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  1. paulleve

    Akorn 3 Year Review

    There's a huge difference between how the two cook! I've got a Weber Performer that takes about 1/4 bag of charcoal per cook. I still use it every once in a while, and I'm now amazed at how much smoke is given off by the charcoal chimney when compared to lighting the Akorn! At one point I figured out just how much I saved getting 20 cooks per bag of lump vs. 4 cooks per bag of briquettes. I think the Akorn paid for itself in the first year! Not to mention versatility and flavor, of course.
  2. paulleve

    Akorn 3 Year Review

    Water is definitely a problem with these grills. The more you can keep the water away, the longer it will last. I have no doubt mine will last another 3 years easily if I keep it on the porch. 6 years from a $250 grill that I use all the time is a win in my book! (My poor Weber Genesis sits pretty much unused, and my KJ Classic gets ignored a lot of the time because I just know the Akorn better and it's easier for me to hit specific temps!)
  3. paulleve

    Akorn 3 Year Review

    Akorns tend to show surface rust faster than a Weber kettle. As far as rust that makes a grill inoperable, the Akorn is at a disadvantage due to its more air tight nature. When water gets into a kettle, it can flow out the bottom and end up in the aluminum ash pan (If equipped) that won't rust. On an Akorn the water either collects in the ash pan and sits mixed with ashes or collects on the rim that the ash pan mates with. It's not easy for the water to evaporate out, so it sits. On badly rusted Akorns, it's this mating surface that ends up so worn through that the ash pan no longer seals.
  4. I've had my Akorn for almost three years now, and thought I'd give quick review as to how it's holding up. First some details. I picked up this Akorn for $250 at Walmart in March of '15. (It still had a clearance price tag on it from the previous fall/winter.) In the last three years I have lit the grill 227 times. If I had to describe an average cook, it would be at about 400F for around 1 hour. During the first year I kept close track of charcoal consumption, and I was averaging 20-23 burns per bag of Royal Oak lump. That is efficient! I live in Massachusetts and keep my Akorn stored on a covered porch. I don't have a cover for the Akorn, but it rarely gets wet where it is located. I store it with all vents closed and keep whatever charcoal is left from the last burn sitting in the fire bowl. The ash bin only gets emptied out after each complete bag of lump is burned. Durability: It seems like every review of the Akorn questions its durability. Here are some pics showing what mine looks like after two years and almost 230 burns: The only damage I've had to worry about was caused by me. Lesson learned: never tilt the Akorn to remove winter slush from the bottom tray because it just might get away from you and slam into the deck! The result was two riv-nuts for the hinge pulled out from the body. Luckily it was an easy fix with a cheap tool from Harbor Freight. (I posted a step by step a while back for others who may need to replace the riv-nuts.) The enamel in the ash pan is still shining after holding the remnants of 10-12 bags of lump! There is just a hint of surface rust showing where the inner and outer shells are riveted together. The fire bowl has most of its original enamel intact. There is a little rippling toward the bottom where the fire burns hottest, and light rust is visible where the standoffs are welded to the bowl. This is the interior of the Akorn with the fire bowl removed and ash pan installed. That lighter colored ring is where Akorns tend to rust out. So far no rust to be concerned about. The fire grate has been warped sine I gave the Akorn its first really thorough cleaning two years ago. It hasn't changed much since then, so I don't plan to replace it. Water really is the enemy of this grill! Mine is holding up great with no rusted parts or areas of concern. I have two friends, however, who both have Akorns purchased about the same time as mine who are not so lucky. In both cases, the grills spend much of their time exposed to the weather. Even though covers are used, both are showing rust at the connection between ash pan and body of the Akorn.
  5. They're usually with the grills. It doesn't seem like these are carried by as many stores. When the sale started, there were very few locally. I spent some time today seasoning both the Jr and the Blackstone. Looking forward to trying this one out!
