A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker pellets dont stay lit.

Discussion in 'Pork' started by manmeat, Jun 8, 2016.

  1. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Guys, Im 6/6 now.  Somehow this AMPS is working as advertised and Im so happy.  I'm not 100% sure why, but I still think its a combo between the change of pellets and putting a hole in my lower drop tray. 

    Either way Im not going to jinx it but over thinking it.  I just want me AMPS to keep delivering.  Couldnt be happier. 
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2016
  2. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

  3. tjdcorona

    tjdcorona Meat Mopper

    I just built my mailbox because of the frustration of the ampns - trying out tomorrow
  4. tjdcorona

    tjdcorona Meat Mopper

    Here is my AMPS set up in Mailbox Mode......


    Last edited: Jul 31, 2016
  5. tjdcorona

    tjdcorona Meat Mopper

    Here is my AMPS set up in Mailbox Mode......

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2016
  6. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The AMNPS was designed out of frustration with my own MES because it would not deliver consistent smoke.

    I think I paid my dues when I invented the AMPS 5x8.  I have THOUSANDS of HOURS logged in testing the AMNPS in various smokers, as well as had over 20 people involved in testing it before it ever hit the market.  We've sold over 100,000 of them over the past 6 years, and I've honestly paid for less than 10 returns.  More often than not, it's a simple fix!

    I post my cell # all over the forum and take calls from people nights and weekends
    Here it is again....Work = 651 352-2831 and Cell = 952 412-0484.  I have never received a call from you and therefore have never had a chance to help you with the AMNPS.  If you truly can't get it to work, I'll gladly send you a Tube Smoker or refund the purchase price.  Pretty simple, if you give me a chance to make it right!!!

    The MES has gone thru a number of design changes that effect it's performance.  Blaming my gadget for the flaws of the MES is just plain WRONG!

    The Gen 2 and Gen 2.5 MES have a tube that the chip loader sits in with a slot along the bottom.  Simply pulling the chip loader out, and rotating it to the "Dump" position, allows for more air.  Masterbuilt has minimized the air flow into their smokers, and this effects how it performs.

    The Gen 2 and Gen 2.5 do not direct air to the bottom of the MES, so you need to raise the AMNPS 5x8 off the floor.  The Old Model MES has a set of rails approx. 2" off the floor, and the AMNPS 5x8 sits in the Air stream.

    Water Pan.....Water in the water pan is used as a heat sink, but also causes too much moisture in the small cabinet of the MES.  This excess moisture will affect how the pellets burn

    Pellets......Good quality pellets make a difference.   We sell 100% flavor wood pellets, but many other brands work well too.  Pellets will absorb moisture from the air.  It does not matter if they're kept in a sealed bag or bucket, they will absorb moisture.  It's difficult to keep them dry during the humid summer months.  Drying them in the microwave is a great way to draw out any moisture.

    Cherry, Bourbon and Wine Barrel Pellets....These pellets are a bear to burn on their own.  I state in the instructions to layer a good burning pellet on the bottom 1/ of the row and the cherry, bourbon or wine pellets on top


    Elevation.....The small mass of pellets struggles at elevations above 4,000'.  For this we suggest the Tube Smoker.  It's just the nature of the beast that fire acts differently in the low oxygen atmosphere at higher altitudes.

    Mail Box Mod.....Rarely used in the Old Model MES, but popular with the New Gen 2 and Gen 2.5.  What's so different in the new models??  Well, if you care to take the time to analyze the air flow inside the new models, you'll see how violently the air tumbles inside from the convection airflow inside the cabinet.  Masterbuilt also minimized intake air in their new models.  You need fuel, air and ignition to create.  Eliminating air for combustion makes great charcoal, but lousy smoke.

    You're welcome to call me at work or on my cell to resolve your issues, or you can email me or PM me thru SMF.  When you call, you get Me or my Wife, not some customer service person reading from a script.  We know our products and how they work in almost every smoker.

    Todd Johnson
    A-MAZE-N Products
    [email protected]
    Work =  651 352-2831
    Cell = 952 412-0484

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2016
  7. tjdcorona

    tjdcorona Meat Mopper


    Im sorry If I offended you - I never thought of calling you or anybody at AMP.

