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December 31st, 2016, 11:05 am
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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The Kingman provides double the amount of vent area compared to the Wichita.

vent-area-kingman.gif
vent-area-kingman.gif (8.13 KiB) Viewed 1147 times


However, I've seen evidence that the Kingman has the same issue with heat escaping the upper vent hole due to its high position on the fire door.

Kingman fire door exhibiting scorching due to heat escaping the upper vent hole:
kingman-vent-scorch.jpg


Feldon's BBQ Pit Builder calculator results for the Kingman firebox: 24" round firebox 24" long requires an air inlet area of 32.57 square inches. Since the Kingman's factory vent area is larger than the required size, it most likely works despite some flow-reversal from the top hole.

Here's another comparison of the intake vents which demonstrates how much larger the Kingman vents are:
kingman-wichita-vent-compare.gif

Yoder Loaded Wichita 2016
Large Big Green Egg 2014
January 2nd, 2017, 12:25 am
* Abilene ** Abilene *
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So this must explain why our Kingman is ok then with the door closed. I do have some scorching near the top vent on my kingman. There is no way I am moving the Kingman to cook. Its been in same place since I purchased it

Marbque Midwest Backyardoasis
January 3rd, 2017, 8:53 pm
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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Yes, I think this might explain why the Kingman is outperforming the Wichita. To be fair, this entire issue most likely started with the introduction of the heat management plate, because it drastically alters the low point into the cooker body. Without the heat management plate installed, the low point into the cooker is the welded ash deflector, which is quite a bit higher.

I wanted to see if there was a relation between the low point of the heat management plate and the point where heat escapes the upper vent hole, so I did a small experiment.

I put a 6' level under the heat management plate and then leveled it to see where it would intersect with the fire door. My theory is that the point where the top of the level intersects the door is where the heat build-up and smoke accumulate in the firebox.

Wichita example:
Image

Since the cooker is designed to slope downward, it is important to make sure the unit is sitting on level ground for the test. The bottom shelf is mounted horizontally level above the feet/wheels, so I checked for a level installation there:
Image

From this view you can see the level is wedged up tight against the bottom of the heat management plate, and is being held in a level position with some props:
Image

Here's the proof that the level is centered on the bubble:
Image

... and here is where it extends from the firebox and intersects with the fire door:
Image

Now, looking at the inside of my fire door after numerous cooks, the smoke/heat build-up line is obviously in the exact same spot where the 6' level intersected with the door. Considering the Wichita's factory intake vent area is slightly undersized in the first place, the loss of usable vent area above this line leaves an inadequate amount of vent area to feed the fire with the door closed, hence the smoldering issues Wichita owners have complained about. Also note how clean the door is below that line!
Image

The fact that the Kingman works better is probably just blind luck given the fact that the design is exactly the same. The one notable difference is its oversized vent openings. The Kingman can lose about 9 square inches of vent area and still have enough area to satisfy Feldon's intake vent results for a 24" firebox.

I don't have an actual Kingman to test, but if I use the specification from Yoder's Website to create a virtual test drawing, I see a similar result, but with a slightly smaller portion of the upper vent opening showing above the smoke line. This explains why the Kingman owners don't have to leave the fire door open like the Wichita owners, because they might only be losing 6 to 8 square inches of available vent area from the upper vent, and there is still adequate area to feed the fire with the door closed.

Some of the Kingman owners have argued that us Wichita owners must be doing something wrong since they aren't experiencing the same issues, but the science exonerates us!

Kingman example:
Image

The bottom line: Either the heat management plate has to move up, or the vent has to move down. In my opinion, the entire firebox needs to move down before anything else is done, since that is the core issue here.

Yoder Loaded Wichita 2016
Large Big Green Egg 2014
January 4th, 2017, 10:08 am
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We appreciate the testing you have performed and will take this into consideration moving into the future. There is absolutely a mathematical formal between intake and exhaust that has proven to be very reliable over the years. This formal was developed over many years of testing and building product to specified customer needs. We are always willing to take advice and are committed to product improvement. This post has been heard and will be taken into consideration moving forward. We build hundreds of custom products each year that are too customer specification in cooking style and temperature ranges. There are various theories and mathematical possibilities that are out there, some are better than others. This subject has been debated and discussed for as long as people have been putting logs in a piece of pipe to cook. We think we have found the best compromise, as with anything there is always room for improvement.
We have offered to build you a new door or would be open to any other modification that you may suggest. We are here to help.

Thanks for the post.

January 6th, 2017, 6:21 am
* Abilene ** Abilene *
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This has been a brilliant thread, and I have really enjoyed watching it evolve over the past few months.

