Sunday, July 29, 2012

Changing the Traeger Hot Rod

My hot rod, igniter, went out a little over a week ago. It opened up instead of shorting so I didn’t blow a fuse, it just failed to light. As soon as I realized it failed I shut it down, took some pellets out and manually lit with a MAAP torch I had handy. I cooked on it twice before I got around to calling Traeger for a new one.

Traeger service was great; I had registered it so they had all my info. Just over 2 years old it was under warranty and the service tech said I’ll get a new one shipped out. He said instructions would come with it & was about a 15 minute job. It was just about a 3 minute conversation. Four days later I had the new hot rod.

The instructions had a nice diagram and looked like an easy job! It may be a 15 minute job if you are younger than 70 and all goes well! I already had the wires disconnected. I removed the 4 screws on the top of the fire pot, tapped it off of the auger tube, twisted it and with some finagling got the fire pot with the hot rod out where I could remove the rod. It is a tight fit.

I removed the set screw that held the rod in place. I could see the end of the hot rod had flared open and would be too large to remove from the tube. I used channel locks to mash it where I thought it would come out ok. This is where the job went into slow down! I got it down to where a steel collar for the set screw was welded to the tube and it would not come out. I cut the wires and took it to my work shop.

I still could not get the rod out or back in the fire pot to work on the end some more. The end of the rod had flared in two sections so I was able to get it back to where there were two ¼ inch holes drilled in the tube. I used a bolt and tapped the flares down the best I could. Then in the vise, twisting, pulling, out of the vise, more twisting, pulling and tapping and a little cursing I finally got the rod out! There were a couple of beer breaks between slow down and removal!

After I got the rod out I could see why it didn’t want to come through the steel collar, it was a smaller diameter then the tube, I guess to keep it centered. Now to get the new rod installed; that was not that easy for me. Being 70 with bifocals and lying on my back is not a good working position! For awhile I thought I would have to remove the pellet hopper and cover; but with finesse and holding the rod just right in it went. A larger hole or an elongated one would make that part easier.

The job went faster at this point! I got the new rod secured and fire pot back in and the rod plugged in. I sprayed my heat shield and drip pan for a little re-seasoning, fired up the grill and went to 350 deg. for awhile. The 15 minute job was about 3 hours for me!

The instructions gave a dimension for the rod to protrude into the fire pot, .125 inches, that’s about 1/8 inch. My old one stuck out there about ½ inches; I don’t know if this made for a faster destruct or not; but I installed the new one per directions. I use my grill 2 to 3 times a week year around so that may be a good life for a hot rod.

I was sure glad that easy job was over! I can now get back to cooking!

Smokin Don

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