Grilling and catching up

We are hanging out in Monona, Wisconsin, enjoying cooling weather and beautiful scenery. It’s nice to relax after the 52nd International Rally of the WBCCI. We spent June 19 to July 5 at the rally and like this part the best — relaxing and catching up.

Catching up first meant washing clothes and linens — a lot of them. We usually keep up with laundry and groceries more often, but just didn’t want to interrupt our time at the Airstream rally to do these things. We last did laundry June 15 so were glad to get everything clean and put away again. Monday we also restocked the pantry and fridge and are good to go for awhile.

Washed the truck yesterday then took it in for oil change. (You have to wash it before you get the oil changed, you know?) A couple of people at our recent rally advised they save 20% by having oil changed at Wal-Mart instead of dealer. Our oil change was $80 with filter and seven quarts of Mobil 1 (full syn). No savings from last couple of tries with GM dealers. We’ll shop the oil change price before we “pull the plug” next time.

We cooked a couple of burgers yesterday evening on my birthday grill. Our small portable gas grill was originally a Char-Broil stamped steel give-away we received when we purchased a grill for the deck fifteen years ago. It saw no service until we started rving in 2005. Two years later and with one tire imprint on the grill cover we upgraded when a European couple left a newer inexpensive ($25) grill beside the dumpster at the camground in Vancouver, B.C.

There are a lot of choices for portable grills including charcoal, gas, electric, and others. We like propane, we’re accustomed to it. Disposable cylinders are easy to find in many kinds of stores. And we have the opportunity to connect to a slightly larger refillable propane cylinder.

We had periodically considered replacing our stamped steel cheapo grill, but it just kept on going. Our grilling was consistently good because we had figured out the respective cooking times for fish, chicken, hamburgers, and steaks. But our grill was notorious for flaming up on beef and it wasn’t going to last without substantial rebuilds. Last year we cooked burgers for a large picnic with friends and the grill caught fire and burned a half-hour before the accumulated fat burned out.

Last year we replaced the gas regulator. I sanded and repainted the cheap grill twice, refastened the handles, and broke one handle. We replaced the heat deflector when the original one corroded completely a few weeks ago.

We aren’t avid rummagers but checked out the flea market at the International Rally this past Saturday. We saw a couple of people walking out with their prizes and we thought, “darn, we coulda used those, we might be too late to find anything.” Five minutes later we stumbled onto a table with an Olympian 4000 grill with a full propane cylinder, a padded cover, and a gas hose to connect to large cylinders.

What a deal! It is fourteen years old but shows no corrosion or damage, the wood handles look brand new (might well be), and the grilling rack is bright, shiny, and substantial. Best of all, it works great. Only problem is, we will be experimenting awhile to establish the best heat to cook the various foods. And we have cooked hamburgers twice this week without any flare-ups. Cool!

Olympian is a brand we already are familiar with because our RV’s catalytic heater is an Olympian, too. Nice quality, built to work and last. And parts are available, if we need them. So we put our old grill outside the dumpster to let someone else benefit as we did. Two hours later, parts were missing from it so it lives on in parts.

And we, with any luck, will get at least fourteen more years from this sturdy cast aluminum grill by US Catalytic. Speaking of product durability and reliability, we took our two-year old Toshiba lcd television/dvd player apart last night. We had last turned the television on several weeks ago, at least, to watch a dvd movie.

Thins were going pretty well and we decided it was movie night after supper. Last night we pushed the dvd eject button and nothing came out. We couldn’t get it to accept a dvd, though. So we pushed eject again. Again, nothing. Okay, let’s try another dvd and see if it will go again. (Note: don’t try this at home, or at least use a dvd you don’t care about. You might not get it back in working order.) Yep, the second dvd we tried did go in.

But it wouldn’t play. Nothing we did would eject or play the dvd. On a hunch, we peered inside the little felt wipers and found we had two dvds in the tv/player. Oh no! Well, we almost exclusively use the television for watching dvd movies and if it won’t work we don’t need it. Nothing to lose by taking it apart, right?

