Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

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Re: Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

Postby Garrath » Sat Mar 11, 2017 3:41 am

Garrath wrote:Hi Slamkeys how you going! Im actually new to this forum and live all the way over in Australia haha. I have recently purchased a Yoder Wichita loaded from the US and have been researching online about fire management, and stumbled onto your thread about modifying the intake on the firebox door. Your write up was very descriptive and helpfull and has made me consider modifying my firebox intake. I was just wondering if you have come up with a design for a replacement door or permanant fix for the existing one yet? If so I would definately be keen on using it on my own wichita, or if you plan on fabricating replacement doors at any point I would be interested in purchasing one from you :D Cheers bud
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Re: Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

Postby slamkeys » Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:14 pm

Blasted Photobucket thieves! I'll never use that site again. If they think they can hold our photos for ransom and get us to pay $400.00 per year to get them back they are crazy! Hopefully I can edit most of my posts and add the photos as attachments from now on. Some sites don't allow you to edit old posts, so I can't do anything about that now.

Anyway, I finally had some time off and I managed to get my door "mod" completed. I haven't had a chance to try it out yet, but that will come soon enough. I fabricated a new vent out of 12" round 1/4" plate, which means it is pretty heavy, but the factory hinges are super heavy duty and I'm not worried about the extra weight. It barely clears the door opening (which allowed me to make the biggest vent opening possible) but it fits perfectly on my door. I'll acknowledge that the vent will never balance as long as it is not symmetrical, but I had no choice given the fact that the I am not permanently sealing off the upper vent opening - I am simply leaving material on the vent itself so the upper hole is always blocked. If one were to replace the entire door, the upper opening would not be necessary, and the vent could be cut as a true symmetrical butterfly. I overcame that balance barrier by using a simple spring handle design that clamps the vent in place by itself. Most of the cheap grills use sheet metal for the vent, so they don't need to worry about balance at all - they simply tighten the mounting screw until it holds the vent in place but still allows for adjustment. I suppose one could use a heavy gauge sheet metal for this vent mod and it would work fine - the 1/4" plate is extreme overkill IMO. Most of Yoder's pellet cooker specifications list a heavy sheet metal for the cooker body - they are not made of plate steel, so sheet metal can be used for these cookers.

I also wanted to have cool-touch handles so I don't have to wear gloves all the time. I found some small ones marketed as stove handles and they fit tightly onto a 3/8" in rod, so I had to use 5/16" rod because I wanted the handles to fit loosely. The handles worked great for my design. I decided to include a new latch so I could have a cool-touch handle there too. I solved the latch mounting issue by countersinking a 3/8"-16 flat-head bolt in the back side of the door to allow the larger vent to cover it when installed. I secured it with a stainless cap nut with thread locker to keep it tight. If the heat manages to soften the thread locker I may have to use a regular lock nut to keep it secure - no big deal.

I'm glad I don't have to attach my cookie-sheet prototype to cook anymore! It served its purpose. I'll follow up with performance updates as I gain cook time with the new door mod.

Original concept design:
new-vent-closed.gif


Newly-fashioned vent and door handle waiting to be installed:
P1120732.jpg


End view:
IMG_5033.jpg


Door ajar view:
IMG_5058.jpg


Top angle view. The latch spring is loose fitting, but the vent spring is compressed just a little, which is enough to lock the vent in place. Squeezing the spring slightly frees it up for adjustments:
IMG_5039.jpg


Close up latch view:
IMG_5055.jpg
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Re: Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

Postby freddie987 » Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:38 pm

Looks incredible. Cant wait to see the report of how it works. Hope that you are able to sell this as a kit to other wichita owners including me to make some money from your hard work!
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Re: Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

Postby slamkeys » Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:54 pm

Update on the Yoder log lighter issue. I contacted ATBBQ because the regulator on my log lighter finally stopped working altogether. It never worked reliably since day one because it couldn't keep a constant pressure and my flames went up and down randomly, which required me to stand by the bottle and frequently re-adjust the valve or else my flame would eventually extinguish itself.

The last 2 times I cooked it would no longer stay lit. No matter how I tried to adjust it the valve would stop the flow of fuel and refuse to light afterward. I started using charcoal to light my smoker instead.

ATBBQ responded with this:

"The procedure is to slowly open the propane valve just enough to get the log lighter to lite, then to very slowly open the bottle further to get the correct flame to lite the logs. If you open the bottle too fast the check valve will cut off the flow of propane as a safety function and risk damaging the regulator."

So, once again it's my fault. There is no shortage of complaints online from other customers with the same problems. The regulator is junk.

I chose to replace the cheap "Bayou Classic" regulator with a similarly-priced unit and so far the results are outstanding. After I set the new regulator it maintains an even flame indefinitely - no further adjustments required. Very happy.

