After a fair amount of research, I bought a Member's Mark BBQ grill from Sam's Club and have been quite happy with it. In addition to some comments & pictures about my Member's Mark BBQ grill, I thought it might be helpful to others to present some of my lessons learned as an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) which is presented below. In addition to my own experiences, I have learned a lot from reading other people's comments at various Internet sites and Emails.
May/2015 Update: After 13 years of grilling strong, it's time to "retire" the Member's Mark BBQ Grill. The cast iron burners are fairly rusted (I've re-drilled 'em out a few times), the stainless grates are starting to "splinter", and the bottom grease pan is about to fall apart - I have my wife's cookie sheet underneath catching things! Note that I could replace those items and continue using the BBQ as the rest of it is in good shape - they really built it well! So I've started to comparision shop and am disappointed to report that the current Member's Mark grills are a HUGE disappointment - they are not nearly as well constructed.
If you have any comments/suggestions/additions/etc. to this FAQ,
pls Email me ... and also your favorite BBQ grill recipe! ;-)
Go back to the main BBQ Grill page - © 2002-2015 www.komar.org - Alek Komarnitsky
A-1: Who makes this grill and how do I get it?
A-1: (2002_06_25) I bought mine in early/2002 at Sam's Club - they have their own brand label called Member's Mark - it's the $600 one with 3 18,000 BTU main burners, a 10,000 BTU IR back burner, 12,000 BTU side burner, and LOTSA stainless. The model number is Y0101XC and I bought it in early/2002. It is actually manufactured by Grand Hall.
A-2: How easy is it to assemble?
A-2: (2002_06_25) EASY!!!!! It took me a couple of hours with my 3-year old son "helping" me. And you can do it yourself - especially if you take the top grill bowl top off by removing the two cotter pings, then putting back on at the end. The instructions are excellent, follow 'em and you will be grilling in a couple of hours!
A-3: How is their Customer Service?
A-3: (2002_06_25) I have had EXCELLENT experiences. Others have said their phone lines have been often busy, but the couple times I've called, I've never waited more than a few minutes. While you might think having to call a couple of times is a sign of poor quality, I don't feel that way. I called about the regulator (more an issue with the new OPD LP tanks), the rubber ignitor (as mentioned below, I think this was a supplier issue), and I actually had a crack on the left side panel (and here is a closeup) - I'm guessing just something funky in the casting of this part. In all cases, after a brief discussion, my replacement part was on the way for no cost and it looks nice and shiny in the grill ... until the next time I grill! ;-)
A-4: How do I contact customer servers?
A-4: (2003_07_21) The phone number (mentioned several times in the owner's manual - hint, hint) is 1-800-770-9769. Complete contact information is:
Grand Hall USA, Inc.
11880 Shiloh Road
Dallas, TX 75228
Tele: (214) 349-1097 or (800) 770-9769
Fax: (214) 553-0090
Office Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00am - 4:30pm CST
Web Address: http://www.grandhall.com
Email Address: No official one known at this time
As noted above, I've had good luck calling them and others have suggested that first thing in the morning is especially good.
BTW, Adam Green sent me the following after researching Grand Hall is before he bought his grill: "Grand Hall is a subsidiary of a large conglomerate from Taiwan... they are pretty well based (starting in 1979) and their USA venture started with them opening a headquarters in the US around 1986. Grand Hall manufactures the more prominent Prochef brand of gas grills. It is featured in a class such as Straubelstone etc... Anyway, just wanted to let you know that the substantially less expensive Member's Mark grills are basically a top-of-the-line Prochef with the Sam's Club special logo."
A-5: Has there been any safety recalls/notices on this grill?
A-5: (2004_01_19) In Sept/2003, there was a notice about the sharpness of the bottom edge under the control panel - read the actual notice from here. You shouldn't be lifting here anyway, since it won't support much weight, but as noted, you can send away for a repair kit that addresses this.
A-6: Can I convert from Propane (LP) to Natural Gas (NG)?
A-6: (2003_09_03) YES! While this is not officially "blessed" by Grand Hall and voids your warrenty, many people have done this and it works great. Read all about it in the Converting Member's Mark BBQ Grill from LP to NG section.
A-7: How can I test for leaks and/or gas pressure?
A-7: (2004_04_21) You can smell both LP and NG quite easily, so if you do smell 'em, try spraying soapy water on the fitting and look for bubbles to try to track down the leak. Another helpful tool is using a manometer which you can build yourself very cheaply.
