Flippin’ burgers in a flip-top tanker

Many men – and women – salivate over the thought of flipping juicy burgers on an outdoor grill. What about the idea of grilling up to 1,000 of them an hour? My mouth is watering just thinking about it, yet my mind is overwhelmed by the thought of it.

To accomplish this, you need something a little bigger than your typical backyard Weber grill. How about a grilling truck? And not one of those run-of-the-mill food trucks you find parked on the side of city streets. No, this grilling truck is a 1987 Ford LN8000 with a customized 3,200 gal. tank body.

That’s where you will find the Dr. of Grillology, Ken Foster, cooking up his masterpieces.

Foster, who owns two South Dennis, MA, businesses, Hall Oil and Breakaway, a chain of three barbeque grill retail stores, conceived the X-Grill (for Xtreme Grilling) concept a few years ago.

“I owned the truck and was ready to retire it,” he told me. “I’m also in the grill business where we sell grills in a retail store. The truck had a 3,200 gal. tank and with that kind of weight being hauled over 20 years” the vehicle takes a pounding.

So Foster did what any grill enthusiast would do in this situation – he customized his truck to give it a second life. The tank body was modified to operate as a flip-top and a full-size Viking outdoor kitchen was installed, Foster said. The truck includes a four-burner stove and 42-in. grill.

The project was undertaken with the help of Gary Webb, of Gary's Truck Equipment in Harwich, MA.

Fabricated by Boston Steel and powered by a 3208 Cat diesel, the truck made its grilling debut in 2008 on Cape Cod, where it spends the majority of its time serving up burgers, hot dogs and anything else that can be grilled to mainly non-profit and charity organizations during fund-raising events. Foster said he does provide grilling services to paid, private events as well, but the majority of his time is spent at community gatherings where he donates both his own and his truck’s time.

“I end up doing about 50 events a season, 2-3 a week,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun and you meet a lot of interesting people.”

Weighing in at 15,780 lbs. and measuring 300 in. long and 163 in. high, the X-Grill carries 50 gals. of diesel fuel, 6,928,500 BTUs of propane and 50 gals. of water onboard. The X-Grill is capable of producing 1,000 burgers or 1,750 hot dogs per hour. Additional side grills on the ground around the truck can also be added, Foster said.

When closed, the “grill” includes a grill “handle” that runs the length of the body.

“For me, it’s more of a hobby doing these events,” he added. “I’ve put Alcoa aluminum wheels [on the truck], I’ve put stacks that are not functional, but are for looks. We try to give it a present each year. I’m not sure what this year’s will be [yet], but at some point we have to do the cab.”

The X-Grill even has its own following on the Cape, complete with its own Facebook page and photo gallery.

If you are in the Cape Cod area and interested in the X-Grill for your own event, you can contact Ken Foster at 508-398-3831 or visit www.barbequegrills.com.

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