    I will call you to discuss my experiences with it and what I have went thru testing it to get it to work. I am sure that the inflection of my email is not what I intended it to be.
  8. sigmo

    sigmo Smoking Fanatic

    All of the suggestions posted so far are excellent.  And of course, Todd can always get to the root of the problems and helps anyone who asks.  And the different generation MESs do require different approaches because Masterbuilt changed things with every generation - and not always for the better.

    I live at about 5200 feet, and have what seems to be called a "newer" Generation 1 MES 40.

    I had problems keeping my pellets lit at first, but have largely overcome my issues by using all of the suggestions listed above.

    Here's what I do:

    NEVER use water in the smoker.  Keep things dry.

    I leave the chip loader completely out of the unit.  That leaves the air entrance totally open.

    I leave the chip drawer pulled open at least an inch so there's a path for air to flow in the entrance, over the heating element, and then out into the smoker.

    I set the AMNPS up on the two rails on the left side of the smoker so that it's elevated for proper airflow up under it.

    I always have a foil drip shield of some sort above the AMNPS to prevent drips from reaching the pellets.

    I microwave the pellets for 30 seconds.  Then stir them for a minute or so with a large spoon. Then I repeat that process about five times.  I can feel the warm humidity leaving the pellets as I stir them each time.  You need to get the things dry!  But do be careful.  I've had them ignite in the microwave oven when I nuked them for more time all at once with no stirring.  It smoked up the microwave oven pretty badly!  Don't walk off and leave them nuking!

    Ideally, I put the pellets into the AMNPS, and put it in the MES while it's heating up.  If the pellets can bake in the MES for a half hour or more, that helps dry them even further.

    I blowtorch the living daylights out of the end of the pellets in the AMNPS.  Even after they look like they're going, I roast them more.  Fry them good with the blowtorch!

    I let them burn with an open flame for five minutes or more, then blow them out and again blow on the cherry to really get it going good.

    That has worked very well for me at this high elevation with this gen 1 MES-40.

    BUT, if I try to run the smoker at too low of a temperature, the draft/draw through it is still too lame to keep the pellets supplied with enough oxygen to burn reliably.  I recently did a batch of Jerky, and because I had the smoker set to only 150 to 160 degrees, and because it rained while I was doing this run (just my luck!), and perhaps because of the huge surface area of the wet jerky adding a LOT of moisture to the system, the pellets went out.

    But I think I have one possible answer.

    I mounted some magnets to the four corners of a small computer cooling fan and now I can just slap that fan onto the side of the smoker and have it blow into the air inlet.  Again, since I never use the chip hopper, it's completely removed from the smoker.   By adjusting the position of the fan with respect to the air inlet, I can adjust the amount of air flow.  With it centered directly over the hole, things were perfect for the dehydration phases of the jerky-making.  But that may well be far too much air flow for the smoking phases of jerky, or for normal smoking of meat or cheese, etc.  But if I just slide the fan over so it's offset from the opening to some degree, I can get less air flow.

    So forced air may be an answer for some people in some situations.  I actually started a thread about this earlier last night.  It's here:


    At some point, I will probably build a mailbox mod, too, though, because it will be helpful when cold-smoking cheese, and it's a good way to get cleaner smoke with the heavy creosote condensed out before it can get to the meat.

    Best of luck with it.  These MESs can be frustrating, but once you figure out the formula that works for you, in your location, with your particular version of the MES, the AMNPS produces great results.  It's made all the difference in the world to me with this smoker.

    The jerky did come out just great despite my troubles during that run.  With the fan stuck over the air inlet, the final dehydration of the jerky went beautifully!
  9. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    All of this just proves what we've been saying for years:

    "If the pellets are dry, and you put in the necessary effort to get the pellets lit properly, the air flow in your particular smoker is the important thing".

    If it goes out, it is not the fault of the AMNPS.

    Nearly 7 years with my AMNPS with no problems, with 4 different MES Units, without Mailbox Mods.