A-8: How hot should my grill get?
A-8: (2002_09_03) LOTTA discussion on this one ... and one area where Grand Hall should provide some guidance in the otherwise excellent manual. General consensus seems to be you should be able to reach 400 degrees (on the hood thermometer) in about 10 minutes with all 3 main burners on HIGH. The #1 problem in this area seems to be the overflow protection device in the "new" propane tanks. Grand Hall recommends opening it VERY slowly ... light the right burner, then the middle, and then the left one. If you still are having problems, you might talk to them about your regulator. If you have converted to Natural Gas, see the LP to NG conversion writeup. Note that you may want to "calibrate" your thermometer - I put mine on a cookie sheet and put it in the covection oven ... and it tracked the indicated temperatures pretty darn accurately all the way to 500 degrees. I had a few other Home Depot after market models - these read as much as 150 degrees high ... so beware folks saying "Grill XYZ warms up to 600 degrees in 5 minutes" ... ;-) BTW, grilling can be pretty darn warm on a hot day - I invested in pair of patio umbrellas which provide a bit of cooling shade.
A-9: How does one use liquid oxygen to REALLY sear your steaks?
A-9: (2003_06_17) Yea ... you can get quite a "sear" using liquid oxygen to BBQ (historical link).
B-2: The rubber ignitor fell apart - what did I do wrong?
B-2: (2002_08_07) Probably nothing. A lot of people have reported this problem, and mine deteriorated also, even though I kept it under cover. I think they must have had a bad supplier, since this is a common problem, but I chatted with Member's Mark customer service and a new one was on my grill in a few days! ;-) BTW, one suggestion is to periodically Armor-All this (makes sense, since it is rubber) ... or better yet, remove it and SOAK it in Armor All for a couple of hours which is what I did.
B-3: Can I add a shelf to the enclosed area?
B-3: (2004_01_20) YES ... for about $4! ;-) I got this at Home Depot from the shelving department and it was super-easy/cheap to do so - click here to see how I did the BBQ grill rack ... although I would be surprised if they don't add this in next year's model - so easy to do and minimal cost.
B-4: Can I make my Member's Mark BBQ grill more wind resistant?
B-4: (2004_01_20) As mentioned above, we have windy days here in Colorado at times, and not only does this reduce the temps, but I hear the main burners "whistling" and actually had 'em blow out on me. While there is a windscreen on the back of the BBQ grill, the front has a little little bit of exposure, but this is easy to fix with a do it yourself BBQ grill windscreen. Note that this area of the bbq grill has been the subject of a recall (see A-5 above), so be careful working here as the edge can be a bit sharp.
B-5: What is this about the wheel castors falling apart?
B-5: (2002_06_25) Apparently, this was "the defect" in the 2001 and earlier models, and again, a phone call to customer services took care of those folks. Apparently, they were re-designed for the 2002 models, and the ones on my BBQ grill look solid and work just fine.
B-6: Can I do a "built-in" with the Member's Mark BBQ Grill?
B-6: (2005_08_09) YES. Several people have done this. The one thing to remember is that the grease pan slides out the BACK rather than the front, so keep this in mind for your design/construction. I've actually been doing some deck designs for concrete patio and debated doing a built-in myself, but opted against it since it's a pretty permanent move ... but they do look nice.
B-7: I converted my grill to NG - what do I to with the LP tank gauge?
B-7: (2002_08_07) See if anyone with an older MM grill (this feature was introduced in 2002) wants to buy it - anyone want to buy mine?!? ;-) Or hotwire the connectors with a paper clip so that it always reads FULL ;-)
B-8: What are my options for an upper warming/cooking grid/rack?
B-8: (2002_11_11) Grand Hall sells one, but I didn't like the look of it, plus it is only 5.25" deep ... so I built my own - check out my do it yourself BBQ grill warming/cooking grid/rack! ;-)
B-9: What about the cast iron burners rusting?
B-9: (2007_05_16) Unfortunately, the Member's Mark BBQ Grill uses cast iron burners (instead of Brass or Stainless Steel ones) so they rust over time, especially if you live in a humid climate. I live in arid Colorado and keep my grill under cover, so I have not had an issue (yet! ;-), but I've heard other people who live near water having these rust-through, especially if they grill a lot. A new set of three is about
$50 $90 (updated 2007 price - stainless is over $200 - thanks LarryC), but I've been told
that Grand Hall will replace these free within the first two years of
ownership (you pay shipping & handling), so keep an eye on 'em. I've also
heard that you can now order replacement burners direct from Sam's Club.