I added more details at the Yoder forum:
http://community.yodersmokers.com/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=1572

I retained the original hose and bottle connector:
P1120722.jpg


Sitting on the Wichita:
IMG_5043.jpg


Flame test - excellent results:
P1120721.jpg
Last edited by slamkeys on Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

Postby freddie987 » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:33 am

So what are you planning for the first cook on the modified pit?
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Re: Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

Postby freddie987 » Sat Jul 08, 2017 7:01 am

So? Have you lit it?
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Re: Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

Postby Notorious Q.U.E. » Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:19 am

Thanks slamkeys,

I've been checking you out on the BBQ Brethren as well. I feel like you're doing the BBQ community a solid with your diligence, research, and action. Hats off to you!!
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Re: Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

Postby slamkeys » Sun Jul 09, 2017 11:40 pm

I tested the door mod yesterday, and it worked great. I used the same lighting technique I've been using with my prototype door, so it's not surprising that the startup performance was the same, but it was much more rewarding knowing I finally have a working door.

Comparison between the prototype door and the door mod (during test fitting) showing the similar vent sizes. It's interesting to see the brown heat mark on the prototype door after months of use - a reminder of why I started questioning the flow characteristics of the Wichita in the first place. The lowered vent stays well below the heat zone.
Image

Getting ready to light the fire. The new vent is visible from the inner side of the door. This is the full open position.
Image

Testing the new regulator on the log lighter. Worked perfectly.
Image

Lighting the fire. I kept the door closed for the entire cook. The timestamps were taken directly from the camera's exif data.
Image

9 minutes later, log lighter removed and the wood is burning without the help of any coal bed:
Image

12 minutes after igniting the log lighter, the temp is rising and the smoke is disappearing:
Image

The pit temp is around 200, and the smoke is almost gone:
Image

Another shot of the stack a little while later, it's clean as an oven:
Image

There was some discussion about the safety of moving the vent too low on the firebox, which might allow wood or embers to roll out. In the final door mod, there is a 2" lip at the bottom of the door, and I think that is in line with other offsets, and far better than leaving the door open:
Image
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Re: Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

Postby freddie987 » Sun Jul 09, 2017 11:47 pm

Looks amazing. Such a shame mine wasn't build like this in the first place
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Re: Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

Postby Russ » Sun Jul 09, 2017 11:59 pm

A work of art. Nice pics too.

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Re: Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

Postby slamkeys » Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:23 pm

I posted a write-up over at the Yoder forum about the Wichita door mod. Most of the post has been seen before, but I did include additional information about the the parts used in the modification: http://community.yodersmokers.com/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=1570
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Re: Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

Postby freddie987 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:36 am

Well worth a read!
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Re: Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

Postby Notorious Q.U.E. » Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:51 am

I wonder if Yoder will ever "bow" and simply acknowledge that there's improvement to be had. I'm floored that a $2000 rig doesn't work flawlessly :(
Shirley Fabrication 24x50 Traditional Door (3/8 thick CC and FB) Patio aka "Precious Metal"

"can't you see? Sometimes your words just hypnotize me and I just love your flashy ways. Guess that's why they broke and you're so paid."
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Re: Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

Postby Titans761 » Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:45 pm

Slamkeys could you provide us with exact measurments of the vent? Or do you sell these? Also how did you cut out the bigger vent in your fire door?
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Re: Just Bought A Yoder Loaded Wichita

Postby slamkeys » Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:46 pm

Titans761 wrote:Slamkeys could you provide us with exact measurments of the vent? Or do you sell these? Also how did you cut out the bigger vent in your fire door?

I put most of the information on the Yoder forum: http://community.yodersmokers.com/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=1570

There really wasn't much to measure because I was basically enlarging what was already there. I bolted the 12" plate to the door and used it as a guideline for the curved cut (about 1/8" above it). Most of the layout is either tracing existing parts or extending the existing cut lines. I managed to cut my door with an old industrial-grade heavy-duty jigsaw and good sharp blades. That's probably the toughest part of the modification (or at least the scariest). I smoothed the cuts with a good single-cut file before sanding and priming/painting.

1/4" steel seems a little daunting to cut with a jigsaw, but I didn't have any issues except on the round plate I bought from Amazon. It had fine ridges around the perimeter that appeared to be from a plasma cutter or similar, and that cutting process tempered the edge enough to kill one of my jigsaw blades in 5 seconds flat. I worked around that problem by drilling a hole near the center of the plate so I could insert my jigsaw there and cut outward towards the edge - worked great. The straight cuts on the vent could have been cut with a chop saw and a metal-cutting blade - that would be easier.

I've seen videos of Aaron Franklin building his pits and he cuts his doors out with a small grinder. That would work good for straight lines, but not for the curved cut needed for the door mod. If I could have removed the door I'd probably have used a band saw instead. I have a cutting torch but it's been a long time since I've used it, and I don't have any bottles anymore.

Yoder did offer to build me a "custom door," but I said no thanks because it was kind of insulting to think they were going to make more profit from me to fix a problem I shouldn't have been dealing with in the first place. I mention that because that is an option for folks who don't want to modify their pits by themselves. Who knows, if enough Wichita owners requested custom doors they might finally take some action and fix the factory doors.
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