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November 30th, 2016, 9:54 pm
#1
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: November 28th, 2016, 9:37 pm
  • Posts: 12

Hi all,
I just came back from a weekend getaway with my wife to Austin, TX and had my mind blown by the barbecue... I decided I need this food in my life more often and decided to plunge in head first.

My research has brought me to Yoder. I was originally looking at the Cheyenne, but I think I might want to go a little bigger since it's going to be a long-term purchase. That brought me to the Wichita...

Everything I see online is about the Loaded Wichita - does anybody get the regular Wichita? The add-ons are the cooking door counterweight (I don't think I'll necessarily need the help opening the lid), a second shelf (no need right now, maybe years down the line), and the heat management plate (this one sounds like a good idea).

I am more interested in the second, grill level thermometer (I don't think I have any need for the standard, top of chamber thermometer which would overreport the temperature compared to at the level of the grill) and maybe the probe port if closing the lid on the wires is detrimental. Also, does anyone know if the smokers have built-in baffles or do you have to get the heat management plate?

Does anyone have any strong feelings about any of these options or the loaded vs. regular Wichita?

Thank you

November 30th, 2016, 11:17 pm
#2
* Kingman ** Kingman *
  • Joined: September 3rd, 2014, 11:04 pm
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The door is very heavy. All big smokers have a door counterweight for normal non-Superman folks.

All door thermos show temp that isn't consistent with the actual grate temps. You learn to adjust. ie the upper thermo is at 200, you learned that means the grate temp is 235, meaning under report, not over report. Once you learn that door thermos work fine. Get a good digital thermo, like a Maverick or a Thermoworks, great leaning tool. Smart new folks get a probe port, you can get one for ANY smoker in the world. All you need is a drill.

December 1st, 2016, 11:13 am
#3
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In the long run, you will wish you bought the loaded Wichita. The options that it provides rounds out the cooker, and after your first couple of cooks you will be glad that you have them.

The counter weight is exactly what it says. The Wichita is made from 1/4" steel, and the door is very heavy.

The upper shelf is not a simple add on, as the brackets need to be welded in. If you do not get this option, you will need to weld in the brackets if you ever decide you need the shelf.

The heat management plate is not a set of baffle plates that you need to figure out. It is an engineered plate that evens out the temps across the cooker.

The Yoder cookers cook from the bottom up, so the temp gauges are important.

Yoder_Herb
December 1st, 2016, 8:34 pm
#4
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: November 28th, 2016, 9:37 pm
  • Posts: 12

Hi all,
I won't be able to get eyes on a smoker until it is delivered as I'm in Baltimore and the closest distributor is a good bit away, so all of your hands-on experience is very helpful. Also, I'm not trying to come across as arrogant as I've smoked exactly zero meats in my life.... but I did just read Aaron Franklin's book! (I thought it was great by the way)

As for the counterweight, I'll have to take all of your words for the necessity of it. Neither Franklin's huge smokers or Lang's 60" have counterweights (see images below), but maybe Yoder's doors are especially heavy... Also Franklin's book talks about the natural flow of heat from the fire chamber through the cooking chamber to the smokestack. The heat management plate sounds like it dampens the flow to provide a more even heat, but does it disrupt the pull of the convection? Perhaps this is the difference between Herb's statement that "the Yoder cookers cooks from the bottom up" versus Franklin's talk of the right to left movement of the heat. Franklin mentioned that the action of a baffle was very important, though the material and build was less important (he mentioned jerry-rigging one out of a license plate).

Thank you very much for the input. I'm hoping to make my purchase soon, I just want to be well-informed ahead of time.

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December 2nd, 2016, 12:15 am
#5
* Kingman ** Kingman *
  • Joined: September 3rd, 2014, 11:04 pm
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Yea, you get my drift from my first reply. Sorry for the rambling, but there was a lotta info I wanted to get out and reedit edit edit never helps.

You should visit a BBQ comp or start looking around the area to see some big smokers. I'm sure some BBQ places will have them. And your right Franklin doesn't have counterweights at least ones you can see. Many places with permanent smokers have cables and counterweights.

Take your time, a Yoder smoker is a lifetime purchase and you need to know first some things.

I only bought a YS640. Not a stick smoker, it's a pellet smoker. I can do 60 lbs of pork butts at the same time and the same for the following: two turkeys, 15 chickens, 4 briskets at the same time. All on different cooks, that's a disclaimer.
And sear steaks at 600f, it makes great steaks. And Pizza.

I cooked 4 briskets once. Once decently cooked and shrunk, I was able to foil wrap them and make room for two pans of beans. 16 hours from on from meat on the fire later I served Cole slaw, beans, Burnt ends and 'okay' brisket slices. Imagine monitoring the stick fire for 16 hours....

