Repairing A Ceramic Charcoal Cooker
Click on the thumbnail images below to view full-sized photos.
We recently had occasion to make a repair to a ceramic cooker using J-B Weld (pictured at right) and we thought we'd document the process for you to show you how you can make these same repairs.
First, J-B Weld is a cold-weld compound, consisting of two different tubes of material that you mix to form the final product. One tube contains a liquid steel/epoxy resin, while the other tube contains a hardener. Once mixed, the two materials undergo a chemical reaction that results in a compound advertised to be as hard as steel and resistant to heat up to 500 degrees F. You can read more about JB Weld at their website.
Next, this cooker was shipped securely packaged in a crate, but when it arrived at the owner-to-be's residence it became apparent that when the customs and security folks opened the cooker up to make sure there wasn't anything naughty inside, they didn't properly secure the lid before releasing it back to the shipping company. The lid was therefore allowed to open and close in shipment, resulting in significant damage to the front edge of the cooker. While a new replacement cooker was shipped to the owner, since we were local to the new owner, we were asked to remove the cooker from his property and see if a repair could be effected.
Several methods were discussed including pouring thin cement or thinset down into the cracks and using JB Weld. In order to decide how to proceed, we had to disect the damage a bit.
As you can see in this photo looking down on the damage, there are significant cracks.
In this closeup, it looks like big chunks might have broken away from the cooker.
Once the stainless steel plate is removed, you can see the extent of the cracks.
The chunks in the front edge have been removed.
The chunks along the inside edge are still bonded to the gasket, which has been raised up to get the chunks out of the way.
Since the damage resulted in several large chunks of refractory material breaking away, we decided to piece it all back together with JB Weld. Here you can see how we have squeezed out equal-sized lines of each material side by side.
Here, we are using a flat stick to mix the two compounds together.
As you can see in this photo, we have spread a nice thick coat of the resulting compound onto the broken edge, ready to place the chunks back in place. At this point, we should probably tell you that you need to clean the surfaces being mated before using JB Weld. It is probably best to brush out any crumbling pieces. Also, you might want to wear gloves. Although the web page says the JB Weld is non-toxic and safe to use, there is a warning on the packaging about avoiding skin contact. It does wash off fairly easily, however if you do make a mess like we did...
We won't bore you with more photos of gooping and sticking. Here is what it all looked like once we got all the big chunks put back into place. Now it is a simple matter of waiting 24 hours for the JB Weld to harden. We're done!
One final note about the amount of J-B Weld used in this project. Lest you think that we made the entire repair with the J-B Weld you see us mixing in the photos, that was just a start. We think you should mix it in small batches as necessary to ensure good mixing. To make that entire repair, we used about one and a half tubes. (Meaning, one and a half black tubes and one and a half red tubes.)