AMNPS at high elevations

Discussion in 'Slicers, Grinders, Tools, Equipment' started by bocephas, Jun 23, 2014.

  1. I recently acquired an AMNPS and I'm having trouble getting it to stay lit.  So far I've tried the blowtorch and hair dryer trick to really get a nice bright red coal going, then I set it on my regular grill (the grill was not on) just to try and see if I am getting it lit properly.  It burned about three inches and died, so it appears to burn for a little bit but I just can't keep it going all the way.

    Here is some pertinent info:

    I live in Cedar City, UT.  6000 ft above sea level, very low humidity, and we've had some nice hot days lately.

    My attempts to light and test the AMNPS so far have been done in virtually 0 wind and with plenty of ventilation (even just sitting out in the open on top of the grill)

    I'm using the pitmaster's choice pellets that came with the AMNPS, I have not yet tried other brands of pellets.

    I've read that elevation can affect how the AMNPS works, but have not found anything so far about specific ways to help at high elevations.  I will probably end up doing the mailbox mod on my MES40 as soon as I can figure out how to keep the AMNPS lit. 

    Any suggestions would be greatly welcome.  
  2. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    If you have a gen 2 mes with front top controller and left side exhaust vent you are probably going to need the mailbox mod anyway. If you're having trouble keeping it lit in open air your pellets may be moist. I know in my pellet smoker the pitmasters choice was not near as good for heat or density as other pellets. 6k feet isn't helping either and theres not really a fix for it. Lower O 2 levels.
  3. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    What Geerock said:

    I use straight Hickory pellets, but I have a Gen #1, and I'm nowhere near 6,000 feet ASL.

    Sounds like you may need that mailbox mod, and maybe a little chimney added also.

    Keep us posted----There are other little things that have been done.

  4. thanks Bear and Geerock for the speedy replies!  I had thought that the open air test was telling me that I'm not lighting properly or using the wrong pellets.  It didn't occur to me that the pellets could be damp since I live in such a dry climate, but you never know I guess.  After reading your replies, I just got to thinking, if I do the mailbox and a chimney mod on the Gen 2 MES 40 I've got, I wonder if that won't actually create enough of a draft to act like gently blowing on the coals and keep it lit.
  5. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yup, I doubt if you have moisture problems, but it doesn't hurt to check. Only problem is if you do too many things at once & it works, you won't know that it wasn't a moisture problem. All I do is put my pellets in screw lid jars when I get them, and I never had to nuke or heat any pellets.

    And yes---Hopefully that "Gentle blowing" will help. If not, maybe a couple extra holes here & there, or a little fan added. I'm hoping you won't need that.

  6. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    If you're willing to mod then a 3 inch adjustable elbow fits exactly into the factory cut out for the stock exhaust. I added a damper to the pipe and she worked great. Just have to pull the chip loadet out a few inches. But that exhaust needs to be opened up for other reasons. You can dremel the existing out if you like but the elbow and damper is just a few bucks and a little time.

    Here it is with an mes cabinet mated to my traeger. Note the elbow.
  7. Is that a cast iron stove damper on top?   And do you usually keep it wide open or mostly closed?  I've got the elbow now and the dryer vent for a mailbox mod, but trying to figure out how to do the damper.  
  8. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Hooked up to the Traeger i keep it mostly wide open. As a stand alone unit I was at about 3/4. It is a cast iron damper and extremely easy to install.
  9. So I've had a conversation with smf's greatest superhero, Todd. Turns out no mods really get an amnps working above 5000 ft, but the tube smokers work well so he's sending me one. I'm headed out for a couple weeks, by the time I get back my tube smoker will be here and I can get back to the project. By then I hope to also get a damper delivered.
  10. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I should have thought about that, because my 5 X 8 works so good because I get good air flow at my low altitude, which also causes my Tube smoker to put out too much smoke.

    However that's why Todd is "The Man" !!!

  11. Finally back from vacation and received my amazn tube smoker, and it has stayed lit!  both in the open air and inside the MES40, the tube stayed lit the whole time.  I can't figure out why the tube is so much better at high elevations, but thanks to Todd I have good smoke generation. 

    Thanks for all your input folks.  I'm going to hop over and create a thread on my first spatchcocked chicken.  
  12. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

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