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It was just about a year ago when we published the Margaritaville Tailgating Grill Eulogy. About six months later we also published an article stating that we had Freedom Grill & Margaritaville Grill spare parts for sale. These were parts that were left over from broken grills we had purchased while we were customizing these grills to teams colors and logos. As you can see from the accompanying photo, we still have some Freedom Grill and Margaritaville spare parts left, but they are getting more and more scarce.
Margaritaville Spare Parts
As you can see in the photo, the number of spare parts we still have is dwindling. A quick look in the warehouse and this is what we still have that would fit a Freedom Grill FG-50 or a Margaritaville Tailgating Grill.
2 – Grill Grates
3 – Tilt-out condiment trays
5 – Legs
1 – Side handle
2 – Gas regulator manifolds
2 – Left side panels
1 – Right side panel
1 – Front bezel
4 – Temperature control knobs
3 – Temperature gauges
4 – Ignitor push buttons
Numerous screws and washers for the parts and pieces on a FG-50 and/or Margaritaville Grill
You can tell that the scarcity of these parts will go up with time. The complete grills are super rare now and we even saw one listed on eBay for $899.00 and that was just the starting bid. The “Buy It Now” price was $1,299.00 and they were asking for $199.00 for shipping on top of that!
If your grill is in need of repair and could use some parts that we have, please use the form found on our Contact page and let us know what you need and your zip code to estimate shipping costs. Even if your grill is working perfectly but you want to make sure you have parts for if it does break, contact us as well. We will offer a price quote based on which parts you are interested in and how far we will have to ship them.
Tailgating in the SEC is highly competitive. Judging by the message board reaction to Peter’s post, Ranking The SEC Tailgates, who tailgates better is as highly contested as the games on the field. Armed with this knowledge we were surprised that it took this long for someone from South Carolina to request we customize a Margaritaville Tailgating Grill to South Carolina Gamecocks garnet and black. Take a look at how this one turned out.
Over the past two years since we have started customizing these tailgating grills, there are a few grills that stick out and are truly exceptional. This Notre Dame Tailgating Grill is one of them. Take a look.
As you can see from the above photo gallery, this grill is quite a bit different than others we have done in the past. The fact that the grill lid and basin were customized to replicate the the golden helmets worn by Notre Dame football players sets it apart from any other we have done. Because both of those areas get hot once the grill is in use, we had to use heat resistant paint that was rated up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. (Of course, the grill would never get that hot but we wanted to ensure the paint would stay on and would not chip or flake while grilling and tailgating.)
This grill was customized for a reader of ours who lives in Campbellsville, Kentucky who makes the nearly 350 mile trek north via I-65 to South Bend for every home game. For a tailgater with that much dedication, you know we had to go above and beyond the call of duty and put a little extra into this grill.
It has been a while since we have seen a new grill come onto the consumer market that appeals directly to Tailgate Nation. Most of the newer grills that have come out considered tailgating as an afterthought after they had already hit store shelves and were trying to expand their market share. Needless to say, it has been rather boring the past few years with the lack of innovative ideas for tailgating grills coming out. That changed this week with the introduction of the Blacktop 360 Party Hub Grill-Fryer.
I first saw the Blacktop 360 from their promo video they put up on YouTube back in August. It looked very cool and very versatile but then again, it was their own promo video. Almost any product can look good with great editing and a slickly produced video package. Not that I doubted the product was going to be great but we here at TailgatingIdeas.com test tailgating gear personally before we offer up a review, good or bad. By doing this you know the product has been personally tested by either myself or one of our writing staff members and you know we understand tailgating in and out and the unique needs and requirements tailgaters in the lots have come to expect. Luckily we were able to make a connection with the folks over at Blacktop 360 and secure a sample to test out for ourselves.
(Disclaimer:We did receive a sample Blacktop 360 grill for free. The fact this sample was provided to us in no way influenced our opinion of the product nor did it impact our ability to test and review the product fairly and objectively.)
First, take a look at their official promotional video and then read on for the main features of the grill, where to find it and our opinion of how the Blacktop 360 performed in a real tailgating environment.