How much room do you need? It takes a LOT of wood and charcoal to do a cook in a bigger smoker ( I spend easy $25 to do pork butts in my cooker, and I live in Vegas and that's in the warmer temp. I spend $.80 per lb of pellets.) I have a local store.

Hopefully you have access to a wood guy (preferably one who has trees that need cut down) or you live in the apple wood or hickory wood (or oak etc) capitol and someone will split it for you to 3-4" splits once dried for ohh a year so you can use it...... It can get expensive for a backyard cooker.

If your not going to be cooking for more than 30 people you might want to downsize. You ready to learn to work a real stick cooker and if wanting to have 6 pork butts ready at noon? Meaning on the fire at 10 PM (getting ready at 8 PM stoking the fire) and watching it till noon the next day all night? If so your more man than I am.

True wood smoking is an art, and takes time to learn the smoker. Turning the smoker into or against the wind and many other things. I read a lot and learning is tricky but once learned it's the very best way, better than my pellet smoker, maybe.

I have the pellet YS640. They make one much larger the YS1500. You start the fire with a button or two at 9:30 PM or so, meat on at 10 PM, monitor for 30 min, go to bed. Back up at 4 AM to pan/wrap rotate the meat, wake up at 8 AM and check, get ready to pull the first few off. I got to sleep. A stick smoker you won't.

A Loaded Wichita Yoder Smoker is really really nice and a true smoker. Best quality. Making perfect BBQ on one is still a science only years will teach.

Please take your time and learn, hang out, use the internet etc. I went from a silly propane grill with a smoker below (I no longer have propane to cook on), bought a Master built electric cabinet smoker (now for cheese, jerky and salmon smoking) and have my Yoder 640 and a proper Weber Performer and my trusty electric only only for sub 150f smoking.

December 2nd, 2016, 10:05 am
#6
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The counter weight just makes working in and around the smoker a much better experience.

Aaron's cookers cook from the top down, as do most other cookers. The issue with this is that the heat entering into the cooking chamber is super intense, and as such, the first part of the cooker may not be able to be used for cooking. all cookers have a transition where the heat leaves the firebox and enters into the cooking chamber. How this heat enters determines if the grate area next to the firebox can be used for cooking or not. The other issue is the chimney placement in comparison to the firebox entry point into the cooking chamber. This not only determines how the cooker cooks, i.e., bottom up, or top down, but also determines how the heat and smoke flow through the cooking chamber.

With the Yoder cookers, the entry point for the heat and smoke is below the grate level, and the chimney is above the grate level. This provides the bottom up cooking experience. The heat management plate enhances the performance of the cooker across the grate area.

With most other cookers, the entry point for the heat and smoke is at grate level or above the grate level, with the chimney also being at or below the grate level, i.e., top down cooking with a super hot area next to the firebox and more manageable temperatures the closer to the chimney you get.

Yoder_Herb
December 2nd, 2016, 8:41 pm
#7
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: November 28th, 2016, 9:37 pm
  • Posts: 12

Conundrum and Herb,
Thank you both so much for putting the time in to write your thorough responses. I have much to learn about the mechanics/processes and I hugely appreciate your input.

Conundrum, as a man who values his sleep, I see the allure of the pellet smoker in that sense, as you mentioned. However, the sawdust pellets seem very strange to me. It's my basic understanding that seasoned wood provides the smoke/flavor for cooking the food. In your experience, and to Herb as well, does the smoke have a different property/create a different flavor profile from the pellet smokers? I'm imagining hockey pucks of sawdust with particle fillers being fed out of a Pez dispenser. What material is used for the binder/filler?

The concept seems too good to be true, especially since I have a two year old and don't see the allure (at least at this particular time of life) to be pulling all nighters to manage a fire. If the final product is similar to the type of BBQ I tasted in Austin, I'm all for putting in the time, but if the same endpoint can be had with a pellet smoker AND I get my sleep, then hey, that's a win-win.

Again, many many thanks for your wonderful explanations.

December 3rd, 2016, 9:02 am
#8
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If you use the brand of pellets that we use at the Yoder factory (BBQR's Delight), there are no fillers, binders, bark, or anything but pure wood in the form of sawdust. The sawdust is dried and then compressed through a mill and die, where the heat generated causes the naturally occurring lignin in the wood to bind the sawdust together into a solid pellet. These pellets are then fed into a burn grate by a computer controlled auger (In a Yoder cooker) to maintain the proper fire to achieve the desired cooking temperature.

There are more differences between an offset cooker that burns split wood and a pellet cooker, but, the biggest is that with an offset, you, the cook, are the one that manages the fire, where as with the pellet cooker, the computer manages the fire. With an offset, you can have a dirty fire, a clean fire, or anywhere in between, and, you must have properly seasoned wood, and storage for the wood. With the Yoder pellet cooker, the computer will only allow for the cleanest of fire and smoke, which is solely based on your desired set cooking temperature.

