out to clean/drill out the flame holes and restore even cooking and I tried to make a start on this when I was doing the cross-fire channels but, as I said, there’s no budging those screws. WHY(!!) do Outback insist on using screws to retain their burners! The YT vids I’ve seen show other manufacturers cast iron burners being retained by clevis pins and R-clips which are far less prone to the ravages of temperature cycles and cooking greases. Anyhow, I have no choice but to drill out the old screws now but, for my next mod, they will be replaced with clevis pins and R-clips and while I’m taking the burners out I’ll be replacing the ignitor too. At the same time I’ll be junking the lava rock basket and updating the barbeque to flavourizer/flame tamer plates. I wanted to update the burner valves to the individual push-turn-click-to-light type fitted to the later models (now called "Dual-Fuel") but even Outback tech support don't have the part numbers for those (what?!) so I'm a bit stymied there. While I have my drill out I’ll be taking it to the front panels of the LH and RH shelves to fit some plain cupboard door handles to act as tool hingers – another omission by Outback and probably another cost down. Finally I’ll be giving the trolley and body a once over with black Hammerite where they’re rusting.

Fingers crossed that once this is all done it’ll be set for another few years of service and I’ll have made the mods and have the knowledge to make repairing it easier.
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