PK Grills PK360:
Thanks to my friends at Hazy Peak Barbecues, I have a new toy to play with: the PK Grills PK360. This is a grill with a 60+ year history and even after all that time is still American owned, designed and manufactured, coming out of Little Rock, Arkansas. It’s also the official grill of the Steak Cookoff Association – a rapidly growing competition body that is making waves around the world. In this article, I Unbox, Build & give my 1st Impressions on the iconic PK Grills PK360.
PK Grills PK360: Unboxing
It always sounds odd to describe the packaging of a product, but it’s important. It’s what keeps your product safe in transit, and it’s the first impression of your product. Make no mistake: packaging is an integral part of the product experience. In this regard, PK Grills are clearly at the top of their game.
Firstly, the packaging is visually appealing – I was excited just looking at it after it was delivered. And then the paranoia set in: this PK Grills PK360 had travelled a long way – from PK Grills in Little Rock Arkansas, to Hazy Peak Barbecues in Australia and then up to the Smoking Hot Confessions Headquarters on the Gold Coast of Australia.
I needn’t have worried, as this grill is incredibly well-packed. It comes in two separate boxes, with the grill in one, the stand and shelves in the other, and various smaller parts between the two. It’s packaged with plastic wraps and high-compression foam to keep it all safe and secure. You could ship this thing around the world six times on an 18th Century Chinese Junk and it would still arrive in pristine condition!
PK Grills PK360: Building
Let me preface this section by saying that I’m not a tradie. I don’t see schematics in my head like I’m in the Matrix when I look at things and the only tool box I own is a $20 discount special from Supercheap Autos. So it was with great relief that I discovered that the PK Grills PK360 is incredibly easy to put together.
Despite it’s weight when packaged (the bigger box weighs 30kgs / 66lbs) no single piece is overly heavy or unwieldy. All the pieces fit together in a very straightforward manner and are secured with single screws. It’s also at this point that the exceptional build quality becomes apparent, but more on that later.
I also found the names of the parts very amusing: ‘The Power Tube’, ‘The Command Console’ etc. It definitely helped me channel my inner Tim Allen as I was putting this bad boy together! <Insert dog growl here>
PK Grills PK360: 1st Impressions
1. Build Quality
The first thing that grabbed me about the PK Grills PK360 is the oustanding build quality of all of the components. Starting at the top and working my way down, the hood has very attractive and easy-moving exhaust vents and moulded branding into the lid is very visually appealing. The lid itself has a well-balanced weight to it and a very confidence-inspiring feel when opening and closing it. The bowl too, (the lower half of the cooking chamber) echoes these feelings.
Speaking of the cooking chamber, both the bowl and the lid are made of cast aluminium. The feel is actually very reminiscent of engines I used to work on with my Dad when I was a teenager. The use of cast aluminium is interesting when most grills are made of steel. By going with aluminium, the PK Grills PK360 is able to offer a thickness which will offer superior heat retention and conduction while not creating a 200kg monster. After all, with it’s quick-build design features, it would be very easy to pack this grill in your truck and take it camping. Also, aluminium doesn’t rust: something very important to me, living near the beach.
2. Clever Design Features
Having been around since 1952, there’s been plenty of time for PK Grills to refine their designs for the PK Grills PK360. There are a few things that really stand out. First is the non-mechanical hinge. It’s a tongue and groove hinge that has no moving parts. This is a huge benefit for several reasons. The first is that it makes construction quicker and easier in the initial build. The second is that being able to remove the lid quickly and easily will make emptying the ash out of the PK Grills PK360 a much more pleasant experience.
Continuing on this theme of cleaning and maintenance, I really like the way the ash / air vent relationship has been handled. One common issue with charcoal grills is that the ash can block the air vents, strangling the fire. This is not the case with the PK Grills PK360. In this grill, the vent controls double as the vents themselves – they are hollow pipes which are rotated to open or close the vents with the air being drawn through the pipes themselves. Inside the bowl, there are plates placed over the vents to stop ash from dropping onto the vents and clogging them. There is even a removable bung hole built into the bottom, again to help cleaning and maintenance.
I also really like the shelves on either side, but more on them below.
3. Quality Componentry
As mentioned above, the shelves are fantastic. These are not only a great inclusion, but they are definitely built to last. They are moulded high-heat plastic known as Durabilium, and are approximately 2.5cm (1 inch) thick. Shelf space is always important to me when I’m looking at a new BBQ and these two are definitely going to last a lifetime. The little rail for hanging your BBQ tools from is a great inclusion and frees up that valuable real estate on your shelves.
Now, if you’ve been reading Smoking Hot Confessions for a while, you’ll know that I love my Tel-Tru gauges. In fact, every time I get a new BBQ, the first thing I do is rip out whatever thermometers it’s come with and replace them with a Tel-Tru. I now have them in my Weber Kettles, my ProQ Bullet Smoker, and even my Radar Hill Smokers Vertical Offset.
So I was very relieved when I saw that the PK Grills PK360 comes with a Tel-Tru right out of the box. The fact that PK Grills are willing to put such high quality componentry in their grills from the get-go is a demonstration of their commitment to being an industry-leading company.