BBQ not hot enough

 

Our new Jackeroo 4 burner barbeque would not get hot enough.  The previous one worked extremely well, as you can see-

The ‘Dance of the Flaming Lamb Chops’ – courtesy of shed mate Steve

Our old 4 burner Jackeroo Barbecue was rusting away after many years of service. We replaced it with a new one in 2008, of the same brand. Barbies with timber stands were rare and nearly all were built into metal cabinets.

Putting what seemed like 400 parts together took a few hours but eventually we had a red and black gleaming monster ready for action.

Unfortunately the entire design, not just the cabinet, had been changed and the new BBQ would not get hot enough. The old BBQ had plenty of power and was rarely run with the taps on full. The new one wouldn’t get hot enough to make the sausages sizzle and cooking on the grill took far too long.

For several months I tried to get used to it, but when I checked the gas bottle which normally would have been almost empty, and found it was 2/3rd full I realized something was badly wrong.

I spoke to people and searched the internet. I heard similar tales many times, so it was possibly not just a faulty BBQ and anyway I wasn’t prepared to disassemble those 400 parts to take it back for a refund ! I heard that these BBQ’s are now made in China and that the Chinese use BBQ’s to cook slowly.

I found out that Jackeroo is managed by Arlec and I rang the head office in Sydney. I was put through to the BBQ department and spoke to 2 very helpful blokes. They suggested the regulator was faulty and sent me another one. I videoed the flame on the burner before and after- no difference, and when I next cooked, the result was the same, the plate was not getting hot enough.

The burners seemed about 50mm further away from the plates than the old barbie, but the main clue was that the gas had still not run out after 6 months of cooking.

The Arlec guys told me the jets were 1mm, which I verified with a 1mm drill which was a tight fit. On the internet I read that people had drilled out the gas jets with a number 56 or 57 drill. I checked that I could get replacement jets then bought a number 56 drill.

I removed one jet, drilled a hole in some timber and screwed the thread end of the jet tightly into timber to hold it. Ideally I would have liked to drill out the jet with a drill press or better yet a lathe, but as these were unavailable I used a hand drill. The #56 drill went through the brass easily, using the existing 1mm hole as a pilot.

I replaced the jet and immediately could see much stronger flames coming out of the burner bar. Info on the net said that if the holes are too big the flame will turn yellow which is bad, probably because it would make soot and also waste gas. This flame was still blue so no problems. I removed the other 3 jets and drilled them also.

The result is that I now have enough heat- still not as powerful as the old Jackeroo, but enough to do the job. I use less gas than the old Barbie but more than before I drilled the holes. I cook steaks for 2 minutes on each side- these are normal supermarket steaks, not ultra thick ones. I can make sausages sizzle!!

Here’s the new Barbie –

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26 Responses to “BBQ not hot enough”

  1. Steve says:

    Excellent (and usual) bit of detective work from you 🙂

  2. Steve says:

    The lamb chop dance was awesome

  3. Fred says:

    Hi, any chance of a photo of where you drilled? do you drill every single hole along the burner?

  4. Rob says:

    Hi Fred- NOT the burner- There is a small brass jet in the end of the fitting that the burner slides onto- unscrew the brass jet and drill it as per my post.

    I would advise you to make sure you can get replacement jets in case you make the hole too large or it doesn’t work for some reason. For me this was a good fix although it took me months to decide to try it.

    I realised recently that I didn’t do the wok burner jet and that too has never been as hot as I expected, So I will have to find that numbe 56 drill and do that too.

    Goiod luck,

  5. Mark says:

    Hi Fred (and others)
    I have a new Jackeroo 4 burner BBQ (Grange). I assembled it carefully and all seemed well when I turned it on, but after about 10 minutes I found an intermittent problem on the first and last burners: gas ignites just behind the control knob at the junction with the burner strip. I have pulled the burner strips (the thin stainless type) off and checked that they were seated properly over the jet. But it still malfunctions. Any ideas?

  6. Rob says:

    Hi Mark, sorry I have no idea except that obviously gas is leaking out the wrong place!! The best thing is to take it back but these darn metal BBQ;s take hours to put together, so most people are reluctant to disassemble them to return to the store. Also they are very hard to lift because the ends are not strong.

    If that is not an option then all I can guess at is that some O rings are missing or something like that- maybe bad casting? You could try swapping things around with the center burners to test.

    All the best,

    Rob

  7. Bobby says:

    Hi Rob

    Thanks for your article.

    Here is my experience from earlier today, you may want to re-drill your jets to 1/16″ if you still think that your BBQ is not delivering the same heat as LPG.

