Komodo Kamado Refractory Cooker


Update (11/21/11): Komodo Kamado no longer makes or sells textured cookers. In addition, they have made a ton of improvements to their cookers since this review was done. Check out our review of the 2011 Komodo Kamado cooker to see the very latest and greatest cooker from Komodo Kamado.
We recently had the opportunity to get our hands on and use a Komodo Kamado Refractory Cooker, so we have put together this article
Komodo Kamado stainless steel parts
Indonesia
in order to share our observations and experiences with this new cooker.

So who or what is Komodo Kamado? They are the newest entry into the "ceramic" cooker field, having been in operation in Surabaya, Indonesia for almost four years. After hearing about the availability of a crew of workers who had experience building ceramic BBQs, the owner of Komodo Komodo hired them and set out to design and build a new line of cookers. The new design was aimed at addressing what they saw as flaws in existing ceramic cookers' designs, based upon frequent complaints found on the Internet from customers of other manufacturers. They now offer two styles of cooker, Classic and O.T.B., in tiled and textured versions, and with four different packages for the metal components.

A Note About Our Cooker: The cooker that we have been using was given to us by the manufacturer under some fairly unusual circumstances. This cooker was shipped to a real customer in our fair city, but it was damaged in transit. (When the cooker entered the country, various government agencies had to inspect it to make sure there were no bad little men inside. That's good. But when they were done inspecting, they forgot to put things back together again, and that's bad. The lid ended up loose and was able to bounce up and down, damaging the front edge of the base where the lower part of the latch mechanism attaches to the base.) Komodo Kamado immediately shipped a new replacement cooker to the customer and asked us to remove the damaged cooker from the customer's premises. This we did and Komodo Kamado then helped us effect a repair to the damaged cooker which allowed us to use it for this review.
A Note About The Photos Used In This Article: Most of the photos used in this article were taken by the author. Some photos which we could not take ourselves (or we just plain forgot until it was too late) were provided by Komodo Kamado.
A Note About Technical Information Used In This Article: Ok, ok! One more disclaimer and we'll get on with it. Much of the technical information provided in this article was provided by the Komodo Kamado company.


The Cooker

The cooker you will see here is the 23" Textured Supreme O.T.B. cooker. At the time of manufacture (mid-2006) it cost approximately $1800. Visit the Komodo Kamado web site for the latest details on available cooker types, options and prices, as Komodo Kamado has been making constant improvements to their cookers and accessories.


Construction

The Komodo Kamado is not a "ceramic" cooker, per se, in that it is not manufactured from a ceramic material. Rather, it is constructed of a two-layer sandwich of refractory materials. What is a refractory material? According to Dictionary.com, "a material having the ability to retain its physical shape and chemical identity when subjected to high temperatures." Here you can see where the manufacturer has provided a photograph of a cooker which has been sawn to reveal the two-layer construction:


This two-layer sandwich consists of a dense inner layer and a lightweight outer insulating layer. The insulating layer helps to hold heat better, and the cooker's dense material is designed to withstand 2200 degrees F. The materials used are refractory material from Harbison-Walker. There might be some concern that materials used in refractory applications might contain asbestos. The materials used in the Komodo Kamado do not contain asbestos. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) as well as a letter from Harbison-Walker Refractories Company stating that the materials used by Komodo Kamado contain no asbestos are available from Komodo Kamado.

Here are some physical measurements. These measurements are all approximate:

  • The 23" Supreme OTB in a textured finish weighs approximately 364 pounds. The tiled version weighs about 476 pounds. (See below about moving this heavy cooker.)
  • The dome of the textured model weighs 81 pounds. The base weighs 209 pounds. The firebox weighs 37 pounds and the top damper weighs in at 6 pounds. The stainless steel parts and accessories weigh about 31 pounds.
  • The upper grid measures 22 inches wide by 20.25 inches deep. The lower grid is 21 wide by 19.75 inches deep.
  • The cooker (excluding the feet) is 27 inches wide at its widest point and 30 inches deep. It is 50 inches to the top of damper when the damper is closed.
  • The widest measurement of the cooker is the two front feet which are about 31 inches wide.