One recommended way to delay the corrosion is to coat with Olive Oil
once/month, but that seems like a lotta work to me.
B-10: What about those ceramic tamers?
B-10: (2004_05_15) These don't (obviously) have a rust issue, but if you aren't careful handling 'em, they can crack and eventually break. I flip 'em over occasionally (see C-4 below) but be careful handling 'em. As with other items, contact Grand Hall (not me!) if you need to replace 'em.
C-2: How do I get the stainless shining again?
C-2: (2003_03_10) If I'm serious about cleaning my bbq grill, I first wipe off any major food goop, then hit it with some "Bar Keeper's Friend" which is a cleaning powder. It can scratch the stainless if you aren't careful. I then finish with "Stainless Steel Magic" which was recommended by Wendy Wade ... and I tell 'ya ... it *IS* Magic! Be sure to cover it up when done ... and your grill will look sparkling when your friends come over to drool over it! ;-) Read more on my cleaning BBQ Grill page.
C-3: How do I clean the cooking grids?
C-3: (2005_06_20) People have written about using a metal scrubber, doing it when it is hot, dipping it in water, using grilling stones, putting in the dishwasher, etc. However, by FAR the best approach for me has been to put a double thick layer of aluminum foil over the entire grid, crank all 3 burners on HIGH for about 20-30 minutes, and everything gets turned to ash. If you have done this right, you will be able to "blow" any ash remnents off of your grids. While they won't quite be shiny, you could scrub for hours and not come close. If you have never done this, try it - I promise you won't be disappointed! ;-) BTW, check your bbq grill cleaning procedure by the vendor to make sure they are OK with this approach. Note the rods on the Member's Mark BBQ grill grid rotate, so this makes scraping a bit easier if you are doing this before grilling.
C-4: How to I clean the ceramic tamers?
C-4: (2002_06_25) I've heard people doing various things ... but these seem like a lot of work and run the risk of breaking 'em. All I do it turn 'em over!!!! After they have cooked a few times, anything on the bottom has turned to ash; so when you rotate it, you got a pretty clean top. BTW, I don't think it make any difference which way you have 'em in the grill - either with the "large" or "small" holes facing up (look at 'em and this will make sense).
D-2: Do you have any GOOD BBQ recipes?
D-2: (2003_05_19) There are LOTS of web sites with various bbq recipes and I'm not going to try to duplicate that effort. However there are a few that I have tried over the years and really like, so here are some yummy BBQ Grill Recipes.
E-1: Are there other Member's Mark BBQ Grills?
E-1: (2003_03_10) YES. In addition to the Y0101XC discussed here (typically costs about $600), Grand Hall recently has an updated version which has more stainless, ignitor control on the burner controls, and few other minor improvements. There is a smaller version for around $300 that is the model Y0655. There is also the "Big Daddy" Y0660 which is $1,500. Here are some picture of lgbstew's - it is nice! Grand Hall hasn't sent me a demo unit to look at ... but feel free to suggest to them that they do so! ;-)
E-2: What about the "SUPER-BIG DADDY" Model "XXXXX" I've heard rumours about?
E-2: (2003_04_20) If the "Big Daddy" Y0660 isn't big enough for you, Grand Hall does make the Model XXXXX that hasn't been released to the public yet - this is truly the biggest bbq grill around - click here to see it!
E-3: What is the Smallest BBQ Grill?
E-3: (2003_06_14) If you want something just for the Little BBQ'ers in your house, check out the Smallest BBQ Grill!
E-4: What about about the Virco BBQ Grill available from Costco?
E-4: (2003_06_20) This also is a nice grill that in my opinion is a little nicer than the MM Y0101 ... but it was not available when I was buying, and I'm not sure the extra features are worth the extra $200 - here is are some of my thoughts/comments/pictures on the Costco Virco BBQ Grill. In summer/2003, they came out with an upgraded version that definately took it up a notch, whereas the MM Y0101 followup was less of an upgrade ... they are both fine grills.
E-5: Can you use your PC to Barbeque?
E-5: (2006_03_22) You betcha - check out this picture of a Barbacue'd PC! ;-)
Q: Where can I learn more about this and other grills?
A: The Internet - where else!
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