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Weber E320 Spirit Grill - ASSEMBLY review
on May 27, 2013
READ ONLY IF YOU INTEND TO ASSEMBLE THE GRILL YOURSELF.
I had first made up my mind to buy the Spirit SP320, which a magazine had rated tops of all grills. Looking into it, I found that Amazon, other than listing the grill had nothing to do with it. My experience with independent marketers has been miserable. They generally take advantage of Amazon's excellent reputation but are worse than most reputable stores, with high shipping cost and exorbitant return/restocking fees. Since the vanilla E320 cost less, differs only in material for lid and grates, does not have the independent's $130 shipping cost and gets to me in two days, I went with it.
Per the header I rated this grill a "5". That means that I chose to live with the few errors and flaws that came with my package. Others, could constructively rate it "4" or even "3" if those quality hits would bother them. The grill being replaced was a 23 year old Weber three-burner, which had gotten ugly based on zero external cleaning and upkeep. My wife put her foot down and stated that either the old grill should go or she would go. After some consideration I decided the grill should go. It was later a win-win decision; my wife loves the grill and the quality of what is cooked on it.
I think I will be of most help to folks who put this grill together themselves, rather than repeat all the positive things prior reviewers have listed. You get installation documentation with the grill package and it contains 28 numbered installation sections, with NO WORDS in any language. I address the sections that are impacted and don't list the others. In many ways, the ones listed are the items I wished Weber had included in their documentation:
1. This is one I screwed up and paid dearly for. Even as a graduate mechanical engineer (50 years from graduation, however), I failed to pick up some subtle details. More on those later. What I did discover, during the unpacking, was that the floor-tray that the casters are mounted to had very noticeable creases and dents. I will borrow my neighbor's rubber mallet and fix them later. Since many reviewers listed the same experience, this should get into Weber's corrective action plans.
2. The two padlocks shown here in the installation picture indicate that the two casters presented next to them are lockable. Miss-installing those two, which I did, would introduce a solid delayed assembly disaster. If not fixed at all, the grill's operation would be very flawed.
3. In figure "2" the tech writers have flipped the tray sideways (from figure "1") NE to SW, i.e., the lockable casters still face you since they are now on the underside of the tray. Installing the wrong side panel (i.e., the left in the right side of the tray) will force following parts installation into wrong location. Also, even if correct, this section will require nimble fingers, which at 73 I don't have. If not, it requires much patience and anger management, which I do have.
* Start assembling the outside bolts first and the other four afterwards. If you reverse that order you will spent much time fighting the slight misalignment (you always have with sheet metal) in these two most cramped and inconvenient places. When doing them first, it takes a fraction of the time and temperament loss to line up the inside ones.
* Note the magnet. It is not labeled as such, but it is there to keep the metal door closed. If you find it on the far left side (in the left side panel), you have screwed up and will have to disassemble every washer and bolt you have fastened in "1" and "2" and start all over. That is what happened to me.
* The dotted circle has not been drawn consistently (compare "3" and "4"). The right side panel should touch the circle, as in "4"
You have now completed three of the 28 sections of the assembly and your knuckles may be a bit skinned. DON'T DESPAIR. You are almost half way there. Most of the 70 or so bolts have been fastened and the remaining parts are more interesting and fun to deal with. Make a mid-course refreshment stop and get going on the second half.
7. The tap on the bracket should fit in the square hole in the left side panel. You may need to apply some force to do that.
8. If you have worked with hair pins / cotter pins before, you know what to do. I had not and thus worked out one approach which may not be the industry accepted one. Put the flat working end of an old-fashioned screwdriver in the loop you see, in the upper detail circle, and twist it while pulling it straight up. The smooth bolt should then come out with some minor twisting and tapping.
9. For me, this was a clumsy picture. The arrows indicate you should straighten the steel-covered gas-line, but figures "10" and "11" show you need to bend it into a 90 degree angle to fit around the assembly that is being dropped into the supporting support structure you completed earlier. This assembly is rather heavy and will require use of both hands when lowering it into position. Unless you have unusually nimble toes, get a friend to position the steel-coded gas-line into its 90 degrees on the inside of the L-beam of the left side panel while you lift the "cooking bucket". The bucket is supposed to lock the line in place when it comes to rest.
10, 11, and 12. Figure 10 has a symbol of two people and a 2X inscription. This icon shows up several times and indicates (as I see it) that the item is too heavy to be lifted by one person. It is probably added by their lawyers to reduce the number of self-installers taking them to court for back injuries. Check it in a straight-back lift. If needed get a third person to now handle the new requirement. I suggest you do not choreograph the second lifter to also position and hold the gas-line while lifting one side of the bucket.
With the gas line and assembly in place, take a close look at these three figures. There are three separate lines/cables hanging from the cooking assembly: one that will connect the gas tank to the three main burners, another that will connect burner #1 to the warming burner on the far left (outside the cooking chamber), and a final one that will indirectly connect the starter to all four burners. Study these until you are 100% certain where they are going, behind or in front of this or that part and only then start on "10".
The clamp you install for the connector line to the gas tank (installed later) uses one bolt/washer connection only. Use the lower of the two holes and don't start looking for a second item needing connection even though there are two holes in the clamp and two in the side panel where the clamp is being fastened.
13. You can fasten the black electrical connection box in this section, as per the instruction, or wait until the wire plugging and battery insertion is completed in section "20". I found it easier to do it in "20" since I could twist and turn the black box when I connected the various wires.
15. My grill differed considerably from what is shown in this drawing. I don't know if this is attributable to me getting the first grill in a revised batch or the last one before the revision. If your grill looks like the one in the drawings, count your blessings and follow the sequence in the two detail views. If not, just thread the wire harness from the back of the control panel, introduced here, down behind the horizontal support beam and leave it until you get to "19". Installing the control panel is fairly straight forward with the three bolts. Again, start with the center hole. You may have to help the other two holes line up by using your knee instead of the third hand you were not born with.
