I use digital thermometers all the time in the kitchen, and on the grill. They’re a great way to avoid accidentally serving medium rare chicken. The problem is that the probes are very fragile. As you can see I have quite a few thermometers that just sit there because the probes quit working. Usually the wires break (inside the protective sheath) right where they exit the stainless steel probe. You can tell this by wiggling the wire and watching the display change.
The last thermometer I bought, a Taylor 1470 “Classic”, I took into the lab and applied about an inch of heat shrink tubing right where the wire exits the probe to protect the wire from the sharp edge of the probe. It didn’t help much, within months this probe also quit working. This time I thought I’d get to the bottom of it so I stripped back the silicone insulation to see what the deal was. Here’s the first mystery: How does this probe work with only a single wire? There was, apparently, only a single wire, in red insulation. After puzzling a bit I cut the cable and solved the mystery. The ground wire is embedded in the silicon sheath itself, and is both of a microscopic gauge, and placed as close as possible to the edge of the silicone (second photo). Close the grill lid on this thing a couple times and you can forget about it.
Frustratingly, Taylor knows this is a problem and sells replacement probes. As galling as it is to buy them, I feel better about doing that than buying a whole new thermometer when all I need is a probe. Fortunately this exercise provides a possible answer. Instead of just a short piece of heat shrink, to protect the ground wire from the sharp edge of the probe, it needs a much longer piece to protect it from grill lids and oven doors. The heat shrink probably needs to be slit at the very end, to relieve the tension and keep the edge of the tubing itself from abrading the silicone or breaking the ground wire. Taylor could fix this by using a coaxial cable, or by using two insulated wires, or at least by making a twisted pair out of the signal and ground wire, before applying the silicon sheath.
Maybe a product engineer at Taylor will see this and be motivated to change how this cable is constructed. Until then I’ll have to re-order probes when I get down to my last one.
Steve Ravet, Chief Monkey Trainer