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What type of fire grate do you use?
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waddy



Joined: 25 Feb 2010
Posts: 47
Location: Northwest Colorado

PostPosted: Wednesday 7-7-2010 9:09 am    Post subject: What type of fire grate do you use? Reply with quote

I always use the keyhole fire ring method so aptly described and pictured by Joanna. What always gives me fits is adding wood/coals to the area beneath the cooking grate. Especially if I have a fairly tight grate like expanded metal and the fire is lined with rocks; darn near impossible to add coals. The commercial grates made with angle iron sides, folding legs and expanded metal top aren't worth hauling home. They warp terribly. I did have a very nice grate made from 3/8 or 1/2 inch metal rod, with a simple square frame made of the same rod and about 4 or 5 rods welded lengthwise about 5 or 6 inches apart. It had 4 folding legs built of the same rod and hinged so they opposed each other when set up. Then I just drove the legs into the ground a little and had a very sturdy fire grate. It worked perfectly but i finally got it in too hot a fire and had a little meltdown so I need to replace it. In looking at some of the really old pictures of chuckwagon cooks on the roundups, some of them simply used what looked like 3 or 4 individual pipes (3/4 inch?) and just blocked them up on each end. They didn't put a rock fire "ring" around it, so there was good access to add more coals either beneath or even through the top. It seems like this setup would be a lot easier to pack along than a full sized grate. When I had the old grate, I just packed along a piece of expanded metal to throw on top for cooking steaks or whatever needed some more support to keep from falling through.

Anybody have a better solution or idea? Sorry for the long post!
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Joanne
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Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 4640
Location: Las Vegas, NV

PostPosted: Wednesday 7-7-2010 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Waddy,

The concept of the keyhole fire is a good one, with the exception of the problem that you just mentioned. Your description of using legs to hold the grate off the ground with would allow you to skip having the rocks all the way around the grate making it difficult to adjust the coals. Even if you had to use a single rock at each corner, you would still be able to move the coals under without too much hassle.

I had made a coal rake for moving coals around in my smoker. It looked like a miniature hoe with a long metal handle. A friend of mine liked it so much that I swapped him for a small folding table. I'll have to make up another one before too long. A grate like you were talking about along with a coal rake would probably take care of your fire tending needs.

Joanne
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Wishbone



Joined: 24 Aug 2008
Posts: 554
Location: Near Wichita,Ks

PostPosted: Thursday 7-8-2010 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Make Yourself a Fire Grate out of Rebar. I've seen lots made this way. An 18" by 12" ought to work real good & easy to store. Check out some Chuckwagon sites & You'll see a lot of differnt Fire Grates. Gator may have some pictures of differnt kinds. Wishbone-Ks
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castironcook



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 45
Location: Cowtown

PostPosted: Thursday 7-8-2010 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mine is a 3 1/2 foot section of catwalk grate, 18 inches wide on 1 foot long legs at each corner. I'm gonna modify it by cutting off the permanent legs and weld some 5/8 inch nuts on it. Then I can use 5/8 inch bolts for legs and get various lengths for height adjustment. Once it is hot, it will cook for a long time.
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tapone



Joined: 29 Jun 2010
Posts: 162
Location: De Pere, WI (Green Bay)

PostPosted: Thursday 7-8-2010 9:47 am    Post subject: Campfire Grill Reply with quote

I just bought a campfire cookset and a swing grill from Sportsman's Guide. I used it this past weekend and it worked out great. I hung a DO full of cheese potatoes from the frame on a hook, sauted mushrooms in a cast iron skillet on half of the grill and grilled tenderloins wrapped in bacon on the other half. Made in China but is pretty sturdy and fairly cheap; Check out this link if interested: http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/cb.aspx?a=671077
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waddy



Joined: 25 Feb 2010
Posts: 47
Location: Northwest Colorado

PostPosted: Thursday 7-8-2010 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

castironcook wrote:
Mine is a 3 1/2 foot section of catwalk grate, 18 inches wide on 1 foot long legs at each corner. I'm gonna modify it by cutting off the permanent legs and weld some 5/8 inch nuts on it. Then I can use 5/8 inch bolts for legs and get various lengths for height adjustment. Once it is hot, it will cook for a long time.


I'm not certain just what "catwalk grate" is, but I think I may know. I'll have to do a little more research. Would it be heavier than just a few iron rods or rebar? It would sure be substantial, as long as it wasn't too heavy. I like the bolt idea! I wonder if it might not be a good idea to use the "L" shaped bolts like the ones used for gate hinges or cement anchors. That way after the threads scaled up a bit you would have a handle to twist them with. Thinking Thumbs Up
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waddy



Joined: 25 Feb 2010
Posts: 47
Location: Northwest Colorado

PostPosted: Thursday 7-8-2010 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Joanne wrote:
Waddy,
I had made a coal rake for moving coals around in my smoker. It looked like a miniature hoe with a long metal handle. Joanne


I usually just use a shovel, but a coal rake would sure work a lot better for moving coals beneath the grate. Thanks! By the way, sorry about misspelling your name. Shy Smile
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SeabeeCook



Joined: 02 Dec 2007
Posts: 587
Location: Diamond Springs, Calif.

