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Two New Joes - My Thoughts

John Setzler

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I finally got my 2017 model Kamado Joe grills delivered to the Man Cave this afternoon :)








The new Kontrol Tower top vent design is pretty nice overall.  I have been cooking with one of these since August.  I have been quite pleased with this new design.  It has a couple quirks but they are not show stoppers and the benefits outweigh these quirks in my opinion.  The new design solves two 'problems' with the old design.  1 - The slider control doesn't move when you open the dome lid.  2 - rain doesn't get into the grill when bad weather strikes.  The Kontrol Tower does still have the option to slide the top off as shown in the photo above, but it's a redundant feature in my opinion.  The middle photo above shows that you can simply lift the top off to get full airflow rather than slide the top vent to the side.  The top vent slider shown in the third photo here is a source of minor problems for me.  That wide surface that you see where the two pieces come together needs to be cleaned after each cook, especially if it's a low and slow cook.  Greasy residue collects there and it will cause the slider to stick in place.  Both surfaces that touch here need to be cleaned if you wish to use the slider.  I don't use it, so I haven't been cleaning mine regularly.  If it does stick shut it loosens up when you heat the grill.  This design is made powdercoated cast aluminum.  This design is very functional and I have been happy with it.








The Air Lift hinge system is also one of the new updates to the Classic and Big Joe.  You can now raise and lower the dome lid with one finger.  Literally.  It's an effortless process.  The bands have also been beefed up quite a bit.  They are significantly thicker and heavier than the previous designs.  




The wire mesh fiberglass gasket design is another major improvement in the new systems.  This gasket is significantly more durable than the previous felt design.  That is saying a LOT actually because the previous felt design was extremely durable.  These gaskets should still be treated with care.  They ARE more durable than the previous design but they are not indestructible.  If you spill something on these gaskets you should clean it off to keep the gaskets from sticking together.  






The new AMP (Advanced Multi-Piece) firebox should all but eliminate stress fractures from heating and cooling on these grills.  There is plenty of flex room between each piece of the firebox for expansion and contraction.  These pieces are all held together by a stainless steel ring.  This new design eliminates the separate fire ring that sits on top of the fire box.   The Classic has a 5-piece firebox and the Big Joe has a 6-piece.  I didn't shoot a separate photo, but there is a ring below this that the charcoal grate sits on and the ash removal tray is situated below that.  




The Big Joe comes with a newly designed cast iron firebox divider.  This firebox divider fastens securely to the charcoal grate with two large wing nuts.  When they are attached you can lift the divider and the charcoal grate out of the grill very easily.  




The implementation of the air lift hinge and the new thicker gasket system creates the need for a latch to keep the dome lid securely in place while cooking and transporting the grill.  This latch is adjustable if needed and instructions for making adjustments are in the manual.




The Divide & Conquer Flexible Cooking System has not changed.  These grill still come standard with this system.


I am looking forward to getting these grills dirty this week :)




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I still haven't cooked on the new Big Joe. I think i am going to sell it to my Church. I'm going to be doing a Day Long class on Kamado Cooking for our men's Fellowship- specifically low and slow and I'll give away the Joe Jr.  I received in the demo deal to peak interest- (trying to encourage oothers else to catch the bug). 


Anyway, thanks John for the heads up on the grease / kontrol tower issue.

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I have only done one cook on my new classic and your little issue with the Kontrol Tower slider is spot on.  Before I did my first cook, I burned a basket of used lump to play with the sliders.  The next day I went to do my cook and could not open the slider.  Had to give it a little bump with a rubber mallet,  This was with no grease, just heat.

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Nice review John!! I saw the Joes up close this past weekend at Bucees and they look sharp. The hinge design is my favorite. I'm still going back and forth on buying a big Joe but I would have to sell my Primo for that to happen. The Big Joe is bigger than the Primo.

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  • 2 weeks later...
1 hour ago, RMJAMR said:

John have you had a chance to try the KAB with the new classic? If so what are your thoughts ?


I have and it works fine.  There is no difference between this grill and the old one in terms of the kick ash basket.  This reminds me that i need to order the KAB for my Jr...

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