Moving The Cooker

You may ask how can one move such a monstrous cooker. Personally, we moved this cooker by removing the domed lid and the internal parts and then moving the base separately. Three people had little trouble getting this cooker up two or three steps in this manner. (The same three people also moved a cooker with the lid attached up a short flight of stairs, but removing the lid did make moving the first unit easier.) Removing the lid was easy. By releasing the tension on the spring attached to the hinge and then removing the spring, you can then remove a single pin from the hinge and the lid comes right off. Here's a series of photos showing how:

Komodo Kamado stainless steel parts
First you need to remove the spring.
Komodo Kamado stainless steel parts You do it by loosening this bolt at the bottom of the spring. Komodo Kamado stainless steel parts
The bolt has been removed.
Komodo Kamado stainless steel parts
Now the spring can be removed.
Komodo Kamado stainless steel parts
Remove the clip from the hinge pin.
Komodo Kamado stainless steel parts Tap out the hinge pin.
Komodo Kamado stainless steel parts Remove the hinge pin. Komodo Kamado stainless steel parts Now the lid lifts right off. Komodo Kamado stainless steel parts The base can be lifted with 2x4's or using the ropes as handles.

Notice that the cooker comes with ropes attached to the legs which can either serve as handles or as loops through which you can pass 2x4's in order to carry the cooker.


Features and Points of Interest

    Glossary

    CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. Essentially you create a numerical model on a computer of the item you wish to make. This numerical model is loaded into a machine which then uses the model to control the cutting and shaping of the material. Result, extreme precision.

    TIG stands for Tungsten Inert Gas. TIG welding uses an arc struck between a tungsten electrode and the metal to be welded. The arc heats and melts the metal, a filler rod being added as necessary. The electrode does not melt as the welding takes place and an inert gas (argon) flows out around the tungsten and the weld preventing oxidation. The resulting weld is extremely neat, with no smoke or spatter, and low distortion due to the localized heat of the arc. In short, TIG welding produces accurate results of the highest quality.

    304 Stainless Steel is a high quality stainless steel consisting of 18% Chromium and 8% nickel. Lower quality stainless steel contains less nickel and magnets will stick to it.

    ACME threads are threads which have a squarish cross section vs. the normal V-shaped cross section on most screws. It enables the threads to hold more weight without shearing off and makes for more accurate positioning when translating a rotational motion into a linear motion.

  • Probably the most welcome and unexpected feature is the two-piece interlocking firebox. Having the firebox in two pieces prevents expansion and contraction cracking that plagues other ceramic grills.

  • Something that should immediately strike the casual user is the fact that you don't see any metal bands hold the lower base and the upper dome. The spring hinge is coupled to straps built into the body for a lifetime of perfect alignment. The bands are internal, cast inside the body, so they are perfectly aligned and will remain so. No external bands means no rusting and no adjusting.

  • The dome shape of the OTB is unique in that the chimney/flue is at the rear, allowing for a flatter top surface which is uniform over 80% of the grill and should give a more even heat distribution.

  • There is no break-in necessary for either the textured models or the tiled models! During the manufacturing process, the cookers are placed in a vacuum kiln so that water in the base and dome can be drawn off. The cooker is weighed to determine how much water has been removed. The process is performed as long as necessary to remove the correct amount of moisture from the cooker. The cookers are then preheated to over 800 degrees F and smoke tested for leaks in the factory. So there is no long break-in schedule of low temperature operation that has to be followed before you can use your cooker at all temperatures, and there is no danger of escaping moisture causing tile or grout failure on the tiled models.

  • Komodo Kamado cookers have sturdy built-in legs which roll on high-density black rubber wheels.

  • You don't have to lift a heavy lid on the Komodo Kamado. The lid is held open by a hidden user-adjustable heavy-duty spring at the rear of the cooker. The Komodo Kamado's spring-loaded pull-down lid means no unsightly tubes or brackets. The top stays open on it's own and you just have to pull it down and then close the trigger latch. Releasing the handle trigger-latch allows the the lid to open slowly and automatically. When the lid is closed, the trigger-latch locks the lid in the closed position. Just close the lid and, snap the trigger-latch to the closed position and the lid is locked shut.

  • The grids are made from large gauge 304 stainless steel rod. Both 1/4" and 3/8" versions are available. The lower grid has an opening in the front to allow you to add charcoal or smoking woods. The main grid has a hinged access door to also allow access to the fire. Both grids have left and right handles to allow you to easily lift and remove them, even with a load of food on them! (Note that in our photos below, we show the older grids which have the handles in the front and rear.) An optional upper grill can also be inverted and placed down on the firebox, just inches above the burning charcoal to get your meat right down on the fire for a high-temperature sear.

  • The charcoal bowl is also made from large gauge stainless steel rod. It has a rack that allows you to set a heat deflector just above the coals.