PostPosted: Thursday 7-8-2010 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Go to your local restaurant supply store and purchase 2 or 3 pair of 16-inch spring-loaded utility tongs. I've been using the tongs for about 10 years and am just now at the point where I need to replace both pair.

I hang one pair on the Webber and keep a second pair in my iron bucket. With gloved hand, the tongs make the job of transfering coals from the fire to the "stove" an easy task.


The other option is to build an expanded metal shovel patterned after the one WagonCook made. Here's a piece of an article that I wrote back in 2001:
Quote:
Any Dutch oven cook who uses hot coals from the campfire knows that clouds of gray ash billow skyward as the hot coals fall onto the oven. Ash settles everywhere -- on the oven and in the food.

Sanders solves this problem with a Dutch oven shovel. This is one of those innovations that should have been created long ago. The premise behind it is more utilitarian than decorative.

He built a shallow box from expanded metal. The shovel measures 10-1/2 inches long by 8 inches wide. The three sides are 2 inches high. The front end of the box is open in order to accept the hot coals. The box is attached to the shovel handle.

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waddy



Joined: 25 Feb 2010
Posts: 47
Location: Northwest Colorado

PostPosted: Friday 9-3-2010 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finally got around to having a welder build me the type fire grate I wanted. It is made of square steel tubing for the frame, with telescoping and removable legs, with 1/4" steel strap for the middle.

The legs are held in place with hitch pins and lay flat alongside for transport:


Remove the pin, slide the leg out of the frame, rotate, slide back in and replace the pin:


Grate set up with my fire irons in place:


Fire grate in action:


Lots of room for cooking, heating water, coffee pot, etc., and easy to replenish wood or coals. There you have MY idea of a good fire grate!
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Oysterpot



Joined: 03 Dec 2007
Posts: 1165
Location: Smithville, Tennessee

PostPosted: Friday 9-3-2010 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice..... If I may ask how much ya got in it? Shy Smile
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waddy



Joined: 25 Feb 2010
Posts: 47
Location: Northwest Colorado

PostPosted: Friday 9-3-2010 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would have made it myself, but I no longer have access to a welder. As is, made by a professional custom welder, it was $250. Comparing it to the price of some of the so-called commercially available "heavy duty" grates that turn into a pretzel whenever they are even exposed to fire, and knowing how much time would be involved in making one along with the cost of materials, I found the price to be very well worth it. Having said that, if I had access to a decent welder, and even if I had to cut all pieces with a hacksaw, it could be made very economically. I don't, I paid for the service and expertise, and I have it. It should be around to pass on to my heirs. Quality is cheap.
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Oysterpot



Joined: 03 Dec 2007
Posts: 1165
Location: Smithville, Tennessee

PostPosted: Friday 9-3-2010 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for coming back to me. You don;t have to defend your aqusition. My inquiry was pure interest. Being a steel fabricator myself (retired) I appreciate good work. I don't know that it would be that portable, but I like it for home. May offer a little work to my local weld shop and get one for myself. I like it Thumbs Up
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waddy



Joined: 25 Feb 2010
Posts: 47
Location: Northwest Colorado

PostPosted: Saturday 9-4-2010 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Though it's definitely not a backpack grill for the ultra-light crowd :Smile 1: it is really not that heavy when comparing to all the other "iron" I pack. Because the legs fold flat, I just put it in the bed of the pickup first (it's not any harder to load than a 16" DO) and stack the rest of the stuff on top. I carry a dedicated pair of heavy cloth gloves to handle it and the fire irons so I can keep the fire black down to a minimum. Around here I have to burn mostly Pinyon, and it generates a LOT of black soot.

I should have weighed it, but I have it set up in the back yard now so I can make the neighbors nervous. Next time I have it down for a camp, I will try and remember to weigh it.

Definitely not everyone's idea of a good camping grate, but I was raised in the "build it Hell for stout" line of thinking. Laughing
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messerist



Joined: 09 Sep 2010
Posts: 2
Location: Faribault Minnesota

PostPosted: Sunday 11-7-2010 5:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Waddy. Great idea for a grill. It will serve you for a long time. Thumbs Up
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Joanne
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Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 4640
Location: Las Vegas, NV

PostPosted: Wednesday 11-10-2010 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You just had to show us that grill didn't you? Now I'm trying to figure out how much the metal will cost..... Laughing

Nice design and VERY useful. It's the best I've seen to date. Thumbs Up

Joanne
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