I have three reasons for this post:
- Missing screw;
- Possible heating element design flaw;
- My mod for better air when using the AMNPS in my 30" MES.
First, has anyone else noticed a missing screw in that holds the back of the chip tray assembly to the support rails (see pic):
I noticed this empty hole and just now put a screw and lock washer in there. Do any of you also have an empty hole here, and is it intentional, or was it a build flaw?
The second issue is what appears to be a really bad design of how the heating element interacts with the chip tray. This photo illustrates the problem:
Note that on the left side the heating coil is above the rail where the chip holder slides in, thus ensuring that the chip tray will directly contact the coil. However, on the right side, the coil goes underneath the rail, therefore ensuring that the tray cannot touch the coils. I have seen various posts on this subject, with one recent one describing how to cut the right side of the tray so it no longer rests on the support and instead contacts the coils directly. It would seem to me that the correct design would have the tray either contact the coils for the entire width (left to right in this picture) or else have a slight gap, as happens on the right.
I have definitely noticed the chips burn faster on the left side than on the right. I suppose that this asymmetry could be intentional, in order to even out the "on/off" nature of the chip heating.
Finally, since I am focusing on the chip tray area, many people advise that, when using the AMNPS in the MES 30, you put that 5x5 tray on the rails on the far left of the above picture and then pull the chip tray out slightly to allow more air to enter from the three small holes in the chip loader. Some people also advise to pull the chip loader out slightly in order to let in more air. A few people even talked about drilling out the holes in the loader to make them bigger. I don't like doing mods that are impossible to undo, so my "solution" was to replace the chip loader, when using the AMNPS, with the remains of my failed attempt at my own cold smoker attachment. As you can see from this picture, I have more holes and they are larger, thus letting in much more air. I have a version of this same modification that uses the center hole to hold a vent cover like the one at the bottom of a Weber kettle grill that you can rotate to partially cover the holes and continuously regulate airflow. I haven't found the need to put that back on, and this seems to provide plenty of air to the AMNPS.
The crinkled end fits into the chip loader hole.
Any comments, suggestions, or insights are most welcome!