As you can see from the video, the Blacktop 360 is the definition of versatility. Most tailgating grills are just that. A grill and not much else. Not much you can do with a grill other than grill traditional grilling foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, brats, steaks, shish kabobs, etc. If you want cook breakfast foods like scrambled eggs, hash browns, pancakes, etc. you had to buy an accessory like the Sizzle-Q to convert your grill to a flat surface griddle. And forget using your grill for other items because the griddle takes up the majority of the space and almost all of the heat. If you wanted to keep food warm while cooking more grub on a traditional tailgating grill, you needed to buy an after-market raised grill rack. If you wanted to fry something like fresh french fries or onion rings, you needed to buy a separate portable deep fryer. With the Blacktop 360, you have your traditional grilling surface, a griddle surface, a warming area and a deep fryer all in one unit. The best part is that if you don’t want to deep fry anything at that particular tailgate, you can use the frying basin to keep your queso dip warm, make chili, soup for those cold January NFL playoff tailgates or even use it as a wok to stir-fry veggies. Take a look at the details and specs on this tailgating grill/fryer and then read the details of our testing of the product and if it gets the TailgatingIdeas.com “Tailgate Approved” stamp of approval.
Deep Fryer, Infrared Grill, Griddle and integrated Warming Plate
Independent temperature controls
24,000 BTUs total with three separate cooking functions
Electronic pulse ignition (requires one AA battery—not included)
Optional hose attachment for 20 lb. propane tank
All-steel powder-coated and enameled folding frame
Insulated handles with integrated tool holders
Accessory rail for cutting board or additional equipment
Lid fits over grill, griddle or warming plate.
Cooking surface has a dedicated drain channel and supplied insulated oil holder
Rubber feet for stability and protection
Included accessories: Cutting board, slosh ring, thermometer, liquid catch bottle, three-position cover, storage/carrying bag
Set-up unit measures 31W x 31L x 30.5H inches
Retail box 30W x 11L x 29.5H inches
Retail weight is 37 lbs.
Here is a gallery of photos we shot while testing out the Blacktop 360 on Labor Day 2011. Click each image to see greater detail individually.
As you can see, we set the Blacktop 360 grill/fryer up in the grass of our backyard. The menu was traditional 3-day weekend BBQ and tailgate food including burgers and hot dogs. (We have a three year old and a five year old at home, so nothing too extravagant in order to appease the picky eaters.) We also had planned to grill up some Bacon Wrapped Garlic Cream Cheese Jalapeño Poppers as appetizers much like I do while out tailgating. Because I wanted to test out all facets of the Blacktop 360 we also did some homemade beer battered onion rings and thick cut french fries.
As you can see by the photos we started with the poppers and then started on the onions rings. The onion rings turned out fantastic and the cooking thermometer that came with the Blacktop 360 was key in keeping the oil at optimum temperature to make the rings come out perfect. I then started doing the french fries and while those were cooking, fired up the grill section and griddle section. I added the hot dogs and hamburgers to both sections and was pretty busy keeping an eye on the meats while also keeping an eye on the fries. The warming area was so convenient in that it prevented me from getting something overcooked or, dare I say burned. I just moved it over when it was ready to come off and it stayed warm until everything was cooked and ready to serve.
…the Blacktop 360 would be perfect for those “three meal tailgaters”…
Because the Blacktop 360 is unlike any other tailgating grill I have cooked on, it did take a little getting used to. Because the grilling section uses infrared as its heat source, the grill did not behave exactly like a regular open flame tailgating grill. The meats still turned out great. They just cooked faster than had I been using a traditional open flame tailgating grill. Also, you can see in one of the photos, I was grilling 1/3 pound sirloin burgers. Only about four of them fit on the grilling surface and if you have a larger group that all wants to eat at the same time, this could pose a problem. But the problem is easily solved by moving the burgers or whatever you are cooking to the warming section and then throw on four more. Once those are done, the first set of burgers will have stayed hot and now your guests can start eating.
As I was using the Blacktop 360 I started to think of all the different kinds of food I could now bring tailgating. The fryer in the middle tended to ignite the most tailgating food ideas like making state fair style funnel cakes for a tailgating desert. I spent nearly five years in Oklahoma and have eaten my fair share of fried okra. I immediately thought those doing a little Oklahoma Sooners tailgating outside Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium would love the Blacktop 360 for that dish. LSU Tailgaters outside Tiger Stadium might make some gumbo in the fryer reservoir.
I also got to thinking that the Blacktop 360 would be prefect for those “Three meal tailgaters”. You know they type. The tailgaters who get to the parking lot at 5 am for a 7 pm kick-off. These warriors will fire up breakfast, cook lunch and have dinner before heading inside. The Blacktop 360 would be perfect for these types of tailgaters because all four quadrants can handle whatever type of foods they could possibly want throughout the course of a long day tailgating.
