Here we have my Outback Apollo 3 gas burner which I’ve had for 2 years and it’s been a great addition to eating outside, morning, noon and night. Yes, I know I said morning however I do like to cook Sea Bass for breakfast and what a great way to keep the kitchen from smelling of fish all day. If it ‘aint raining then I’m outback cooking.
After bringing my BBQ back out for a good clean before use this year, I noticed the vaporizer bars had become very flimsy, very rusty and had started to disintegrate rapidly. No problem, just get online and order some more. Well, you’d think it was that easy but no, It’s hard to find accessories for BBQ’s and even harder if your BBQ isn’t being manufactured anymore and I had a lot of difficulty trying to source some replacement vaporizer bars to get it up and running again. The image below shows the state of the vaporizer bars. There’s two in the image. This Apollo Outback BBQ has 3 gas burners and uses 3 vaporizer bars. Vaporizer bars get so hot that when the fat from food drips onto the plates, they vaporize it instantly and gives off smoke which is then used to flavour the food and they also serve to protect the gas burner bars underneath. Look at how rotted they’ve become…
I did locate 3 replacements but they were nearly £50 for the set and that just didn’t make sense to pay so much for them so I considered making some of my own and after looking around for the correct gauge/thickness of steel I found this was also going to be an expensive option and then I would also still need to have to cut and shape this steel to fit. So I decided to go down a different route and see if anything was on the market that I could use without too much modification. ( The issue I had was to ensure that the actual gas burner bars needed to be covered during cooking otherwise they would end up getting filthy and end up corroding a lot quicker than they should. I did also consider buying ready made baskets to fit on to put in Lava rocks but this was very costly too. )
If you see below, I’ve put in place 3 cake ‘cooling racks’ available in any local superstore like Wilkinsons. These were a good fit and didn’t need cutting down to size. The middle one sits on top of the side racks and locks into place using the already made feet. They can withstand pretty high temperatures and are easy to replace if the need should arise and they’re about a £1 each.
The picture below shows the 3 cake cooling racks in situ and they now form a support for anything to sit on top without having to be the correct size. At the back and front on the BBQ sits a shelf which would normally rest the vaporizer bars to stop them from falling through. These cooling racks just make the job simpler to fit almost anything on top now.
In the image below, you’ll see 2 non-stick oven chip/pizza trays from ‘ASDA Living’ in Newport. I think they were £3 each and are a heavy enough gauge of steel to withstand high temperatures and also protect the gas burner bars themselves. The trays are perforated to allow heat to pass through and are ideal for this purpose. The very fact they are slightly corrugated means that if any fat drips off from the food it won’t just fall through and create it’s own smoke from the vaporizing effect. NB, They can be used upside down too. ( these ones have been used already )
As can seen below, I’ve placed a pizza/chip tray directly onto the top of the cooling racks. This one is upside down just to show it doesn’t really matter which way up you put them. You may not need these trays, you might need something a little smaller. These were a good size for me. The good thing is, they don’t have to be the correct size anyway because the cooling racks underneath have solved that problem for you.
Both of the trays are now in place ( see below ) and mine fit the BBQ well without the need for any modification. I was going to cut them to shape but decided against it as I felt there was no need. They fit quite snugly as you can see. They have already been well used and shows that these trays are able to withstand high temperatures associated with BBQ cooking.
With the trays in place, I finished off by placing the top cooking racks that came with the BBQ. All in all, a good fix, a quick fix and a cheap fix.
I’ve always looked after my BBQ and would like to think there’s a few more years of cooking life left in the old girl. If those parts I’ve fitted do eventually rot then replacing them will be cheap. I’ve just got to make sure the gas burner bars are clean, protected and the jets underneath don’t get clogged up.
This BBQ was too good to throw away and too expensive to fix properly too. If the time ever comes and I’m unable to keep her alive then I’ll be ripping out the gas burner bars, screwing some steel plate to the back vents and turning this little baby into a charcoal BBQ
It’ll be a long time before the scrap man gets his hands on my outdoor kitchen.
I hope this blog helps.
Have a great day.