Thinking about the mailbox mod on my MES, but have a lot of questions

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by jakersummit, Aug 30, 2015.

  1. jakersummit

    jakersummit Newbie

    Hello All-

    I have the 40 inch MES, the one with the window in the door. I am looking to improve the smoke content in my smoker. I find I am constantly putting in new chips, and my meat does not have enough of the smokey taste. My boss showed me some pictures of the mailbox mod and it seems like this might be a good fix. 

    A have several questions about this mod. First, do i need to cut another hole at the top? I see a lot of the pictures where people have a hole with a pipe sticking out. This might be the answer to my second question, which is how do you make sure the smoker pulls in the smoke? Is it that you absolutely must put this hole in the top in order to pull the smoke from the mailbox? I'd prefer not to do any mods that are permanent, so if i can get this to function without having to cut into the smoker itself, that would be ideal.

    Do i need to remove any of the components inside the smoker? I was hoping I could just pull the tray out and not have to remove anything. I did buy the 3 inch connectors, and i notice when i pulled out the feeder tray and tried to stick it in the 3 inch hole on the side, it is not 3 inches the whole way through. I can only stick the pipe in about and inch and half or so before the hole gets significantly smaller. Is it a must that i remove whatever is making the hole smaller, or is there a way i can secure it with it only in the opening about an inch and a half? If i can, how did you secure it to stay in and not slide out?

    Sorry for all the questions, but never really attempted to mod something like this and the last thing i want to do is mess it up and ruin my smoker. Thanks to anyone that can offer any advise/instruction.


  2. jakersummit

    jakersummit Newbie

    I inspected the smoker more closely and can see i need to remove the chip tray and the piece holding it up. That what was preventing from getting the tube all the way in. I guess my question still remains about getting the smoke to travel through the smoker. Is the vent on the side going to be enough to pull the smoke, or am i just not understanding how it works?
  3. mneeley490

    mneeley490 Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    I don't have a 40", I have a plain 30", so you can take this for what it's worth. But is there a way you can insert a 3" elbow into the top/side vent? Maybe have it stay with a little bit of food-safe caulking? That may produce the draft that you need.

    Here is the one I have. It has some twists built in so that I think it could go 90°, if need be.

    Last edited: Aug 30, 2015
  4. jakersummit

    jakersummit Newbie

    Thanks for the reply. I bought 4 of those exact elbows, and yes i can rotate it to be 90 degrees. The vent plate on my smoker is on the side. I can take the vent plate off and then do a 90 degree angle to have it sticking up. I bought heat safe tape to where i can try to seal it with that. The vent hole is 3 inches, so  the elbow should fit inside. Should i make a plate to go on top of the vent or leave it uncovered all the way. Wasn't sure if that is to big of a vent hole.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2015
  5. mneeley490

    mneeley490 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Don't know, like I say, I don't have one. As you can see from the pic, I didn't take off the vent plate, I just leave it wide open and it fits fine. In fact, rarely will you ever close the top vent on a MES, unless you have a fire or something.
  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    The side exhaust is a Gen 2 model and the elbow will work fine. If you have it pointing up and there is chance of rain getting in, you can cap it in a manner that will allow good flow...JJ
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
  7. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Jake I removed the side vent cover,use with the elbow you get great air flow

  8. garyinmd

    garyinmd Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    This is what I use on my 2nd generation MES 40, the side piece fits over the vent on the side and if there is any condensate dripping (which there will be) it runs straight down the bottom.  I wired a plastic cup on the bottom to catch any moisture.

  9. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    The smoke will pull itself through from the chimney effect caused by the heat in the smoker. The vent pipe on the exhaust is not necessary but does help some people. I'm not sure where you are located, but here in Florida when we have rainy/windy weekends like we did last weekend my mailbox mod doesn't work very well. I ended up putting a variable speed computer fan in mine to force the smoke into the smoker instead of relying on the smokers own draw. 
  10. adze39

    adze39 Newbie

    Post some pics and let us know what you did to get it to work... I have a MES 40 with a side vent and no window, and I was thinking of the mailbox mod too.
  11. jakersummit

    jakersummit Newbie

    So my plan was to get it started tonight. Unfortunately, I don't have cutters strong enough to cut the hole in the mailbox. Anyone out there that can post a link to the cutters hey used to cut the hole?
  12. mneeley490

    mneeley490 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I used a 3" hole saw. It's the only way to get a perfect circle.
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Drill a starter hole and use airplane snips... they are for cutting left and right handed circles....

    Cut slits about 1" deep and bend every other tab over to hold the pipe....

    .. ..

    Holes drilled in the door... there is a 1" hole in the top of the door also... at times I leave that open so air will circulate in the MB and keep the
    pellets burning... recirculating smoke is low on oxygen and will starve the pellets for oxygen....

    Last edited: Sep 1, 2015
  14. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I used the method @DaveOmak  posted and it worked great. Only took a few minutes to put together. 
  15. jakersummit

    jakersummit Newbie

    Thanks for the replies, I think I'll give that a shot.
  16. jakersummit

    jakersummit Newbie

    Not the best pick because of the lighting, but thought i would post so you can see the mostly final result. I ended up taking the mailbox to a metal fabrication shop and they cut the hole for free. I am actually using it today for a pork butt, so we will see how the smokey flavor turns out. Sometime next week I am going to clean it up a bit.  You can't tell from the picture, but I used a tape made to take high heat to seal the pipe to the mailbox. I plan to cut strips around the edge so i can kind of clamp it in there like some of you have.

    I decided  not to take out the piece that holds the smoking tray. I just pulled the tray itself out. Not sure how much of an impact that may have on how much smoke gets in the smoker. There isn't an extreme amount of smoke, but seems to be steadily coming out of the exhaust pipe. So, I hope this test run works out well. Thanks for everyone's advise, I'll keep you all posted on the results.

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