    We upgraded to a new BBQ & the old one was on natural Gas so I thought that I could just swap the running gear over (regulator & jets), it almost worked except the jets were a different style of beast on the old BBQ.
    After talking to a plumber, reading your little blog & another article http://www.mobilehomerepair.com/article18gasgrill.html
    It was time to drill, the plumber said that 1.0mm was the standard size used when he had to drill out LPG jets, when I had a look at the BBQ that I wanted to convert 1.0mm jets were already installed in each burner & 1.05mm in the wok burner for use with LPG & I was lucky if we could get ignition, at best the flame just fluttered around the burner with very little pressure.

    The size suggested in the other article was 1/16″ (1.5875mm) ~0.4mm larger than a #56 drill
    http://bobmay.astronomy.net/misc/drillchart.htm

    I went ahead & drilled out one jet then tested it (recommended), then I went for it drilling the rest of the LPG jets to 1/16″ and like magic we had a nice blue flame, I lit all of the burners including the wok burner & adjusted the pressure on the Natural Gas regulator until the burners weren’t starving for fuel & the flame was what I considered to be acceptable.
    The heat felt like standing near a jet engine at take off, I am confident that that it is mission accomplished on operation BBQ conversion.
    Cheers
    Bobby

  8. Rob says:

    Thanks Booby, more good info. I am happy with the heat and gas usage now so i won’t adjust mine anymore. I’m sure you checked there was no yellow flame but if you have an adjustable regulator you can balance the air and gas to optimum.
    Glad you now have ‘jet engine at take off’ performance!! woohoo that’s my kinda barbie!!

  9. Hans says:

    Hi Mark
    You’ve probably fixed your problem by now, but as a general rule when a BBQ jet or similar acts the way you described it’s usually partially blocked. Fine metal shavings are picked up from inside the pipework.
    To fix it remove the stainless steel burner tube and look for the small brass jet at the back of the valve. Unscrew it and clean it.
    The advice on burners has been excellent. I shall go to work on my wok burner to up its horsepower.
    thanks fellows

  10. Terry says:

    Hey mate, great info and i went ahead and did it. I tryed a 1.5mm drill first because that was the smallest bunnings sold.. Now im short one jet and have a flame thrower. 😛 Thats no probs, ill find another jet. I took the rest out to 1.2mm and i now have a far better and stronger flame. One question: did you do your side burner too? The plate on my BBQ (which appears to be exactly the same as yours) says the side burner is .9mm..

    Regards
    Terry

  11. Rob says:

    HAHA 1.5mm would make a flame thrower for sure!! I got my drill from a tool shop.
    Yes I did the side burners and I have now done the gas cooktop, although 1mm was a tad too large.

  12. James says:

    Hi any ideas how to clean out the jet on the wok burner? One day it just slowed down. Or could it be the regulator? It has its own one. Thanks.

  13. Rob says:

    Hi James, the hole in the jet will be a bit less than 1mm so you need a fine piece of wire of very thin needle to poke into the hole.
    I don’t know about the regulator, but can you swap with the main regulator just to test?

  14. Malcolm Robertson says:

    I have a single burner stove that fits onto the top of a gas bottle, this also has a poor flame. I’ve cleaned the jet, no difference. I bought a 1/16 drill bit to drill it out but the current hole is the thickness of a hair and I feel the 1/16 drill will be too big. Has anybody drilled out one of these or any suggestions?

  15. Alan in Perth says:

    I feel it’s my duty to add to the sum of human knowledge by saying that I tried this suggestion on my LPG gas barbecue and it worked an absolute treat. This barbecue, which I inherited when my mother in law downsized and which was in as-new condition, had never cooked meat properly – the plate seemed to be too far above the burners; we could never get enough heat unless we closed the lid. It was next to useless; by the time the steaks were properly seared they were stewed.

    The other night, intending to put the whole thing on the verge if it didn’t work, I bought a 1.5mm drill bit from Bunnings, put it in the vice, and gently twisted 2 of the brass gas nozzles over it until their holes were widened – a very quick and very easy job; the result was superb – flames noticeably much higher, and a hotplate which now heats up very well and very quickly – giving us the perfect 2 minute a side steaks we love.

  16. Rob says:

    Thanks for your comment Alan – I think 1.5mm is really pushing beyond the limits, but as long as the flame is blue and not yellow then no problem

  17. Rob says:

    Hi Malcolm, I think 1/16th is way too large.

