Monday, April 26, 2010

No Spare Parts; No More Coleman Grills

There’s a lot very positive to be said for Southwest Airlines. While bags fly free on Southwest, that’s not why. It’s that Southwest only uses Boeing 737 jets. That’s one of the reasons for the success of Southwest. One plane for training; one plane for maintenance; one plane for spare parts. Southwest may one-day replace all the jets with another brand or size, but I doubt it. In the meantime, Boeing will continue to churn out those spare parts.

I bring this up because one of the trusted names in camping gear and gas grills is Coleman, but in all likelihood, I’ve purchased my last one grill with that name. Spare parts availability just ain’t what it used to be.

It was just six years ago that I purchased the Coleman 5300. It’s one for the sort-of-serious griller with a large grilling area which accommodates at least six to eight slabs of baby backs at a time, or enough hamburgers to out-cook a single shift at Johnson’s in Siler City. You’ll know when you go. It has a side burner as well, great for frying when you want shrimp cooked that way but not in the house.

No doubt, the Coleman 5300 has been good for me and my outdoor cooking efforts. And, I’ve worn it out several times. It’s got a good cast-something frame but it also has several parts which tend to degenerate from the grease generated by cooking chicken, pork tenderloin and ribeye steaks, green peppers, yellow squash, corn on the cob and more.

After six years, the cooking surface grates are just now getting to the point of needing to be replaced. The burners burned up twice, so I’m on my third set. And, the aluminum tents over the burners, well, I’m on set four, I think. The starter wiring and other related parts quit soon after the inaugural lighting, but that’s typical of any such part on any gas grill. Long matches work very well indeed. And, the pan at the lowest of levels that catches the grease and drains it into a cup is also a casualty of grilling, but only twice.

And there’s the problem and reason I’ve purchased my last Coleman grill. The grease pan—a 19”x32” pan that catches all the stuff that doesn’t stick to the other parts—is not usable and can’t be replaced. There is no replacement item. Whenever a part needs replacing, I just go to the Coleman web site and place an order. A few days later, a box arrives and I’m cooking out (or grilling but not barbequing because barbeque is a noun not a verb for all you Yankees that read this blabber). But this time, I was about to buy new tents for the burners, new grates for the raw meat, and a new grease tray but noticed the grease tray was “out of stock.” So, I stopped the purchasing process to determine when the tray would be available. I would buy it all at once. So I clicked on customer service and dashed off a note of inquiry.

The email to Coleman Consumer Service said:
When will these two Colman 5300 parts will be available?
9990-4651 Grease Tray
5010000067 Drip Cup
My grease tray was completely rotted and I had to toss out.
Can't cook without it!
Available now and also on my list of parts are:
9990-5511 Heat Tent (4 pieces)
5010000068 Drip Cup Hanger
But I would like to order everything at one time.
Thanks.

The response from whoever received my message was disappointing: Thank you for contacting the Coleman Company. The grease tray is a discontinued part we can no longer stock. I suggest you check with a local retailer that sells grill parts to see if they might have a comparable part you could use on the grill. We apologize for the inconvenience. The drip cup is in stock now and can be purchased from us direct.

In other words, buddy, you’re out of luck. But, I responded to Libby Hammann, the customer service rep and author of the Coleman responses. I wrote: Your response is extremely disappointing. I have taken very good care of this grill and if I do not have a grease tray, I am unable to use it. I believe you owe it to me to find one available at one of your retailers.

Libby responded: There are no retailers that have the grease tray and we apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you.

My response to her was basically, thanks but no thanks as I explained that Coleman grills would no longer be part of the grill selection equation for me. As a matter of fact, I may just return to charcoal. It was the need to cook on charcoal that caused me to clean the Coleman to determine if I need any new parts.

Even though I have two gas tanks (anyone want to buy the latest and greatest in grilling gas tanks), one in use and a full one in reserve, over the winter, I failed to fill the reserve and a few weeks ago, the one in use sputtered as the flame went out not to return. It was dinner time, and the look I got from the chief chef in the house was not very pleasant. With a small charcoal grill on hand and just enough Kingsford in the bag to build the necessary size fire for the steak, I produced beautiful red coals—sans lighter fluid and the pre-soaked charcoal—in a matter minutes and steaks on the table about 10 minutes beyond the desired and appointed time.

It was a little rustic, cooking that way, but the steaks actually tasted better than those with gas. More tender (or tenderer, as I’m apt to describe), too. A few nights later, the bone-in chicken breasts had a better flavor and were more tenderer than usual, while cooked through and through. After the initial steak on the charcoal and while cleaning the ashes from the grill the next day, I also cleaned the gas grill, inspecting every part, determining what I would need to bring it to life. The tents definitely needed to go, and when I removed them as well as the burners to inspect, I noticed sections of the grease tray missing. So I pulled it out and tossed it in the same trash bags as the tents. I degreased the grates and basically prepared the Coleman 5300 to receive the new parts.

My first email to Coleman went out Sunday, April 18. It was Friday, April 23 when the response came. But, I was out of town. So, Saturday, April 24 about 7:00 a.m., I fired off my email of disappointment, thinking I would not hear until this week, but just minutes later, Libby told me I was SOL, so to speak. In that email where she said that no retailers had the tray, she also said: Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

What service? I didn’t feel very welcome. After six good years, my days of Coleman grills are over, unless one of my readers—or Coleman—has a solution, and not very expensive. On the other hand, after that experience, I’m not sure I should buy the tents or any other thing from Coleman. There’s a chance, Coleman will discontinue all the parts. Probably will as an effort to get me and all other Coleman owners to buy a new grill. And then another and another and another.

