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I haven't heard of such a thing. You must have cooked it until there was no moisture left in the potato. That would also account for the failure of the oven. It would be the same as no load in the oven.
A thermal protect part is your current problem.
No! But it will need to be repaired. Did you wrap the potatoes in tin foil? The reason for the smoke needs to be found and repaired. Smoking means a short or a part shorted, failed, or wires touching another wire that did not blow any fuss.That is not good. Trained technicians can help the mfg improve their products if they find the problem and report it to the Mfg. LOL
Is not normal for a microwave to shutdown after 4 minutes of operation.
From the info you are providing, It looks like the magnetron might be overheating causing the thermal fuse to shut it down until it cools down. There may also be a loose connection in one of the switches or a cold solder joint in the low voltage power supply.
I would suggest to check and make sure that the fans are functional, If always did; it could be that there isn't much air circulation where the appliance was installed.
Chances are the magnetron overheated and blew the thermostat / thermal cutout that monitors it. The magnetron itself may be bad, too.
If Sears Service might consider this still under magnetron warranty, then they may replace the mag with no part costs (or just the thermal cutout part cost), but likely would charge labor.
You can contact customer service or repair via http://www.sears.com
Otherwise, if you or a friend decide to work on it, we have *critical* safety and disassembly info at our site, which is linked at our listing here on FixYa: http://tinyurl.com/yzjozk
You can find helpful exploded view diagrams and order parts by entering your base model number (without the suffix) here: http://www3.sears.com or likely cheaper here: http://tinyurl.com/gv383
If the time from START to shut off were EXACTLY 3 minutes, then I would suspect a sensor problem or corrupted code in the microprocesor.
But since that time sounds more random, it sounds heat-related, and I would suspect a failing magnetron or a failure in the cooling system.
If the cooling fan is not running while the oven is cooking, this failure can occur, and can destroy the magnetron in short order.
A cracked magnet (has the oven been dropped?) or other problem can cause a magnetron to go bad and overheat.
If it's under warranty, I would definitely contact the manufacturer (see your manual) to find an authorized local servicer.
If it's out of warranty, I would balance the cost of a new microwave versus a bench diagnosis fee of $25 or more or an in-shop repair cost of maybe $80 or more.