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August 17th, 2016, 9:53 pm
#1
* Wichita ** Wichita *
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  • Joined: July 18th, 2016, 8:42 pm
  • Posts: 110
  • Location: Houston, TX

Howdy folks.

I've already posted on the stick burner forum a few times but have never introduced myself. I am a computer programmer currently living in Houston, TX. I like to cook BBQ for my family and friends, and I've been using a Big Green Egg for a couple of years, and decided it was time to do some serious Texas BBQ on an offset smoker using local hardwoods.

I researched all over the place and initially wanted to buy from one of the Houston-area custom fabricators because we have quite a few good ones down here, like Lone Star Grillz, Pitmaker, Klose, Gator Pit, Pitts by JJ, etc. I was particularly interested in Lone Star Grillz because they claim to have the best fitting doors in the business, with tolerances tight enough to prevent even a single credit card from sliding underneath the flanges.

Also, the thought of spending a chunk of money for shipping was a turn-off, and I have a big truck so I thought I'd save some cash by picking up the smoker myself.

However, I was looking for a traditional pipe smoker with a round firebox, and big wagon wheels, and those are not very popular with the custom fabricators for some reason. They all seem to favor square fire boxes and small rubber wheels. After eliminating the local choices, I started looking at other vendors like Lang, Horizon, Stumps, Yoder, and Meadow Creek. It's hard to actually see any of these up close, but I found some Horizon smokers at the Bass Pro Shop out in Katy Texas and drove out there to look at them. When I got there I was not impressed with the workmanship on the Horizons. The welds were very rough (all around), and the units in general looked like they had been sitting on the floor for a long time. The firebox end door did not even have flanges, and I could see daylight through the openings. I thought to myself, "Normally manufacturers try to exhibit their best quality units for display, and if these are their best units, then I need to look for something better."

When I finally focused on the Yoder line of smokers, there seemed to be one common thread in every discussion: quality second to none. So that's why I decided to get a Wichita. The Cheyenne wasn't big enough, and the Kingman was probably overkill. The Loaded Wichita seemed like a perfect fit, and the best deal for the money. I can also say T-Roy Cooks was a big influence with his Loaded Wichita videos - look him up on youtube.

Thinking I was going to have to wait 8 weeks and pay for shipping from Kansas, I called Yoder to place my order for a custom Wichita (I planned on having the firebox on the left side of the smoker initially). To my surprise, I couldn't order directly through Yoder, and had to contact a distributor in my area. The distributor isn't far from me, but they are in a terrible location that is almost inaccessible due to endless highway road construction. I dropped by there to see what the store looked like (it was closed), and it didn't even look like a place where you could buy outdoor cooking equipment. There wasn't even a Yoder sign on the building. I peeked inside but all I saw were appliances and some stainless steel gas grills like you'd install in an outdoor kitchen. At any rate, I called the next day and found out they actually had a standard Loaded Wichita in the back of the store ready for sale. I bought it sight unseen and scheduled a delivery for the coming Saturday.

The delivery went smoothly despite a low-boy trailer having no functioning ramps, but I managed to get the cooker to the back yard and get it cleaned up (very dusty upon arrival) and it looked really beautiful. It's hard to criticize the way it looks. My daughter calls it "old timey," but I'm a man who doesn't even own a cell phone, so "old timey" suits me just fine.

I had a minor issue with the cover not fitting right, but when I posted a photo of it support informed me that I got the wrong cover, and they sent me the correct one. Thanks for that.

Now onto the serious issues. When I seasoned the cooker, I was stressing about the amount of smoke that was coming out of the doors. Granted, I was letting a lot of smoke flow through the cooker because I was still learning how to manage the fire, but I couldn't even stand in front of it because the smoke was blowing in my face instead of out the smoke stack. I brought this matter to the attention of the support team, and I was basically told to accept the large door gaps because smokers need to breathe, and the gaps are within Yoder's "tolerance" for doors. OK fine. I installed some 1/2" X 1/8" nomex gaskets on all the door flanges and the doors didn't leak on my last use. I can live with that.

The next issue was a leak in the removable smoke stack. The weld had an overlap that was crooked and left a hole where grease began to seep out. I thought I was seeing things when I kept noticing something dropping from there. When I examined it up close I was flabbergasted. "Quality second to none" I thought. OK, maybe they let "the new guy" weld the smoke stacks, since they are not a permanent part of the cooker body (I wish they still were), and can easily be replaced. Support agreed this was a workmanship issue and sent me a replacement under warranty. Problem solved? No. The replacement smoke stack had a beautiful weld, but also had gouges in the metal all over one side of the pipe like it had been run over by a forklift or something, and there was a scratch in the paint that covered the entire length of the pipe. I was actually thinking about filling the gouges with high-heat J-B weld, sanding it down, and re-painting it with exact-match paint, but had to remind myself, "This is a brand new smoker for which you paid over $2500.00; call support." Again, support agreed this was not up to Yoder's standards, and they are sending me another one, which I have not received yet. This isn't fun to deal with, since I have to re-package all these heavy parts and send them back to Kansas.

