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post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi folks,
First of all I want to acknowledge all of you master smokers, especially the Dude, as we (wife & I) are former Iowegieans. Wanted to relate my experience with the MES. We live in Ponca City, OK, home of the Cookshack smoker. I could buy 3 MES smokers for the cheapest one of those. Anyway, had it 5 weeks, didn't use it but maybe five times. Burned a pinhole in the water pan using chunk hickory(fixed it with JB weld), gave the chunks away. Would not risk a charcoal briquette for the same reason, too hot. Also mention the instructions relate do not line shelves with foil, voids warranty, again too hot. The real issue-my temp/timer unit(black box on top of the unit) quit, went up to 300 degrees and wouldn't come down (fried), even tho I set it for 225-never set it higher, still feeling it out- Masterbuilt honored the unit, sent me another temp control, but said (important part) unplug the control and always keep it inside when not smoking because of exposure to moisture.(Not in the manual) Which tells me it is not very robust, but the smoker part (the box) is fine. I wanted to share this with the membership. I mentioned I always had it covered on my porch (Weber kettle cover fits fine) she said take it inside (the temp box) when not smoking. So if you are ready to buy one of these think about it. Mine will be out of warranty after 90 days I think. I hope it continues to work will let you know. This unit has been re-engineered, if you keep up with the blogs. As far as the not enough smoke, I have used a variety of wood chips with geat success. Too much hickory smoke will ruin meat. Keep the chip tray cleaned out (not mentioned in the instructions) Anyway, love you all, will send some q-views when it gets drier out (ha ha) been raining.
post #2 of 8
First welcome to SMF, you have found the right place, like minded smoke pit masters. It doesn't matter who makes the pit, we all just want to cook some great Q.

Addressing some of your points..
•Why would there be hickory wood chunks in your water pan? Did you really burn a hole in the water pan, instead of the chip tray?
•The use of charcoal, a lot of us use a briquette or two in an attempt to produce a smoke ring. Personally, I have used briquettes quite a few times and the results are not consistent. In fact I have rarely produced a smoke ring using 2 briquettes every 40 minutes for first 3 or 4 hours, so I'm not sold on their use, but the chip tray in my 40" SS MES is pretty heavy aluminum I think, and I wouldn't worry about 2 briquettes burning a hole through. UNLESS you get moisture in the pan and it sits for a long time and gets a rust spot. This has happening in my Weber Genesis Silver B, after 10 years the drip tray rusted a tiny hold thru due to corrosion.

• Yeah foil on the cooking racks is a problem, unless you make sure there is a way for the heat to bypass. So instead of foiling the whole rack leave about 2 inches on the sides for heat to pass around. If there is no way for the heat to bypass you risk a fire. The older MES had to be recalled due to a design flaw that when you openned the door the wood would combust you would get flames if there was any wood. The wood smoldering would get that rush of oxygen and combust when the door opened. If you foil the shelves this could happen again.
Really there is no need to foil, just get a can of Pam spray and give the shelves a good doze before using. Clean up is simple, just keep some Brillo Pads handy to scrub the stubborn meat bits, and wash with those plastic scrubbers, then put in dishwasher. I have left racks in for a few days either forgetting to clean or too lazy to do it the next day, and they always clean up nice like shiney new.

•Sorry your digital controller died. It happens, some here have had similar bad luck, and then some of us haven't had any problems. My was purchased June 08 and so far going strong. Hopefully your replacement will give you years of service.

As for taking the controller off if you store your MES outside, I'm not sure about that,even though Masterbuilt said it. I live in Sacramento Calif. not humid, only moderate rain, I keep my MES in the backyard under the house eve, covered with a full cover, it sits on a stand about 13" off the ground. My MES has sat there year round rain or shine, cold or hot. I do always unplug the electric cord from wall outlet after use. I think the recommendation to remove the controller could result in other problems. The little controller male/female connectors for the wiring is not made for 300+ pulling apart and reconnecting, thus you may be creating a problem rather than solving. The only thing I did beyond just using the cover, was during the worst months Dec Jan and Feb. I wrapped a thin plastic tarp over and under, secured with bungy cords.

