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AMNPS question and some qview

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi. I have been enjoying the MES 40" (2nd gen) with all its problems and characteristics. I followed a lot of the ideas from other folks here including a mailbox mod. I thank all of you for your help and suggestions. While I have had a lot of successes, I am still struggling to get the AMNPS to burn longer than a couple of hours without having to either relight it or blow on it to keep it going. It seems to be better when doing a hot smoke, but really seems to have problems when cold smoking. I have even tried using a small fan to try to move the air around, but didn't help the pellets to stay going and dried out the food. It has beautiful smoke for the first hour or so, but tapers off to where I have to fuss with it every 1/2 hour or 45 minutes. I have tried heating the pellets in the microwave, oven, and MES (if hot smoking). I did notice that it worked better during the summer, not so much now when it is 12 degrees outside. Because of this, I was thinking that maybe the pellets were cooling off to the point where they would not maintain the heat. Do any of you have any experience with warming the mailbox? What do you use? I was thinking of either trying a light in the box, or a heating pad underneath. 

This is some the cold smoking that I have been doing:

 

 

The cheese has been really popular, and the salmon was mixed with smoked cream cheese...a big hit a church. The nuts I continue on with them at 250 degrees for about 3 hours after I pull the cheese out.

 

Thanks for any suggestions on the AMNPS

post #2 of 18

What elevation are you at??? The AMNPS starts to have problems above 4000' Some go to the AMNTS to fix that problem. Dust is also easier to keep going. Is you mailbox below the MES?

I Don't have any mods to my MES and it works just fine. I always microwave my pellets before use. I spend 15 min to get the AMNPS going. If I rush it I have problems. I also run the MES for 1 min to get it to start drawing.

Happy smoken.

David

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

Elevation is at about 1500'. I have heated the pellets in microwave or regular oven; doesn't seem to make too much of a difference. Then start it with a propane blowtorch and let it burn 10 to 15 minutes. I have tried starting just one end or both ends. The mail box is below the MES, connected with flexible pipe. There is also an elbow and 2' extension on the exit to help it draw better. The intake has all of the original equipment removed. As far as fans, I have tried to blow from the mailbox end or draw from the exit end to get more air flow. Neither way seemed to help much as far as the AMNPS, but it did dry out the surface of the food (almost like leather). Putting water in the pan didn't seem to help this much. 

 

The only time I was able to get a long burn without doing too much was when it was over 95 degrees out. I am kind of out of ideas except for heating the mailbox or maybe insulating it. Any ideas on a safe way of heating it?

post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ssbaldy View Post

 

The only time I was able to get a long burn without doing too much was when it was over 95 degrees out. I am kind of out of ideas except for heating the mailbox or maybe insulating it. Any ideas on a safe way of heating it?

 

I also have an MES-40 2nd gen with a mailbox mod. 

 

I also had problems keeping my AMNPS going past the first row of pellets when I put it in the mailbox. I tried drying the pellets in an oven before lighting. 

 

I bought the 18" tube smoker and it's works very well. Just barely fits in my mailbox. It generated 7 hours of smoke when I smoked my bacon last Friday. I set the smoker @ 100 to create the draft. I plan to smoke colder next time. 

post #5 of 18
I have no personal experience with this, as I'm working on getting the stuff together to do the mailbox mod. However, from what I've been learning on this site, heating the mes can instigate the draft necessary to draw air into the mailbox. The other thing I have seen as a solution to this is someone drilled a few holes in the bottom of the door on the mailbox and added dampers to them to increase airflow as needed.

Sorry I can't help with practical knowledge. Hopefully my 'book' knowledge helps.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your reply. At this time, I am cold smoking cheese, so don't want to heat up the MES. I have noticed that when I do hot smoking,  the draw is better, but still doesn't last longer than a few hours without fussing with it. 

post #7 of 18
Can you tell what your air flow in the mailbox is like?
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by regul8dhbbyist View Post

Can you tell what your air flow in the mailbox is like?

 

Nope. At 6 foot and 205, I don't fit in it. ;{)> My only clue on what's happening is watching the TBS coming out of the MES. As long as I get TBS, I'm happy.

 

And every time I've used the tube smoker, I've gotten a complete burn. I never did get the AMNPS to burn more than one row. Could be a problem with how I was loading the AMNPS.

 

Perhaps someone else will have a better idea what happens in the mailbox.

