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Meet Major General McNapper

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    Meet Major General McNapper

    More about the name a little later. After several weather delays in shipping, my MAK 2 Star General finally made it home about 11:00 AM Yesterday. The abridged version of this overly long introduction is that I'm very impressed with the quality of the MAK. It's build quality definitely reflects the asking price. It's hard to compare it to something like the Memphis as the Memphis is sleek like a Ferrari where the MAK is a different kind of sexy like a King Ranch F-150. It feels every bit as solid as my Memphis did.

    I had heard many estimates of 2-3 hours to assemble, so I cracked it open over lunch thinking I'd take maybe a 90 minute lunch and get most of it knocked out so that I could have it ready for the small window I had help to get it around the patio between 4:15-5:00.

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    As soon as I opened it up, I was very impressed. It was packaged beautifully, MAK put the accessories I ordered (cover, WiFi module, and front door, right into safe places on inside the box. As I started unpacking it I was growing more and more impressed. I knew it was thicker/better steel, but the heft of all the parts was still surprising:

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    After I finally found the parts, tools and manual safely packed away inside the grease drawer, I spread things out and got ready to assemble. I loved the full American made allen set wrench Meathad points out in his review as well as their nicely labeled ziplock bags with all the parts:

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    So, I started to very carefully and deliberately assemble the grill. I ended up assembling the entire thing solo outside of a couple minutes when my daughter helped me life the grill body onto the base. Between going solo, taking my time, and trying to remove or not install anything heavy that wasn't part of the core grill the assembly turned into quite an adventure of every very minor inconvenience you could think of. My wife would end up being my help to move it to the patio traveling through the house - so all internal parts like grates, flamezone, firepot, front cabinet door, handles, etc. were installed outside in the cold and wind after transport. Usually, I call my son that's at college about 20 miles away to come help and he's usually willing if I offer to feed him or fill up his gas tank, but he has 4 exams this week, so I said keep studying.

    The wacky stuff started on assembly step two and went from there. I was assembling the base and dropped a nut. Since there was a pile of nuts yet there I just grabbed another and figured I'd get that one from underneath when I stood up the base and moved it. When I got done, I couldn't find the nut anywhere. I finally figured out the nut fell into a channel in the base. I had to remove one of the legs panels to get it out and reassemble the base again.

    With the base installed, the daughter helped me lift the body onto the base. With everything removed from the inside, it's not all that heavy, especially the side without the hopper, but my heart skipped a couple beats when I though she was going to drop it over the super short distance we had to travel as I had the base right in front of the body. We got it on the base and I started working on all the screws there.

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    This is were you really start to see the quality of the manufacturing, but also can run into a lot of frustration. Manufacturing tolerances at MAK are so precise, that you have to have every hole line up perfectly to get the screws in. For this part of the assembly, try to keep the person that just helped you lift the body onto the base stick around and help hold, shift, maneuver the body around. I attacked it solo and think it made a lot more work out of it. I expected a little frustration on this step from info others shared with me, but when you put a decently hefty body on a base that hasn't been fully tightened up yet (you fully tighten the back panel screws after this step), you seem to end up with a lot of shifting and such to get the screws in. My luck, every screw that was close to an obstacle where you could only turn the allen wrench about 1/4-1/2 turn at a time would only go in about a 1/4 of the way by hand. They had to be turned the rest of the way by wrench. They all turned easy with the wrench, just hard enough not to be able to turn with bare fingers. As well, having one of these ball end hex drivers before assembly would be very handy for the more confined machine screws: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I had about 1/2 the screws in by time my 90 minutes was chewed up. I didn't have anything pressing at work, so I ended up taking the afternoon off to finish it up before the wife got home. Not only did I need her help, the grill was in her garage spot since she was gone when it arrived.

    I ended up monkeying with 1 single screw for probably 20 to 30 minutes. Half the screws go into nuts welded on to the base. One of the most confined of these spots either had a bolt with a bad threads welded to the base or I messed up the start trying to get the screw in. I turned the screw a couple turns and the screw started leaning. Anyway, after taking that screw out and trying to start a couple other screws, I went on to the rest and came back to this one last. I ended up having to run a screw through backwards from the base via a very confined little cavity to reform the last couple threads on the grill end of the nut. Then I had to use the wrench the entire time when putting it back through the grill body into the base.

    After an interruption from the Schwan's delivery, I attached the warmer box issue free and decided to install the WiFi module. I've read numerous warnings about this and used to program EEPROMs a long time ago, so figured I had this down. I could easily see which way it went and how delicate the pins looked. For good design reasons, they have the pins angled out just slightly, so the module doesn't fall out in the vertical orientation inside the grill. However, it makes in a little nerve wracking as you have to give it a little more pressure that you want to get it to 'pop' in. It ended up going in with no problems, but when your holding that expensive little add on thinking about snapping pins off, putting that much pressure made me stress a bit.

