Replacing the Big Green Egg BBQ Gasket
Photo above: The old gasket is charred and no longer provides a good seal. If you look closely at the lid, you can see where the gasket looks like it pulled away from the rim and got sucked into the dome
My Big Green Egg (BGE) ceramic cooker is about six years old. I cooked a lot of meals and enjoyed great company with my networking BBQ events. But, like any item that wears, the felt seal started leaking after about four years.
So I replaced the original gasket with a new one from the BGE factory.
After about two short years, the replacement seal failed. This was probably my fault. I wanted to avoid re-fueling the BGE when smoking a large brisket. Although the lump charcoal did last more than 10 hours, I paid for it by burning a section of the BGE table. This is a story for another time.
I decided to replace the gasket with an "aftermarket" gasket, based on the reviews on various BGE chat rooms. The new gasket is a woven fiberglass material and is thicker than the original felt-like material in the original gasket. It is available from Ron - also known as "RRP" on the Big Green Egg message boards.
Ron has sold over 2,812 gaskets in all 50 states and 10 foreign countries since he started doing this favor for BGE fans.
The most difficult thing about replacing the gasket is the adhesive. The recommended adhesive is a 3M spray called number 77, which is a contact cement. However, because the ceramic surface is porous, the spray-on stuff just does not adhere properly. I think the high temperatures do not help adhesion, either.
The Rutland gasket comes with instructions to use a better adhesive: An automotive gasket sealer (Permatex Ultra Copper), commonly available from auto parts places just about anywhere.
The gasket material comes in giant rolls which Ron measures and cuts up for sale to individuals. The gasket is thicker than the original felt-like material, so only a bottom gasket is needed. The temperature rating is 2200 degrees F. Here are some pictures of how I installed the new gasket on my large size BGE . . .The process will be easier if you remove the top dome. Since the lid is hinged and under spring tension, it is safest to open the lid and then loosen the top lid "hoop" near the hinge at the back, like this . . .
Removing the old gasket may be difficult. Use a plastic putty knife or scraper to remove the old gasket. My gasket was very loose, since the adhesive failed. The gasket was brittle but came off in one big piece. Remove both top and bottom gaskets.
After removing the old gasket, I used my random-orbit sander with a 40 grit disc to remove the junk around the rim.
Ron suggests that you mark the gasket into four sections, to make sure you have enough gasket material to go around the entire circumference of the bottom shell. This is because the woven maerial stretches and as it does, it "shrinks" its width. However, for the BGE, the gasket must be "bunched up" or squeezed together to make it wide enough to cover the width of the rim. Here is a picture of a "dry run" without the adhesive:
You can see some excess material at the back. But remember, the gasket must be bunched up to make it wide enough to fill the width of the rim.
I started at the back of the cooker, since it would hide the seam. It is a messy job, so wear gloves. Here is a close-up of the seam in the back. The excess fibers will be trimmed with a sharp pair of scissors.
I hate it when this happens. You squeeze out the goop, and the tube gets punctured near the bottom, squeezing stuff out in un-wanted places, wasting the glue. . .
This is what it should look like. The gasket is bunched together and the adhesive is nice and thick underneath.
After going around the rim, apply even pressure around the rim to ensure proper adhesion. This is most easily done by closing the lid. I was afraid of having the top and bottom stick to each other, so I placed some aluminum foil between the two halves. Wax paper may be better for this, and I thought the foil might get stuck, but none of those worries came about.
Ron says he does not know how long the Rutland gaskets last. He reports the gaskets on his BGE are around 13 years old.
Now to get something cooking on the refreshed Big Green Egg!
Here are links to Ron's instructional pictures for installing the Rutland gasket:
About Wayne Yoshida
Wayne Yoshida is a technical writer and education advocate with sales management experience. Wayne currently works in the alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) industry and has worked for a wide variety of high technology companies, including aerospace and defense, photonics, lasers and opto-mechanics, two-way radio, telecommunications and a non-profit, educational organization. His personal passion for electronics and Amateur Radio opened many doors to some very interesting personal and professional experiences. Working as a ham radio consultant for the NASA Johnson Space Center during Space Shuttle mission STS-9 is his most memorable experience. Connect with him on LinkedIn and beBee, and for a look into his personal passions, follow his blog.