Even though you had an initial problem with the MES, Masterbuilt did its job and supported you, (based on your comments above). Just rem. if you have another major failing, you can buy another digital controller which is better from another source, and you are back in business. The MES cabinet should be able to give you 10-20 years of service, even though you may have to replace elements, controller, etc.
post #3 of 8
Dude, out of curiosity for now, not that I need another controller at the moment, what digital controller for replacement are you referring to and from what source?

My MES stopped heating during the last smoke and I believe it to be the wiring issue at the element. I just haven't had the time to tear into it to fix. Even with this problem it isn't a biggy for me to correct the problem, and I still like my MES 40". Maybe I can squeeze the time to check it out this weekend.

Thanks in advance for the info
aka Rocky
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 


Just wanteed to post a follow up on the MES. I didn't have hickory chunks in the water pan-the water pan is oval and sits above the heating element. It got too hot evidently, only thing I could imagine, other than the pan is pretty thin. The MES rep said do not use chunks or briquettes.
Anyway, they sent my second digital contoller and tried it out-same results. Went from 225 gradually up to 300 and stayed there-this is just the outside temp, not heating element. I had the old one and the new one side by side with about one degreee difference. Something inside is telling the thermostat it is at 300 so it won't heat. Luckily it is still under warranty, and hopefully they will send another complete unit. I hate to just buy a different one. For the record the MES rep told me to remove the digital controller when not in use and keep it inside because of the moisture problem. I told her it was covered on a porch with a roof and she said that didn't matter take it inside anyway (the controller). Thanks for the response. Hope to be smokin soon, I only used this thing about 4 or 5 times.
post #5 of 8
Creative Rock...
You wanted to know about my reference to a better controller.
Auber Instruments sells PID controllers that can be used for smokers. Email their company, explain what you are trying to do, and they will recommend a replacement. You will need the controller and a sensor element or thermocouple. I have emailed them about how to do a possible two stage setup, and they responded, but I'm not sure if the options they presented are what I'm looking for.

Maybe the sensor is bad?
2nd, they sold a product that clearly shows the controller installed as a integral part of the whole smoker, intended for outdoor use, and that component is not suppose to be removed like your cooking racks or water pan. (sounds like the rep, is playing backyard mechanic, and the advice is weak, if not just plain bad. IMHO) That doesn't mean in your area you might have to take extra precautions to protect the controller, that though would be your decision. The value of taking the controller off after each use would depend on where someone lives and the relative humidity/year round weather conditions. I doubt the connector will stand up to 100+ disconnect/reconnect, hell your water pan managed to get a hole after 5 uses. About the water pan, either they cheapened the water pan or you had a freak thing happen, because my water pan is very heavy duty, and should last 20 years or so. You do have the new model with window, so they may have made some other changes, i.e. gauges of the metal.

Anyway, good luck with your MES....
post #6 of 8
Thanks a lot for the info DD. After looking at the front page of that website they are definitely a viable option, and probably cheaper than replacing with the original manufacturers part.

Even though I have my offset for smoking, I do miss the convenience of the MES. Hopefully I can squeeze in the time to tear into the MES tomorrow, because Monday I have to make a trek to Hayward and back to the Pines to pick up a couple of ebay wins.

Thanks again,
aka Rocky
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 


Wanted to post further news re/my MES-no it doesn't have a glass door. Most worthless item you can put on a smoke- like a woodstove, never could see through it. Anyway, after dancing with the customer service lady at MES talked to a bro that is giving me the replacement that-well, everything except the racks, drip pan. temp control (of which I have 2 ) and water bowl. I had to pry off the plates and cut off the cord to send in, but will keep the box for parts. Hey, door hinges, latch, door seal-I believe it might pay to have some items in stock. Anyway, looks basically like a whole new unit. I looked at the Brinkman, but I read someone said the wind blew it across the yard. Still it works.

Dude, saw your video of the Iowa hail storm-been thru many of them, lived in Iowa all my life until 2008. Like the analogy of the DUDE from the Great LEB! That movie is complex, need to see it several times to really appreciate it. Anyway hope to be smoking instead of whining soon! Or draw a line in the sand!
post #8 of 8
since you live in ponca city, cookshack offers a 2 day class in dec. it is totally awesome! we went last year and learned lots of new stuff. Fast eddie and paul shatte of head country were the teachers ,it was lots of info.you are right, they do cost more, but soooo worth it. icon_cool.gif
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