starting fires and learning the hard way

Discussion in 'Masterbuilt Electric Smoker (MES) Owners' started by cukoo bbq, Feb 21, 2016.

  1. my amnps came in the mail so of course i decides to give it a test run (no food involved) . The mes 30 doesnt have much room but there is a small gap to the left of the heating element where the amnps fits (very snug i might add) but only if you pull the small ash / chip insert that is below the feeder tube. Now ive read that the heating element speeds up your burn time on the amnps -which i can now verify is true as i looked outside and my exhaust vent was BILLOWING. Silly me i should have let it go but i opened the door to kind of assess the speed of the tray and amnps of course lit up like the fourth of july. i didnt have anything handy to just put it out -of course but i immediately pulled the plug as the last thing i wanted was an electrical fire on my hands- then i closed it all up and slid the tube in to suffocate the fire...which worked i got a funny burn smell in my smoker.

    Is anyone out there doing an amnps in the 30? Ive seen a couple posts about heat shields but they dont elaborate on effectiveness. Mailbox mod is something i will be pursuing in the future but im just wondering about something more short term.

    Some other details- - -

    at first i didnt see good tbs from the exhaust so i pulled the feeder tube.

    The picture i took was 4 hours of the amnps burning- surface burned alot farther along then i felt like it should have (only one end lit)

    I did have the smoker running because i wanted to evaluate the effect of the heating element on the amnps burn rate.

    [ATTACHMENT=2636][ATTACHMENT=2637]20160221_005305.jpg (5,208k. jpg file)[/ATTACHMENT][/ATTACHMENT]
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2016
  2. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Lets see if I can help a little. This is how I use the 5x8 AMPs pellet tray.

    My MES30.

    This is where the tray normally fits for most folks.

    Note I use one of the extra grates to set on top og the chip tray/heating box. Thats where I set my tray. By moving it there, its right in the draft between the suction and the discharge of air in the MES30. Also its more open to circulation. 

    Every once in a while with a small wire brush clean your AMPs to ensure good air flow.

    Don't over-fill your tray, the fire can jump the tray if its too full. Also keep your pellets in the ziploc back that Todd ships them in. This helps reduce the moisture from effecting the pellets.

    Using they proper tool, light the pellets outside the box and allow it at least 30 mins to start to smolder before putting it in the unit.

    Open the discharge vent 100% ti help it draw a good draft. YOU MUST have the unit on and heating to achieve that draft.

    ONLY if you are only using pellets you'll need to unlock and leave the reloader cracked open to get a good draft. IF you are using chips in the chip tray DO NOT do this. Too much air will cause the chips to combust (flash), and shoot the reloader tube out the unit. 

    This is the end of the reloader, those three holes are your suction to ensure the chips smolder. The AMps usually needs more thats why we leave it cracked.

    Wait until you see smoke comming out the ........

    Then regulate the discharge vent to achieve a very light smoke. By regulating the vent, its saves pellets, smokes longer, and hold temp better causing less cycling of the heater trying to maintain temp.

    I always recommended you set up, light the AMPs and let it burn for one line of pellets to ensure that it works and you understand it. If it works outside the box, and it doesn't inside the box, it must be lack of air for one reason or another.

    Always preheat your smoker to 275 before inserting your meat, that also insures that it will draw a draft. Then when the meat is added, reset the temp to what you want to cook with. Don't insert the tray in a cold box, there is no draft.

    Give the tray ample time outside the box to achieve a good burn before you put it in the box.

    Keep your pellets dry. I live in Louisiana and so far I have not had a moisture problem. But I keep my bags closed when I am not adding. Some times you do get pellets that just don;t light worth a flip, in which case you have to mix them with another flavor that lights hot and fast like corn cob.

    Hope something here helps you. 

    Oh and BTW I used to live in beautiful downtown Tatum NM. A charter member of the Tatum Yacht Club. <Chuckles> If you are up in the mountains the elevation will also effect the AMPs. In which case I think they suggest sawdust vice pellets and tubes instead of trays. Just an after thought.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2016
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  3. Foamheart, thank you so much for your detailed response- im going to run it all again, without any food, in the same spot above the chip box that you show in your post. That first spot (where most people fit the amnps) really just burned the pellets way too fast. The whole tray was smoldering instead of burning along the maze like it ought to. Im guessing having the loader completely out and my vent open all the way didnt help, and allowed too much air in. Hopefully if i open the door and it does flare up - the whole amnps wont ignite like last time and it will just be the lit end.
  4. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Good luck, it can be tempermental.... which normally happens when I am already having a bad day or late to start...LOL
  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Air in to the MES is controlled by the pulling the Chip Tray and Chip Loader out 1 to 2" but no more. If I am reading correctly, you pulled the Tray and Loader out completely. This can let too much fresh air in and cause a fast burn and at temps above 250, a fire. It's my understanding, the AMNPS was originally designed for a 30 and will fit with the Chip Tray still in. Check that there is no bent or misaligned parts of the rails or coil/chip tray housing...JJ
  6. Thanks for your response Jim, i went out and fidgeted with the chip tray and the amnps. Its all pretty flush that its a pretty tight squeeze, i have to kinda wiggle the amnps to get it in or scrape the side wall as i insert it. Something bothers me about wiggling the amnps while lit (not aflame). A couple other questions- do you push the amnps all the way in to the back wall or just kinda get it in and resting? As far as the tray and loader you said 1 to 2 inches- i wanted to clarify is that for both or does the 1 and 2 inches apply respectively to tray and loader? Does the heating element not ignite your amnps with it on the left side like this?

