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I noticed that after my firebox grate broke into 3 pieces my fires started quicker. I just arrange the pieces of grate with some overlap so it doesn't fall in the ash pit. Almost impossible to stir your charcoal, and the wiggle rod collects dust. High-Que sounds like a great idea. Anyone dislodge it while stirring their charcoal? The bars look like the ash tool could catch pretty easy if you at inattentive/inebriated.
I find that the bend test is less accurate when using the foil methods. The foil braises the ribs and makes them flexible but not necessarily tender. The bend test works for me when I have cooked them without foil. What kind of ribs are you smoking? I usually wait to see some good pullback of the meat from the bones when I use foil. Spareribs generally take longer than loin backs.
Try this approach. Cook them till you think they are done. Then sauce them and leave em on for another 30 minutes. Keep trying, and don't rely on the timing. Cook till done, not time.
I use the basic heavy leather work gloves you can get at Home Depot etc for like $4 a pair. They are not heat resistant for long, but I have never burned myself. Most time when I try to move a hot platesetter the egg is at less than 400. I never attempt to move platesetter on hotter indirect cooks, like pizza.
A tip on the greasy part. Soaking the gloves in grease will make them less insulating. When you use your platesetter without a drip pan, wrap some aluminum foil around it to keep the grease off it.
Moral of the story is make sure you know what you are going to do with the hot stuff before you grab it. Unless you buy expensive, fancy sheilding gloves you will feel the heat eventually. I trust my hands more than a wire tool to hold on to the platesetter, I would be upset if it dropped and broke.