    I wanted to setup the WiFi in the garage with the space heater nearby versus out in the cold wind. However, I did discover the downside to setting it up immediately on a new MAK. If you've never had a MAK previously, you need to learn the controls a bit since it's a controller that was originally designed to offer a lot of functionality using 5 buttons to maneuver everything. I ended up getting lost in the menus after putting in my SSID and password and did not see the note that I needed to 'save' them before powering it off. So, I lost the settings and had to enter them again when I cycled power to get back tot he start menu. I read the directions again and got it saved after the second time. Grill connected to my guest network easily.

    By this time I was in my help window so the wife helped me haul McNapper over the hills and through the house to the patio. Hooray!

    After about a dozen trips getting all the internals in place, installing handles, putting on the front door, and pre-washing the grates, I was ready for burn in. The manual specifically mentioned the bag of Bear Mountain pellets and the 20lb hopper capacity that would hold all of them, so I just dumped the entire bag in. Well, the hopper will hold 20 pounds, but barely. I had to rustle pellets everywhere to get the hopper lid to close (MAKs have a hopper lid sensor that stops the auger). I'm thinking awesome, I can fire this bad boy up for burn in, stop at the store and grab a steak to try for a first cook when I go pick up my daughter from youth group, and see what McNapper will do.

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    This is where Karma kicks me right in the rear end. Someone was talking about auger jams on another forum, and I made the mistake of saying that they were often overstated and if you kept things clean and dry, they shouldn't really ever happen. Go to fire McNapper up and guess what, auger will not turn.

    After pickup up the daughter and some fast food, I drained the hopper and found the jam. Basically, my luck is that all the rustling of the pellets I did to get them all in there must have packed them tight and oddly around the auger opening and there was a wad of pellets wedged between the auger itself and the edge of the opening to the auger tube. I grabbed a non marring mini pry bar (like you use for car interiors or opening electronics) and was able to break those pellets up. I was finally in business. I gently poured about 1/2 the pellets back in and did the recommended burn in. End of Night 1. EDIT: Ended up likely being a bad bag of pellets, had another jam couple days later, but none so far since emptying out those pellets.

    I should have gotten a few more pictures, but I was getting tired and very cold as it was hard to have gloves on doing a lot of the outdoor work.

    EDIT: A couple details I should have included originally. Not a drop of blood was shed during assembly which is very unusual at least for me when assembling a grill solo. Usually you find a sharp edge somewhere when your trying to maneuver stuff around and hold in place yourself. I haven't found any edge close to sharp anywhere on this.

    The step everyone complains about went problem free. I put a few drops of some blue dawn (because it's probably due to the color) inside the rubber grip and slid it right on the metal handle. I had a paper towel to increase grip, started it and then worked in around the bend pretty easily just spinning as I went.

    Finally, I wasn't upset or angry at all, I'm very happy with the purchase and the quality of the grill, I just figured you'd all find some entertainment in how my luck usually seems to roll. A second set of hands when fastening the grill to the cart would help a lot, basically someone to shift it a little bit or put pressure on the outside of the legs while you put screws in.
    Last edited by glitchy; March 9, 2021, 11:15 AM.

    #2
    Awesome. Sure looking forward to this journey. Great stuff.

    Comment


      #3
      It's not a Traeger, it is a MAK 2 Star General!
      Look forward to happy grilling, I am sure.

      Comment


        #4
        Good write-up as always!

        Comment


          #5
          Wow what a read. You are going to be very happy with the General. I know several folks that own them and each one is thrilled with them. Good score !!

          Comment


            #6
            So the origins of the name:

            MAK is an Veteran owned American Company that also employs several veterans. They obviously name their products after service ranks. So, I first started out looking for a humorous former general's name to use hoping to find a McSpiffy or McFly.

            However, in researching I learned a little bit about the various general ranks and decided to try more to honor a current or recent service member. So 2 Star General = Major General, something I didn't previously know. While looking through several current and recent Major Generals I stumbled across this:



            A smart, well educated, kick butt female Major General of the US Army and apparently a fellow nerd since she was in charge of federal IT operations. Being the small number of female officers that rank that high, I thought it would be cool to name my MAK in honor of her. However, I've known several people that go by 'Mac' and they all had McJones type last names. So, it became McNapper. As well, I might have taken a few nappers while protein is smoking away on a pellet grill over the years, so it seemed to have a nice dual purpose fit.

            Anyway, the end goal is to remind me to be grateful for my freedoms that have been provided by those that have served our great country for the last 245 years and to also remember we need more women in the highest ranks everything in this world - each time I use my grill.
            Last edited by glitchy; February 25, 2021, 02:33 PM.

            Comment


            • RickyBobby
              RickyBobby commented
              Editing a comment
              I can’t tell you how incredibly awesome I think it is that you put that much effort/research into naming your new cooker. Well played, sir. Well played! And I seriously look forward to your cooks on MG McNapper!

            • fzxdoc
              fzxdoc commented
              Editing a comment
              So well thought out and such a perfect name. Good for you!

