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Help -- Analog MES 30 questions

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

OK folks, I've been lurking around this site for a few days now, and after reading the forum, I'm afraid my goose might be cooked.


I just got an analog MES 30 for Xmas. I've played around with it about 5 times now.....and am completely perplexed. I can not achieve smoke at 225 degrees.


I've tried soaked chips, non-soaked chips, just a few chips; I've pre-heated, not pre-heated. Water in pan, boiling water, no water. I even propped the door open to try to keep it at 225 and still have smoke. Now I do get smoke, it's just at 250 and above. Which is not acceptable. I want my smoker to actually be able to smoke at 225......you know, like the temp it calls for in the recipes in the MES 30 instruction book. This chaps my boston butt because I do not want just an outdoor oven, and really need my smoker to smoke shoulders, brisket and the TURKEY I was planning for Christmas dinner.


I know this is where you'll tell me to get the A-Maz-N pellet smoker, which I will in due time. But how can I actually get my MES 30 to smoke at 225??  You know, for the turkey that I was planning to smoke for the Holiday. Now I'm afraid I'm going to go through all the work and get a sub-par tasting bird.


Honestly, I'm a little perturbed by the whole thing. I got an electric for simplicity...and this thing is everything but simple. And it won't even smoke at temps it promises.


Maybe I have a faulty unit?? So after being deceived by this machine for a couple hours trying to get smoke at 225, I decided to just shut the darn door and see what temps it achieved. I turned it just a skosh above the "L" on "Low" on the dial and let it sit for a 1/2 hour. I came back and the reading was damn near 300 degrees!! (About 285 to be exact on my oven thermometer).


I then turned it to exactly "low" on the dial and let it cook for another 1/2 hour. On the lowest possible setting, I opened it up and it was 250!! And this was in my garage with 30 degree temps. What's this thing going to do in the summer??


(as a side note, my chips do not turn to ash either....like not even close. Just black chips. I'm assuming you need the ash for the formation of TBS. Which I've never seen either....just white billowy smoke.)


Please help! My mom got me this smoker for Xmas and she's coming to the house for my "smoked" turkey. Is there anything I can do get this to work?? I'm thinking I need a fuel that combusts at a lower heat. Maybe pellets?? Or try the lit briquet in the wood tray??  Yey, more work.


Thanks everyone!!


Mike in Denver



post #2 of 29

Never mind, after re-reading  your post I see that you are asking about an analogue smoker and not the (digital) MES.

post #3 of 29

wood will burn at 225 degrees . so somewhere there is s snafu. have you checked all thermometers and verified there accuracy?

 i do not know how the chip pan / holder is set up in the analog model so i don't know what adjustments can be made.

  If you are sure of your temps then you need to move the chips closer to the element.

post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 

Temps are somewhat callibrated...I've used this thermometer for a while and it's been right on.  The chips can't be moved closer to the element on this MES 30, it's element then wood tray. There's nothing to impede the heat.


This must be an issue with this model...maybe too much insulation in the actual box. I just wish I would have found this forum before I bought the unit.  Everything I want to smoke needs that 225 honey spot. Too bad this smoker can't deliver.


So back to the point, does anybody have a solution to smoke a turkey successfully at 250 degrees?


Thanks everybody. It's greatly appreciated.



post #5 of 29

Mike, Turkeys smoke great at 250, 275, 300, 325...Whatever your MES will do. In fact many of the Propane guys deliberately smoke turkey at 300*F because they can. It will have a nice Crispy skin and be amazing. If your Mom was making it in the Oven, she would probably do it at 325*F anyway, so there is no need to panic...Add chips as needed, they will frequently smoke white for awhile and then start putting out Blue smoke...Make your plan, Brine your Bird, get that MES rolling and Smoke it up. You can play around more after the holidays...In the mean time CHILL and have a Merry Christmas...JJnewyear.gif

post #6 of 29

After i re reread your post i noticed something i missed the first time.

