Share your success stories about your Yoder Smokers product purchase and use. Share what you have learned about your Yoder Smokers product.
October 12th, 2014, 6:28 pm
* Abilene ** Abilene *
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  • Joined: August 15th, 2014, 5:16 pm
  • Posts: 4
  • Location: Pennsylvania

I received my Yoder YS640 in March and proceeded to do the initial burn in and seasoning, running a total of seven hours. The unit worked flawlessly. The next day I went out to smoke bacon to look for hot spots and the unit refused to light. I removed the grates and deflector and cleaned out the burn grate. I was able to get the unit to light and proceeded to smoke 3 pounds of bacon followed by 20 or so biscuits. I had been reading a number of forums about the experiences people had, and none had mentioned that the burn grate had to be cleaned each time, in fact what I read was the opposite, these people were getting 6 or more smokes out of their units before doing any cleaning.

A week later I decided to smoke a couple of racks of ribs. After cleaning out the burn grate before starting up I had no problems doing a seven hour smoke. The next weekend I was going to do an overnight smoke of a couple of pork butts so I cleaned out the burn grate again, ran the unit for 15 minutes and then shut it down. I went out to start my YS 640 that night and had no ignition again. This time I emailed Yoder support and in less than an hour I received a call from Herb. He was waiting for his wife to meet him for dinner at a bar and called me from there. He had me again clean out the burn grate and clean around the igniter rod and I was able to get the unit working. The next day Herb emailed me with some things to verify. One of the items was to make sure the igniter rod was out 1/8” past the tube and to make sure that both fans were operating. He sent me instructions to adjust the igniter rod and to test the fans, which were working fine. He also instructed me to check the clearance of the burn grate and to adjust it as needed, and to make sure that the foil on the deflector plate was not blocking airflow. Herb also explained that the distance that the burn grate was from the hopper wall could affect airflow and determine how the pellets burned. Due to my work, this took over a week to get everything resolved but the entire time Herb was there for assistance.

After these first incidents I got into the routine of dumping the ash from the burn grate off to the side and vacuuming out the unit after 3-4 smokes. I was able to get away with changing the foil on the deflector plate every other smoke and things seemed to fall into place. The problem I had was that I would set the Yoder controller a one temp and my two Maverick ET732’s had pit temps all over the place. Coming from a Weber Genesis gas grill using a smoke box for the past 5 years to an actual smoker had me stressing on keeping temperatures within range.

Toward the end of August I decided to smoke two 11-pound bone in butts, putting them on just before midnight on a Saturday and then adding two racks of spare and two racks of baby backs the following day for family I was having over that afternoon. It was a cool night and was raining off and on so I brought out my welding blanket to cover the smoker and the hopper. The over night smoke went fine but halfway into the ribs, temperatures started to fluctuate with the Yoder set at 275* I had temps drop below 180*. I had used the welding blanket earlier when it was cold and had no problem before this. I emailed Yoder support mainly for guidance and again Herb responded to my concerns. Herb suggested that I make sure the burn grate was set properly and that the welding blanket had not covered the vents on the front and rear of the hopper. He also suggested that I clean out the unit, remove the foil from the deflector plate and run the temperature test that is on the Yoder Community Forums. At the same time the new, reinforced burn grate was released, which I ordered.

I followed the suggestions that Herb sent me and did the temperature test as instructed. Before doing it I made sure that my Maverick’s were in range and from doing the cold & hot test found they were only off by -+ 2 degrees. After running the temperature test for two hours and taking the readings as instructed I found that with my controller set at 250* the controller average was 252* and my Mavericks were at 242* and 240*. One grate probe was set in the middle and the second probe was directly behind it one grate back. These tests showed that my controller was working correctly and that I needed to make a change.

My first change was to do away with foiling the deflector plate. The second was to find a setting for the damper that would satisfy 90% of my smokes and the third was to trust the controller and not stress out about grate temps. A week after doing the test I received the new reinforced burn grate and tried to fit it in my YS640, it didn’t fit. I again contacted Yoder support and again Herb came to my assistance. He suggested I adjust the igniter rod and while I was at it I re-adjusted the igniter tube as well. It still did not fit correctly so I whacked it a couple of times with a hammer making sure to compare it with the other burn grate. I was able get the reinforced grate to sit correctly and adjusted the igniter rod and tube.

Since working with Herb at Yoder and working through these problems, which is mostly part of my inexperience, my smokes are much smoother and I don’t worry about grate temps like I first did. I am convinced that by not foiling the deflector plate and putting in the reinforced burn grate that 90% of the problems I had before have been resolved. For my YS640 I have found that having the damper set between the 7th and 8th rods on the side shelf give me the balanced temps to smoke multiple meats at once and have them all cook together.

I also feel that it is important to maintain my YS640 much as I would maintain my cars or my tractor. I always use Q-Matz that I purchased from A-Maze-N Products to help keep the grates clean. After each smoke I wire brush the grates, take a cheap paint scraper and scrape down the deflector plate, pushing everything toward the grease bucket. I remove the deflector plate, dump the ash off to the side and take a narrow wire brush and clean off any residue. I make sure the two edges that the burn grate sit on are clean and am happy to report that the new burn grate is holding tight and should hopefully no longer need any adjustment. I clean out the grease channels and make sure the hole is open to the bucket. I empty the bucket as needed and vacuum out the unit after 3 or 4 smokes. As much as some people think this is a PITA, it only takes me 15 minutes or so and saves me a lot of aggravation. I also bought the thermal jacket and find that I am using less pellets. I expect that I may still use the welding blanket especially when the temps get down to single digits or if it's snowing, but I will be careful to make sure the vents on the hopper are not blocked.

For anyone reading this that may be thinking about purchasing a Yoder pellet grill or already have one, by following these suggestions you will find your experience with your pellet grill will be a positive one. I realize that there may be problems that come up and my best suggestion is to send Yoder support an email. I can’t stress this enough. These guys are there to help and I have had first hand experience that they will go out of the way to make sure any problems or concerns are addressed. I am extremely happy with my YS640 and could not be happier with the support that Herb, Don Cary and Yoder have provided.

** I would suggest that part of a tool box for your Yoder, go out to Lowe's and pick up a couple of metal scrapers of different widths along with some narrow wire brushes. I picked a cheap set that work great for brushing off any residue on the burn grate and have a metal scraper that fits the grease channel. I also picked up a box of Scotts Rags, these are much heavier than paper towels and work great.

YS 640
Maverick ET732
Blue Thermapen
6" & 12" AMNTS
October 12th, 2014, 7:05 pm
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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  • Joined: September 27th, 2014, 7:53 pm
  • Posts: 58
  • Location: Holland, Michigan

Yeah, excellent post. I too was stressing over temps not equaling out with my Maverick - until I just stopped using the Maverick on my 2nd cook. lol. I too stopped using the foil on my second cook, and noticed that the heat was WAY more even on both the top and bottom racks - and from side to side. Significantly so.... There's something about that foil pulling itself up a bit that really screws with the airflow.... I too am meticulous about cleaning everything after every cook. It only takes a few minutes to just do the shop vac and scrape, but it's totally worth it.

October 12th, 2014, 11:15 pm
Site AdminSite Admin
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  • Joined: April 18th, 2014, 3:12 pm
  • Posts: 2408

Thanks for sharing Joe, it is greatly appreciated.


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