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2016
  10. tjdcorona

    tjdcorona Meat Mopper

    Pellets smoked for a full 7 hrs using the mailbox mod - great smoke on the brisket, which is crutched right now, so I don't need more smoke.
  11. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    TJ, afternoon....  You'll find the MB mod has many positive benefits....    Where you are, the temps are fairly warm...  The AMNPS will elevate your smoker temp with the heat turned off, when you want to cold smoke cheese as an example...   The MB mod will keep the smoke cool so you can cold smoke cheese when the ambient air temp is about 60-65....   if the AMNPS was inside the smoker body, it's temp would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 deg F...  too warm for cheese....  

    Also when smoking meats, you can easily run the smoker at any temp you choose and the pellets will burn consistently because they are at ambient temp...    The more you become familiar with the AMNPS, pellets and MB mod, you comfort zone will expand..... 

    Thanks much for your service.....    Dave
  12. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    There ya go. Gotta do what you gotta do.

  13. hillbilly jim

    hillbilly jim Meat Mopper

    Only problem I ever had with my AMNPS wasn't the AMNPS, it was the pellets. I solved that problem.

    You want my AMNPS? "Molon Labe" and good luck with that.
  14. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Not Me---Got My own!! [​IMG]

  15. tjdcorona

    tjdcorona Meat Mopper

    thank you Dave !

    The MB worked great, and now that the AMP is controllable, I will consider cheese and Sausage now- this is becoming a full time job!
  16. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    You guys should read my post above.  Im like 8/8 smokes now, which is awesome.  Im telling you, something was up with the pellets I previously used.  Maybe I got a bad batch, I dont know, but they didnt burn properly.  LOVE MY AMPS!!!
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2016
  17. hillbilly jim

    hillbilly jim Meat Mopper

    I'm off the chart OC about thermometers. I've got close to a dozen that read in different ranges and all can be user calibrated. Two in particular are digital, over a hundred bucks each and read in tenths. About once a month or so, I check each one with the slush ice test or boil test, depending on range. I know they're right.

    All I know to tell you is my experience with my AMNPS in my 44 inch Masterbuilt. When I'm cold smoking, the cabinet temp is within two degrees of ambient at any given time. Personal opinion, that ain't even worth mentioning.

    I have NEVER seen a cabinet temp increase (when cold smoking) due to the AMNPS being inside the cabinet.
  18. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Jim, morning.....    The temp not rising could be because your smoke box is not insulated....   and it's a 44" MB....   I have a MES 30 which is very well insulated...  Maybe that's why I see a temp increase....

    I believe Todd has mentioned temp increases when using the AMNPS and even higher temp increases when using the AMNTS....
  19. sigmo

    sigmo Smoking Fanatic

    Hillbilly Jim: Another thermometer nerd! Yeah, baby! :)

    I've cold smoked cheese a number of times with the AMNPS in my MES-40 (which is smaller than yours, and insulated, too). The temperatures stayed just fine, but I have always done it when it was cold outside. Once, it was -20 for most of the smoke. I had to manually cycle the heater in the smoker on periodically to keep the temperature high enough (I like it around 60 degrees).

    You can't set the controller on my MES-40 that low. Modifications may be in order. ;)

    But at ambient temperatures near 30 or 40, just the heat of the AMNPS burning the pellets kept the smoker at a nicer, higher temp. So it probably is a matter of the size, insulation, and airflow, too, that determines whether or not the AMNPS's heat is enough to raise the smoker's internal temp.

    Since it is usually very dry here in the winter, the pellets have burned nicely for me during those cold smokes in winter.

    But I would like to be able to do cold smoking in summertime, too. So a mailbox mod of some sort may be in my future.

    Not to derail this thread, but I've been a real temperature control nut for many years. Have you seen the Reference Thermapen?

    I recommend it highly as an affordable calibration thermometer.

    Tabbed in.
  20. hillbilly jim

    hillbilly jim Meat Mopper

    Sigmo! Gimme a read out! :))

    Here's a trick for ya' to keep your box above freezin' without it glowing red: Put a controllable hot plate on a rack below the AMNPS and start with the low setting. Adjust as required until you get to 50 to 60 in the cabinet. The heat rising from the hot plate will draw a draft in for the AMNPS and help keep the pellets dry and burning. And it will keep the box above 32 so you don't ruin ya' cheese.

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