Well done Slamkeys, and kudos to you on your efforts. Really thoughtful, considered and thorough.

I also commend Yoder Smokers - especially if they subscribe to an evolution of their products. Always be raising the bar to provide the very best - not only in quality of manufacture - but in design and development.

January 6th, 2017, 6:25 am
* Abilene ** Abilene *
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...and I'm no thermodynamics engineer....but I'd consider experimenting with lowering the firebox, getting rid of the butterfly vents and using a slotted slide style vent used on the square fireboxes.!

January 6th, 2017, 8:24 am
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Robcapp wrote:...and I'm no thermodynamics engineer....but I'd consider experimenting with lowering the firebox, getting rid of the butterfly vents and using a slotted slide style vent used on the square fireboxes.!


We are always willing to work with you, or anyone, on a custom configuration for your dream cooker. Call 877.409.6337, extension 1 to discuss.

Yoder_Herb
January 9th, 2017, 10:08 pm
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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Yoder_Joe wrote:We think we have found the best compromise, as with anything there is always room for improvement.


Yoder_Herb wrote:We are always willing to work with you, or anyone, on a custom configuration for your dream cooker.


Thanks for the responses guys. In rebuttal I'd like to say that I feel like I already bought my "dream cooker." However, I had to wake up to the reality that it did not perform like I envisioned a dream cooker should perform (quality issues aside). One of the reasons I chose the Yoder Wichita was because it wasn't a "custom" cooker that might have unknown behavior, but an established model that "hasn't changed in years, a testament to its design." Does that make sense? I didn't want to embark on a re-engineering campaign, I just wanted to cook!

And, I certainly want to have fun while I cook (that's why I spent the money) so in a selfish way I want to do whatever it takes to make my cooker work for me instead of me working for it (i.e a custom door), but I don't want my experience to be viewed as isolated. Since I began documenting my journey, I have received many testimonials from other Wichita owners who have had experiences very similar to mine, but they did not voice their opinions to you for various reasons, including the assumption that it was "normal" to have to work so hard to keep their fires burning, probably because they'd never used one of the other brands that works better.

Now, in response to the claim "we think we have found the best compromise" I'd like summarize one feature of that design as follows:

The Yoder Wichita design requires users to frequently open and close the fire door for proper ventilation and temperature control. The intake vents alone are not adequate for this purpose. This is a "feature" of this model, and is normal.

To further support that view, I'd like to offer this: Every time I've seen a thread where someone mentions having fire management difficulties with the Wichita, they are told to watch T-Roy Cooks' video on fire management, and here's what T-Roy has to say about his own experience:

T-Roy Cooks (Yoder Loaded Wichita 2014): I've learned that I need to keep my firebox door open to let the split wood get a good fire going and each time I add a log I crack open the door about 3 inches until the fire is going again. My pit will spike when I put a fresh log on it, but it will usually settle back down after 15 mins or so.

Personally, when I discovered that I needed to open and close my fire door all day long just to add wood (except on days where the wind provided an adequate boost to air flow), I didn't think that was normal behavior at all, and led to wasted wood, inconsistent temperatures, and a very tedious and draining experience. In my estimation there is no drawback to having an oversized intake area because you always have the ability to close the vent down when needed. But, when the intake area is undersized your only resort is to leave the door open.

In contrast, consider the design of a cooker like the Big Green Egg (I realize it's in a different league): I normally use mine with the intake vent open about 1/8". That's normal. If I open the intake vent and the daisy wheel fully, that cooker will get dangerously hot, and I have hit over 750 degrees before I realized it. The point is, the design can manage any temperature range using a simple, sliding intake vent without resorting to workarounds.

At this point, if you'll permit me, I'd like to share a handful of the testimonials I have received from other Yoder Wichita owners, in order to provide some continuity to my thesis. Since I seem to have taken on the role of quasi-spokesperson for other owners out there, I'll close with this: My vision is to see a new and improved version of the Wichita appear in the very near future, one that removes all doubt that it is the king of 20" smokers on the market bar none. I will be in line to trade up.


YODER WICHITA OWNER TESTIMONIALS

Testimonial 1:


I can confirm all the anomalies you've pointed out. I've cooked on many different cookers and the Yoder Wichita loaded is by far the most difficult. I've had one phenomenal cook when temps, fuel consumption, duration of burn were very consistent and that was with a very light breeze blowing in on the Firebox vents.


Testimonial 2:

I really struggled to get the temp up. Even 2 hours later I was barely breaking 200F on the left side of the grill, and this was with starting off with red hot charcoal, and then adding dry wood splits. Even stood there for 10 minutes at a time with a Looftlighter fanning the fire. I noticed that every time I shut the top firebox lid, the fire would die down and smoulder.