16. Straight forward. The lid on the left side burner does, of course, not have to be open. The welded-in-the-factory bolts come in very handy (Thanks Weber!). A fellow from my health club told me, that when trying to install the two side units, he (probably on his third scotch) put the nuts directly on the welded bolts, leaving the square plates out. These plates, of course, go on the welded bolts on which the side units have already first been place. The plates, when tightened by the nuts, allow the side units solid connections with the rest of the grill. Before going to "17" note again, from "9" through "16", where the gas line with the steel harness goes. (The side table on the right side is installed as the side burner on the left, minus the stuff having to do with the burner unit.)
17. Here the gas line to the side burner is on the outside of the left side panel with its adjustment subassembly read to be mounted on the side burner itself. Concentrate only on two things (the figure includes a lot that you at this point can't see and is therefore somewhat confusing. First, from the general drawing and the upper detail drawing, notice only where the mounting plate and bolts go. The control switch faces you. The unit on the back (opposite) side is pushed into the hole that looks like a hazard sign. These two moves done while you point the control know side slightly down, enough to clear the lower portion of the side burner's back panel. Now move the entire control knob and panel up and looking from underneath, line up the two holes on top of the knob assembly with the two on the inside lip of the side burner. Then apply, from the bottom, two of the last four you should now have left in this assembly.
19. This is where you complete the wiring. This includes the harness that came from the back of the main control panel. Start by putting the wire fasteners in the two SMALL holes in the left side panel. Then carefully identify, from the two detail drawings, where each wire comes from and where it is plugged into what I would call the black wire assembly box. You do this by identifying that the colors on each wire's start and finish are the same. You then plug the wire portion that goes to the black box in the SAME COLORED receptacle/hole in that box. The same for the other wires. The current from/to the main control panel (black wire) allows the wires to go into the two black receptacles in the box in any order.
Unscrew its black plug. Then INSPECT THE AA BATTERY THAT CAME WITH THE GRILL. Mine, a "LARGE" battery, was in a tight plastic wrapping with both end units exposed for contact, I thought. When I, after completing section 28, tried to start the grill with the ignition system, nothing happened, not even the brrrrrr that was supposed to happen. If you did not fasten the box in "13", do it now from the OUTSIDE of the left side panel. Clarification: The door panel shown in the first detail drawing is a "back view", despite the solid line of the handle in that view.
20. The troubleshooting section in the Owner's Guide had the battery listed as the first item to check. When I called Customer Service (they are listed as Replacement Parts in the Owner's Guide), battery was the first thing they mentioned. When I studied the supplied battery, I notes that the shrink-wrapped battery came slightly around the edge of the negative "-"end. Not enough to impact the contact, I thought, but I still peeled that portion of the plastic off, put the battery back in and tightened the cap. Eureka, the fix worked.
24. Despite the two guys and the "2X" on top of the figure, the lid is much lighter than the cooking bucket and can easily be lifted and handled by one person. Otherwise, this is a somewhat reversed order of "8". Tap the bolt in from the outside through the holes in the lid and the cooking bucket. Grab the hair pin / cotter pin firmly with a plier and push it, and later drag it all the way in.
27. This grid should have been straight forward, but the detail picture shows what may be an unstable position. You need to have both of the two bottom pins/rods (that are welded perpendicular to all the other parts of the grid) on the OUTSIDE or on the INSIDE of the cooking bucket walls. This is not stated or shown. If one side, say on the left side of the bucket, is on the inside and the one on the right is outside the bucket, the slightest force on the grid by a fork or a spatula towards the right will cause the left side to unhook and drop its content back on the grill. With the grid at about 550 degrees F, this is not a good time to push or pull the grid to lock the two sides tightly. It takes a fair amount of force to bend the grid in either direction. If you don't have that, take the grid down to a machine shop and get them to handle it.
With that finished get your LP Gas tank installed. The tank weighs almost 40 lbs. full. You are going to lift it up and extend it straight into the hole in the floor of the grill. If you wonder if that is something you can do with regularity, take a strong tray and position five gallon containers full of water. While standing behind one line drawn on the ground a foot in front of the grill, hold the full tray about six inches above the ground and then move it straight forward about two feet without letting it go below the six inches and no more than 5 inches above it. If then needing some rest, put it down in the hole, until you have regained your strength. Now, position yourself as close to the grill as you can and lift the tray straight up six inches. This needs to be very straight, since one inch deviation in any direction would, with the actual gas tank, prevent you from hooking it up on the bracket inside the right side panel. This is a bracket you can barely see inside the room created by the three panels and the door. The door opening is, of course 80% covered by you standing right in front of it. If this is not an exercise move you can regularly do, contact the Weber folks for some hints on how others might have done it. My male self-confidence prevented me from making that call. However, I devised a board to slide the container in on and a block to pivot it up to where it made contact with the mounting bracket.
28. This drawing really puzzled me. Was it a children's firecracker, as the lower detail picture showed? (I know, kids today are not allowed to have them. About 70 years ago I was.) Or, was it a test mechanism to see if the ignition system worked, as the upper detail drawing seems to show? "Neither" the Weber folks said. The one with the firecracker came closest. It was a lit match, to be used if your ignition system did not work. First you had to take the top iron grid off, though. Somehow the match was locked in place at the end of the long stick attached to the chain, they said. On my side of this conversation I was almost tempted to do my impersonation of Bob Newhart: "Don't tell me." I would say. "Then you carefully lower the chain with the burning match down to where all the gas is." I would say. "And if this does not blow you to Kingdom come, you reassemble your grill and put the steaks on."