Solid mass of pellets around auger

Dr. Demento

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I recently acquired a used PitBoss 820D. It has a few issues I'm hoping someone might have some recommendations.

1) the previous owner left pellets in the hopper during the winter and moisture basically solidified the pellets from one end of the burn assembly to the fire pot. Any suggestions on how to remove/loosen the solid pellet mass?

2) Along with leaving pellets in the hopper/burn assembly, the grill itself allows water to enter between the exterior of the firebox and the hopper. Is there a product you could recommend that would effectively keep the water out while allowing me to detach the hopper in the event of a repair or jam?? I know that getting a cover is the first line of defense, but I want to make the hopper and the electronics less accessible to water but don't want a product that will make getting to the parts enclosed under the hopper a pain to access.

Thank you for your help.
 

MikeInFla

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You are going to have to remove the auger and clean it out.


As for question 2, do not leave it in the rain and keep it covered at all times when not in use. it is recommended to remove your pellets are each cook to keep them from solidifying but I have never done this - I keep it with a cover on it and it is under a covered porch at all times and has never gotten wet.
 

MikeInFla

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Here's another. If the auger is stuck it can be difficult to remove and you risk bending it so be careful. This one was stuck pretty good:

 
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Dr. Demento

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Thank you Mike.

I have seen both of those videos. Unfortunately, the screw holding the motor to the auger is pointed in a direction that I can't grab the other end, making it impossible to get the motor off.

I read about someone who basically baked the crap out of the burner assembly, like a self-cleaning oven. Just wondered if anyone had similar success or maybe a 'sure-fire' method (this must happen fairly often).

Also, wondered if anyone uses a gasket on the pellet hopper to prevent water getting in.

Anyways, thanks again. Hope everything's getting back to normal at PCB; great town!
 

MikeInFla

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Thank you Mike.

I have seen both of those videos. Unfortunately, the screw holding the motor to the auger is pointed in a direction that I can't grab the other end, making it impossible to get the motor off.

I read about someone who basically baked the crap out of the burner assembly, like a self-cleaning oven. Just wondered if anyone had similar success or maybe a 'sure-fire' method (this must happen fairly often).

Also, wondered if anyone uses a gasket on the pellet hopper to prevent water getting in.

Anyways, thanks again. Hope everything's getting back to normal at PCB; great town!
The screw holding the motor? There should be some room there, this is a video I made when I had an auger issue. I thought it was a jam but it was not. The screw that holds the motor to the auger fell out and bent.


The screw will move when the unit is on. To get it to a position where I could reach it easier I just turned it on to get it to the position I wanted with the hopper laying on its side. Then I used needle nose plyers to hold the nut when I screwed in a new sheer pin.

If the auger has build up really the only way to fix it is to take it out and chip away at it. The pellets turn to a concrete like build up on the auger if they get wet then dry.

As for a gasket, that might work but the best defense against water is always a cover.

As for PCB we are still rebuilding (not we as in ME but we as a city). There are still people living in campers and houses in disrepair that at this point need to be torn down. Code enforcement is looking the other way but something needs to be done. Some shopping centers still sit empty and dilapidated.

It took me 6 months to finally get new shingles on my house. Luckily I had no structure damage to our house. We had 5 of our oak trees come down and luckily none landed on the house but as a result we lost all of our shade in the backyard and now it is too hot to go out there. I used to complain that the oaks would keep the grass from growing and we had a sandy backyard. Now the grass won't stop growing and there is no shade hahaha.

It was a terrifying time because we stayed home during the storm and hunkered down in the hallway of our house for about 4 hours. The only time I went outside was when the eye of the hurricane passed over. I went out to assess damage and things looked to be ok. At that point we had 2 trees down. Then the second eyewall hit and all hell broke loose, it was even worse than the first wave. We did not have power for over a month. The day after the storm my wife and daughters left to stay in Tennessee with family and I stayed with the house. Luckily my employer paid us for the first 2 weeks without working and at the end of the second week they allowed us to work to assist with clean up.

For the most part PCB was pretty much OK. It is the "city" side where I live (to the east) that got hit the hardest (I live closer to Tyndall AFB).
 
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Dr. Demento

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Whoa, dude!! I've been a part of both tornado and hurricane clean-ups, but never lived the aftermath myself; I can only imagine. Props to you and your family!

Per your advice, I used a pair of needle nose (and was a bit more diligent, given your perseverance after the hurricane :)) and was able to get the screw connecting the auger to the motor. I couldn't get it to re-position because the auger is frozen, so appreciate the encouragement.

I'm not looking forward to burrowing down the auger (I can't use the copper pipe trick yet because the auger is still frozen/locked inside). Ah well.

Thanks again and good luck to you.
 

MikeInFla

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Dr. Demento, what I did was remove everything from the inside of the Pit Boss. Then I got a long screwdriver, placed it on the auger from the inside of the grill and tapped the top of the screwdriver with a hammer. Even though mine was not clogged (which initially I thought it was because it was not turning --- it was later I figured out it was that sheer pin)... Anyway, even though mine was not clogged it was still difficult to remove the auger so that is why I tapped it out with a screwdriver. try that and it might help loosen it up.
 
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Dr. Demento

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Just a bit of follow-up for others who have a similar issue in the future. To loosen the auger in the burn assembly, I made a low grade fire (charcoal briquettes and some old wood pellets), piled it along the burner assembly (this part), and let it burn for 3+ hours. Since the blockage was concentrated at the wall closest to the hopper, I put most of the charcoal there. After the fire basically dehydrated/caused the wood to shrink, I clamped a pair of vise-grips to the auger and twisted it out (don't try to pull it; there's already a path thru the blockage - use it).

After that, I did as MikeInFla suggested and used a copper pipe/electric metal tubing and pounded it gently thru the wood blockage. Make sure you scrap the walls really well. Empty/vacuum out the remaining mess, and remove the crude/rust off the auger (600 grit wet/dry sandpaper) and you should be back in business!!!

Mike, thanks for your help!!
 

DaveXDm9

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Just a bit of follow-up for others who have a similar issue in the future. To loosen the auger in the burn assembly, I made a low grade fire (charcoal briquettes and some old wood pellets), piled it along the burner assembly (this part), and let it burn for 3+ hours. Since the blockage was concentrated at the wall closest to the hopper, I put most of the charcoal there. After the fire basically dehydrated/caused the wood to shrink, I clamped a pair of vise-grips to the auger and twisted it out (don't try to pull it; there's already a path thru the blockage - use it).

After that, I did as MikeInFla suggested and used a copper pipe/electric metal tubing and pounded it gently thru the wood blockage. Make sure you scrap the walls really well. Empty/vacuum out the remaining mess, and remove the crude/rust off the auger (600 grit wet/dry sandpaper) and you should be back in business!!!

Mike, thanks for your help!!
it looks like you had your hands full on this one. I am glad you got it cleared and these are great lessons for anyone that runs into this issue .
 
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