  • The Komodo Kamado Supreme OTB has a massive CNC laser cut, TIG welded hinge assembly that holds the dome and the massive spring which is used to hold the dome open. Below are photos of the metal parts after having been cut on the CNC laser cutter, and then after shaping on the CNC metal bending machine:


    Komodo Kamado stainless steel parts
    304 brushed stainless steel parts after laser cutting.
    View of Komodo Kamado lower hinge
    The formed upper hinge assembly.
    View of Komodo Kamado lower hinge
    Komodo Kamado bent stainless steel parts
    All the hinge assembly parts after forming.

  • The Komodo Kamado Supreme OTB also has a CNC laser cut lower draft door frame assembly that creates a perfect airtight seal. The lower draft door also has a CNC laser cut dial that gives absolute low airflow control.

  • The lower damper door is flush to the bottom of the inner chamber, making ash removal easier since you can just scrape right out into a receptacle such as a pan or bucket. A screen fence is provided to keep burning embers from leaving the cooker on their own.

  • The damper top has a machined large ACME thread 304 stainless steel shaft that of course will never rust. It is seated in a stainless three-point bracket with a brass sleeve that prevents it from binding when heated. The damper top has two gaskets an inner top and an outer lower. When the top is closed the two gaskets seal against each other as well as against the body and top.

  • There is an access tube in the side of the base to allow you to run your remote thermometer probe wires into the cooker without running them over your gasket.

  • There are built in sleeves and sockets for using an E-Z Que Rotisserie. This can be used with the top closed, an industry first.

  • To the right of the draft door is a CNC laser cut faceplate for installing a BBQ Guru inducer tube. Easy installation, no need to cut your door or grill. All you do is punch out the plug in the cooker wall and insert the BBQ Guru inducer tube. Later in this review, we have pictorial instructions showing you how to do this. (The Stoker temperature controller can also be used with the appropriate adapter.)

  • There are high-temperature ceramic gaskets used to seal the opening between the lid and base. One is on the lid, one is on the base. Thus, the gaskets overlap and can seal against each other as well as against the opposing surface.


Photo Tour of The Komodo Kamado

Now that you have read about all the interesting features on the Komodo Kamado, here's a photo tour of those features. Let's start at the bottom and work our way up the cooker. The legs are an integral part of the cooker's structure, protected by a band of stainless steel. The casters are heavy duty with high-density black rubber wheels:

Closeup of Komodo Kamado leg
The legs are a part of the structure and are protected by stainless steel bands.
Closeup of Komodo Kamado caster
Heavy duty black rubber wheels.
Closeup of Komodo Kamado caster
Heavy duty black rubber wheels.


Next up is the the lower damper door and the port for a BBQ Guru inducer tube or Stoker adapter. The damper door and it's frame is precision cut with a CNC from 304 brushed stainless steel sheet and then CNC precision bent. Rotating the circular vent gives you precise control over airflow. Pulling the damper out gives you control over large amounts of air. A BBQ Guru inducer tube can be installed by simply knocking out the plug in the side wall of the cooker and inserting the inducer tube. It can be held in place with some silicone caulk. See the section below detailing how to do this.

Closeup of Komodo Kamado damper in the closed position
The lower vent in the closed position.
Closeup of Komodo Kamado damper in the open position
The lower vent in the open position.
Closeup of Komodo Kamado guru port
The BBQ Guru inducer tube location.


Moving up to the midsection we see the stainless steel handle and the latch mechanism. Notice in the first photo how there are no bands holding the base and lid. No bands to let loose or get out of alignment or to adjust. The lid and base are held internally by embedded bands. The latch mechanism is a two-position mechanism. The first position as you latch the lid works a little loose, but then you can push the latch down into the second position to pull the lid tight. Finally, around to the side you can see the hole for a thermometer cable (no more cables between the gaskets) and the socket for the rotisserie's external motor.

NOTE: In the center photo below of the latch mechanism, you can see the grey JB Weld that oozed out when we did the repair. This is NOT how a cooker from the factory looks. There is no glue or JB Weld used in the manufacture of these cookers. This is simply the result of our being a bit sloppy with the repair.

Closeup of Komodo Kamado handle
The handle.
Closeup of Komodo Kamado latch mechanism
The latch mechanism. (The grey JB Weld oozing out is from our sloppy repair job.)
Closeup of Komodo Kamado polder hole
Hole for thermometer cables (left) and socket for a rotisserie (right).


