Sunday, April 1, 2012

Magma Grills are Evil

Those of you who regularly read this blog have probably figured out that I'm a pretty laid back guy.   It takes a lot to make me angry, but our pricey Magma Catalina grill did it easily yesterday.

The day started out great.  C Dock decided to order pizza for lunch, and Bill and Patty from Enigma volunteered to pick it up.  While they were gone, the clouds built and we heard thunder so Gene, Ruby, Chevy, and I high tailed it up to the pavilion to await the pizza.  Gene and Patty arrived just as the clouds opened up, perfect timing.  We enjoyed the pizza, and Ruby and Chevy got a good helping of pizza bones.

Bob, a fisherman at our marina, came by and asked if we'd like some fresh fish.  He had a freezer full already and needed to find a home for his latest catch, and so C Dock got a cooler full of Mahi-Mahi.  We could have passed it around to everyone at the marina, or we could grill it and make it into a party.   We chose the later.  Since Drift Away has a fairly large grill, I volunteered to cook it.   I started at 5 o'clock.

It sure looked good.

And then the trouble started.  The piezo lighter stopped working 30 seconds after we bought this expensive grill and we have to light it with a lighter, which I did.  And then, as has happened since we've owned this piece of junk, the flame went out.   I don't have a very good sense of smell and I couldn't smell the gas.  I only noticed when the fish stopped cooking.   I stuck the lighter into a hole on the side and clicked it and the grill lit with a huge WOOOOSH!  I had to do this repeatedly, all night long, as the flame continually went out.  Each batch of fish took an hour to grill.

I guess I should be grateful that someone was watching over me.  I had the tiki-torches lit  on the stern of the boat, one right next to the grill.  I'm lucky the torch didn't ignite the propane leaking out of the dead grill and blow up C Dock.

C Dock was in party mode though and everyone waited patiently. 

I was getting more perturbed by the minute, constantly checking and relighting the grill.  Not even this beautiful sunset made things better.  Dan chimed in that he has a Magma grill and it too is a piece of crap.  He hates it.

The fish were delicious though.   So I've been told.  The last batch finished after 8 PM and by that time I was so aggravated I just didn't feel like eating.  I spent three hours looking at fish as I fought with that lousy piece of junk grill and I viewed it as the enemy.

Although I feel like deep-sixing it, I think I'll call Magma on Monday to see what they have to say.  There must be a way to fix it, although a quick google search shows that the problem has been around for years and I'm not alone.

This problem reminds me of a time about 15 years ago when I had a dozen computers I had built and was setting up for a customer.  Each one had a tape backup device installed, and not a one of them worked.  Calls to tech support were of no use as each customer service agent told me that no one else was having issues and the problem must lie with my computers.  I called and called and got escalated to an engineer who finally admitted that there was a firmware problem with the tape drives and they had been trying to sort it out for many months.  

"You know that these drives don't work and you're shipping them anyway?" I asked.

"Of course.", he said, "Do you think we'd stop selling product?".  And there you have it, in a nutshell.

Or maybe I'll just take the grill off Drift Away and mount it on the Whaler, which is sitting up in the yard.  No, I don't know when it will be fixed.  Today I'm in I-don't-give-a-shit mode.  Maybe I'll just shut myself up down below and watch old John Wayne movies on DVD. 

The Duke would know what to do.   He'd just kick some sense into the tech support guy at Magma.  Pilgrim.



  2. You are a better man than I Dave. I'd have borrowed a dingy and gone out in the middle of the river and thrown it in....

  3. Grills ahhh they are definitely a source of aggravation however I must say of all the grills I have owned big backyard type, other than my weber this magna push ignite switch still works after almost 2 years. But we find if there is pretty much ANY wind the flame gets blown out, they do make a wind shield now to help with that don't know if it really works or not though.

  4. Sorry to hear that. I know little about Magmas, other than they sure are shiney! Good luck on replacing it; just don't get a Jackson Grill - it would really put you in orbit.

  5. They've worked on our sailboats; maybe that's the problem!

  6. Rick hates our Magma Catalina Grill - I keep telling him it's the operator - guess I will cut him some slack. We started with the little round one and thought maybe if we got the bigger one it would work better - not! Hope Pam get's back soon - someone is starting to get a little cranky.

  7. Nothing worse than a bad grilling experience! Check out Kuuma ( if you are in the market for a new one. Good luck.

  8. I have the same grill and I've figured out that it goes out more often when I've put a new propane tank on it. The second time I try to cook on it, it works just fine even the wind. There has be a fix, as this thing is so expensive.

  9. We have a magma catalina and I too have been tempted to use it as an artificial reef - a use for which it would be far more suited than the one advertised. But, I have learned to live with it - with a few adaptations. First, the igniter is worthless, you will make your life a lot easier if you just abandon this and get a Bic lighter. Next, the alleged temperature gauge is also worthless and you should just ignore it entirely. The primary problem is that of keeping the thing lit. I have solved this by placing a stainless steel bolt at the front, so that the threaded end of it sticks out a bit and thus allows more air into the chamber and therefore keeps the thing lit most of the time. The locking latch mechanism is also a non-functioning feature and your life will be simpler if you just accept this. The biggest acceptance issue that you will have is that you have paid a ton of money for something that, after all modifications, will work nearly as well as a Webber grille from Home Depot. But hey, you own it now so just get over it and adapt. Will I ever buy another Magma product? HA!

  10. This is the first Magma grill problem I have heard of. I would say that half of all boats in our home harbor in Dana Point have these grills. I have the smaller round one and it works great. I even use it as a stove top to make coffee in the morning. I am sorry you have this problem. I would say that you got a defect from the factory if indeed this is a new grill. I would give them another chance. My experience with these have been very positive.

  11. I have had the same experience with my Magma grill. The factory sent me some new parts saying the design was bad. It helped but sometimes the grill works and sometimes it doesn't. this is the worst grill i have ever had. I was just discussing this with my wife last night. My 49 Weber portable grill is 10 times the grill the expensive piece of junk it.

  12. I have had the same problems with my grill. The factory sent me new parts once saying the design was bad. I really appreciated their assistance and the new parts helped. The problem is sometimes the grill works great and then for no reason i can determine I will fight with it to cook a simple hamburger. It is a piece of junk. My 49 Weber portable grill is much better and consistent. Kenneth commented above that it is the first time he has heard of Magma grill problems but if he started looking he would see it is a totally defective grill and does not work properly. I feel ripped off.