Will the pellet provide the same taste as Texas? This is like asking if a particular color is best for a pair of pants. All subjective. With an offset cooker you can definitely oversmoke food, which is virtually impossible with a Yoder pellet cooker.

Yoder_Herb
December 3rd, 2016, 9:43 pm
#9
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: November 28th, 2016, 9:37 pm
  • Posts: 12

Thank you again.

I decided that if I'm going to go through with the purchase and procedure, it's going to be with a stick burner because recreating that Austin taste is the goal, even if sleep is sacrificed as a result. For those with comparative knowledge of these two pits, does the Cheyenne use significantly less wood during a cook? Does it take less time to heat up? Conversely, is heat lost quicker that the bigger pits? I don't want the process of cooking on a larger smoker to prevent me from cooking up a lighter fare for my wife and I to eat one night.

Lastly, I am not going to have access to seeing either of the smokers in person prior to making a purchase. I do, however, have a Bass Pro Shops about a half hour away, where Horizon is sold. The products look similar to me at first glance - is it beneficial to go to check out the difference in cooking surface area since I'm having a tough time envisioning the amount of food a Cheyenne will hold (503sq" vs 750sq" on the Wichita - not including the grate in the fire chamber)? I don't think I'd ever fill a Wichita to capacity and I'd be cooking for no more than 10-15 people at a time, but usually less. Can two packer briskets fit on a Cheyenne at once with room for a water pan? The cost is not necessarily the issue, but if it is easier to manage a cook with the Cheyenne, that might be the better pit for me. I'm not throwing 50+ people ragers each weekend, but also don't want to outgrow the smaller model in a couple years.

Thanks again

December 3rd, 2016, 11:55 pm
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The Cheyenne is made from 3/16" steel and the Wichita is made from 1/4" steel.

We sell more of the Wichita model than the Cheyenne by far.

Go to YouTube and search for T-Roy Cooks. He has a loaded Wichita and does cooking videos.

Yoder_Herb
December 4th, 2016, 9:29 am
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: November 28th, 2016, 9:37 pm
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Thank you Herb.

Are there any other home users on this forum that would be willing to chime in with thoughts/experiences?

December 4th, 2016, 6:07 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
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I'd say go for the loaded Wichita no question. I started out 5 years or so with a Cheyenne, it was a great learner, but I learned very quick that I needed more space, so after 2 years I needed to upgrade, thought about the loaded Wichita, but had some extra cash and figured the next upgrade would be for life, so I pulled the trigger on the Kingman, I love that thing, it's a work of art, if I'm not smoking on it, sometimes I just sit in the back yard and stare at it.

I understand the lure of pellet smokers, but I like the old school way. The only real long cook is brisket (12 hours or so min for full), I can start pork butts at 8am and have ready for party's at 6pm, ribs 5 hours.

December 5th, 2016, 8:08 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: November 28th, 2016, 9:37 pm
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Thanks kcphilaflyer,

Is there a big difference as far as maintaining the cook between the Cheyenne and the Kingman? Does it take longer for the Kingman to heat up? Do you go through significantly more wood during a cook? What about maintaining temperature/time between having to intervene to keep the fire up to temperature?

Many thanks

December 6th, 2016, 8:09 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
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Pretty much the same but due to the smaller cook chamber, the Cheyenne had more temp spikes when putting more wood in.

And really for as bigger as the kingman is, I don't really use that much more wood during cooks, once it's up to temp, it hums along with a log or 2 burning, and I usually can leave it for an hour max without needing to check on the fire, just depends on where Im at in cook, conditions, size/type of wood that's burning.

Definitely with a stick burner tending the fire is as much an art form as cooking the meat, but it's fun and after a while you'll learn your own system

December 9th, 2016, 10:32 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: February 14th, 2015, 5:48 am
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  • Location: Atlanta, GA

Kingman all the way.

December 10th, 2016, 4:16 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: November 28th, 2016, 9:37 pm
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Any issues with fire management for the experienced folks out there?

There's a lot of forum activity about problems getting fires up to temperature, drafting, pit position in the wind, uneven temps across the grate, etc. I figured a lot of this was from new stick burner users trying to learn the ropes, but it's still a little concerning (shouldn't it be?) It seems like most people here talk about cooking at 250 or less - can the heat routinely get and stay hotter on the Yoder models (I'm looking at either the Cheyenne or Wichita)? I'm not looking to make modifications any time soon. Also, I noticed from an earlier moderator post from a different thread that the key to getting the pits up to heat was to use lump charcoal for heat while peppering in logs for flavors - please correct me if I misread Yoder_Joe's remarks of:

"The key to running this pit is maintaining a adequate coal base for heat generation and adding wood for flavor. "

To a newcomer like myself, this sounds different that just throwing a log on the fire (or another stick on the burner), but I just wanted to make sure that the issues being raised over and over again on this forum can be overcome with ideal results.