  18. Jim M from Sydney says:

    Hi Rob,

    Thanks for the article. It gave me the confidence to try this. BBQ shop specialists were telling me that a bigger jet would not fix the problem. But it did. However I accept that you have to be careful not to make it too big and to keep the amount of heat/flame down afterwards.

    I had a brand new 4 burner Jumbuck and the heat was so weak on high that I couldn’t cook anything easily… certainly not steaks. There was only one small scetion the hotplate that was hot enough to be usable. Other people with Jumbucks reported the same problem.

    The hole in the brass jet/injector on my model was only 0.89mm. I knew it wasn’t the gas bottle nor the regulator as one or all burners on made no difference at all.

    So I gently drilled out one of the brass jets with a hand drill without even taking the brass jet off the BBQ. I just had to remove the burner (1 screw). You need to push VERY gently with the hand drill because (a) brass is soft and (b) there is only about 1mm of brass at the orifice end of the jet before it widens out.

    I then adjusted (opened) the venturi on the burner and the flame is now perfect at about the medium setting on the the panel knob. Even with the knob at high it isn’t too bad. Certainly not a flame-thrower.

    I did the other three and am now happy with my BBQ.

    Thanks again for the suggestion. And enjoy your lamb chops.

    I agree that 1/16th is a bit big. I would recommend 1.2mm which is also a common jet size.

  19. Rob says:

    Thanks for the feedback James, sounds very much the same as my experience – the experts telling me it was not the jets, but as you and I know – It IS! There’s also a larger gap between burner and hot plate, which is not good. Very disappointed that the once famous Aussie icon, the Jackeroo Barbie, is not as good as it was.

  20. RobB says:

    Just drilled out my jets… They were stamped .95 to 1mm.
    She’s hot now!
    Thank you for your advice.

  21. Derek says:

    Thsnks Rob,

    this post might be a few years old, but it sure helped. I have an old 4-burner on an old timber frame and although it’s rusty, it works fine, but the Minister for War kept at me for a new Stainless replacement. The new one couldn’t cook toast. The existing jets were 1mm, and the smallest drill I could get was a 1.2mm and although there are now a few yellow tails on the end of the blue flames, steak now sears in no time (rather than not at all). Previously I seriously considered dumping the BBQ at the Trash and Treasure at the tip, with a warning note that it was useless. Unbelievable that this sort of thing can be marketed without being tested. Un-Australian! Salespeople too busy appreciating their chai-latte’s and MKR/Masterchef kitchen accessories to notice what they’re actually selling. It probably indicates that the BBQ’s haven’t even been safety-tested with real-life use, if they’ve never been tested for cooking.

    Well done on a quick and easy fix. Cheers!

  22. Jim M from Sydney says:

    Well it has now been a year since I took this advice and drilled out my jets. So I thought I’d give a status update.

    The BBQ is working brilliantly with its modified jets and I have able to use it on a wider range of cooking methods than I have ever done before.

    I am careful to keep the flames down to a safe working level, but that’s not hard. The original engineering is just wrong – not enough gas flow, not enough heat.

    There is no sign of excess heat damage to the frame and plates.

  23. Luke says:

    Great article. Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks!

    Ive picked up a great little masterkitchen 4burner bbq off gumtree for free! Its in quite good condition and seems to be well made. He was giving it away as it is set up for natural gas and no one seemed to want it. It says on the compliance plate that 1.00mm jets should be used for LPG. After looking around at some local shops, no ones seemed to stock the 1.00mm. Now this artcle has instilled some hope! I think ill grab the 1.05mm jets and go from there.

    Thanks again for the article

  24. Cary says:

    Rob, many thanks for posting this. I won a Jumbuck 4 burner BBQ (the one’s Bunnings sell) just before Christmas & used it for the first time last weekend. Having had a kettle BBQ previously I was a bit baffled why this new one was taking so bloody long to cook a steak! Never realised my new BBQ was crippled, lol.

    My particular Jumbuck uses 0.89mm jets & I bore them out to 1.15mm which is the size of one of the precision electronic drill bits I had here & used a small thumb hand drill. The flames are much better now, nearly twice the size they were previously when on high!

    The side burner had a 0.91mm jet which I drilled out also, but it has a little yellow flame now. The venturi was already opened so I can’t adjust it any more. Probably in hindsight I should’ve left that one alone but I doubt I’ll ever use it anyway.

    Having a BBQ again this weekend, looking forward to testing it out properly. Thanks again!

  25. Geoffrey says:

    Any idea where I can purchase replacement jets? Drill my jet too much.

  26. Rob says:

    I’d give the importer a call, or try a barbecue shop

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