Once everything was cooked and I turned off all the burners, it was time to eat. I left the thermometer in the oil to see how long it took for the grill and the oil to cool down. After finishing my meal, I went back outside to test the grill surface and check the oil temperature. I would estimate I was away from the grill for about 15 minutes and by the time I came out, the grilling surface was cool to the touch and the oil had cooled to about 90 degrees. Definitely a safe temperature to start the clean up process and storing the used oil. I used the stainless steel canister that was provided to drain the oil. I then removed the top and broke out the hose and soapy water. I made sure to use a sponge without an abrasive surface so as to not damage the porcelain enamel coating.
…The Blacktop 360 is 100% “tailgate approved” and performed beyond expectation, which by the way, was pretty high to start with…
The clean up was rather easy because I was at home. Had I been using it in a parking lot, I would suggest keeping the grill on and letting it burn off any bits or drippings that may have fallen on or around the IR heating element. There shouldn’t be much left other than white ash. To clean the other surfaces, you can douse a little water onto the cooking surface with the burners still on and caked-on food will wipe away. Make sure you have some water in the center cooking reservoir when cleaning. Bring an extra large (unused) trash bag to place the cooking top (once cool enough) in it just in case you didn’t have enough time to completely clean it while in the parking lot. That way it will not ruin the carrying bag when you pack it away.
All in all, the Blacktop 360 was very impressive and proved to be immensely versatile as a tailgating grill. The fact that it took someone this long to come up with a product that allows tailgaters to prepare all three meals on one cooking device without any add-ons still is amazing to us. If you are an all-day tailgater or just one that likes to have lots of variety in your tailgating menu, you need to get a Blacktop 360. This tailgating grill is 100 percent “tailgate approved” and performed beyond expectation, which by the way, was pretty high to start with. We’ve seen a lot of tailgating grills in our time and it takes a lot to impress us. This one impressed us due to it’s high versatility and fantastic functionality.
The Blacktop 360 is available now from Sports Authority and soon will be available on Amazon and from Sports Chalet. The price over at Sports Authority lists it at $249.99. To learn more about the Blacktop 360, please visit their website at blacktop360.com. You can also follow them on Twitter (@Blacktop360) or like them on Facebook.
If you will be attending the Denver Broncos vs. the Oakland Raiders Monday Night Football game on Monday, September 12, you can see the Blacktop 360 in action. They will be hosting a massive tailgate party from 2 pm to 5 pm at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Just look for the big black truck near the Lot C entrance.
It’s backyard grilling season for most people. For tailgaters, grilling season never really ends. But for some of you who are “football only” tailgaters, you may want to take this time and check your grill before the season starts. By checking your grill now, you’ll know what needs to be cleaned, what needs to be fixed and what needs to be replaced. One of the major issues tailgaters find with their propane grill after giving their grill the mothball treatment is large yellow flames.
Propane or natural gas grills should have blue flames with little yellow tips. Large flames that are predominantly yellow are a sign that something is wrong. Yellow flames can cause low heat, uneven heat, a build up of soot on your food, hot spots and unpredictable grilling. Is the problem a big one that only requires a small adjustment or is it a large one that will require replacement parts? The only way to find out is to test it and try to solve the problem with solutions that are easiest and less expensive first rather than assuming you need to buy replacement parts. So if you see large yellow flames on your grill, try these steps to rectify the situation.
Possible Stuck Regulator: Sometimes a regulator can get stuck. This happens more frequently when a grill has been in storage and out of use for a few months. A stuck regulator can cause low gas pressure and the grill will fail to heat up properly. The good news is the solution to fix a stuck regulator is rather simple and won’t cost you and money. To fix a stuck regulator follow these steps closely and exactly in order:
Turn off the gas at the propane tank
Disconnect the gas line from the tank
Open the grill lid
Turn all control valves to high
Wait for about a minute
Turn all control valves to off
Reconnect the gas line to the tank
SLOWLY turn on the gas at the tank
Light the grill normally
Hopefully that solution worked and you are now seeing blue flames. To keep the regulator from sticking again, make sure that you turn off the control valves first, then turn off the tank valve. Also, you should always open your tank valve slowly. If your gas grill still has yellow flames and the temperature is still low, you may need to replace the regulator.
