It was harder than it looks. The stainless is thin but tough and hard to drill with a hole saw. If I were to do it again I would
probably just snip out some from the center of the piece without even removing it. Anything to get more heat to the chip
pan. I suppose they did that due to the larger heating element than the older models. The retro pan sits just about on the
element with no metal between them. Even so it seems to work well with larger wood.
I'm like you, I have 5 acres if mostly oak with just a few hickories. I like oak personally but it's a bit strong for the wife.
No--They did that on their MES 30 too. They did it because of complaints of "flare-ups" with the old setup, which in my opinion worked GREAT !
The change they made was a screw-up. They tried to make something better & it made it worse!
The retro is nothing more than the chip burner setup that was in the earlier models, like the MES 30 I got 2 years ago (exactly the same thing).
That's why I recommend people get the retro-fix---Why cut holes in a screw-up?---Just get the FREE fix.
Fixing the dumper like Todd did is different---They aren't giving out FREE full length dumpers.
Kinda like if I got a new pick-up, and the air conditioning didn't work, I wouldn't be drilling holes all over my truck.
I'd get the FREE AC FIX.