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The temperature fluctuation you describe is quite normal. A 25 degree rise after burner shut off is within factory specs, but you do not want more than a 25 degree shift. If you lower the oil level and look at the bracket that holds the thermostat bulb, make sure there is no build up of carbon or gunk. This can insulate and cause greater fluctuations in temp.
Does the fryer have a" temperature reached light"? If so switch the fryer on and with the thermostat dial starting at its lowest setting increase the temperature setting in small increments. When the light indicates temperature reached, increase the thermostat dial temperature. Continue until maximum temperature reached.
If (starting from cold) the temerature reached light only shows when high up on the thermostats temperature scale, then unfortunately the thermostat needs replacing.
I assume it is a gas model. There are 2 thermostats. One is adjustable, you set your temp, it sounds like it has gone bad.. The second thermostat is the high limit thermostat. When it reaches 450 degrees F, it will shut down the pilot and main flame to prevent a grease fire. It may be possible that someone has hooked the thermostat up wrong. Next time you fire it up, disconnect one of the thermostat wires that has the temperature knob. If the flame goes out, the thermostat is bad,
Replace the thermostat, P5047588. If the fryer is not shutting off, both main burner and pilot, when it overheats, also replace the high limit PP10084. The high limit usually shuts the fryer off at about 425-450F. Check your thermometer. A fryer should never get up to 550F.
It probably is a problem with the thermostat. The reset button is probably a high limit. The high limit is a safety device to turn the fryer off if the oil gets too hot. Normally they will "trip" somewhere between 375 - 450 degrees F for commercial fryers. I would suggest placing a temperature probe in the oil and see what the oil temp is when it trips. If it trips at a temp below 375, it is a bad high limit. If the thermostat is set at 350 and the temp goes over 400 then the thermostat is bad.
Since you've mention the pilot light goes out at 400 degree F, then we are talking a gas Deep Fryer. The deepfryer usually use at 350 degree F for chips or else. Because the oil will start breaking down its quantity of frying very quickly over that temperature. Most people set at 350 degree F. Now we comes back to your problem, First you should have a deep fryer thermometer they espcially made for deep fryer, (You only mention 400 or better ) that make me think you're only guessing. Knowing the temperature is very important, most Hi limit is set at 420 degree F.
To me it seen the Hi Ltd control is working and that is why it cutting out the pilot when it reach its limit but we don't know what temperature that when the hi limit cutting out at.
When you have a thermometer, put it in the cold oil and turn the temperature to 100 degree F to see what the temperature control cutting out at. slowly increase your setting until it cutting out at 350 degree F . If you set at 250 degree F and the thermometer already reaching 350 degreen F then don't go any further , your temperature control is defective and need to be change a new one.
This is only the first step, you still have to check out the Hi ltd control to see how good its condition is,so far your information say it cutting out at 400 or better. But you've to be sure, because it is a safety control. Hope that will help you , God Bless.