Saturday, January 26, 2008

Retrofitting your old Weber to run on gas

You can't have a backyard in Australia without a BBQ... in fact I'm not even sure if you can have a apartment balcony without having a BBQ.

About 6 or 7 years ago I got given a used Weber steel kettle. Webers are great things - I had one on my roof in New York - when the twin towers came down and parts of steel Ibeams knocked down our fence, the Weber was still waiting ready to go - like cockroaches they'll survive the next Holocaust - marvelous... as I understand it Henry Ford created the charcoal briquette from the wood scraps and sawdust from his car factory which then ended up being the precursor to the Charcoal Kettle.

Anyway, after lending my Australian Weber to a bunch of randoms a few years ago I'd ended up with it back in my possession, by which time it occurred to me that briquettes are really painful to work with (which must explain why I still haven't had a housewarming BBQ), but also must be really bad producers of CO2. The end result is that I should really switch over to gas.

These days you can get a new fangled BBQ in steel with a range hood and all that good stuff for around $200-300, which is great, but it means you are consuming more steel, and have to worry about what to do with your old Weber. Will someone else use it as a charcoal consuming CO2 machine?

A quick bit of research showed me you can buy a tailor made gas kit for about $100, which had heaps of appeal, so I went out and bought one of those at my local AGL shop instead. Installation was easy, with about 4 screws holding the whole thing in place. They say that you get a similar flavour to the heat beads, so I'll try that out later and post the results.

A few pics of the installation are shown below for posterity and anyone thinking about buying a new gas BBQ. The whole job took me about 15 minutes, most of which was spent scratching my head needlessly, and it was all done on Australia Day - how appropriate.

Picture 1: use up the the last of your toxic heat beads
Picture 2: leave it for a few days then throw the gas burner in
Picture 3: work out which screws to use, and realise they're all the same and it's impossible to stuff this up - secure your bits
Picture 4: done deal, anyone got a full gas bottle?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sustainable agriculture

A bit over 200 years ago, Mathus predicted that the world's food supply would not be able to keep up with population growth. To date he's been proved wrong but a number of things are now threatening to change all that - including climate change, less predictable weather patterns and now the use of crops for fuel instead of as food.

This was a lead story on the national broadcaster last week: and if you follow this sort of thing is worth a read.

As part of my ranting and occasional campaigning on this sort of thing, I've become involved in a business which rejuvenates degraded landscapes and implements sustainable agricultural techniques to dramatically increase the productivity and drought resistance of that land. Irrespective of where your interest lies in the subject, it's worth a look, particularly if you are an active property investor or farmer: