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question re: a-mazn-products

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I need some advise on the a-maz-n  pellet tray &products. I did the mailbox mod on my MES "smoker but have had 2 failed attempts at getting the pellets to stay lit. I even put more vent holes in mailbox mod. One member told me to microwave pellets for 60 sec. it did not help. Jeff said he usually put his tray w pellets in smoker to pre-heat for a hour or so.before he lights them, maybe I will try this method this weekend & the products I ordered from Jeff. I know its a great product because I have read lots of positive things about them on this forum. I think the problem is operator error at this point. Thanks for any feedback & if I can return the favor I would be glad to do so. This is a cool forum with lots of GREAT PEOPLE!!!!!! Thank you!!!!!   Larryacguy

post #2 of 24

See if you can get it to stay lit just sitting out in the open. If so, it's an airflow problem. If not, it's a pellet problem. If it's the former, drill more holes or otherwise figure out how to get the draft going. If it's the latter, try a different brand of pellets. I've seen a few posts on the Pellets sold by Amaze-N being difficult to keep lit. The tradeoff is that they're 100% whatever smoke wood they're stated to be. IE: if they're pecan, they're made from 100% pecan. Many other brands use a base wood, such as oak, with a small percentage of the advertised flavor wood and/or spray on flavor oils.

post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks for looking. the smoker & mailbox mod. are both sitting on the back deck. Does the smoker need to b higher ? Maybe on a stand? I tilted the mailbox up a couple of inches thinking that might help but it didn't.

post #4 of 24

Larry going by what you have stated I think you are right about operator error. I would focus on how you  lite the A-MAZ-N smoker. You need to put more fire on the center hole than you think you need.(I keep the torch on it for at least a full minute)I angle the torch somewhat down ward to try keep the flame from developing on the top. You may blow it out or keep a bit of foil around to help knock it down The center should develop   a very hot mass. You can blow on it. Overkill is your friend till you learn a technique you like. Some users use heat guns or hair dryers. That should tell yell you how much air it can take I don't use one. After I get it going like I want I let it set out side for a few minutes smoldering. It does take some practice but when you get it it is worth it.     jted

post #5 of 24


I feel your pain.  I just bought a Wagner hot air gun to try to get a ultra hot start going.  Like you, my pellet tray would go out in my MES, no matter where I put it, and with the chip tray and chip loader are completely removed to get the best possible airflow.  Most of the time the pellet tray has burned out within 15 minutes.  My one complete success was when I rotated the smoker to face the incoming breeze (into the chip loader hole).  I bought all the goodies to build the mailbox external smoker yesterday.  I put it together, and increased my burn time from 15 minutes to almost an hour.  I will continue to fiddle with it.  The lure of doing an 8 hour smoke without feeding the chip tray is just too appealing.

Edited by Addertooth - 7/28/14 at 12:34pm
post #6 of 24

Larry just a word about your pellets. Heating them in your smoke it will help .Todd  Johnson's pellets normally are as good as they get. Any brand of Cherry pellet is hard to near impossible to keep lit by them selves. if you want to use cherry cut it with some hickory. I like the Pitmaster's   blend of cherry maple and hickory. It very good. Keep your pellets in a screw top contained. Zip lock bags are not good enough. I use large creamer containers. This is just my 2 cents worth. I live in a high humid place(Virginia). It's not the highest humidity but we have our share.

post #7 of 24

Larry, when I was tweaking my setup folks here were very helpful:  http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/164173/mes-30-mailbox-mod-help


I torch my pellets for maybe 15-20 seconds just to get a small flame and ember going, and then I use a heat gun on high to ignite the pellets to a raging inferno...at a certain point the glowing pellets will combust into a loud roaring fire, and then I know I have them lit well enough.


You could try posting a photo of your setup, the mailbox doesn't have to be a lot lower, but it shouldn't be higher than the chip loader hole.  It seems for optimum results the outlet from the mailbox should be at the back, opposite the door.  I have had good success with my mailbox mod.


You can open the mailbox door a bit to get more draft going, I'll sometimes do that if I want more smoke, you can actually see the draft going with the smoke coming up the front by the door but will roll back and suck into the pipe, nothing will come out of the gap in the door. 


