decisions, decisions.

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by smokedcaveman, Aug 16, 2017.

  1. smokedcaveman

    smokedcaveman Smoke Blower

    first of all, I'm back! (after 8 years. being married, divorced, losing everything but my shirt and moving takes away from time for the good things in life.)

    I have a dilemma - several years ago, because of space concerns where I'm crashed, I picked up a MES 30" analog (20070210) and it served me well... for a while.

    yesterday, doing some pork loin, I noticed that I had to crank it all the way up to hold temp at 225F, so after pulling the meat and putting it in the oven to finish, I did some investigating. 

    The heating element itself seems ok, but the connections are shot, and the controller's got a short/arcing on the inside. (I keep it under a cover, on the back porch, shielded from the worst of the elements with a bit of a windbreak)

    after looking it over, my choices are going to be either replace the element and the controller unit (which I'll have to do an aftermarket, as masterbuilt says they don't stock the parts for it anymore) - not really a big deal, except I have no idea which aftermarket part would be best to repair it with. I have been looking at the idea of the old smokey element and controller - old smokey element and rejiggering the side a bit so it'd fit. 

    What's you guy's experience with this element/controller? (I don't have any other mods done on the smoker)

    My other choice would be to put it on the curb with a 'free, take it' sign on it (with a note saying 'heating element and controller broken) and pick up a new one when some of my student money comes in (I evidently have an allowance for 'entertainment' and this entertains me, so...)

    I could get a new unit. 

    because of my living situation (live with my elderly mother as a caregiver) I don't have a lot of spare room, and an actual flame is out. ( I can do a flame, but with her possibly having an emergency, I can't risk leaving one unattended, and with the space concerns, If I went with flame, I'd have to leave it more exposed than the space I have for one now)

    so I have a shortlist of requirements

    -under 300$ (350$ tops)

    -electric (top preference given the location) 

    -cabinet style /heavily/ preferred

    -wide range of heat would be a bonus (I can always jigger a little for cold smoking, but I kinda like a smoky flavor on baked goods or roasted veggies now and again, or to be able to up the temp and crispy some chicken skin, etc)

    -holds heat evenly/works well (don't want to have to spend as much as the smoker itself in modding it to make it work)

    -it doesn't have to be mobile, as it has a place to live and doesn't get scooted about.

    -don't care about a window

    -don't really care too much about Bluetooth connectivity, digital controls, etc

    I've been digging a bit and I keep seeing people talking about the digital masterbuilts, but I'm seeing as many bad reviews as good, so I'm wanting to pick you guys' brains.

    I started cooking meat in a hole in the ground, and so far I've gone up from there over the last 25 years through a grill, a charcoal box, later adapted with a hotplate, a UDS, and finally the MES. I don't care for propane (especially with my tendency to pick up static electricity)

    and it's good to be back here!
  2. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit

    I don't have any experience with that smoker but I think that if you can work a wire crimping tool (cuts, crimps, strips, etc.) you may have some options.

    If you saying the "connections are shot" means the connections on the wire are shot but the heating element tabs are still mostly there then you can remove the old corroded connectors and clamp or solder some hi temp stainless steel ones to the wires like the following connectors:

    Supco t111c female spade connector  (1/4" wide and used for 14-16AWG wire size):


    Once the connectors are replaced with the ones above (that should last a looooong time) you have some options.

    1. Buy a replacement Analog controller from a place like this ($45):

    2. Rewire so you cut out or bypass the controller pieces and the electricity goes right to the heating element.  Then use a PID controller like the Auber Plug and Play to control your smoker.  The Auber PID controller should keep you within 1-2 degrees of your set temp, they rock!

    The way these controllers work is that you plug the PID controller into the wall and the rewired analog smoker into the PID controller.  The PID controller then cuts the juice on/off to your smoker according to the temp the PID controller reads from it's temp probe that you drop into your smoker.  Very simple.

    ($149.50 which is basically the cost of a new 30" analog smoker but the PID controller is WAY better at controlling/holding temp)

    I think I would go with option #1 to start with unless you really want to up your game and have a super dialed in smoker.  You can always go option #2 at any time which would actually make a better performing/controllable smoker than buying a new analogue 30".

    I hope this info helps and best of luck :)
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2017
  3. smokedcaveman

    smokedcaveman Smoke Blower

    (makes note of the connection recommendations)

    yeah, the body of the heating element is alright, but the connection tabs are in pretty poor shape as well, I'd have to basically build up new connections, so I'd feel best on just replacing the whole assembly if I go that route.

    good idea on the PID

    I'm not 'dead set' on a new analog, though. In fact I'm perfectly cool with the idea of a digital, so long as they work well. (the bad reviews of the mes digitals has made me a little sketchy about it)

    but thank you very much for your input. I'm not going to be pulling the trigger on anything one way or the other for at least a month.(and pretty sure I may resort to a hole in the ground for my bbq fix in the meantime)

    and reading Bear's review/comments, I think it might be time for me to move up to a larger model anyway... seriously eying that MES 40" BT elite... which, if I happen to grab your attention for a moment Bear - which model number is that one? I see the one for 329 at sam's (upper end of my price range, but I can give up a little bit somewhere else to afford it) but I want to make sure I get the gen 2.5 instead of the 2.

    (addendum - found the model number. it's Masterbuilt 20070115 - did a bit of digging in the master masterbuilt thread)

    thank you guys for your time and patience!
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2017
  4. smokedcaveman

    smokedcaveman Smoke Blower

    well.. good news - what I thought was one of the connectors for the heating element wasn't - I checked over it, the element's still sound

    the inside of my controller otoh - looks like this


    what it isn't showing is the half dozen strands on the top of the bottom lead are the only ones not melted through, as well as the one resistor lead

    so, good news being I can save it. just gota get a controller (thanks for the link above TallBM) 

    will still keep looking at the 40" digital for maybe one day soon. I'll just do a couple of mods to this one in the meantime.

    (hey, this means I can look into an AMNPS! wooohoo!)
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2017
  5. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit

    Well that is some good news. In the past I have seen a number of Masterbuilt analog smokers selling for cheap on craigslist ($40 in the Dallas area).  At the very least you could part one out. 

    Or you could do like DaveOmak suggests here

    With that dial regulator you could just wire to it and use the dial to control the heat.  Pretty simple and I think the device is like $15 on amazon :)

    Best of luck. 
  6. smokedcaveman

    smokedcaveman Smoke Blower

    I decided to give masterbuilt another try, emailed them up, and got a reply - they've opened a ticket on it, and since there's a ticket, that means I can order it from them for 30 and shipping, so that looks like the route i'm going. 

    I'm pretty impressed with their customer service! 
  7. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit

    Sounds like you got it under control.  I was thinking they should have the part, they are still manufacturing the devices and using that part.  Best of luck with it :)

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