AMNPS Catches fire in mailbox, but goes out in MES40!

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by jaellman, Feb 27, 2015.

  1. jaellman

    jaellman Fire Starter

    Ok guys, round two!  Here's the story...

    In December I got my MES40 and have struggled with temps, back story to this can be found here:

    Yesterday @ 5pm I started my smoker at 230 degree's and filled my AMNPS w/ Apple Chips from Amazon ().  Lit the tray, let it burn outside the smoker for 15 minutes and put inside at bottom bars.  Chip tray and tube in place.  I returned after prepping the 8lbs Brisket flat and went to put the meat in to find the AMNPS was out.

    I pulled the tray, re-lit and burn for 10 more minutes, re-inserted tray on bottom bars and added brisket.

    1 hour later I checked the window of my smoker and found no smoke.  AMNPS was out again.  Opened, re-lit and this time placed it on the bottom rack, above heating element.  An hour later, out again.

    I started using the tube & chips at this point along with re-lighting the AMNPS until about 11pm when I went to bed.  Meat was at 155 degree's and nicely stuck in the stall.

    I woke up at 6am to check, meat was at 177 degree's and, as expected AMNPS hadn't continued to burn for more then an hour after I went to bed.  I'm guessing this will be an under-smoked Brisket, but none the less.  I'm more concerned about figuring out where my flaw is with this AMNPS.  

    This isn't the first struggles I've had with AMNPS staying lit.  However, I blamed the pellets until just a few days ago when I added Mailbox mod to my MES40.  With the AMNPS lit w/ same pellets in mailbox the whole tray caught fire inside the mailbox.


    Bottom of Mailbox are 1/2" holes for air intake.

    So, I'm at a loss.  I can't honestly blame the pellet quality anymore if the whole thing caught fire in the mailbox but doesn't stay lit in the MES 40.

    Any Idea's / Suggestions / Comments?
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Did you dry the pellets first in the oven/smoker at 275 for two hours..... I would plug the holes in the bottom of the MB mod, and put holes in the door... I'm thinking the air in, through the holes in the bottom, "MAY" have added direct air to the pellets, like you were blowing on them.... They will catch fire if they get too hot, like above the heat in the smoker, or too much air flow...
    Place a sheet of foil on the bottom of the MB mod. to plug the air flow... the holes in the door will provide indirect air to the pellets...

    All of the above may not provide a solution but it's all I can come up with...

  3. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Dave has you pretty much covered, Too Much Air Flow.  Like he mentioned, cover the holes on the bottom.

     You may also consider attaching a round plate or can lid on the front with a single screw so it can be slid across the holes for air adjustment.

  4. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Have some questions after looking at your pics again.  What is the idea for the exhaust extension?  Is that a fan drawing smoke from the extension?  If so, it would greatly increase the air draw across the AMNPS.

    As you have the mod made, use it for smoke and forget putting the AMNPS inside the smoker.  You will achieve a much cleaner and smoother smoke by using it.  For a even cooler and cleaner smoke, consider lengthening the flex pipe.

    The following should help explain.

    AMNPS & Smoke Daddy Myths?

  5. jaellman

    jaellman Fire Starter

    The extended exhaust & fan is what I call my "Happier Wife" mod.  Meaning, the smoke is exhausted right beside the fan, not connected, and upon leaving the extention is grabbed by the fan and sent out the window instead of staying in the garage and leaking into the house.

    There should be no "pulling" from the fan out the exhaust.
  6. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Okay,  Make the mods as suggested, do some testing by adjusting the air flow and you will soon be a happy smoker.

  7. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

  8. jaellman

    jaellman Fire Starter

    Plugged the holes on the bottom by using a sheet of foil across the bottom.

    After my Brisket was done I swapped out the AMNPS into the mailbox and lit her up.

    This time, however, I threw the pellets in the microwave for a couple minutes first to hopefully dry them out.

    Lit both sides and allowed 10 minutes for burn.  Put out fire, placed in Mailbox and has been running that way for last few hours with Bacon Wrapped pork loin in smoker cabinet. 

    Musta been too much air.  

    The Brisket, on the other hand, I think is overcooked.  I checked it at 185 degree's and the probe had ZERO resistance at all.  Honestly, felt like the entire thing wanted to fall apart as soon as i touched it.

    Foil Wrapped it, added a dash of apple juice, and placed it in the cooler to rest 4 hours.

    Eating in about 2 hours, I'm nervous to see what will happen when I open that foil.  We'll see.
  9. jaellman

    jaellman Fire Starter

  10. inkjunkie

    inkjunkie Master of the Pit

    Why is it in the garage?
  11. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I store the wood pellets I've bought from Todd Johnson in my garage in their original plastic bags and have never had a problem with them failing to light and burn. The typical reason why pellets in the AMNPS is poor air circulation inside the smoker. You've got one of the newer MES 40 Gen 1 models and the air circ in those has reportedly been better than in the Gen 2 models.

    I've got a MES 30 Gen 1 and have never done the mailbox mod because I haven't needed to. As long as I ensure my AMNPS is fully lit--which means making sure there's a good "cherry" burning while lighting it and just before you place it inside the MES you should to fine. If it's a blazin' away on the ground for 15-20 minutes there's no reason why it shouldn't be smoking inside the MES unless there's a lack of adequate airflow.

    My own opinion is that if someone buys a MES only to do all these mods on it to get it work the way they want it to then why did they buy an MES in the first place? I've done zero mods to my MES and it's performed great for almost 3 years. Yes, I've had problems with the AMNPS going out at times. However, at those times when I'd removed the food I had been smoking the AMNPS kept smoking until the wood pellets were used up. That proved absolutely there was an airflow problem--totally separate from the AMNPS--that had to be dealt with. My solution was to simply insert the AMNPS with the burning end toward the rear wall where it seems like the airflow is greater due to the top air vent and the wood chip loader. Problem solved.
  12. jaellman

    jaellman Fire Starter

    Because my wife won't let me use it in the house...
  13. radioguy

    radioguy Smoking Fanatic

    I have had my AMNPS catch fire in my mailbox.....a bigger than usual "coal" and too much air. My mailbox runs at about 90~100 degrees when burning properly...just warm to the touch. When on fire top of mailbox is much hotter. I'm now in the habit of checking it by touch.

  14. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Congratulations on getting your mod working.

     Now to show yourself the difference in using the mod vs. placing the AMNPS inside the smoker.  By placing quart bags half filled with water in the smoker, test one with the AMNPS inside the smoker and then do the test with the AMNPS in your mod.  With the water at the same starting temp, smoke each for the same amount of time, 3 or 4 hours.  You will then be able to compare the amount of creosote on each and see for yourself how much cleaner the mod smoke is.  

    Have fun,

  15. Jaellman, as I read the thread I had ideas of your problem. Dave and Mr T zeroed in on them. The tip off was picture 3 And you just figured the air flow problem. I think your brisket is OK. Micro waving your pellets will help remove any moisture. This time of year there is not much humidity you can heat them during the pre-heat to dry them out.  Be care full of how you store them. The containers need to have screw on lids, not snap tops like a coffee container or zip lock baggies unless you put tape on the seal.   I use plastic Apple sauce jars. the large ones will  hold about a pound of pellets.   jted
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  16. jaellman

    jaellman Fire Starter

    Quart sized Ball jars would be pretty useful, huh?  I'll have to pull the box of empties from the shelf.

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