After 16 months of using my MES 30 and going threw three different controllers for it (while it was under warranty) my controller went out again ! So here is my work around that i did and i hope someone gets some use out of it.
I purchased a new heating element, this one to be exact - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HDMDA2I?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00 Its sold by River County and fits perfectly on the bottom of the MES.
Now im sorry that i didn't get any before/during pictures but I will try to explain what i did. Basically what you need is a drill, sawsall, pencil, hammer, flat blade screw driver and a beer.
Im in NO WAY a skilled anything when it comes to this kind of stuff so don't worry if you aren't either!
First what you have to do is totally gut the stock heating element, cover, chip tray, ect. (Dont worry, its super easy to do!) Now the heating element comes with two metal feet to keep it off the bottom of the smoker, i measured them, centered the measurement which was 2 1/8" up from the bottom of the inside of the smoker and made a small hole. On the outside of the smoker i then centered the new heating element plug-in to the hole and outlined it. Drilled the hole out bigger so i could get my sawsall blade in it and cut out the square. After that i picked up some Gasket Maker silicone from Ace Hardware and put a bead of it around the square hole i just made in the smoker to seal it up good.
Now this poses a problem/fire hazard if its left just like this because all of the grease droppings from what you are cooking will drip down right on top of the heating element, possibly starting a fire. SO what i did was reinstall the metal piece that i have outlined below, except i moved it up about a inch from where it was mounted by the factory then put the drip tray ontop of it.
I also broke the spot welds using a hammer and flat blade screw driver that hold the stock heating element cover onto the "flange" that screws onto the side of the smoker so i could put the chip holder back in and not have a huge hole in the side of my smoker.
Here are some more pictures, i know my smokers filthy...sorry
So the big question. HOW DOES IT WORK!?!? The answer? GREAT!
The outside temperature here in central illinois this evening was 86 with about 90% humidity. Inside the smoker without the heating element on was 96.
After turning it on HIGH and waiting just over 10 minutes the temp was 237
After about 5 minutes the temp went up to 306 and it was still climbing steady and fast!
So..what about cold smoking? Like i said before, my smoker unplugged was 96*F inside, with the new element set on the lowest setting it was a cool 107*F inside.
So how high of a temperature could i get the smoker to? Im not sure, i didnt want to push it too far past 300* because im not sure if i will somehow damage the body of the MES, but by the way the temp was rising i would say 350+ would be a piece of cake.
Does anyone know if i can keep raising the temp without effecting the integrity of my MES?
I know i skipped some things, just ask if you have any questions and ill try to answer them