 The chips turning black and not turning to ash are due to lack of O2.

 With the lack of air flow you are not getting complete combustion and the chips are doing is turning to charcoal.

 You need to find a way to get more air flow in the unit. either by drilling / cutting holes in the lower part of the cabinet for intake and a hole in the top (if there is not one ) for exhaust.

post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 

Thanks Chef JJ. Sorry, just frustrated. Especially since the first recipe I found for smoking a turkey was on here and said to smoke at 225. In fact, right after seeing that recipe is when I posted the OP. It's good to know that multiple temps will work. I'll do some more research to find something that works for my machine.


Eman, yeah, I kinda had the same thought re: adding some vents. I was actually surprised that the model didn't have any vents. Just a single tiny exhaust hole towards the top.


Are there any SMFers that have done this MOD? I'm thinking that's going to void my warranty!  ;-)


Maybe drilling some holes in the wood tray would work as well. I've heard some members do that.


Thanks as always!



post #8 of 29

Mike, morning.... The guys are correct about venting the MES analogue.... It needs a good sized vent on the top, preferably in the center or some holes on each side... You can do this with a step drill or hole saw.... In the bottom I would start with a 1/2" hole on each side of the bottom... As far as the chip tray goes, it probably needs to be set right on the element or 1/32" above.... As far as the amount of smoke to generate, I would start with one small chunk or a small pile of chips or pellets...

Each smoker is different and there is a learning curve associated with each unit... Hang in there... soon you will have it mastered and making great Q..... Please report back on how it's going... maybe a pic or two also.... Dave



post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 

Hi Dave. Thanks for the input.


I see you have "MES 30 highly modified" in your signature....got any pics? Preferably of the homemade vents.


I'm getting cold feet at the thought of taking power tools to my new smoker!



post #10 of 29





Mike,  Here you go... Now this is a MES 30 digital... Same stuff applies to other smokers...


Original draft holes were 3 of the smaller holes... I enlarged 1 hole to 9/16" I think to allow more air... enlarging 1 hole was enough to get air into the smoker.... the other 2 holes are about 1/4"... at time I hve to pull the chip drawer out about 1/2--1 1/2" to get the air right....


Vents in chip drawer.jpg


Below is the adjustable top vent..... You can see the amount of area is there for smoke/moisture to escape....

I leave it open at all times until the smoke is done.... then I sometimes close it to finish cooking the food...(bake like an oven)

That depends on how high the finished internal temp of the meat is needed... cooking to less than 160 the vent is usually open...

Cooking to I.T. of 205 say, I close the vent after the smoke..... If you put in vents, I would start with 2 1" holes in the sides very near the top of the smoker...  1 on each side...



exhaust vent.jpg


Well, there is something to think about....


Now about your analog unit.... Does the knob have a screw so you can remove it ???  Maybe the knob was put on in the wrong position and low temps are not adjustable...???...

Is the thermocouple in an area that it can read the correct temps and turn off the heating element ???? 

I can't imagine the lowest operating temp is in the 250 range ???? 


Take pics of the entire unit and maybe we can figure out stuff better.... Dave

post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 

Dave, you da man. Thanks for taking the time to post pics and reply.


Lemme run home and I'll post up some pics later!




post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 

Here's my wood box. No ash in sight.




Here's my whole setup (sorry for the filth, I haven't had a chance to clean it since my last smoke attempt).




Here's a close-up of the wood box, water pan and element.




Here's the only vent on the whole unit:



I'm open for suggestions!




post #13 of 29

Air...Your Chip Box Needs a little air for combustion



No Creosote! A-Maze-N Smokers

post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 


Originally Posted by TJohnson View Post

Air...Your Chip Box Needs a little air for combustion



Vent holes in the wood box, or vent holes in the actual unit itself?


Dave mentioned putting in a couple 1/2" holes in the bottom of the smoker.