Out come the screwdrivers and pliers and a flashlight. Let’s always start by making sure the unit is unplugged. And we won’t put our fingers inside, there may be some parts (capacitors) holding an electrical charge still. After several tries we finally located all the little case assembly screws and pried the case in two.

It only took a few minutes to extract both dvds, then we reassembled the whole mess. Lo and behold, it still worked in television and in movie play modes. And even more surprisingly, both dvds worked despite our prying and tugging on their edges. An hour after we first intended we started our movie, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Cool, a little confusing, and really interesting. We’ll enjoy it again.

It’s time for breakfast, then let’s go to the Farmers Market downtown and walk about Madison awhile. Today is a cool cloudy day, high of 74 and a little bit of rain (of course it rains — we washed the truck yesterday). We’ll see you a little later, take care and keep the rubber side down.

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4 responses to “Grilling and catching up

  1. Richard Hunt

    Be careful of the non-GMdealer oil changes. We have heard several horror stories of oil sucked out instead of draining, leaving much residue, stripped plugs, and numerous ‘extra’ services sold to unsuspecting customers. I take mine to the GMC Mr. Goodwrench. I feel it is worth the difference. It really isn’t a job for high school parttimers.

    • Richard,
      You might consider the health care procedures addage, “get it done by the sites who do it the most.” Always have a knee replacement at the hospital who performs the most (and has low nosocomial infection rates). The Wal-Mart oil change place only does tires and oil changes. These guys knew off the top of their heads, when we walked in and told them our 8.1L engine size, the oil filter needed for our truck’s engine.

      Watch or ask for the difference — the Chevy dealers performing our last three oil changes all pumped it rather than draining the oil. I wouldn’t swear it leaves any more residue, if the pick-up is from the bottom of the sump. How will you know? I’m very content my full syn oil is doing all the lubricating needed for my happy engine, and the filter has the dirt. Change the filter every 3K miles. Change the oil at 6K miles. This is far higher standards than the GM recommendations for oil change on this engine, and my oil looks great between changes.

      We could do like Jerry does for his F-250. He installed a petcock under his oil sump. He drains his own into a set of gallon jugs and takes them to a nearby car parts chain place for no cost disposal. However, as I noted in the post, we’ll shop the price next time before we go anywhere. If Wal-Mart is less expensive than GM, I’ll choose Wal-Mart again. If GM is less expensive, I’ll choose GM.

      Consumers beware! It ain’t easy giving money away, knowing people will take your money whether they earned it or not.
      Jim

  2. Good to hear you have a new grill, and for a great price too! We had a Blue Rhino that never worked right with the extension hose. I gave it to the friend who recommended it after digging it out of the trash bin for him. It accidentally fell out of the truck bed….well, it may have been kicked out, but anyway it was damaged. I’m a charcoal man now.
    Our temperature is 94 today, with lots of humidity!! Be happy for a little rain and 74!!
    Safe travels.

    • Barry,
      Seventy-four degrees would have been nice — sixty eight was even better for walking around. We almost saw sunlight today, but the clouds kept skies grey all day and we had light rain.

      Charcoal is suddenly looking better since we switched to this Olympian 4000, because it has a ten minute warm-up time before cooking. We usually waited half this time previously. The results are worth it. The grill cover isn’t vented except one spot, between the hinges. So the grill is a real smoker and wind has little effect on the heat. When meat juices hit the hot hot smoker plate, the juices supposedly vapor quickly and steam and smoke cook the meat with more flavor.

      While the Olympian is working superbly so far, I could heat charcoal within fifteen minutes with one of the chimney lighters (you probably use one — crumpled newspaper in the bottom, coals stacked above in the chute). And charcoal is tough to beat. We’ll see — still appraising this new (used) toy.

      Ninety-four degrees? Move north!

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