Around back we find the massive hinge assembly and spring. With other cookers, you have to lift the lid into the open position and then a spring or a latch holds it open. The Komodo Kamado spring hinge pulls the lid open and holds it open. So you can grab the handle, push down and release the latch with your fingers and then let the spring do all the work.

Closeup of Komodo Kamado hinge
The hinge assembly.
Closeup of Komodo Kamado hinge spring
The spring.


Now to the top of the cooker. First you can see the top vent is surrounded with a reinforcing band of stainless steel. The spider holding the threaded cylinder is also stainless steel as is the cylinder, so no stuck top dampers due to rust. You can see that the threads on the rod embedded in the top damper are large ACME threads and won't get stuck due to grease and soot buildup either.

Closeup of Komodo Kamado top damper opening
The stainless steel band around the upper vent opening.
Closeup of Komodo Kamado top damper opening
The heavy stainless steel spider.
Closeup of Komodo Kamado upper damper
The top damper with heavy threaded stainless steel rod.
Closeup of Komodo Kamado upper damper thread
Close up of the threaded rod.


Now let's open up the cooker and look inside. The first thing that should grab you is the unique two-piece firebox! To our knowledge every other manufacturer has at least some of their fireboxes crack and break. Reading the forums, you see post after post suggesting a two-piece firebox. Well, here it is. So far no sign of cracking. Next to it you can see the fire basket which is made from heavy duty stainless steel rod. There are two parts their, the central smaller basket and the lower larger basket.

Closeup of Komodo Kamado firebox
The two-piece firebox.
Closeup of Komodo Kamado charcoal basket
The stainless steel fire basket. Notice the removeable smaller basket (for small fires) and the two racks that stick up on either side. You can place a small grid on these for high temperature searing.


Backing away, we can see the interior of the cooker. There are ridges to hold the lower grate and the upper grate. The lower grate has an opening at the front for adding wood chunks if necessary. The upper grate has a hinged opening for this purpose. Both grates are made from heavy duty 304 stainless steel rod.

Closeup of Komodo Kamado inside
The interior of the cooker.
Closeup of Komodo Kamado lower grid
The lower grate in place.
Closeup of Komodo Kamado upper grid
The upper grate in place.
Closeup of Komodo Kamado uppper grid in the open position
The upper grate with its hinged opening in the open position.


And finally, here's a look at the double ceramic gasket which seals the dome and base:

Closeup of Komodo Kamado dual gasket
The double ceramic gasket.


Manufacturing Information

Metal parts start life as a sheet of flat brushed 304 stainless steel. They are precision cut on a 1.2 million dollar CNC laser cutter and then bent into form and TIG welded into shape by craftsmen in a state of the art ISO 9001 workshop. No carbon steel work is done in this same workshop so as to prevent carbon contamination of the stainless steel.

Komodo Kamado CNC metal bending machine
CNC metal bending machine
Komodo Kamado CNC laser metal cutting machine
CNC laser metal cutting machine


Installing a BBQ Guru Inducer Tube

Here is a pictorial set of instructions for installing a BBQ Guru inducer tube in a Komodo Kamado cooker. This, of course, allows you to use a BBQ Guru to control the temperature of your cooker.

Installation of BBQ Guru inducer tube on Komodo Kamado cooker
The BBQ Guru inducer tube.
Installation of BBQ Guru inducer tube on Komodo Kamado cooker
The plugged port on the side of the Komodo Kamado cooker, ready to be opened.
Installation of BBQ Guru inducer tube on Komodo Kamado cooker
The tube as it will be installed, with the tapered inner edge facing out.
Installation of BBQ Guru inducer tube on Komodo Kamado cooker
Just break out the plug bit by bit with a hammer and old screw driver.
Installation of BBQ Guru inducer tube on Komodo Kamado cooker
The plug material will just crumble and is easily removed.
Installation of BBQ Guru inducer tube on Komodo Kamado cooker
The plug has been removed, revealing the metal tube that extends through the wall of the cooker.
Installation of BBQ Guru inducer tube on Komodo Kamado cooker
You many find that you need to enlarge the hole in the plate with a metal bastard file.
Installation of BBQ Guru inducer tube on Komodo Kamado cooker
The inducer tube will now slide all the way through the cooker wall.
Installation of BBQ Guru inducer tube on Komodo Kamado cooker
The inducer tube may bump into the firebox leg. If so, just back it out a bit so the tube is not blocked. Note, this is only an issue on early models. Current fireboxes are supported differently.
Installation of BBQ Guru inducer tube on Komodo Kamado cooker
Use some silicone sealant to hold the tube in place.
Installation of BBQ Guru inducer tube on Komodo Kamado cooker
Use the sealant on the outside also.