Adjust the Burner: An improper mixture of gas and air can cause yellow flames too. The good news is that adjusting the burner could solve this problem. The bad news is that you are probably going to have to break out the tools and get some grill grease and soot on yourself to adjust the burner. The reason being is that on almost all grills the area where you would adjust the burner is where it connects to the grill manifold. This is typically right behind the control valve. If you kept your manual to your grill find out where the adjustment screws are located on your particular model. This screw or screws holds the sleeve in the right place and when the screws are loosened will allow you to slide the sleeve back and forth. In order to see the burner unobstructed, make sure you take out the grill grate and any drip pans or barriers before attempting this.
This may sound stupid but you never know…. Before doing this make sure your grill is off and is cool. Loosen the screw and rotate the adjustment sleeve. Tighten the screw and relight your grill. You’ll need to wait a minute or two to see if the adjustment you did fixed the problem. If it did and you are seeing nice blue flames with yellow tips, adjust the other burners on the grill the same way.
Dirty Burners: Because grilling has drips and other falling particles that make contact with your grill burners, sometimes debris or grease build up can block the ports that release gas out of the burner. If some of these holes are blocked, this will cause uneven pressure and force more gas out of those holes that are not blocked. The uneven pressure can cause yellow flames and thus uneven heat.
The first thing you need to check for is to see if the burner is cracked, damaged or rusted. If this is the case, you may need to replace the burner. With a wire brush you may be able to scrape the debris off of the ports thus clearing the obstructions. Brushing does not get the gunk out of the inside of the burner and you may need to remove the burner to gain access there. If you don’t have the manual, make sure to take good mental or written notes as to how the burner came out so that you can reattach it properly once you are done. Make sure you do not damage the burner when removing it because you don’t want to create a bigger problem when trying to fix a smaller one.
Once you have the burner out, use a thin wire or a pipe cleaner to clear out all the possible debris that may have collected in there. If you use water while cleaning it out, make sure it is completely dry before replacing it. While the burner is out and you have easy access to it, you may want to coat it with a layer of cooking oil. Make sure not to block the ports and use an oil with a high smoke point. (Examples of oils with high smoke points are Canola Oil, Olive Oil, Canola Oil and Avocado Oil being the highest.)
Replace the burner and see if you still have big, yellow flames. Yellow flames may not be a sign there is something else wrong, only that there way be an alignment issue. The burner, control valve or manifold might not be lined up right to let the gas flow through properly. The gas flow should be a straight line through all the parts. Look to see if the entire flow of gas is in the right alignment. While doing this examination make sure that there are no cracks or holes in any of these parts. Damaged parts will need to be replaced.
If your grill has multiple burners, you will need to see if you are having yellow flame issues with just one or all of the burners. If it is affecting all of your burners, you may have a bad regulator and will need to replace it. If you are only having trouble with one burner, you possibly have a bad control valve or a problem with the manifold. They may be broken or just need to be cleaned out. You can remove these parts and clean them out like you normally would but you may end up replacing them if that does not do the trick.
If you are looking at the possibility of replacing these broken or defective parts, you’ll need to weigh the possibility of replacing the entire grill. If the cost of a replacement part is going to cost a lot, you may be better off getting a whole new grill. Over Memorial Day Weekend, Buy.com was offering the Margaritaville Tailgating Grill for under $200 and that included free shipping. They said it was a limited time offer only valid during the holiday weekend. But a quick peek at their site and they seem to be still offering the grills for that price. We’re not sure if that is a mistake or not but if it is, you may want to take advantage of that sooner than later before they wake up and realize they did not put an expiration date on that coupon.
Make sure your grill is working properly before hitting the parking lot in August. College football season will happen whether the NFL gets its act together and ends the labor lock out dispute on time in order to have a season. You don’t want to be stuck in the parking lot with an underachieving grill at the first game.
TailgatingIdeas.com is a tailgating blog dedicated to bringing you the latest and most intriguing tailgating ideas out there. Whether it is the latest tailgating gear reviews, a great new recipe or a funny list to make you smile, our goal is to inform and entertain the avid and the casual tailgater alike.
Started in August 2007 by tailgating enthusiast Dave Lamm, TailgatingIdeas.com has evolved into an advocate for tailgaters rights and is not afraid to touch on controversial issues confronting those who frequent the tailgating parking lots.
To learn more about TailgatingIdeas.com and our team of writers, reviewers, cartoonists and contributors, please visit the About Us page.