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MES - Need More Smoke

post #1 of 66
Thread Starter 
I purchased a new MES on black Friday, upgraded from an ECB. I smoked a butt at Christmas, not much smoke flavor. The wood tray got loaded with black chips (looked like charcoal) no ash. Since then I have tried a few things to get it to smoke more. I've tried the following:

Checked that wood tray was installed correctly (heat shield under element)
Higher temp 250 deg
Soaking chips
Less chips per load
Vent 100% open
Called Masterbuilt, they suggested running the temp to 275. (Defeats the purpose of low and slow) but I tried that too, no luck

None of these worked, the remnants of the chips reminded me distilled wood experiment from high school science class. That made me think that the wood box is not getting enough oxygen to smolder or burn the chips. I rigged up my air compressor to add a slight flow of air into the chip loaded for me next test. It worked, the chips smoked great and burned to ash.

With this info I thought about drilling out the holes on the left of the wood tray and on the chip loader.

Anyone have hear of a similar issue and know how it was remedied?
post #2 of 66
I have bolded the ones in question. I would not drill out anything, it should work as it is.

I would call them again and get someone different, something is wrong. I can smoke @ 225' and get good results. You need to use wood chips or chunks.

You may have a temp problem or a control box issue. Your wood should be a white ash after somoking.
post #3 of 66
I haven't had any issues with mine. I have done chips dry and wet and as of late i have been using Traeger Pellets which are working great.
post #4 of 66
I have no problems with getting good smoke at low temperatures. I guess with the chip tray loaded right on the element I question the wood chips. Have you tried different chips? I never soak mine with water and feel that I can control it well with the ability to load chips without having to open the door. I especially like the ability to decide when to start the smoking by not adding chips for the first few hours so I do not get into a creosote issues. I guess another thing you could try is to buy smoking saw dust instead of chips.
On another note.... interesting handle there, is that anything wetumka, ok?
post #5 of 66
I've had the same issue with mine. In warmer ambient temps I felt like I was performing the same experiment. I fashioned a makeshift chip tray out of aluminum flashing and set it so it lays on the shelf above the element, taking out that small air space. Smoked good then. However, in low ambient temps, I had chips that were in the loading chute to warm smoke and turn to ash. So I guess it depends on how long the element needs to stay on to maintain temps. My two cents worth.
post #6 of 66
The only time I've had chips not burn to ash is when trying to smoke at low temps like 160-170. I'm assuming this is the older style MES if bought on Black Friday. I never soak wood and have great luck with chips, pellets and split chunks.
post #7 of 66
What Ron said. Must me something wrong. My Centro (MES in disguise) has never failed at temps higher than 170F, I bought a Smoke Daddy CSG for smoking sausage at less than 150F.
post #8 of 66
I have that problem with mine , usually not enough smoke flavor for me . On mine even at 250 , once it is up to temp and the element isn't turning on for very long , my chips don't smoke . I've noticed like yours , if I have chips in the loading tube , alot of times 30 minutes later and I go to dump the loader onto the chip pan , the chips in the tube have turned partially to ash while the chips on the pan are just charred . Sometimes I take out the loader tube and if I have enough of a breeze that will help get the chips on the pan smoldering again then I put the tube back in . I run the top vent wide open . I think I'm going to drill out the vent holes in my loader tube . I have the 30" and it's about 2 years old. Most of the time I end up with black wood chips on the pan . The only time I usually end up with white ash is when I'm running it at 275.
post #9 of 66
I've had an older model MES for about 5 years now. I had the same problem. Sometime i would get great smoke (higher temp) and sometimes I would have to fight uit the whole time. I finally gave up and bought a Smoke Pistol. Now this thing rocks. I can cold smoke now to. Just my 2 cents. Maybe the newer versions work better than the older ones. I am currently building a new homemade smoker out of an old refrigerator. I just need something bigger.
post #10 of 66
I'm suspicious of the "black wood chips". I'd try some true chips cut from wood, which are usually some shade of brown. Use chips or little chunks, not sawdust or shavings, and put maybe 1 charcoal briquette in there tio keep them lit if your element cycles off.

Soaking the wood in advance is unhelpful.
post #11 of 66
By Black Wood Chips, I think he meant that the chips do not burn completely. Similar to making charcoal by heating wood in with little air.
post #12 of 66
jsdspif, that's just weird. The chip loader being further away from the heat source burning chips faster and more complete than in the chip pan is just off the wall. Wish I could give you an explanation
post #13 of 66
yeah , by black wood chips I mean in the chip pan they are warming enough to char and give off some smoke , but they are not being totally burned to the point of turning to white ash . I think the ones I put in the loading tube to "warm" are getting a good supply of oxygen , but not enough oxygen is getting to the chips in the chip pan . I know that there is a fine line , I don't want the chips in the pan to ignite to the point of flaming , but I think I do need to get a little more air to them for a more complete burn . That is probably about "clear as mud "
post #14 of 66
Thread Starter 
mgworks, I am using purchased wood chips. I have tried maple chips, apple chips, and pecan sticks from my yard, all with the same results. The "black chips" is the result after the chips have been in the smoker box for a while.

This is the new style MES, from what I read on the web they choked the incoming air flow down to resolve the backdraft issue when opening the door.

I've checked the temp with my meat thermo, temp seems to be fairly accurate.

Tried one more thing today, started chips burning with a torch before loading, same result.

Rambler, my handle is Wetumpka, AL small town outside Montgomery, AL where I live.
post #15 of 66
Wetumpka I am from Ks. but thought the similarity was close. Not many towns by a name like that.
post #16 of 66
Thread Starter 
Rambler, I'm sure it's somehow related to the indians that were settled in each area. The city in AL is named for the indian words for water and rambling, the city is on a small river with a little whitewater.

I attached some pictures from my trials tonight. This is two loads of wood, the 1st some small pecan sticks cutup from my yard and some purchased maple chips. The pecan sticks were in for over 2.5 hrs at 250 deg and the maple chips over 1.5 hrs.

Notice, not a hint of ash, the maple chips aren't even 100% black. I also too a picture of the wood tray installed. It's in the only way I can see to install it, but someone might see something I'm missing. The heat shield is under the element.
post #17 of 66
i have read through this post several times, not experiencing any of the problems mentioned, so i paid close attention today when using my 2 year old 30 inch model, i initially add a small handfull of chips into the tray before closing the door, if i remember, directions said to empty chip loader, then turn arrow back toward top (up). i have been using dry chunks, loader wont turn back to (up) because of the size of the chunks for about an hour, looks like this leaves more air to enter across the wood with the chip loader in the dump position, i leave the damper wide open, always have a clean burn ash. if it appears to burn too quickly, i stuff a foil ball behind the handle in the chute leaving only one hole exposed. adding chips to warm? for later use? not sure why this would be done, but i would think this would cut down on the air flow even more. i usually cook at 220 degrees, dont overload, and nothing with a lot of grease dripping, always use the water pan mainly for safety raesons, and have no problems.
post #18 of 66
There seems to something wrong with those pics. I just went out and looked and took some pics for you.

You can see the element right below the chip pan.

With the the tray out you can see that when it is pushed in it is right above the element. Direct heat. Let me know what you find out, I can't see any other way to use it or install it.
post #19 of 66
There seems to something wrong with those pics. I just went out and looked and took some pics for you.

You can see the element right below the chip pan and above the loader.

With the the tray out you can see that when it is pushed in it is right above the element.
post #20 of 66
mine smokes like crazy... sometimes i need to put less chips just to try to get the thin blue...
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