Testimonial 3:

I got my smoker in 2015 and I experienced many of the same issues but I thought it was just me so I muddled through. Reading through the issues you have had to work through now I understand that the Yoder has issues from out the door.

It took me a while to work out a way to use this smoker and cook on it but it was hard work (as others are now showing as well).

This thing is so big (I had to take the gate and part of the fence down to get it into my yard) and I got a really good deal which is why I have not been bothered to try to sell it yet. But I am contacting Shirley Fabrication about getting a patio model built. As I will have a year or so before I get one of theirs it gives me time to use the Yoder and sell it on.


Testimonial 4:

I got a Yoder Wichita last year and it was my first proper stick smoker and it took a while to get used to it.

My way of working it - a chimney full of charcoal in the firebox, get it up an hot. Put a couple of splits on and get them burning (this is at least 90 minutes to 2 hours before I actually put meat on cooker). Keep the cook chamber closed but have the vent and stack open. It will get hot (too hot), let the splits burn down to coal and then add some splits at the side to get going again. I then use the door to maintain temps. I find working this way if it gets too hot I can shut it down and get it lower quickly. If I need to up the temp I just open the door more. Also I preheat my splits on top of the firebox.

The first time I cooked on the Yoder it was a nightmare. I spent all night nursing the fire as I could not maintain temp. Although I have never been able to get even heat across the cooker even with the heat plate. Nearest the fire is always around 50-75 higher than the other end.

I have experimented with using only charcoal for heat and splits for smoke and it works well but you still have to manage the fire as the temps will drop quickly once the charcoal gets low.


Testimonial 5:

Is there seal that could be put around cooking chamber door to help seal the uneven fit?, fit is so uneven I think it would need something like form a gasket.

It seems that the air intake on the fire box is too high and air is not coming in under the charcoal and wood, thinking about raising the grate or making another vent in fire box door under the one that is already there to make it draw better and easier to control, your thoughts?


Testimonial 6:

Sounds very much like a journey i have been on! Would be glad to compare notes.

Yoder Loaded Wichita 2016
Large Big Green Egg 2014
January 10th, 2017, 7:58 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
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Yoder_Herb wrote:
Robcapp wrote:...and I'm no thermodynamics engineer....but I'd consider experimenting with lowering the firebox, getting rid of the butterfly vents and using a slotted slide style vent used on the square fireboxes.!


We are always willing to work with you, or anyone, on a custom configuration for your dream cooker. Call 877.409.6337, extension 1 to discuss.


Thank you for the response, Herb.

I live in Australia and am limited to buying what the local Yoder distributor imports.

Not intending to be inflammatory, but reading Yoders comments on the matters brought up in this thread makes me believe that Yoder believe their design to be infallible. All issues seem to be assumed as user error and inexperience - as Yoder is confident their product is perfect and without need for any improvement. Really? Imagine a world where a company didn't change their designs to be better than the previous models.

I know you're not that stubborn type of company though.....You improved the YS640, and continue too.... And it's getting better every year. I'd suggest the same happen with the Wichita.

I have been liaising with the local dealer about a Wichita or Kingman purchase....but must admit I am somewhat hesitant about moving forward. You have fans who want your product to be amazing, and be the best that it can be..... at this stage I am not confident that it is.

I'd rather not have to design my own dream cooker.... I'd rather Yoder do that. That's your area of expertise, not mine.

January 11th, 2017, 12:40 pm
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In final response to this topic. We have and always will pursue to build the best product we possibly can. We value customer feedback and continually evolve our product lines based on this type of communication. We are not interested in being right, in our business the customer is always right and we do everything we can to accommodate any and all issues or suggestions. This kind of commitment is rare in todays fast pace world. We have made the commitment to evaluate this section of our product line and see if we can improve the overall experience. We are currently doing this. We have sold thousands of wood pits across the world and have done so with great success. Nobody ever suggested that our product is infallible nor are we going to provide affirmation of something that we haven't tested to determine the source of the complaint. The customer experience dictates that we need to have a look at the product and see what if anything can or should be done. If we have given the impression we are not listening that certainly isn't the case. These kind of changes can be complicated and we need to be sure that we aren't going cause another issue down the line.
Our product couldn't be such a success without our customers. We appreciate the business and will always work hard to make the best product possible

January 18th, 2017, 10:45 pm
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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I'm receiving more feedback from owners every day, and even heard from a Cheyenne owner this week.


