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I wish I had kept photos but I recently purchased an Akorn Jr. so that I could have a travelling version of the full size that I have been using for years. I also got the idea that I could use it for a sear station beside my Akorn. I set the big one up for low and smokey and did the sear on the Jr. So, I was running the Jr. wide open. It wasn't building up heat running open but of course the coals were hot. 

 

I made the best New York strips ever. Everyone at the gathering was pretty amazed with the delicious exterior and pink interior.

 

However, I couldn't shut the Jr. down. I closed it and it never really got above 500° but it wouldn't shut down. Then I looked around and noticed that there was now a hole in the ash pan. It had been burned right through on the side below the vent slider thingy. I messaged Char-Griller and they said it was user error and they wouldn't fix it, which was very disappointing. But I was trying to figure out how nothing was damaged except for this one hole.

 

And then it occurred to me this is potentially a more serious issue than I thought and that it would come up more in the Jr. than the full size. My guess is that a piece of charcoal got down inside between the ceramic coated heat resistant interior steel and the exterior (which doesn't seem to be treated at all as anyone who has had a rusted out ash pan can attest). On the rest of the Kamado that separation is impenetrable but at the bottom vent there's a gap where coal could get down inside and directly contact that outer layer. I'm wondering if anyone else has had a similar issue or maybe even has a rusted ash pan they could test.

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I don't know anything about the JR. but I do know that the Akorn has a number of design flaws...none as serious as yours seems to be (as far as I'm aware), however.

 

The Akorn is a good kamado and I like mine, but not much time or effort was put into engineering from what I can tell. I have a "rescued" BGE sitting next to the Akorn and even though the base has a hairline crack (which will never happen with the Chargriller) it is tight and cooks as well as, maybe a little better than,  the the Akorn.

 

The worst flaw...from my perspective...is the use of plastics. Cheap and fragile plastics. Someone was obviously trying to save money and maximize profit there and nevermind the cost...time , hassle and frustration...to the customer. 

 

I have the carted version and while it is more stable than the three leg variation (a big plus IMO) the plastic kick plates that support the wire rack are absolute garbage--breaking and undermining the structural integrity of the whole set up.

 

And FWIW, most of the people who you reach when you message or call Chargriller are nice folks...and doing their best to help, I'm sure...I have seldom run across  people who seem less experienced with their own products or more clueless about the problems that might be encountered, much less what to do about them.

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I do a lot of high temp searing on my Jr. and the bottom will get extremely hot at high temps and actually burns off the coating. I recently noticed that mine has actually rusted through in a couple spots, its only 11/2 years old and I will be trying to get a new pan. If I can't get one for a reasonable price, I will just get an KJ Jr. next spring and give up on rusting Akorns, my large one is 4 years old and it is rusting out to the point of being unusable soon.

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On 8/9/2018 at 4:23 PM, retfr8flyr said:

I do a lot of high temp searing on my Jr. and the bottom will get extremely hot at high temps and actually burns off the coating. I recently noticed that mine has actually rusted through in a couple spots, its only 11/2 years old and I will be trying to get a new pan. If I can't get one for a reasonable price, I will just get an KJ Jr. next spring and give up on rusting Akorns, my large one is 4 years old and it is rusting out to the point of being unusable soon.

 

That's pretty terrible. It does suggest though that perhaps mine was a manufacturer defect and not a design flaw per se. I had just enough heat for a decent sear and it went right through the ash pan.

 

I think for my next small one I'll just get a small portable Weber. If I'm going to run low and slow I'll fire up the larger kamado.

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On 8/9/2018 at 11:35 AM, MikeRobinson said:

If you burned a hole through a metal ash-pan, you must have been running some incredible temperatures.  The only way that I know that charcoal can produce enough heat to melt steel is in a blacksmith's forge.

 

Unless of course it's a defective product. Keep in mind, it's just the exterior surface that melted because the charcoal got around the tough interior of the ash pan through the vent . The exterior metal rusts very easy on these and is not porcelain coated, just painted. It's very cheap material.

 

I've been BBQ'ing for many years and never burned through the metal surface before so I agree, something was wrong. But I also know what too hot is and I'm pretty sure I couldn't have been standing next to it doing the cook, and burned through the ash pan, if the item wasn't defective. It might have just been mine but it does seem like a potential design flaw.

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11 minutes ago, umakegoodcookies said:

 

That's pretty terrible. It does suggest though that perhaps mine was a manufacturer defect and not a design flaw per se. I had just enough heat for a decent sear and it went right through the ash pan.

 

I think for my next small one I'll just get a small portable Weber. If I'm going to run low and slow I'll fire up the larger kamado.

 

 

I'll warn you......adding the small Weber may have a detrimental impact to your kamado grills.........

 

 

 

XULf8fR.mp4

 

 

 

I find myself using the Webers way more often.  This little joke is fun to cook on and very effective.

 

 

 

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My experience the smokey Joe jr was I couldn't attain a high enough heat to get a good sear on a steak.   Maybe I was using the wrong charcoal (was using briquets at the time) or user error, but I always attributed it to not enough airflow to really get it going good enough.  I'd been cooking on larger Weber kettles for 35 years at the time.   Don't have that problem with the JK JR, it'll go nuclear in a heartbeat if not throttled down in time.  I finally gave it to my BIL for his motorhome travels.

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5 hours ago, Dub said:

 

 

I'll warn you......adding the small Weber may have a detrimental impact to your kamado grills.........

 

I find myself using the Webers way more often.  This little joke is fun to cook on and very effective.

 

 

 

 

There's little chance of that. I live where it's mostly cold and windy. The kamado is a necessity to retain any heat outside of July. But I do see their appeal. That's the Jumbo Joe in your pic? I was torn between that and the smaller one that has the side vent.

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6 minutes ago, umakegoodcookies said:

 

There's little chance of that. I live where it's mostly cold and windy. The kamado is a necessity to retain any heat outside of July. But I do see their appeal. That's the Jumbo Joe in your pic? I was torn between that and the smaller one that has the side vent.

 

 

Yes....it's their Jumbo Joe.

 

I don't think I have what it takes to live in a place that stays that cold and windy for sustained times.

 

I'm almost 50 now....and my tolerance for cold weather seems to get lower every year.

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My suggestion in this case is to cook on the Akorn, then (if necessary) subsequently sear using a red-hot cast iron skillet on your kitchen stove.  It'll take all of about a minute and a half.

 

I like to think of my Akorn (junior ...) as:  "a ~350ºF smoke-filled oven."  The meat-thermometer is the deciding factor.  Once the meat temperature gets about 20ºF below my target temperature, off the oven it goes and on to the aluminum-foil tent to "rest" the rest of the way.  (If I want sear beyond that,  I don't ask my grill to do it (anymore).  Grill it to 20ºF below temperature, then, before it "rests," sear it ... then "rest.")

 

If I want "grilled flavor" without involving the skillet, I let it warm-up to 350º under controlled bottom- and top-vent conditions before putting on the meat, then open up both vents wide.  During the next few minutes while the pieces of meat reach their target temperatures, the oven temperature usually rises to about 425ºF.  At which time I take the meat off and close the vents to recycle most of the charcoal involved.

 

(Note that when you "open up all the vents," you're basically turning your Kamado into a Smokey Joe.  So, "do this only 'very, very consciously – on the finish.'")

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