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.
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.