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Huff and Puff Followup

Since that windy day three months ago I've grilled a few times. Those first spring evenings, you know, pull off the cover, open up the grill, remove a few silky chrysalides and egg sacs, and fire it up. It took a little extra cleaning that first time; being knocked on its side had upended the bed of ashes and coals left from past fires. There were some broken bits on the front panel, but nothing important. Most notable were two little changes to the actual business part of the grill: the ignition clicker was finally dead, and the burner element itself was askew.

This latter change meant that a lot more propane was coming out of the lower end of the burner than the upper end, which actually puffed itself right out a couple of times while I was cooking. Not a big problem at first, as I was just doing hot dogs and half a grill was fine. But a couple of nights ago I was preparing to roast some potatoes as well, and I wanted the whole surface, so I gave the burner an experimental tilt to see if it could easily be made level once more. There was a bit of play, so I gave it some gentle encouragement and was rewarded with a somewhat more even fire. Good news! I left it to heat and went inside to prep me some tubers.

A little while later my wife came through the kitchen and said, "the grill is really hot."

"And what of it?," I wondered. I'm not used to receiving this sort of alert, and imagined she just wanted me to get out there and start cooking, already. But how could she tell how hot it was. "How do you know?"

"The fire's really going." Huh. Had I left the lid open? I hadn't, had I? Not when she and our son were out there playing. Had I?

"Was the lid open?"

"No, but I could see the fire."


"I could see it underneath."

Huh. Whatever. Back to the potatoes, which were ready to go a few minutes later. I packed them up in foil and carried them out on a big spatula. I opened up the grill, which was actually smoking a bit (probably all those ashes), and decided it could stand to be turned down a little. I reached for the knobs, and just before I grabbed them I noticed something odd at the edge of my vision. I thought I saw something glowing down there. I looked again, and to my considerable surprise the knob just under my hand was melting, and little tongues of fire were licking through both of the knob mounting holes. What the hell?

I squatted down at the end of the grill and took a look under the front panel, and there I saw it: the burner was still getting plenty of gas, but a fair amount was also emerging at entirely the wrong end of the burner piping, back where it connects to the control valves under the front panel. There was a rich blaze there, let me tell you. I finally had that extra burner I'd been dreaming of, and now I had to snuff it out. Fortunately I could easily get to the valve on the propane cylinder itself and that took care of everything, but now we have no grill.

I'm reasonably sure that I didn't break the pipes by wiggling them; they probably took more abuse on their rides to and from Sears. My best guess is that they were cracked or broken in the fall three months ago, and my attempt to line things up opened them up instead. That freak weather event has robbed me of late spring hamburgers.

Somewhere there's a butterfly flapping its wings, and it owes me a grill. And this time I'm bolting it down.

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