MES 40 Stalling Problem

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by hunter1979, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. hunter1979

    hunter1979 Newbie


    I have an MES 40 20070311 that I bought last year.  I seem to be having trouble smoking meat to the correct internal temperature.  It seems no matter what I do, I get a stall and can't finish the meat without seriously cranking up the temperature or finishing it in the oven.  I have 2 internal probes (same readings), and I've verified that within a degree or two, the temperature of the unit is right on.

    Last year, I tried to smoke to 6-8 pound butts for pulled pork.  Both times I stalled for 6+ hours right about about 155 with smoker temp at 225.  I got some advice on that, and I know that every piece of meat is different, and this could be normal, so that's what I figured, and I'd just plan for more time.

    However, yesterday I tried to smoke some salmon.  I did have every rack being used, but each rack wasn't "full."  I put the biggest pieces on the bottom, and started the smoker at 145 for 4 hours, then turned it up to 180 to try to finish the pieces to an IT of 140*.  After 4 more hours at 180* (IT stalled at 126), I turned it up to 210*.  After 3 hours at 210* the IT still wasn't up to 140, but stalled right at 132.  This piece of salmon was the biggest piece about 2.5" thick but only about an 8" long piece.  I had to take all the other salmon out, except for the big pieces, move them to a seperate rack, and crank the temp up to 240* for a half an hour before they finished.

    So, now I'm not thinking that my first two stalls weren't just meat related.  During this salmon smoke, I used the AMNS and it worked fine.  I had the water tray in there, but I didn't have any water in it, just foil.  I had the vent fully opened, and I only opened the door about 4 times total, each right before bumping the temp up.

    Any suggestions?

    Thank you.
  2. biteme7951

    biteme7951 Meat Mopper

    If the smoker held the set temperature, it is hard to place blame on the smoker. Smaller cuts will give you quicker results with better smoke penetration. I cut my salmon into 2" thick slices and it still takes 6-8 hrs for a good smoke. Pork butts are another story because they can stall big time and you just have to plan for it. Might want to fill the water pan with some clean sand and cover with foil, that helps even out the temp a little. All smokers have a learning curve so just keep throwing meat at it till you have it figured out.
  3. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hunter1979, have you called Masterbuilt and discussed the problem with them?

    Have you watched the heat element light, does it show it cycling on and off, during these stalls? 

    Have you verified your cabinet temp sensor against another remote probe thermometer to verify if the cooking temp is being maintained during the stall?

    Are you using an extension cord?

    Please note I do not have your model of MES 40, mine is the older 800 watt version, so really they are two totally different smokers, similar in design but yours has many upgrades.  However I have experience stalls at the beginning of a smoke on several occasions (the cooking temp would stay at 170-190º and not increase), the solution was to do a HARD RESET.  (Hard reset = turn off MES using the on/off button, unplug the electric cord, wait about 10 sec, reconnect the electric cord, turn on MES and re-enter temp & time.)  NOTE, check it every 10 minutes make sure everything is operating properly, if not do another HARD RESET.   Now after preheat, I just go ahead and do a hard reset when after I putt water and meat in the smoker and finally close the MES door.
  4. The physics of heat transfer and stall are pretty much dictated by nature. If the stall is lasting longer than you think appropriate, I think the only two possbile explanations are either (1) the actual smoker box temp is lower than what you think it is or (2) your expectation of the time a particular piece of meat should stall is too short. Double-double check the smoker temperature with a calibrated thermometer to make sure it is not explanation (1). 
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2012
  5. Cold product ... Cold smoker ... if the above means you did not do any pre heating that may not be all the problem , but it sure helps ..

  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    This post caught my eye...Same Smoker, same Problem! But it is not consistent. Some smokes go off without a hitch. Back in Feb I smoked a Sausage Stuffed Galantine for the Throwdown. I was smoking at 225 varified with a Mav 732. All went well until it hit 145* then stalled for 3 hours I bumped the temp and over the course of the next few hours went to 162*F and stayed there, never hitting 165 over the next 2 hours. No idea why...JJ
  7. hunter1979

    hunter1979 Newbie

    Well, to sum up a few questions.

    I will try to test both temperature sensors again.  I'll try to verify that my "external" probe will hit 212* when boiling water.  Maybe something has changed.  Is there a better way to test/calibrate the thermometers than that?

    I do usually check the temp, when smoking and it seems to hold its temperature to within a degree or two + or -.  I am not using an extension cord.

    I preheated the smoker to 275 (I hadn't used it in a while) and then dropped the temp down to 145 before putting the trays in.  The trays and fish were stored in the fridge overnight, so I know they were coming in chilled.  Should I have brought the fish or pork up to room temperature before putting them in the smoker?  I thought this was dangerous because of bacteria.

    Thanks for any other suggestions.  I just thought it was weird that everything I have done stalled.  I didn't know if having the waterpan in, but empty, was creating some sort of a dead zone in the smoker, or if there was just something easy I was missing.  I will try to recalibrate the thermometers and just try smoking again. :)
  8. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hunter1979, dude sorry you are having these issues, especially when you spend money to get a good cooking tool, spend money to get some nice meat or fish, and really try to do it right and people are waiting on you to deliver the goods.

    You should bring the meat or fish to room temp, I do this during my preheat period, which is longer than most people use here.  Just keep it lightly covered with plastic wrap. 
  9. Hunter1979 ..

    You should check your door seal at the bottom

    You should read about MES hot spot mod as you seem to be getting a good draft going .. Based on you having no problem keeping the AMNS going at high temps .. The hot spot condition may be letting a lot of heat run up the back on the right side and right out of the damper on the top. A tile can fix that. Unit internal temp may not reflect the heat loss as it will be close to the draft up the back wall

    Sand or a fire brick in the water pan was suggested and is working for others keeping internal temps in cold places ..

    From a lot of posts here masterbuilt will most likely advise you to shut the damper down and this may cause some problems keeping the AMNS lit at high temps ..

    Search " mes 40 amns out" .. You will see that a small mod .. Moving the chip tray out and having the loader moved out about an inch keeps the AMNS going well at high temps.. You did not state you were doing this .. So your system seems to be getting lots of air .. That is why I said check the door seal, you could be getting lots of air there .. Amns and amnps are easily switched but Todd recommends the amnps (pellet) for higher temps

    A clamp meter will let you know how many amps your element is pulling .. Search any Mes 40 wiring mod and I think you should be pulling 8+ amps. A clamp meter ( borrow one ) will clip on the cord and read the amps passing through it .. Neat .. Remember it will need the element at full heat so boost the temp and see the results ..

    Lots of fun ..

  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I and others put meat out to warm to room temp while the Smoker is heating but any longer than 1 hour can be Dangerous, especially with large chunks of Injected meat! With a 10Lb Butt, it will take 3-4 hours to go from 38 to 70*F and then 4+ hours to get to an IT of 140*F..." EIGHT " hours or more in the Danger Zone can lead to serious health issues.

    Other than Beef Roasts that are to be Smoked to Med/Rare there is more Danger than Benefit to warming to room temp beyond 1 Hour...I hope you find an answer...JJ

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