The third issue is a leak in the weld between the firebox and the cooking chamber. The weld was laid down mostly on the cooking chamber side, and didn't penetrate the firebox enough to provide a leak-proof seal. Oil is seeping in this area too. Was this welded by the same "new guy" who welded the smoke stack? Here again, Yoder's answer is basically that "it won't affect your cooking" so I have to live with it. Would any of you feel like this is the quality you paid for? I'm a pretty reasonable person, but if I bought a Ferrari and it had an obvious flaw, I don't think I would be "OK" when I'm told "Don't worry about it - the car will still drive fast." My impression is that Yoder's sales volume has increased so dramatically over the past year or so that quality might be on the decline. Am I the only one?

The warranty, like any other legal jargon, is worded in a way that lets the company (Yoder) decide when to honor it, so all they have to do is say they don't think it's an issue, and that settles it. Notice the phrase, "found by Yoder Smokers to be defective."

Warranty

Yoder Smokers warrants this barbecue unit against defects in material and workmanship under normal
residential use and maintenance. Yoder Smokers warrants the cooking body for the lifetime from date of
purchase against defects in material and workmanship under normal residential use and maintenance.
Yoder Smokers will provide a replacement part for any part
found by Yoder Smokers to be defective and
shall not be responsible for any re-assembly. Original part(s) approved for return by the Yoder Smokers
Service Department must be returned prepaid by customer.


I may have to live with a sub-par build on my smoker, but I'm still looking forward to smoking some bovine this weekend. I just wanted to share my experience as a new Yoder owner with the rest of the community while it is still fresh in my mind. BTW - the grease bucket that came with mine was made in China. :(


P1110652.jpg~original.jpg
Firebox Weld Leak


firebox-weld-leak-highlighted.jpg
Firebox Weld Leak Closer


smoke-stack-weld-leak.jpg
Smoke Stack Weld Leak


smoke-stack-gouges.JPG
Second Smoke Stack with Gouges


cooker-lid2.jpg
Cooker Door Gaps


wrong-cover.jpg
Wrong Cover

Yoder Loaded Wichita 2016
Large Big Green Egg 2014
August 25th, 2016, 5:12 pm
#2
* Wichita ** Wichita *
User avatar
  • Joined: July 18th, 2016, 8:42 pm
  • Posts: 110
  • Location: Houston, TX

Cooked some USDA Prime Brisket (in the rain) with Dizzy Pig's Red Eye Express coffee rub.

Image

I took the heat management plate out for this cook. I still had a hard time keeping the coal bed very large, and my temps fluctuated between 210 and 270 (at the grate on the smokestack end) between adding logs. The unit drafted OK, but it has a tendency to breathe out of the upper damper hole quite a bit. This cooker definitely requires some skill to get it to heat/flow properly.

Yoder Loaded Wichita 2016
Large Big Green Egg 2014
November 19th, 2016, 9:45 pm
#3
* Abilene ** Abilene *
User avatar
  • Joined: August 26th, 2016, 8:20 pm
  • Posts: 13

that brisket looks great

Marbque Midwest Backyardoasis
January 2nd, 2017, 8:24 pm
#4
* Wichita ** Wichita *
User avatar
  • Joined: July 18th, 2016, 8:42 pm
  • Posts: 110
  • Location: Houston, TX

Ugh, another weld problem. The weld that holds the counter-weight has a bad spot, and it flexed enough to cause a large break-out in the paint. Now it is rusting.

Not sure how to fix this permanently, because the crack may get worse. I'm probably going to have to use a high-temp sealant on it, something that stays flexible.

counter-weight-cracked-weld2.jpg

Yoder Loaded Wichita 2016
Large Big Green Egg 2014
January 14th, 2017, 10:15 pm
#5
* Wichita ** Wichita *
User avatar
  • Joined: July 18th, 2016, 8:42 pm
  • Posts: 110
  • Location: Houston, TX

I noticed a new rust stain forming below one of the axles inside the wheel.
Image


Looking closer, the welder did a lousy job connecting the welds on the inside of the legs too. Both of them have a visible hole where water is penetrating and rusting, and one of them just looks very amateurish and lumpy. Time for more rust treatment and sealant. This is really getting annoying. It's hard to believe this thing was welded in a controlled environment by a professional welder. The one weld is so bad I can't believe it passed the quality control inspection. This is hardly the quality you would expect after watching Yoder's video of an old craftsman taking pride in the fabrication of his hand-made Wichita.
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Yoder Loaded Wichita 2016
Large Big Green Egg 2014
September 8th, 2017, 8:58 pm
#6
* Wichita ** Wichita *
User avatar
  • Joined: July 18th, 2016, 8:42 pm
  • Posts: 110
  • Location: Houston, TX

Fixing broken photo links:

Prime Brisket:
Image

Rust issue from leg weld:
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Yoder Loaded Wichita 2016
Large Big Green Egg 2014

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