Gas Grill Renovation

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Introduction: Gas Grill Renovation

My wife bought me an inexpensive gas grill for my birthday a few years ago, but I never got around to buying a cover for it. End result? Rust, and lots of it. For about a year now, I've been thinking that I ought to grind off that rust and refinish it, but never got around to it. Today, I finally did something.

Step 1: Amass Gear

The first thing you need to do is gather your gear. Some of what I gathered is optional, some is mandatory.

Mandatory:
Garden hose
Spray nozzle
Work gloves
Eye protection
Screwdrivers (size and type depend on your particular )
Pliers (you might be able to get away with sockets if your grill is less rusted than mine...)
Corded drill (Yes, you MUST have a corded drill to run the wire cup! Don't even think about trying it with the cordless!)
Degreaser (I used engine degreaser)
High-heat paint (Obtained from the local home center for about $4 per can. I used one.)
Wire cup
Tarp
Grill cover (You don't want to have to do this again next year!)
Not shown: Grill brush

Optional:
Hearing protection
Dust mask/Respirator
Cordless drill (I despise turning screws by hand!)
Palm sander
Extension cord
Sanding disks
Not shown: Shopvac

Step 2: Disconnect Tank

Please, please, please don't forget to disconnect the gas! Just reach down and unscrew the black plastic knob...righty tighty, lefty loosie.

Step 3: Cleaning Rocks

Take out those things that you burn your burgers and chicken on and set them aside. Now you have access to those rock things--you may have lava rocks, but I've got high-tech ceramic faux-charcoal briquettes. And man, are they dirty! Give them a good scrub with your grill brush.

What? Go buy new ones? Are you nuts? There's plenty of life left in these!

Note to those with lava rocks: Don't try to scrub them, it'll only make you batty. Go buy new rocks. Or if you live in Hawaii or some other volcanic region go collect your own, but don't tell them I sent you. (To those who will inevitably bring up that collecting lava rocks is illegal in some locales, I say collect elsewhere.)

Step 4: Degrease It!

Now that you've got those pesky rocks out of the way, shoot some degreaser on the underside of the hood. We'll let it soak in while we do some other stuff. While you're at it, spritz any other parts of the grill that are greasy, especially if you'll be painting them later.

Disclaimer: Be sure to read, understand, and follow all the safety rules that come with your degreaser. Knowing how to use your degreaser properly will greatly reduce the risk of personal injury. And remember this: There is no more important safety rule when you're working with degreaser than to wear safety glasses.

Step 5: Pop Out Thermometer

If you've got a built-in thermometer, pop it out. You'll probably need to twist it until the hole in the hood matches the tab on the thermometer, then pull the whole thermometer towards you.

While you're at it take off the handle, too. (Sorry, no pic.)

Step 6: Pull Out the Burner Unit

The lower grate is probably pretty gross; scrub off all the gunk. Then, remove the lower grate and set it aside. What's left is the burner unit.

On the underbelly of the grill are four screws holding the burner unit down. Now would be a great time to remove them. Unfortunately, mine were so rusted that they wouldn't spin. Fortunately, they were so rusted that when I lifted the burner unit up and the material around the screw crumbled enough that I didn't need to unscrew them.

I don't think this grill will be lasting for more than another year or two...

With the burner unit now unattached, lift it straight up while sliding it towards the back of the grill. This will free the burner unit's feed tubes from the control unit. Now lift the burner unit up while rotating it towards you, which will pull the feed tubes out of the hole they are in.

Step 7: Remove the Control Panel

Pull the control knobs off; it may take a bit of force if they've never been taken off before. Mine didn't have setscrews holding them on, but if I were you, I'd check whether or not mine did before I applied TOO much force...

Pulling the knobs off reveals two screws. Unscrew them and the control unit should come right out.

While you're at it, unscrew the nut behind the igniter button and pull it out, too. I had to pull the igniter lead out of the button in order to get the button out of the front panel. It's supposed to come apart like that though, so don't worry.

Step 8: Gunk Removal

Now that all the parts have been removed from the cavity of the grill, you can see just how much rust, grease, and gunk are in there. I used a shopvac and a large, flat-bladed screwdriver to clean it out, but if you don't have a shopvac (POOR YOU!) you could just tip the whole case over and let the gunk fall onto the ground. Better yet, go buy a shopvac!

Note: If you tip the grill over to knock the gunk out, you might want to take the lid off first, as shown in the next step.

Step 9: Decapitation!

To remove the lid, unscrew the top part of the hinges in back. My grill had the bolts welded in on the inside, so I didn't need to reach around with pliers to stop them from spinning.

Step 10: A Little Bump and Grind

Now's when you chuck your wire cup into your drill, plug the drill into the wall, and put on your eye protection. I used the earmuffs and respirator too, because I knew it'd be loud and there would be flying rust dust.

Do I need to do the "be safe when using power tools" disclaimer? Well, be safe when using power tools, mmkay?

Using the wire cup and firm pressure, scrub all of that rust off! I did what I figure was an 80% removal--it would have taken more time than I had to spend in order to remove 100%, but I got all the big stuff and most of the little stuff. Anyways, I felt good about it.