Wichita owner:

I had spent countless hours researching a new high end smoker. I had decided on a Loaded Wichita and was awaiting the dealer to send me the quote so I could purchase the smoker. During that short wait period, I stumbled upon your posts and was amazed by what you found. The whole reason I was spending upwards of two grand for this pit was the fact Yoder had a great reputation and several issues related to COS are not factors with the high end, 1/4" pits. Your research and the subsequent testimonials from other owners experiencing the same issue with the fire box and heat management caused me to reevaluate the Wichita and eventually turned me away from it all together. I ended up paying a little more and ordering a 24x36 offset from Lone Star Grillz and can't wait to get it. Thanks for your thorough and clear evaluation of the Wichita. Your ingenuity is impressive. Hopefully Yoder will correct the issues in the near future.


Cheyenne owner:

I have the Yoder Cheyenne which is smaller than the Wichita. I have the same exact problems as noted here. I've had the Cheyenne for a few years now. In the beginning I thought my fire management was the issue. Over time I learned it was not. I have to leave the firebox door wide open in order to maintain a hot clean fire. If I close the door the fire immediately dies out and I'm left with a smoldering stick. Frustrating isn't the word to describe cooking on this thing. If the wind is over 5mph forget it. Wind goes straight down the stack, into the cook chamber, and out the firebox. I will be selling this pit late spring because I ordered a Shirley and have a tentative build date of June.

Yoder Loaded Wichita 2016
Large Big Green Egg 2014
January 19th, 2017, 8:42 pm
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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Correction: in the previous post the feedback on the Wichita was from a "potential" Wichita owner who decided against his purchase.

I was watching a Q&A video by T-Roy Cooks today and he talked about his 2014 Loaded Wichita smoker again. Here's what he had to say in defense of the design:

T-Roy:

"I've found if I close the door even with that intake vent wide open, if that door is totally closed, I do get some billowing smoke from time to time. I just leave my door just a crack open, about an inch or so ... it's not a design flaw in my mind."

Yoder Loaded Wichita 2016
Large Big Green Egg 2014
January 25th, 2017, 7:15 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
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fwiw - I never had an issue with a clean fire on my Cheyenne, always ran firebox door shut with vents halfway open, and my Kingman is a thing of beauty, worth every penny

January 26th, 2017, 11:42 am
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Yoder_Herb
January 26th, 2017, 9:49 pm
* Wichita ** Wichita *
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Really good video. Thanks for sharing

Wichita, KS!
New to pellet grilling/smoking

YS-640 ON ORANGE COMP CART
January 27th, 2017, 10:04 pm
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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I'd argue that this video isn't a universal tutorial for maintaining a fire on an offset smoker. The title should really be, "How to start and maintain a fire on a Yoder Wichita."

That video just confirms the need work around the shortcomings of the Wichita's peculiar design:

1. Huge coal bed. Check.
2. Pre-heat the wood. Check
3. Leave the door ajar. Check.
4. Hope for some wind at the firebox end. Check

I don't have to do any of that and I don't spend any time at all fiddling with dampers or doors anymore. Here's the lighting sequence on my last cook:

1. Turn on the log lighter with a low flame for about 10 minutes to get the fire started.
2. Turn off the log lighter and remove, then close the lid. Done.
3. Add a log every 45 minutes or so.

Here's my fire after about 10 minutes just before I turned off the gas and removed the log lighter. There aren't any coals in here.
Image

Here's the view of the fire after I closed the lid. This fire burns all by itself without any coals. Eventually it will burn down to a small coal bed that has enough heat to ignite a cold log almost immediately with no smoldering. The debris on the firebox floor is the wad of newspaper I used to ignite the log lighter. Do you see any smoke here? It's burning clean.
Image

Here's the smoke after I closed the firebox for the first time. It's not billowing white smoke, and it has excellent pressure because the firebox end contains the heat buildup enough to create this pressure. This doesn't happen when the firebox door is ajar. Notice the gauge is only around 100 degress F at this point - just getting warmed up.
Image

I normally use a Maverick 732 just to monitor the cooker temp while I'm in the house doing other things, and it lets me know when it's time to add another log. It is so much easier than it used to be I am now free to focus on other things when I'm smoking - which is usually every weekend. I have some brisket and chicken ready for tomorrow, and a tri-tip for Sunday night. I can hardly wait.

Yoder Loaded Wichita 2016
Large Big Green Egg 2014
January 28th, 2017, 9:35 am
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There are many different ideas on cooker design, procedures on cooking and how to build and maintain a fire. You are free to choose or create your own methods, and also accept the differing performance achieved. The Yoder cookers are designed from years and years of testing and cooking experience, and the posted video illustrates the proper methods that coincide with the design and years of experience in cooking and fire management. The cooker design and methods outlined in the video will provide a Yoder Smokers owner with years of exceptional cooking experiences, without the need to change anything or overthink processes.

This thread is being closed.

Yoder_Herb
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