Thanks Todd.



post #15 of 29

Vent the chip box and vent the bottom as suggested.  Good luck!

post #16 of 29

Mike, evening.... So, there is one hole in the upper portion of the smoker... It looks like it is insulated, Check out 3/4" nipples in the electrical section and those lock/nut/washer type things for securing conduit in electrical boxes. I think a 1 1/8" hole saw is the right size foe 3/4" nipple... Drill 2 holes in the sides near the top on the sides.. leave room for the nuts on the nipples.. Drill and install the nipples and lock nuts... I would install 1 nipple near the bottom or in the bottom for air intake...

As far as your smoking box goes.... how far above the element is it sitting ??? Adjust it to about 1/32" using "wire" as a spacer ... Use 1 chunk of wood sitting in the box directly above the element.. No lid.... or find another thin piece of metal to set the wood chunk on and right on the element or 1/32" above.... 


Remember it doesn't take much smoke...  Try the remedy for smoke first and get back to me on your progress ... once you get TBS (thin blue smoke) we can start on venting.... TBS is the most important ingredient in smoking food...   Dave....  PM me if you need to...

post #17 of 29

I also just got the analog MES 30.  I have the exact same problem as the original poster.  I am not comfortable with the idea of cutting holes in my new smoker.  The instructions for the assembly of the smoker mentioned that the door latch could be adjusted.  Do you think that loosening the door closer would allow some inflow of air (oxygen) to help the chips burn?



post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 

Alright people, the house guests are gone and I can get back to getting this smoker smoking!


OK, first things first....I drilled holes in the wood box. Went for a smoke and got WHITE ASH. Not a lot, but it was an improvement.


Next I drilled more holes in the wood box, then went for a smoke with the drip pan off the unit (to facilitate more air flow). Got white ash again....but again, it was not much.


Now I was convinced that the smoker is/was just not getting enough air. So I bit the bullet and drilled 2 3/8s" holes on the sides of the smoker, below the heating element. I staggered the holes to hopefully get a consistent flow to produce TBS and white ash. So I went for a smoke again (no protein and the water tray was filled):





Hole position:




With all this done, I went for a smoke and guess what happened??



YES, TBS! And none of that icky billowing white stuff!


Suffice to say, I was pretty excited......so I thought, let's just let it burn to see what happens. After a couple hours, all smoke quit. I figured it had just run it's course and ran out of fuel.


I opened the wood box and this is what I found:



Ugh. Again, just a little bit of ash. What happened?? The only thing I did was open it up (on high the internal temp got to over 400 degrees!), and turned it down to medium.


The only MOD I didn't do was drill a vent exhaust hole in the top of the unit and I'm guessing that's what you guys will say to do next.



Any opinions? Thanks as always!






post #19 of 29

Mike , evening..... OK... you have holes in the bottom of the smoker for cold air to enter.... holes in the wood pan for air to enter and burn the wood..... so now you need holes in the top of the smoker so air can circulate through the smoker.... air in.. air out... moisture out...    You do not need BIG holes... maybe 4 each. .. 3/8" holes or so around the top like you did in the bottom.....

Look at it this way... the smoker does not work correctly now so what difference could it make ?? an improvement.. maybe.. but it is no good as it is... give it a try...  you can always plug them and paint them black and be back where you were a few days ago....


OK, I'm sorry, I'm thinking out loud... but that is where you are at.... at this particular point in time...    Dave, who has built more smokers and failed so he know what not to do....

your friend in smoke...  Wish I was there, I love drilling holes in other peoples stuff....

post #20 of 29
Thread Starter 

Thanks Dave. Well, it's not completely broke. It did produce this:


Christmas 2011 183.JPG


20 lbs...about 8 hours in the smoker. Things went a lot smoother once I got another wireless thermometer.


But yeah, since the tools are out, I'm all in. I'll drill some exhaust vents and give 'er a burn. Updates to come!


....come on TBS.....


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