    Thank you both so much i appreciate all your feedback.
  7. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I have best success with the two 1" out but you may need more to get enough air in. There is no need to be against the wall, as long as the door shuts you are good. I have a 40 so no issues getting it in but I have not heard of the 30 owners having the coil ignite the pellets. The metal housing with a gap between it and the coil is good protection. There only seems to be flare up issues with too much air and running at a full tilt 275...JJ
    cukoo bbq likes this.
  8. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A very informative thread.  Good stuff!   Thank you Chef JimmyJ and Foamheart
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2016
  9. Ok, im gonna give it a shot at 240 temp, with 2 lines of pellets and see how she runs. Im just wanting to get an accurate picture of the burn time per row and try and develop my method -Probably wont be able to play till the weekend unfortunately :/ -will update though. Thank you again so very very much for the feedback.

    Other than racks of pork ribs - any suggestions for my first amnps cook?
  10. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

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  11. Hey foam,
    in that post you linked you said you smoked your bird at 275- was that with an amnps? If so im guessing utilizing the rack position u showed in your second photo?
  12. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The one over on the side on the two bars worked sometimes. You'll notice that mine is a Gen1, in all the newer models there is more room. They shrunk down the chip tray since then on both the MES30 and MES40.

    More than likely if I was running the AMP's in the MES30 it would have been like in that picture. I set/balanced one rack on top of the smoke box and the put my AMP's there. What I was looking for was as close as I could get to a direct line between the air inlet and the exhaust vent. Also not shown in the picture I usually placed what is called "Steamer Pan, 1/2 Tray" That is to catch all those drips. Keeps the smoker cleaner while protecting the pellets from grease.

    I never smoked a bird at 275 until I came here. In my old time knowledge of smoking, 275 is more a BBQ temp. But yes, I found nothing wrong with using it but I am normally more a 220 to 250 smoker. Remember if its an old bird or a tuff piece of meat, low and slow means tender and juicy. Low and slow is a realative term. To a firebreather 300 is low, electrics are different. that's all in my humble opinion.
  13. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Based upon where you locate your AMNPS, I assume you have a deflector or something above it to prevent meat juices from dripping down into the bed of pellets?
  14. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    "  Also not shown in the picture I usually placed what is called "Steamer Pan, 1/2 Tray" That is to catch all those drips. Keeps the smoker cleaner while protecting the pellets from grease."

    Yes sir. It catches all the greases and every once and a while I throw it out and change it. Most folks I know would change it every smoke, but most folks I know would clean that smoker too.....LOL
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
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  15. So 275 with the amnps in the above position hasnt created issues with flare-ups for you in the MES 30? Thats great info for if i wanna cook at higher temp- im guessing it would be an issue in the lower position. Im gonna keep experimenting and ill post an update as soon as i get a chance.
  16. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have not had a single flare up problem with AMP's in any smoker I have have. You prepare it properly before you insert it into the smoking chamber usually there is no problems, the pellet tray really has no other problem but some times the air flow. And not that very often. I set in the direct like of air-flow to circumvent the possibility is all. Not once have I had a flare up with the AMPs. BUT if I did, I'd probably first note the increasing temp and I would simply restrict the discharge vent. 

    The vent is moveable for a reason. Its not just there to be closed when not in use to keep the dirtdaubbers out.

    You've got the best idea. Try it for yourself and see what you think.
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  17. texasjason

    texasjason Fire Starter

    Hey Cuckoo BBQ, I have a MES 30 and like you have to wedge it in there next to the chip tray.  I did bend one side of AMNPS a little which makes it fit better.  Works well and I have not had any flare ups.  I micro the pellets for a few minutes first, torch them in the amps but not fill it up too full, once it's flaming for a 10 minutes or so hit it with a hair dryer for 30 seconds or so to really get it going, let it burn for another 5 minutes or so, blow out the flame (which at this point can be a challenge, then stick back in the smoker and are good to go.
  18. That sounds interesting Texas Jason, my pellets are brand new in a sealed bag i got from, and here in new mex its super dry climate so im not too concerned with moisture. As far as your amnps id love to see pictures to get an idea how far / which directions you have bent it- i dont really mind taking some pliers to it.
  19. texasjason

    texasjason Fire Starter

    I'll snap a pic in the morning; throwing on a small brisket. I just took some pliers and bent the sides in a little bit not sure if it will be that noticeable on a photo but I'll try to get a good one. 
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  20. Thank ya kindly!

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