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 

I think my problem has been that the pellets are cooling down during the cold smoke process. I have been experimenting with ways to keep the pellets warm and may have hit on something promising. I am using the heater element from an old electric fry pan in side of a metal computer case, and then the mailbox sitting on top of that. Experimenting with how high to set it, but it seems as if I am getting a longer burn. Latest cold smoke was playing around with making some sausage:

The wife gave it an A+, so it must have been good

post #10 of 18

i did my first cold smoke today. i had to remove the chip loader entirely to get an uninterupted burn in my maze.

looks like airflow is key.

post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ssbaldy View Post
 

I think my problem has been that the pellets are cooling down during the cold smoke process. I have been experimenting with ways to keep the pellets warm and may have hit on something promising. I am using the heater element from an old electric fry pan in side of a metal computer case, and then the mailbox sitting on top of that. Experimenting with how high to set it, but it seems as if I am getting a longer burn. Latest cold smoke was playing around with making some sausage:

The wife gave it an A+, so it must have been good

Get a wallwart and use the fan from the old PC hooked up on your vent. I I have that set up to blow air in when I start my smoker.


This et up allows enough air to keep the pellets burning and you do not have to run it all the time.

Your smoker is loaded with foil, that may be cutting back on the air flow IMHO

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 

I have used several computer fans of different sizes and ac adapters of different voltages (lower voltage means slower fan), both outside the mailbox blowing in and in the vent stack (modified with elbow and 18" stack) to pull air through. When using these, the meat would always seem to dry out on the skin (not like a bark, but actually dry hard skin).. And, the pellets still don't stay lit with out tending to them (meaning either plugging in a fan and directing it on them until they sound like a blowtorch, or actually re-lighting then with the torch) every 45 minutes/hour. With the heating element, they stayed lit for 3 hours or so, until the sun went down and it got cold. I am going to keep jacking up the temperature on the heater element until it starts burning too fast. 

post #13 of 18

do you guys actually dry your pellets in the oven?

you are having lots more trouble than me n i don't know what i'm doing.

post #14 of 18

You need the exhaust to go out the back of the MB mod... and 2 - 3/4" holes in the bottom of the door....   You need heat in the MES to create a draft so air will be drawn in the MB mod....   The reason for the exhaust in the back is......   If it is not there, the smoke will recirculate in the MB and recirculating smoke is lacking in oxygen.....

 

ALSO, fill the rows in the AMNPS FULL ....    the pellets need to generate enough heat to keep burning and in cold weather, that could be a problem......

 

ALSO....   dry the pellets in your oven at 275 for 2 hours....  you can dry them in the AMNPS....    Keep the exhaust in the MES wide open...

 

Looking at your set up, is the AMNPS in that drawer ???   If so, it is too wide and too big....   You need once through air with NO recirculation for it to work properly....

 

 

post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks Dave. Most of the setups that I have seen had the exhaust go out the top of the mailbox, so that is what I did. I also put 4 1/2" holes in the door and drilled out the 4 mounting holes in the floor to 3/8". I also removed the chip loader assembly from the inside, and the exhaust vent so that there would be plenty of circulation (and, as stated earlier, added an elbow and 18" of stack pipe to the exhaust port). I have been using the microwave to heat the pellets; maybe that is causing them to cool down to fast. I will try to heat them in the oven and see if that makes a difference.

 

Could you please explain about the circulation difference between top mounted and end mounted exhaust on the mailbox a little more

post #16 of 18

Smoke will swirl around until it finds an exit....     the bottom drawing shows how you can direct the smoke in a small area by limiting the air inlet to the opposite end where the exhaust will be....    "ONCE" through air, with no recirculation would be perfect....  but this ain't perfect...  just the best we can do under the circumstances......  

 

In my MB mod, I even put another hole in the top of the door to reduce recirculation of the spent smoke.....  spent smoke has reduced oxygen...  these things won't burn at 5,000 feet elevation....   the oxygen is reduced too much....  

 

 

 

 

post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 

Again, I have to say thanks to you Dave. After seeing your example, I decided to take a closer look at my set up. I realized that I probably had too much flexible pipe between the mailbox and MES, so I shortened that down to about 6". Then I drilled 2 more holes down lower in the door of the mailbox and covered the ones higher up. The reason for this was so that the air would flow into the pellets and provide more oxygen. This increased the burn time considerably. Since I am trying to cold smoke cheese, this worked fairly well until the sun goes down and the temperature drops along with it. I am experimenting with heating underneath the mailbox, but the results have been inconsistent so far (either going out if the temp was too low, or burning a whole row in 30 minutes if too hot). The system works quite well when hot smoking now, but seems to still have a tendency to go out if the ambient temp is too low. 

 

I am still trying various things, but thanks to your information, I think I am on the right track. Thanks

post #18 of 18
If the smoker gets too cold, the draft will stop flowing... a very small heat source, in the smoker, will keep the draft going....
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