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Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by ronp, Feb 25, 2010.
Sorry, I know what a mess is, but, what is a mes?
Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse.
Still takes me a while to recall what initials and acronyms stand for so occasionally I have to refer to this Home Page article;
I smoked 12 pounds of Jimmy Dean Breakfast sausage yesterday. All I did was dust them with Lemon Pepper and smoke them for about 4.5 hours with Mesquite pellets. Took them to a Men's conference today and I had all kinds of Atta'boys. Before I left I had people wanting to trade me their leftover egg dishes for a pound of smoky goodness. Other than needing more sausages, I will not have to cook for the next week.
I must be one of the few that don't really like my MES 40. It's about 3 months old, and I really struggle with my smoke. Tried chip loader and have too many issues with flame ups. Tried an AMNPS inside the unit and couldn't keep it lit. Setup a mailbox mod, but still can't keep the AMNPS burning. Tried several flavors of pellets - found a suggestion to try a layer of oak with some cherry, but that didn't work. Tried nuking the pellets for 90 seconds to make sure they were dried. Tried a small fan and put additional 1" holes in the mailbox to get the air flowing. Just can't get a consistent smoke going.
Went back to the chip loader, but instant flames. I'm convinced it's me or my processes, but I'm really frustrated. Wishing I had saved up a little more and went with an egg, but I like the temperature controls that electric gives me. Anyone have any other suggestions for me?
Don't give up yet. I went for a MES too and have struggled with smoke. I am still getting the hang of it. I feel like I am nearly there with the smoke. I have a little kettle BBQ instead of a mailbox. I'm sure you have read it before but the combination that ended up working for me was top vent open. Removed chip tray. Smoke generator (mailbox mod) lower than MES with plenty of ventilation. I spent a lot if time testing without cooking anything. And pellets. I now heat them in the oven and let them cool in a single layer. Seems to do a better job than microwave. Been doing plenty of cheese and first big smoker full of meat yesterday. Still got a lot to learn but this is a great place for help and ideas. Hang in there.
I too have a MES 40. I don't use chips, but I do use the biggest chunks I can squeeze into the box and it works much better. I also use Todd's 5x8 pellet smoker when I want more smoke or to cold smoke. I leave all my vents the same, but I pull out the chip filler about an inch. The biggest thing with the ANMPS is not to rush starting it. Zap it with a touch for a minute or 2 and let it flame 5-10 minutes. Once there is a nice "bed of coals " it will burn 10-11 hours no problem.
Good luck & Good smoking
Hi hundet (fellow Minnesotan),
I too struggled with the AMNPS and keeping it lit in my MES40. This weekend I finally got it to work properly. I set it up like Todd suggested in one of his posts and had it positioned over the drip pan hole with a 8x8 pan on the rack above it. I had the chip pan pulled out about 2" and the chip load pulled out so that about 2" of the open loading area was exposed. I also had the loader rotated 90 degrees so it was facing forward. If it faces up, then very little air can enter because the solid bottom blocks the air. I also did not have any water in the drip pan (no water in any pans). I filled the AMNPS with 2 rows of pellets and lit the one end before I started the MES. I let it burn for about 15 minutes before I put it in the MES. Once it was in there, I took the torch and fired up the end again so that it was burning and flaming. I left it burning with a flame for a couple of minutes while I got everything and put the meat in the MES. By the time I did that, the flame on the AMNPS had gone out, but there was light smoke and embers.
I don't think the MES drafts very well, so unless there's enough heat to get the air moving, there will be little air movement or flow.
I was a little surprised that even without a water tray, the pork loin was very moist. I also noticed that without the water tray there was not nearly as much water on the front glass. This summer I switched to using sand in my water tray on my propane smoker and have not had any issue with dry food, plus, the temps have been a lot more stable. I think I'll be smoking dry in the MES from now on also.
Now, if I could just get the MES to reduce the temp differentials between set, high and low, I'd really enjoy it. I set mine for 225 and the temps go from 200 to 235 (as measured on my Maverick). It seems to spend more time near 200. Oh, and the meat probe is wildly inaccurate. It showed the loin at 170 vs 145 on the Maverick. By doing butts, I've learned not to trust the internal meat probe on mine. First couple of times I used it, It showed the butt at 205, so I pulled them. Used an instant read and they were at 180 and tough.
hang in there,
Anybody that ever has trouble with an AMNPS going out, please go to the link below. ScooterMagoo shows the best way to do it.
No matter where you use it, if it isn't lit properly it will go out !!!
There is one more thing you can try.