Thank you

December 10th, 2016, 4:19 pm
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Have you seen this; viewtopic.php?f=49&t=132

Yoder_Herb
December 10th, 2016, 5:02 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: November 28th, 2016, 9:37 pm
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I have, thank you for the link.

I asked because I would be buying the unit sight unseen and without the opportunity to kick the tires, so to speak. I wanted to get an idea of others' experiences so I would know what to expect and to avoid early blunders.

December 10th, 2016, 5:04 pm
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Do a search on YouTube for t-Roy cooks. He cooks on a Wichita.

Yoder_Herb
December 10th, 2016, 8:48 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: November 28th, 2016, 9:37 pm
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I was more hoping this would be a discussion with Yoder owners than a call and response with a Yoder surrogate, but I do appreciate you input, Herb. Are there any other private Yoder owners on this forum who could chime in with the learning curve/fire management success stories?

Thank you

December 10th, 2016, 9:28 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
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If it's between a cheyenne and a wichita, no question I would go wichita. You will realize very quickly that the extra space is always needed, but that's up to you.

I try and cook at 275ish, and getting up to temp has never been an issue. You can watch all the youtube videos on the planet, and get all the advice in the world, but when it comes to fire management, you just have to get hands on and get cooks under your belt to truly get your feel for how you want to cook, and how to get and keep that fire going.

Depending on conditions and what I'm cooking, I start out with either 1 or 2 chimneys of lit lump charcoal, throw 2 splits on that, and start working on a good coal base. That first part is always the toughest, I had issues thinking I never had enough, so I would either put too much lump, or an extra split on, and once all those coals started firing up, my temps would spike 325+ ish, so I almost go with the less is more train of thought.

1 or 2 chimneys and 2 splits to start, once that starts to burn down, I work on a new split every 45 mins or so. I can usually roll with that for an 8 hour cook no problem and keep at 260 - 280. Every 1.5 hours or so I'll throw in a couple handfuls of unlit lump to help keep the coal base going, because with just 1 split every so often, you'll notice the coal base will start going away after a few hours, and the key to to a good clean fire is a nice coal base.

....also, I have the heat mgmt plate

Last edited by kcphilaflyer on December 10th, 2016, 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
December 10th, 2016, 9:38 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
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Here is 1.0 and 2.0.....I ended up selling the Cheyenne to a friend and got him hooked....

Image

Here's a fire pic...this is on the low end as there's usually at least a half of another split still going, but you get the picture, no need for a roaring fire to keep at 275, coal base keep heat, wood helps with smoke and feeding the coal base.

Image

a cook from a couple months ago...

Image

December 10th, 2016, 10:48 pm
* Wichita ** Wichita *
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I have a 640 on a comp cart so I won't speak to a stick burned specifically as a user. I will speak from a Yoder customers perspective. I live in Wichita, KS and spend a lot (more then I'd like to admit) of time shopping at All Things BBQ. I have spent a lot of time around the Cheyenne and the Loaded Wichita and I love them. A lot. I will buy a loaded Wichita one day and learn how to cook on a real stick burner.

Sounds like you are torn between a Cheyenne and Wichita. I haven't used either but I have seen both many times in person... you would be silly to not go with the loaded Wichita! It's an amazing cooker. The Cheyenne is small, if you're going to spend the money spend it right and get the better unit.

As for Yoder as a whole.. they are an excellent example of what we would like all companies to be like... US owned and US made, fantastic products, amazing customer service, competitive prices... as a life long Kansas guy I am super proud they operate here!

Step up to the plate, stop waiting and a get a loaded Wichita cooker on your patio as soon as you possibly can. You'll love it!!

Wichita, KS!
New to pellet grilling/smoking

YS-640 ON ORANGE COMP CART
December 11th, 2016, 9:49 am
* Abilene ** Abilene *
  • Joined: November 28th, 2016, 9:37 pm
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Thanks kcphilaflyer and jfrederick for the pictures and insight!

December 11th, 2016, 7:29 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
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I have Yoder Kingman and YS640 on Comp Cart. I can tell you coming from an Oklahoma Joe the Kingman is a dream to cook on. I have stopped using chimney with charcoal or lump coal to start my fire. I have purchased the Yoder Log Starter and let me tell you, much much better in my opinion, I get fire going (started with logs) and ad a split or so every 45-1 hour depending on what I am trying to do. It is relaxing and you should have no issue managing the fire. I just did a 19 hour brisket as I cruised along at 225 degrees. I also just did 12 hour beef ribs on the YS640. Both have their place. Loaded Wichita is beautiful cooker, I just didnt want to have to upgrade later. If you want to see any pics of cook or fire going feel free to look at www.instagram.com/marbque

Marbque Midwest Backyardoasis
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