AMNPS on fire in my MES30

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by atio, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. atio

    atio Fire Starter

    I'm doing something wrong obviously and am looking for some input.  Decided to do a brisket today, so I loaded up the AMNPS making sure to not fill it too high, about half way full.  Pulled the chip loader out about 1" and the chip tray about half way out, opened the exhaust on top all the way.  I lit the AMNPS, let it burn for 10-15 mins, blew it out, put it in with the hot side on the left side of the smoker.  I checked about 20 mins later, it went out.

    Pulled it out of the smoker, pulled the chip loader out another 1", lit both sides, put back in.  Everything was good for about an hour, I was checking every 15 mins or so (paranoia) to make sure it was still lit.  I wasn't opening the door, I was looking at the exhaust.

    I went out to check on the smoker the last time and clouds of white smoker were billowing out of the exhaust.  I opened the door and the AMNPS was on fire.  100% of the pellets were on fire, all three rows.  Reached in with my bare hand and tried to pull it out... after I remembered fire burns you, went and got a glove and pulled it out and had to soak it with the hose to extinguish the fire.

    I know it's not the AMNPS, it's me.  I've used it before and ran TBS for 10+ hours on a Boston Butt and set it up the exact same way.  I just don't know where I went wrong.  Any ideas?  If I didn't give enough info, let me know...

    Also, on a side note, is my brisket that's in the smoker right now ruined?  When I opened the door, the smoke burned my eyes pretty bad, how is that going to affect the meat?  Should I just call it a wash now and get some chicken ready or something?

    Thanks in advance!!
  2. atio

    atio Fire Starter

    Forgot, I put a piece of foil above the AMNPS so nothing would drip on it.  Not sure if this contributes to the situation, but thought I'd add anyway
  3. tjohnson

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

    Is the burning row against the inside wall or the chip pan housing?

    Place the burning row adjacent to the inside wall.  This way, the fire is "Pulled", and not "Pushed" by the radiant heat from the element

    How far away is the foil?

    I've had the adjacent row catch fire because I had the foil too close.  The heat seems to be reflecting back down.

    Slow down the burning by pushing in the chip loader once the AMNPS is burning good

    I wouldn't think the brisket is ruined

  4. atio

    atio Fire Starter

    It was against the wall.  I learned that lesson after the last time I used it  :)

    The foil is resting on the water tray.
  5. stayhot

    stayhot Smoking Fanatic

    This is somewhat concerning to me becasue I have a fairly new MES 30 and I just purchased the AMNPS so I hope that I will not have a fire inside my smoker. I was planning on trying it out this weekend.
  6. atio

    atio Fire Starter

    I'm 100% sure it's not the AMNPS, it's me.  There are countless success stories on these forums about it, I have to be doing something wrong...
  7. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I had a fire once. I learned that I had the Chip tray and Loader out too far and it was a windy day. I now load the pellets to about 1/4 inch from the top and found 1 Inch on the Loader and Tray is plenty. Once the AMNPS gets going good, about 30 minutes, push the Loader all the way in. This gives the longest burn time and keeps too much Oxygen from getting to the Pellets. Never had another issue and get 10+ hours consistently...JJ
  8. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Atio, I have had the same problem but it was with the AMNS not the AMNPS, and it was using sawdust, the main cause was overloading and the design of the AMNS where the channel separators allow too much heat to penetrate the adjacent channel, so I used alum foil over the channel separators to prevent the heat passing through, NOTE, the AMNPS channel separators are improved and DO NOT have the same problem.  The height of the alum foil is important, but if you have the foil under the water pan, and the AMNPS is sitting on the element bars plus against the far left wall, plus the lit end needs to be facing the back wall, there should be no problem.

    Here is my solution to covering the AMNPS:

    Todd's instruction to close the chip loader works, I usually close it after about 1 hour into the smoke.  Personally I see NO benefit to pulling out the chip tray inside the MES, air is air, if the chip loader is open 1 inch then the air is getting in and the AMNPS will draft provided the top vent is open.  Those thinking about drilling the air inlet holes to make them larger for the AMNPS should think twice, at least by opening and closing the chip loader tube you have a form of air inlet adjustment.

    Another possibility is after you put the AMNPS in if you open the door say about 30 minutes in to inspect things.  That gush of air can make the burning hot cherry, burn even hotter and catch on fire.  I  have seen this with a trash dumpster fire, where someone dumped an ashtray into the trash dumpster, the lid closed, nothing burning for several hours, then another load of trash dumped in and lid closed a few minutes later a fire is raging.

    Of course making sure you have NOT overloaded is important, which you clearly said you avoided.
    chef jimmyj and bmudd14474 like this.
  9. atio

    atio Fire Starter

    Maybe this is what is what was happening... it is a bit windy here today.  And after the AMNPS went out the first time, I pulled the loader out at least another inch or two.  I'll have to try this in conjunction with what deltadude posted too when I do a butt on Saturday night.  I abandoned the AMNPS for today, I tried reloading with just one row and it was going out in the smoker, but as soon as I pulled it out and brought it inside it would start producing smoke again.  I'm going to finish this brisket with the chip loader because 1 - I'm frustrated and 2 - It's starting to get overcast, so I'd rather lose a handful of chips than another row or two of pellets if I have to pull everything inside quickly.