              Kathryn

            #7
            Salute to MG McNapper! Thanks for the great write up and definitely looking forward to the next McNapper operation.

            Comment


              #8
              Well done, Private McGlitchy. Carry on!

              Comment


              • STEbbq
                STEbbq commented
                Editing a comment
                Ha, now that is a good one.

              #9
              The first ‘cook’ was going to be cold smoked cheese as I’ve never tried this before. However, it appears I may have just missed my weather window. We’re in the 40s again and I fired McNappy up over lunch and put a FB probe in the cold smoke box. It was holding 103-106 with the grill about 170. I’m a total newb, but I keep reading it needs to stay under 90 for cheese, so I guess next winter I’ll give that a shot...I’m not wishing for more cold this year, we’ve had enough already. I’m just glad I didn’t buy 10 block of expensive cheese to smoke, just a couple cheap kraft blocks I can use for other stuff.

              First cook will now be cheap steaks I guess in an hour or two. I’ve got all kinds of stuff in the fridge waiting to be cooked over next few days.

              Comment


              • glitchy
                glitchy commented
                Editing a comment
                ItsAllGoneToTheDogs where do you put the loaf pans of ice? In the warming box next to intake vents or in cook chamber on right side?

              • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
                ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
                Editing a comment
                glitchy move the cheese as close to the exit vents on the warming box, put the ice an inch or so from the cheese. You can feel the hot spots on the warming box lid, it gets cooler the further from the MAK main chamber you get. When you put the ice in there you will feel a definite difference. I haven't had success even with ice when it's over 70 in the daylight but you might after the sun goes down too, especially with harder cheeses.

              • glitchy
                glitchy commented
                Editing a comment
                ItsAllGoneToTheDogs that's actually where I had my probe setup clear over in the back right corner. So I was surprised when it was over 100 degrees there. Do you use the regular cold smoker grate? If so, how do you fit the loaf pan under the lid? I'll definitely play some more. Obviously just cracked the book on learning my new cooker.

              #10
              I'm smiling a lot about your assembly write-up. As one who also struggled with the tight tolerances of the nuts and bolt hole alignments, and particularly the ones on the left behind the auger cover, I just kept grinning to myself. Worth the effort though!

              And kudos to you for doing the research on military names. As a vet myself, I had a lot of affinity and affection for buying from MAK, Bob Tucker and the crew there. Not being as imaginative as you, I just named mine The Beast.

              Welcome to the MAK family and looking forward to your adventures, and write-ups, of upcoming cooks!

              Comment


              • GolfGeezer
                GolfGeezer commented
                Editing a comment
                By the way, if that auger shutoff feature bugs you, it is very easy to disable. You just unplug the wire lead that goes from the magnet just under the lid at the controller. I did that as I really do not have a concern about fingers reaching into the auger feed opening while the power in "on".

              • Sweaty Paul
                Sweaty Paul commented
                Editing a comment
                Loved your assembly write up. I just upgraded my Yoder with the Fireboard controller. I empathize with the bolts and screws in weird and hard to reach places. Glad you didn’t hemorrhage. I can’t make that claim! Enjoy your rig!

              • glitchy
                glitchy commented
                Editing a comment
                Sweaty Paul I think it might be the first pooper that didn't draw any blood at all, just about everything else I've assembied has a hidden sharp edge somewhere you often find the hard way. Most of them end up protected from being continuous hazards after assembly though. MAK definitely has an attention to detail.

              #11
              Great write-up. So exciting! Good luck with her!

              Comment


                #12
                All the problems will fade when you take that first hunk o' meat off that grill.

                Comment


                • glitchy
                  glitchy commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I wouldn’t even call them problems, just my usual unlucky encounters. It’s all together, damage free, and working fine. I’m very happy with it.

                #13
                Looks like a general! In yer cookin journey, don’t ferget those, lowly, sometimes fergotten Wibs.

                Comment


                  #14
                  Now that you have the general stuff figured out, go cook something specific.

                  Comment


                    #15
                    Have you thought about a high temperature paint on the stainless steel hood? I have thought about a custom paint job sometimes to add some pop.

                    Figured it was best to do it with a brand new smoker.

                    Comment


                    • glitchy
                      glitchy commented
                      Editing a comment
                      You should go for it though, could be cool! Now that all the houses are built around be, stuff doesn’t get near as dirty and I probably don’t need the covers, but you know what they say about old habits.

                    • STEbbq
                      STEbbq commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I’d have to see what type of paint works best for the MB560 since it decidedly does not have a lot of SS.

                    • jfmorris
                      jfmorris commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Don’t do this! I’ve got an offset smoker made of stainless that my dad gave me back in the 90’s, after he had used it about 10 years. He decided to ‘freshen’ it up with a coat of black grill paint before telling me. To me it detracted from the grill, and over the past 25 years, it’s become a mess of worn paint with stainless peaking through it .

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