There you have it. Allow the sealant to dry and you are ready to use your BBQ Guru temperature controller with your cooker. When not using a controller, you can use the silicone kill plug that comes with your BBQ Guru controller to plug the tube.


Temperature Control

Temperature control and vent adjustment, like on any ceramic cooker, takes a little time to learn. For one who has "grown up" using Big Green Eggs, it took a bit of relearning. With the Big Green Egg dual function metal top (a.k.a. daisy wheel top), you can directly see the size of the openings. With a spinner top like that on the Komodo Kamado, you can see how far you have turned the top, but it took us a few cooks to realize how much of a difference a small turn can make as the threads are large. However, after a bit of guidance from other users on the Komodo Kamado forum, we had no trouble adjusting and controlling the temperature after a few more cooks. And of course, with all the mass of the cooker itself to help stabilize the heat in the cooker, keeping a constant temperature was relatively easy.


Cooker Efficiency/Heat Retention

We considered comparing the efficiency of the Komodo Kamado with a large Big Green Egg (the only other brand of ceramic cooker we own), but we don't really have a way to measure the relative efficiency of the two cookers since they vary so greatly in size. However, we were able to heat both cookers up and then measure the surface temperature of the domes. We used BBQ Guru Competitors to keep both cookers at 400 degrees (dome temperature) for two and a half hours. We then measured the surface temperature of the two cookers at various locations on their domes, from their lower edge up to the upper vent, using a Type K precision surface probe. The temperature of the dome on the Egg varied from 180 degrees at the lower edge of the dome to 245 degrees at the top of the dome near the upper vent. The Komodo Kamado varied from 110 degrees at the base of the dome to 160 degrees at the top near the upper vent. While the dome of the Egg was scorching hot to the touch, you could leave your hand anywhere on the Komodo Kamado's dome for at least a few seconds. Clearly the Komodo Kamado is keeping more heat inside the cooker.

What does this mean in practical terms? Two things. A more efficient cooker uses less fuel, so less charcoal expense than a less efficient cooker of the same size. But also, a more efficient cooker means that you need a smaller fire to maintain a particular temperature. And as we should all know by now, a smaller fire means the cooker is ingesting and expelling less air. Lower airflow means less moisture from the food is carried away by the air and thus you should experience better results in your cooking.


Cooking On The Komodo Kamado

In the time we have had the cooker, we have managed to cook a small variety of foods including beef and pork ribs, grilled salmon, roast leg of lamb, roast turkey breast, brisket and steaks. We have cooked mostly using "natural" temperature control, and a few times with a BBQ Guru. Needless to say everything has turned out well, and the cooking process has been a snap once we adjusted to using the vents of this style of cooker. So, overall we were very pleased with the process and the results.


Summary

The Komodo Kamado Supreme O.T.B. cooker is certainly a top of the line cooker with many first class features. The thought that went into fixing problems and improving upon designs of other brands of ceramic cookers really shows. Features like construction materials, a two-part firebox, elimination of external bands and their adjustment problems, the integrated stand/wheels, precision metal work and elimination of the need for a break-in period all show thought and commitment to cooker performance and quality. We can also say that based upon our experience with Komodo Kamado and the stories from their customers that Komodo Kamado is devoted to first class customer service. If you are looking for a first class product with first class service, Komodo Kamado should definitely be on your short list.


Pricing and Contact Information

Komodo Kamado is owned and operated by Dennis Linkletter who has been designing and building these Komodo cookers for almost four years now. He has also been designing, manufacturing and exporting teak furniture and flooring in Surabaya, Indonesia for 18 years. You can contact Dennis via email or by visiting the Komodo Kamado online forum. For the latest prices on all the various models and accessories, visit the Komodo Kamado website:

Email: info@komodokamado.com

Website: www.komodokamado.com

Online forum: www.komodokamado.com/forum/


nakedwhiz.com       Home       Search Our Site       Email The Whiz       Listen To Whizcast       Whizlog       Buy Whiz Gear       Privacy Policy
All Contents ©2001, 2014 The Naked Whiz
International Association of Fire Safety Science member #1604
The Original Big Green Egg Forum

You can support this website by shopping at The Naked Whiz Website Store and Amazon.com

You can make donations to The Naked Whiz
Website using Bitcoin! Scan the QR code at
left or copy and paste our wallet ID:

1Bt4vjU9PUQNVvEZZq6ik6jWYr6nr4rJRp