If you have a MES with the vent on the top, place a piece of 3" aluminum duct over the hole to create more draw. You can find these in any hardware store. I have one that is about 8" long, and twists to give different configurations. (If I was home right now I would post a pic.)
I keep the both the chute and the chip tray pulled out about 1", and have no problems keeping my AMNPS going (after nuking the pellets). Any more than 1", and there is too much draft, and the pellets can catch fire. Heck, you could even use a soup can, in a pinch.
If you have a side-venting MES, I guess you could get creative with duct tape or screws?
Must be something you're leaving out. I tried that one time in the Winter, and the smoke condensed on the pipe, ran down & dripped on my meat. I didn't like that at all. How do you avoid that?
Hundet, Don't give up. I have only had my MES for about three months and have the same problem as you. If I use the chip loader, I get massive amounts of smoke for 5-10 minutes and then it starts to fizzle out.
I use the AMNPS and also have a hard time keeping it lit...sometimes. I have nuked the pellets, tried to dry them in the smoker while it heats up, let it burn for half an hour before putting it in the MES, chip loader pulled out 1/2 inch, pulled out 1 1/2 inch, turned up, turned down, you name it. Sometimes it works and sometimes I have to relight it but all in all, I really like it. I also used the pellets I ordered when I got the AMNPS. Two weeks ago I ran out so I ended up at the local Big Box Sports store and bought a 20# bad of B&B brand Mesquite pellets for about $12.00 These things REALLY smoke and I can light my AMNPS with two rows filled and it will burn through them in about 4-5 hours. Too much smoke. I also close the chip loader all the way and they will not go out. I guess I need to order some more pellets from Todd and mix some of these B&B pellets with them.
Just pulled the trigger on the 20070311 at Amazon. Can't wait to use it!
Your running with the exhaust vent full open? That's the problem. You need to regulate the air flow to get good consistent smoke. 1/2C of chips should easily last an hour. Remember constant smoke is not a necessity, the sweet spot is what you are shooting for 100 to 140 IT, and even then you don't have to deluge it in smoke. Sometimes more is better, but not always. It makes it easier to use hickory and mesquite that way also.
Just the other half of the glass here.
I like my amps and my thermometer, but an aux smoke generator is like foiling or the remote temperature devices. It makes it easy and more comfortable to smoke, although people were smoking long before they showed up. Folks just learned how to Master their pits.
Thanks for all the replies and suggestions. I've used ScooterMagoo's process to start my AMNPS and can get it started no problem. The problem lies in the proper airflow to keep it going. I've tried inside the MES above the water pan - no water, and outside in the mailbox. My MES is a side vent, and I'm pretty sure I just need to keep trying. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the challenge, and have produced some amazing meat, I've just never achieved the set it and forget nirvana I'm looking for.
I am going to try a couple tips from Thunder Lite regarding the positioning of the chip loader. Tried it with the loader out about an inch, but never with the loader facing forward. I'll see what that does.
I won't give up, and I'll enjoy eating the results.
Bear, I have found that the corner under the vent is my hot spot, so I don't position anything directly under it anyway.
Aha! I've heard the side-vent MES's have had airflow problems. Still think some sort of chimney would be your solution.
You might want to check out this thread: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/115382/2012-masterbuilt-smokers-new-30-40-models
my a-maze-n went out shortly after i used it the first time.
Second time I put it on the bottom rack all the way to the left, opposite the chip loader. top vent full open. chip loader cocked 90 degrees so the flat part of the loader faced forward and the rounded bottom faced the back. it was only partly filled and I got 6+ hours of tbs from it before the meat was done and i just moved the unburned pellets away from the cherry to use for next time.
the a-maze-n location inside the box was more dictated by the meat than anything else but it worked pretty well.
I got kind of fooled the first time my AMNPS was successful because it's pretty good at producing TBS and not chimney smoke.
After seeing a few posts like this, it makes me wonder what the difference might be between your MES 40 and mine. I have 2 MES 40's and have had no real issues with either one (although one has a larger temp difference than the other) but as far as keeping chips burning, I haven't had any problems at all...
I use a 50/50 pecan and mesquite small chunk mix, which I soak for 30 minutes or longer before I put them in the chip loader. I got the 'chip loader upgrade' from Masterbuilt by merely calling and asking for it, and that upgrade removes the heat deflector from under the chip hopper (perhaps that's the big difference?) I usually will add 2 chip loaders of chunks at a time, but when I'm finished, there is nothing but fine ash left behind, so obviously, the chunks are burning completely...
I guess the question is, have you gotten the chip loader upgrade from Masterbuilt?
BTW- I keep my top vent at ~40-50% and the chip loader inserted for the duration...