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Modding my Yoder Loaded Wichita

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    Modding my Yoder Loaded Wichita

    I have been happy with my YLW but I wanted more even cooking across the grate. I generally just cook briskets so I have no interest in hot and cold spots.

    My first step was replacing the stock thermometers with Tel Trus. The locations of these thermometers are not ideal (not at the cooking grate) but I figured being able to measure accurately at those points would be useful when combined with other data, such as the temperatures across the cooking grate.

    I found there is almost exactly a 50F spread between the firebox-side thermometer temp and the temp at the cooking grate directly underneath it. Thus if the firebox-side thermometer reads 325F I have 275F at the cooking surface directly underneath. They chimney side thermometer was reading about 90F below the firebox side. At the cooking grate I was seeing about a 50F spread underneath those two points.

    My next step was adding gaskets, primarily to contain the smoke escaping from a largish gap between the door and cooking chamber on the chimney side. I first added 1/8" x 3/8" nomex self-stick gaskets all around the door. It looked great! I closed the door and used a flashlight inside to detect gaps. The gap was worse. So I applied gaskets to the cooking chamber side, as well. Now the gap was much, much worse and the bottom edge of the door no longer made contact with the cooking chamber.


    I decided to remove the top few inches of gasket from the cooking chamber on either side of the door--I just took my pocketknife, cut and gently scraped. The gap on the side of the door was gone! But the bottom of the door still had a huge gap. Once again I took my pocketknife and this time worked it along the bottom edge of the gasket to scootch it up half an inch so I could apply a 1/2" x 1/2" gasket to the bottom of the door. Scootch a couple inches, apply gasket, scootch the next couple of inches and so on until it was done. At the end I had 1/2" x 1/2" gasket along the bottom of the door abutting the tapered (thicker toward the thicker gasket) 1/8" x 3/8" gasket.

    No leaks.

    But the temperature was still not as even as I would like. It closed the spread between the grate temps under the thermometers by about 15F--note that the control measurement was from a different day (the gaskets had to rest for 24 hours) so temperature and humidity differences may have been in play.

    My next step was adjusting the heat management plate. For this I set up potato probes in strategic locations, let smoker come to temp, open it up, reach in with a silicon glove, remove the rear grate and tug or push the plate slightly. Close lid and repeat. I wound up with about a half-inch gap though I would not be surprised if I have to adjust it again for different weather.

    This chopped another 10F or so off the cooking grate temperature variance.

    My last step was to extend the chimney down to the cooking grate. I had to remove the extra shelf for this. I did not make a trip to Home Depot or the muffler shop or bust out welding tools--I just grabbed some heavy-duty aluminum foil and quarter-assed it. It looked so bad I did not expect it to really work or for it to choke off airflow or something. But it seemed to work like a charm. And cut another 10F or so off the temperature variance. Now instead of ~50F difference at the grate level underneath the door thermometers I am down to ~15F.

    I cooked with it yesterday and was very happy, faster cooking and more even color. I do suspect the quarter-assed chimney extension is restricting airflow a bit--there were a few times during the cook it was harder to get to temp than usual. This could have been a wood issue or me just screwing up, but the foil was not intended to be permanent anyway. I will sort something out more permanent and less crumpled before the next cook.


    Insulated firebox's help also. I think Huskee tried out some R19 insulation around his and enjoyed the results.

    I also found the more meat I loaded in my offset the more even the temps. I once filled it up with corn and that locked it down on both ends exactly.

    Not so good trimmed briskets taste just as good as those trimmed after sunrise.



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