Ok, I've been pondering this for a while.
Some time back I picked up a huge, as it 7 1/2' tall McCall proofer/warmer that I intended to convert to a mega snack stick and smoked sausage making machine. I liked this particular unit as it was inexpensive (like $85 with the auction fee and taxes), all stainless inside and out, the heating element was at the top of the unit, air is pulled from the top of the cabinet and forced across a finned heating element by 2 fans and then flows down a channel on one side of the cabinet with louvers to evenly distributed the heated air around the interior of the cabinet. Should have even heating and no danger of a grease fire as there is no way for the drippings to hit the element. Only problem is where to put it. The dang thing is too tall to go under my garage door so storing it there and rolling it out to use is not an option and I'm out of room on the covered porch (plus the wife said it's too big so that was the end of the put it on the porch campaign). So it has been sitting in storage since I bought it.
Then I recently saw the MES 30 Elite Analog that N4YNU added extra racks to in this thread:
Photo of his rack mod. He has done other mods to the heating element and smoke stack since but this gives you the idea I'm working with. This is my goal in adding more racks.
I already own a Auber Instrument PID "in a box" controller that I bought to run the element in my e-WSM mod. The e-WSM does a great job on sticks and smoked sausage, I just need more real estate. I was looking at modding the e-WSM and adding racks but by the time I bought the racks and had the frame I wanted welded up I was looking at a $100+ mod. So the $170 MES 30 Elite Analog was starting to look attractive. Here is my PID controller. It will be plug and play with the MES 30.
So this weekend I was checking out the "going out of business" sale at the local Gander Mountain. They had the MES 30 Elite Analog for 20% off which brought the price down to $132. I bought one. Here is the stock unit with no mods after simply running wide open for about 2 hours to burn off any shipping oil. It held 375* no problems in 70* ambient heat (temp by Thermapen - the dial thermo in door is off by 25* over 250 - shocker). Since I'm looking at cold smoking, snack sticks and smoked sausage, I only need to get to the 170-180* range so I think I'm covered.
All that open space up top is just screaming "please add more cooking racks to me!" The mod will add 3 more and I also ordered 2 more racks for the open rack space at the bottom (total of 8 racks when done). That little white light you see at the top right of the interior is the only smoke exhaust port. I'm also going to add a real adjustable smoke stack on the top and use this opening as a temp sensor probe inlet (will plug with a drilled and slit silicone plug).
Air inlet looks a little on the small side also, I may end up opening it up later.
So this is the stock from he box unit. Here is a list of the mods I'm considering....
1) add 5 more food racks and do the mod N4YNU posted here:
2) add a real smoke stack - adjustable model from a Lowes Master Forge gas smoker, again like N4YNU did here, but I'm going to put a wide baffle about an inch below the bottom of the stack, I want to spread the in flow to the stack out over a larger area and more from the sides of the smoker to combat the natural tendency for the air to flow straight up and out the stack:
3) place a cut section from a stainless steel "hotel pan false bottom" for steaming above the heating element. Purpose will be to more evenly distribute heat and smoke over a larger area via it's size (as a metal radiating surface) and via the holes in it. If I pull the rack for the smoke box and water pan, I should be able to find and cut a hotel pan false bottom unit to slide on the mounts for the existing rack above the heating element.
4) close off whimpy 3/4" exhaust port on back of smoker with a slit and drilled silicone plug (use for temp probe wire inlet)
5) use Auber "plug & play" PID controller to regulate 1,500 watt element and control temps
6) use AMZNPS tray for smoke source, may require opening up larger air inlet on the bottom (larger hole or more smaller holes). I also intend on building a heat shield to sit slightly above the pellet tray and shield it from the heating element.
7) depending on results of pellet tray and smoke stack mods, I may raise the heating element like N4YNU did in this post:
8) may add insulating door gasket to stem leakage of smoke and better seal unit.
9) may drill out the top rivets and pull the top off so I can slide in rock wool insulation and insulate the body. As is, the unit is a double wall, uninsulated (dead air space) shell. It looks like after drilling rivets for the top I can slide in sections of rock wool. Same for the door, drill rivets and insulate.
So the part collecting begins.....