  6. I bought these in Northampton. Prices are still all over the place in MA with some stores at $146, some at $74, and others at $35. Brickseek.com is a great place to start the search, but the quantity on hand can be somewhat inaccurate, especially if a store is listed with "limited quantity".
  7. They all had homes by the time I got them loaded into the truck! One for me and the others for friends who use their full sized Akorns all the time. I even left a few on the shelves for the next bargain minded kamado shopper. I even assembled them for my buddies. Kamado Minions!
  8. Prices dropped again this morning at some Walmarts. Original Akorn as low as $69, and Jr. for $35. Also found a Blackstone 17" griddle (SKU 170589501) for $25. I'll have some happy friends tonight!
  9. Around here (MA) Walmart usually drops prices on grills toward the end of summer. This year they seem to be putting them on clearance a lot earlier than usual, though. In the past two years I have picked up spare Akorns at $127 and $139, usually in September. (Both have gone to good friends who were in need of some kamado in their lives!)
  10. I'm in MA, and according to Brickseek, half the local Walmarts have the Jr clearance priced at $74 and the regular Akorn at $139.
  11. Here in the Northeast, Walmarts are starting to clear out grills. As of today, half of the Walmarts in the local area are showing the Akorn at $139 and Jr at $74. To check inventory, see http://brickseek.com/walmart-inventory-checker Akorn SKU 40267083 Junior SKU: 52497353
  12. The kit came with the rivet gun, threaded inserts for the gun in four common sizes, and 10 rivnuts for each size. I didn't look for extras, but I know you can get them from a variety of sources online, all the way up to nice aviation quality fasteners. Replacing your top two should be easy. Just use something to bend the metal back into shape, insert a new rivnut and use the tool to install. There's actually a metal backing plate behind those four holes. With the installation tool you can snug the outer shell down to the plate pretty tight. For the bottom ones, you may be able to set them with the tool, or else you can pull them out and replace. Worst case you'll need to remove the inner shell of the Akorn body and tap them out from the inside. Then reinstall the shell with 1/8 standard rivets. Again, you can see the difference between the small ones used by Chargriller and the replacement up top.
  13. You can replace those rivnuts pretty easily! The ones that Chargriller installed are too small for the job so they pop out under stress. I picked up this threaded fastener installation tool from Harbor Freight for less than $20, and it comes with a selection of rivnuts including the ones that fit the Akorn bolts. (I posted a thread in this forum a month or so ago that describes the entire process for replacement.) If yours pulled the rivnuts out completely it's an even easier process. Just tap the metal on the body back into place and install new rivnuts. I helped a friend do this a few weeks ago and it only took about 10 min. In this pic the silver rivnut is one that came with the kit and the black one is one that pulled out of my Akorn. You can definitely see the difference in size!
  14. paulleve

    2nd akorn?

    I always keep a spare on hand! At the end of the season, Walmart ends up marking these down here in MA, and I've picked one up each year for around $130. My Akorn is still going strong, so I have sold the extras off to friends for cost. I also had an issue with rivnuts when mine fell while tipping it to get water off the bottom shelf. It went down pretty hard and pulled out the two upper hinge fasteners on the body of the Akorn. I bought a "threaded fastener installation tool" from Harbor Freight and had them replaced within an hour. (I pulled the body apart and then riveted it back together.) Just this week I had a buddy notice the same two rivnuts were coming loose in his Akorn. We took off the lid, pulled out the lid Riv-nuts and installed new ones in all of 10 minutes. The rivnuts installed at the factory are too small for the job, and lack the amount of grip and security you get from the aftermarket ones. Here's a picture of one I replaced in mine where you can see the difference in size:
  15. The Akorn has a "porcelain coated steel interior" which is just the finish on the firebox. The actual insulation is a sheet of fiberglass sandwiched between the outer body and a thin inner shell. Then there is a layer of air between that shell and the firebox. It's a very efficient system, using half the charcoal of my ceramic Kamado for similar cooks.