A new, man-grilling grill is in my near future, but this time, I’m looking for a better charcoal set-up. It takes just a few minutes more and little more effort, but I must admit, the results taste much better. And, I’ve never heard of bags flying free on a charcoal grill or one of any kind, but I’ll bet parts for the old-fashioned kind of grill are longer lasting, less expensive to replace and not discontinued to the point of sending the grill to the grill graveyard. I’ll be doing that with the six-year old Coleman 5300 and along with the urge to buy another of that brand.

19 comments:

  1. Jim, are your beginning a campaign to replace Andy Rooney?
    Winston

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  2. Weber is the ONLY grill to buy. Always has been…always will be. You can quote me on this.

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  3. I found this article after being told that there is no replacement for a 9990-4651 grease tray. Sad.

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  4. So am I. I have the coleman 5100. I was just that close to order the 3 replacement burners, and 3 heat vents and grates, then found out I couldn't find the grease tray anywhere. Very disappointed.

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  5. Like many other posters, I too found your article while searching for a replacement for the 5300 grease tray (p/n 9990-4651) and finding out there isn't one available. Oddly in contrast to the grease tray, they warranty the burners for life and the igniters for 7yrs. Both are on their way at no cost to me. I guess I'll be fabricating a new tray.

    That said, I too am unlikely to purchase another Coleman grill. That is sad, given that my father and I have been depending on Coleman products for over half a decade.

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  6. I just got off the phone with a csr from Coleman regarding parts for my 5100 only to find out that the completly crumbled grease tray is no longer available, I got on the computer to see if I could find something to replace it with only to read your review of the product and to find out from someone else who made a comment that the burners are have a lifetime warranty. Which is something that the csr never mentioned to me, she only told me the cost would be $13.08 each, I didn't order any of the 3 that I would need because I wanted to see if I would be able to find a replacement of some kind for the grease tray. I just tried to call them back but they are closed for lunch. What a shame, my grill looks brand new and I thought it was a great choice when I bought it. I think the heat tents should also be replace too if I decide to keep it. I really to love the grill but if I decide not to replace the parts I think I will just replace with a cheap grill that I can just throw away in a couple of years.

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  7. My Kingdom for a Coleman 5100 grease tray, part #9990-3651. Don't do this to me Coleman!

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  8. I guess I'm lucky that my 5100 grease pan lasted nearly seven years. Meanwhile, I have two paperweights that look exactly like new burner tubes. My new Weber will be arriving this week.
    jscot@Lcom.net

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  9. I'm putting my 8 year old Coleman 5100 with rotted grease tray and worn out burners out on the curb for the junkman. How can Coleman discontinue a part that they know eventually rots, knowing customers will be looking for replacements. No more Coleman products for me.

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  10. Don't know if this helps anyone or not but I found a possible grease trap for the Coleman grills. I haven't called to verify, but it's worth a shot.

    http://www.bbqpartscanada.com/brands/coleman/categories/other-parts/01260120

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  11. Same exact issues here, Grease tray no longer available...I had to fashion my own from a 24x36 piece of sheet metal bought from Lowe's from the furnace parts department. No more heat tents....also had to make my own from another 24x36 piece of sheet metal. Total cost for 2 pieces of 24x36 sheet metal was about 20 dollars. At least they have the cheap replacement burners made in China. I'm like you...Never again will I buy another Coleman.

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  12. Aw, man! Same boat. Found this while searching in vain for a replacement grease pan for my 5100 grill and sending an email asking for help from Coleman CS. Using tin foil for now. I guess I'll be converting a baking pan or something. No more Coleman! Too bad as this should be a really cheap part to manufacture.

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  13. Well you all came out of this better than me. I ordered and installed 4 brand new burners at a cost of $131.76 + shipping to find out the grease tray was rotted so I went online to find out the grease tray 9990-4651 had been discontinued. This is wrong!!!

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  14. Same here on the grease tray for my 5600. I'm like you, Jim, about using a smaller charcoal grill (small Weber) to cook our Memorial Day racks of ribs & brats on. SO much tastier & more tender, too. I'm kinda pissed about the discontinuing of must-have parts, but I'm determined to not let it stop me from achieving my goal of having a working grease catchment for my grill. I like the idea from "Anonymous", above, who used sheet metal from Lowe's (NOT Homo Depot). I think I'll give it a shot.

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  15. Found this page while searching for a Coleman 5100 Grilling System Grease Tray pn 9990-3651 and see its discontinued. A $13 part that renders my grill unusable. It's sad I have to throw 100 lbs of grill out because of this. The cast iron grates, hood, frame are all good. Not good customer orientation. I was disappointed that the replacement burners were not cast iron like the original; the cheap replacements didn't last me as long as the original. The electronic ignition failed years ago, but it worked well. Guess I need a better brand this time. :-(

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  16. I did the same. It' seems company's are all about the buck instead of customer satisfaction.

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  17. I made my own grease tray using a 1/4 sheet of wood cut to size. I ran a bead of silicon caulk around the edges for a lip and covered it with two layers of aluminum foil. Been working good so far, and I can replace teh aluminum foil when it becomes to dirty

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  18. Damn it, would that i have found this before spending $300+ on new stainless burners. Any solutions yet?

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    Replies
    1. Yes...ditch the Coleman gas grill and go with a low cost alternative that uses real charcoal. All grills will have an issue with pans rusting or burning out, so spend very little knowing you'll toss it out after a few years of use. But, never buy another Coleman grill!

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