When you've got off all the rust you can get, you might consider sanding with some wet/dry sandpaper. That's up to you...but if you're going for the "just try hold in there for another few years" approach like I was, you will probably skip the sandpaper part.

Step 11: Say It, Don't Spray It!

Aaah, the paint. The stuff I got was formulated specifically for grills and stoves. Don't even think of trying this with the can of Rustoleum you've got sitting around.

I didn't paint the interior because 1) I knew it'd just be greasy again within a week and 2) I was running out of time.

Spray according to the directions on the paint. Mine said make several light coats a few minutes apart, dry to the touch in 1/2 an hour, ready for heat in an hour.

Step 12: Reassemble

Put everything back on that you took off.

Start with the lid. Add the handle and the thermometer.

Screw in the control unit and the starter switch. Press on the control knobs. Put the burner unit back in and screw it in (if there's anything left to screw it in to). Arrange the igniter so that it is either a) back where it came from or b) close enough that it'll ignite the gas quickly.

Gently drop in the bottom grate. Add the now-clean briquettes in any kind of pattern you care to use. I chose a boring grid pattern. Place the cooking grates back on.

Hook the back up and check for leaks according to the manufacturer's instructions. Light it up, just to make sure it's all working. When it's cool, put on your nice new cover!

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    49 Discussions

    Hi Digrat. Found your instructables really informative. I think it will be extremely helpful when my husband and I start to fix our BBQ. We live in the upper left hand corner of NJ. Our BBQ keep rusting out like the bottom of step 8. Any suggestions how to fix/remake that part of the grill so we don't have to buy a new grill every few years? I can send a few pictures later if that can help. Thanks for sharing your instructables. Maria

    This makes me want to buy a gas grill just to let it rust out!

    With the "new" style  'OPD' valves (for Overfill Protection Device) shutting off the gas valve is no longer a requirement. If nothing is attached, no gas flows.
    While I don't necessarily recommend this practice, but did discover it by accident while checking to see if my tank was empty. The propane guy said it is a safety feature in the new valves.

    You know, I can't count the number of times I've been told that fixing something to get it back in good condition will "nickel and dime you to death." Great work with staying away from death! LOL!

    Honestly though, it looks like (as needed) a few new parts will go a long ways with the work you've already done.

    I think I would add a high gloss finish, and as you've already talked about, new wood slats. Also, a new burner would probably be on my list, but you've already talked about that too.

    Great work!

    as long as we're talking safety you should be wearing closed toe boots, and long pants would be a good idea too.

    Thats fabulous your grill.... well done... we live too  much with buy a new one and a throw away attitude....  its nice to see someone preserve what you have and to use all the tools you bought to do projects such as this.. well done you... its people like you that make this world a brighter place :-)

    Just buy a new one. That looks like a lot of work. Usually the burner is rusted out, the grates are rusted out, the burner gaskets are dried up and blown away, the ignitor is broken, and it is just not worth the work or $$$ to fix. If you do take on a project like this purchase a cast iron burner.

    2 replies

    Part of the fun of this renovation is using the tools I have amassed to extend the life of another tool that I already own. It's the good feeling of knowing that I can do it. It's the satisfaction of working with my hands, making something (somewhat) new out of something old. Could I go out and buy a new one? Sure. But where's the fun in that?? But your comment about the cast iron burner is duly noted...I suspect it would last much longer than my cheap steel one.

    Hmm... I recall reading to use a brass burner as cast iron rusts... But I'd do more research before believing me. :-) (From my wife's account. :-D) Derek

    Loved your project, I work at a store that sells grills. We take away customers old grills and usually trash them, so I have the opportunity to have a new grill each week but have never tried to restore one. I may have to try now. It's wonderful to see you putting some love into a grill that still has some life to it. When you are ready to replace old Brinkmann there try a Weber, and make sure it's a premium Example Weber 310EP (found at a specialty or hardware store). As previously stated by Ehmbee the Weber line is solid and the company stocks every part. They last a very long time. Or if you've got a few grand to blow check out Firemagic brand, it's the best brand of grills you'll ever find.
    Again, loved your project I hope that the grill works for a very long time because of your efforts.

    had this bbq grill for 7 years bought it at wal mart for 69 dollars but the burner finialy gave way, is there any place to get a replacement burner.

    1 reply

    home depot. they have every replacement part you could ever need for a grill.

    nice re-do, yes fixing with own hands most satisfying. replaced my weber grill slats with maple cutting boards, coated with mineral oil... nicer than new..will post soon.. i wonder about using cedar (western red of course) too soft, dents and dings easily..but, it is rot resistant.

    The only thing even in the neighborhood of barbeque's coolness is cast iron cooking. :)

    I hear that. Best thing about my new (-ly purchased used on Craigslist) grill is the side-burner, which allows me to combine the two. Woohoo!

    you can also go to a hardware store and pick up a nice shiny new burner to replace the old crusty rusty one. we did that with our grill a few years back, and it may need to be done again. Not sure how much it would cost though, my parents did it.

    1 reply

    I checked online for a replacement burner and couldn't find one. Apparently, my Grill King Deluxe (model 810-3200-G) is long-since discontinued so I'm stuck with what I've got. If anyone else knows where I can find a replacement burner, I'd be much obliged if you'd provide a link...