Also, even storing my pellets in screw top juice containers, with the summer humidity here now I have to microwave my pellets for 2 minutes, 3 minutes if using apple wood, and it helps a lot.  

post #8 of 24

I think those who have had the best luck with the mailbox mods have had the smoker situated above the mailbox. Smoke wants to go up, not down or sideways, unless you have something to draw it that direction. I have a MES30, and use a 3" adjustable duct as a smokestack over the top vent, like the one here: this will create more draw.



Never had a problem with keeping the A-Maze-N going with this setup, but I will be completing my own mailbox mod soon, anyhow.

post #9 of 24

Here is my mail box mod with the AMNPS lit 5minutes blew out the flame

Gave me 5 hrs from that little bit.

Dried pellets in the microwave for 2 min.
before lighting

post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much to everyone for input & ideals. I'm not giving up but it did put a damper( no pun intended) on things. I will try again probley Sat or Sun. Thanks to all
post #11 of 24

As was stated let the pellets burn with a flame for about 5 minutes then blow them out and see if that helps

post #12 of 24

I am doing a double experiment.  I have two AMNPS trays, both using the same pellets, both lit the same way (torch, followed by heat-gun till it literally roars, let it burn until it self extinguishes).

One will be put in my very breezy grill, the other the mailbox on a heated MES 40. 

Both trays stopped having flames in about 6 minutes.  Using Todd's pitmaster pellets for this test (yummy smell, makes me hungry). 

Just started both trays about 15 minutes ago. The tray in the grill is going very well, the mailbox, not so well, but it is still smoking.

Check back later. 

post #13 of 24

One hour later, the AMNPS in the Grill is dead (roughly 1 inch burned to ashes), the mail-box unit is still chugging away.  Re-lit the grill tray until I had to put on sunglasses to dim the glow of a fusion reaction; hopefully it will keep rolling now.

post #14 of 24

Another hour, the MES with the mailbox mod has stopped producing any smoke.  The grill is still making smoke.  Pulled the tray from the mailbox, and the faintest of wisps of smoke comes from the tray.  It was not completely out, it was just so close to being out, it was no longer producing usable smoke.  About 3 inches in the mailbox tray burned to ash before it got to this point.  Re-Lit the tray with torch and heat gun.  Burned up the rest of the first row keeping it at a high roar (with the heat gun).  Much hotter and I would have been producing slag. The heat was so intense, the adjacent row burst into flame.  Choked out the second row and let the first row continue burning until it stopped producing flames on its own (about 9 minutes).  Put the tray back in the mailbox for round 2.

I am giving thoughts to designing an array of thermocouples which will lay under the AMNPS tray.  When no single thermocouple shows a "hot spot" above it (meaning the tray is no longer producing heat/smoke), it will set off an alert.  Or possibly, the alert could be from a fake merged thermometer output which would use one of the Maverick ET-733 channels.  I.E. they highest thermocouple reading will be sent to the maverick, that way the maverick can be set to alert (via BBQ mode) when the temperature drops below a pre-set limit.

post #15 of 24

All trays are still burning.  A note about photographing thin blue smoke; it is difficult.  Using polarized white light, which is pushing the blue end of the spectrum, you can get some good photos of it.

All of these pictures are taken seconds apart, the difference is the use of the right light and camera angle.




post #16 of 24

A short bit later, the grill stopped smoking.  The mailbox smoker is still going strong.  It is late, I will not be re-lighting the grill.  Tomorrow morning I will check whether the pellet tray in the mailbox finished burning.

post #17 of 24
I have an amnts and it has worked perfectly every time I've used it.
post #18 of 24

It is the next morning, the mailbox pellet tray died as well.  It burned about 2 more inches before it went out.  All of the first row burned, plus the beginning of the second row. From the pictures of the smoker earlier, with the way smoke was jetting out of the upper vent, it looked like the smoker had decent air-flow.  Very confusing, more work ahead.

post #19 of 24

Started the MES, set to 225 F.  Separated the charred pellets from the untouched pellets in the tray.  Put the good pellets in a glass bowl.  Microwaved for 4 minutes until hot.  Reloaded one pellet tray, nearly to top.  Torch 2 minutes, heat gun for two minutes; over half the first row is gone after ten minute burn. MES is up to temperature now.   Reloaded mail-box with the smoking pellet tray.  I will check it at lunch time today. 

post #20 of 24

Five and a half hours later, the pellets are still going, windless day, 90 degrees F.  Holding my breath.

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