Has anyone tried turning over the heating element in a MES40? This is using the existing holes in the back for the element's arms that the wires connect to. This would locate the element far closer to the center of the smoker. Yes, this would not work if you still use chips via the chip loader but for us who use the AMNPS.......hmmmmmm/. Still a fair amount mod work but heck, can't think of a better way to spend a rainy winter day. Don't know if it could be done in a 30, using the existing holes due to it's width.
Flipping over the element in a MES40 - another possible mod?
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I think for us AMNPS users, moving the element towards the center more also moves it closer to the AMNPS which might be more apt to catch on fire? No? Yes? After I do a batch of Salmon this weekend, I then might tear into Mr. Master to see if it can be done.
If the element legs are centered, there will be the same amount of room on the right side, once the element is flipped... move the AMNPS to the right side...
I looked at this idea last night. The element fastens to the back wall on the right side to the point that as you look into the smoker there's a space of 1-1/4" between the right wall and the heating element. Element is 7-1/2" wide, leaving a big gap on the left of 11-3/4". If one was to flip the element over, you would end up with a space of 6-1/2" on both the left and right side. Dead centered baby! And as Dave mentions above, you could then move the AMNPS to the right side next to the chip loader hole for an air source.
Here's a couple issues that need to be addressed:
#1 - The male spade connectors which are welded or brazed on the ends of the heating element face upwards in it's stock position. If you had to replace the element, removing it requires you to pull it forward into the smoker and then tilt it upwards to allow these connectors to clear the holes in the back wall. Now imagine what you need to do to install it once you've flipped the element over. Being so close to the floor of the smoker, you might not have room to insert the element's ends into the holes with those spade connectors attached. Can the connectors be bent 180 degrees? Don't know. Will they break off the element before that happens? Don't know.
#2 - The other issue which is far less of a problem as compared to the above is the location of the chip tray support plate which is welded to the two chrome rails. It is now in the way of the element's new position. I would simply break the welds loose and relocate this plate on the right side of the chip tray where the two stock rivets are. Simple mod. Of course for those who use a mailbox mod and don't even use the chip tray, you can probably just remove the tray and the chrome rails all together.
As I said above, I'll consider this mod after I smoke some Salmon this weekend and look further into issue #1.
Here's that chip tray support plate I was yakkin about:
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First, I'm sorry I did not take pictures of all steps, but I think you will get the idea of what I did.
Ok, i just did this to my MES 40. I think mine is considered GEN 2.5. I have no window, but it had the slanted drip collector with the small water pan and vent at the back left of the unit top. No rails in mine. Inside looks like this:
The heating element was different than the one cmayna has as mine had two bolts on it that poked through the back of the smoker where nuts were screwed on to attach it. It looks like this. When mounted, it's actually flipped from what you see in the picture. I suspect the top part of the L bracket helps protect the element a little from drips.
Here is the element installed in the flipped position:
I used the bottom of the old chip housing as a cover to protect the element from drips. This part just unscrews from it very easily and fits perfect. I read that drips won't kill the element but I wanted to protect it anyway. I just punched some holes in this and added big lag screws as legs so it does not touch the element at all.
Here it is all foiled up too.
I don't use the chip tray at all since I have a mailbox mod. I plan to not add anything else above this and just let all the drippings go to the very bottom pan and down the hole if needed. I'm doing two brisket flats and a point tonight so we'll see how this works.
Test was done in no wind and about mid 80s ambient temp.
I did see that my MES40 is about 10 degrees too low. So now I'll set for 235 instead of 225