    I appreciate all the comments so far!  Hopefully the weather cooperates, but I'm going to try and finish this today, do some S2K9K wings tomorrow during the day, then a Boston Butt tomorrow night.  I had planned on cooking it all up for my family to ride out Sandy with then she came about 48 hours earlier than the news said she would, so I guess we'll have to "suffer" with it all this weekend instead!  :)
  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Really Good Call on opening the Door frequently! That repeated rush of Air can definitely have caused the problem with igniting. Come to think of it, it was my second run with the AMNPS when it caught fire and I will bet Dollars to Donuts that I too was " Checking " to see if it was lit fairly frequently...[​IMG]...JJ
  11. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Atio, I can't stress how important it is to be Patient after lighting the AMNPS to let it get going really good, about 10 minutes, before placing it in the Smoker. Additionally I have had great success with pushing some unlit pellets on top of the lit ones just before the AMNPS goes in. Todd once told me that the most efficient burn and smoke generation is to have the Bottom pellets burning Hot and the Top pellets just smoldering and making the Smoke. Give it a shot, I very rarely have to relight, unless I am rushing the process...JJ
  12. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    This is an excellent TIP!  I too do the same, however I add one more thing, when Todd first described the AWNS with a red hot cherry, that image is exactly what the AWNPS has to be when you insert the AWNPS lit into the MES.  To achieve this, after lighting with a torch, I let it burn flame for a about 2 -3+ minutes, then gently blow out the flame.  Next I gently blow on the hot embers until it is a glowing red hot cherry.  I do this a few times until the entire end seems to be glowing red hot.  Then I let it rest for a couple of minutes, the end pellets start to consume and like Chef Jimmy I add a few more pellets on top, very gently press down a little, then I lightly blow again, making sure the cherry is red hot.  At this point the AWNPS is ready to insert into the MES.

    BTW I keep a long needle nose pliers near my MES, I use the pliers to insert and handle the AWNPS, and if there is a flare up it comes in handy to grab the AWNPS.

    Also note in my image above of the hood I fashioned, it fits right under the water pan so it slides in and out easily, that is the proper height.  At that height it will keep the pellets dry if you MES is using the water pan with water, in fact you will see the pellets start turning a darker color from the extra heat, but they haven't ignited "so far" since I have been using this improvised cover.

    I have noted before that the cover works so well you can even burn wood chips in the AWNPS, however they burn faster and you will only get about an 90 minutes.  I haven't really played with the wood chip option much just twice, but was pleasantly surprised that I could use chips if I ran out of either pellets or sawdust.
  13. atio

    atio Fire Starter

    Thanks for the pliers tip.  I tried using my bare hand in a panic and that's a mistake I'll pay for over the next couple days.  I ended up using an oven glove that I now have to replace before my wife notices that the top of it is pretty singed  :)

    And thanks to you and Chef Jimmy J about how to light it.  I never thought to push more pellets on top of it, but I'll try that next time.  The first time I used the AMNPS I only let it burn for like 2 mins and tried to throw it in, didn't work so good.
  14. I'm thinking about getting a smoker by Christmas time and also have been thinking of the MES 30 since I really don't smoke a ton of food and you can still get (2) turkey's in there I see by some pictures and videos I seen so that's enough room for me. I thought about getting the older model which has no window because of not being able to see the food I heard with all the smoke going on in there but maybe the new window version might be best just to check instead of having to open the door?

    While I wouldn't mind going out here and there to reload the chip tray it does seem like this AMNPS would be the ultimate choice for overnight smokes so I don't have to keep getting up. Best of all Todd's in my home state and not to far away. And since my mother and father in-law live in Burnsville and I visit quite often I could always stop in to get my stuff I need I would think anyways.

    While my 1 time Bone in #9 Pork smoke worked in my grill I couldn't keep my heat down under 300 no matter what I did with my Chargriller and I don't feel like putting one of the smoker boxes on it and having to do all the adjustments people here have done. I'd rather buy and not have to go through all that and a TRUE smoker would be the best way since a grill won't fly for smoking brisket or
  15. stayhot

    stayhot Smoking Fanatic

    I can honestly say that AMNPS is the best thing to happen to my MES since I bought it. I used it this weekend for polish sausage and this thing smokes and smokes without having to do anything. I agree with the others by saying you REALLY need to let the AMNPS get going good BEFORE putting it into the smoker. Once you do it works AWESOME!! One and a half rows gave me almost 4 hours but I was experimenting with the chip tray openings and feedtube.
  16. bgosnell151

    bgosnell151 Smoking Fanatic

    Used my 30" MES for the first time today for a chicken. Used an AMNPS. Everything was going great, hopoed into the shower, got out and my Mav said temp was 350*. Yikes. Ran over and opened the door to find the AMNPS on fire. Not sure why it caught fire. Have a Gen 1, didn't pull the loader or tray out at all, had the top vent open 100%. Any thoughts why this occured an hour into the smoke after it not doing it forvthat first hour? Had temp set at 275*.
  17. 88wayne

    88wayne Newbie

    I just had a fire also. Everything was fine until I put the beans in and I think that is why the fire started. My question is how to add food during a smoke and not start a fire? By the way I'm new with mes 30 using AMNPS. Thanks.
  18. Do a search for mailbox mod. It moves the AMNPS outside the smoker. As a bonus gives you the ability to cold smoke.
  19. jjjonz

    jjjonz Newbie

    I haven't had my 39 Gen 1 very long ,but have used a homemade AMNP didn't have a problem. I now have the Wedgie that I really love. I put them on the rail and can smoke at any temp.

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