Help With A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker

Discussion in 'Slicers, Grinders, Tools, Equipment' started by daricksta, Jul 27, 2013.

  1. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I own the MES 30" electric water smoker and I've used the AMNPS quite a few times and really liked it. However, the last three times I've used it (for brisket and racks of pork spareribs) I've had a huge problem with keeping it smoking. It's been going out after about 15-20 minutes of smoking constantly during the cooking. I'm continually re-lighting it during a 4-hour smoke. What's especially maddening is that the AMNPS works fine AFTER I've finished cooking and have removed the meat. The thing won't stop smoking unless I close the top air vent.

    Todd has recommended that I not use the water bowl because it just steams things up inside and could be contributing to putting out the smoking pellets. I just don't know about that. I've tried using the MES with the AMNPS and without the water bowl but I had the same thing happen one time. I prefer to use the water bowl because then I don't have to worry about opening the door to baste or mop the meat. Opening the door loses about 30 degrees of heat and it can take about 20 minutes to get back up to the target cooking temp.

    Has anyone else had problems keeping the AMNPS going? If so, what did you do to resolve the issue? Thanks.
     
  2. webowabo

    webowabo Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Sometimes the pellets will have to much moisture .. nuke in the microwave for a couple minutes will help. I figured it out the hard way storing my pellets open bag way.. I now have in a air tight container. Is the meat drippings hitting the amnps at all .. could contribute to it stuffing out.
     
  3. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Let me get you thinking. Could you possibly bought or are using a different bag of pellets?  I have read some places, not usually with AMPS, but some pellets don't always smoke the same. Just a thought. If it as working fine and now isn't, should be a difference somewhere. Pellets, position, starter, humidity, etc etc...
     
  4. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Which mes do you have? The one with the side vent or top vent. Keep the vent all the way open and just be sure you have the pellets going for a good 10 minutes before you put in the smoker. Keep it protected from drippings. If you are doing all that right then it could be what webowabo says about dry pellets.
     
  5. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    In answer to both questions, I have the Masterbuilt 20070910 30-Inch Electric Smokehouse Smoker with the top vent. I always have the vent fully open.I do allow the flame on the pellet smoker to burn for 10 minutes before I blow it out and insert the smoker into the MES. I typically will cover the AMNPS with foil but the pellets have been going out either covered or uncovered.

    All the wood pellets I use I got from Todd Johnson. I trust him to provide top quality pellets. When I first started using the AMNPS I didn't have this problem but now it's happening all the time. I keep the pellets in their plastic storage bags in my uninsulated garage but there shouldn't be a moisture problem keeping them there. I have noticed that when I have the bags outside on a warm sunny day water condensation builds up inside the bag. But on my last smoke, the sun was down and the air was dry so there was no moisture inside the bag. Todd brought up the humidity issue with using the water bowl in the MES and advised me not to use it but I did more research and it's recommended that the water bowl be used with the MES.

    But webowabo, what you said sometimes pellets having too much moisture is what also occurred to me. I keep the plastic bags closed inside my garage. I'm going to try the nuke trick the next time I use the pellets.

    Does anyone know what's happened to Todd ? I emailed him about this issue but haven't heard back from him. He's usually very prompt with his responses.
     
  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Rick, The water pan will create moisture inside the smoker....  Moisture displaces oxygen and everything else...  Moisture is used to put out fires...  Pellets don't like moisture....   Dry the pellets in the micro or oven or smoker before use....   Nothing stays dry in Seattle.....   My pellets gather moisture in Omak and need drying.....    

    By the way, when Todd makes a suggestion, I suggest you follow his advice...  He has a vested interest in you being happy... (Todd has recommended that I not use the water bowl because it just steams things up inside and could be contributing to putting out the smoking pellets. I just don't know about that.)

     (I have noticed that when I have the bags outside on a warm sunny day water condensation builds up inside the bag.)

    That should let you know the pellets have moisture in them.....

     (What's especially maddening is that the AMNPS works fine AFTER I've finished cooking and have removed the meat. The thing won't stop smoking unless I close the top air vent.)

    That should also be informative as to what's happening inside the smoker... I'm suspecting moisture is the culprit....

     (I typically will cover the AMNPS with foil but the pellets have been going out either covered or uncovered.)

    If the pellets are covered without adequate space for air supply, or they are sitting in their own smoke, there won't be enough oxygen for them to burn.... 

    Do you have the "chip dump tube" pulled out an inch or so to allow for more air flow inside the smoker for the pellets to burn ??  

    Is the chip tray pulled out an inch or so to allow for more air ??
     
  7. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Dave,

    I do think you nailed it with your answer with moisture as the culprit. I have failed to pull out the chip dump tube because I didn't think it mattered but I will certainly pull it out an inch or two. But I'm not sure what to do about making sure the meat doesn't dry out during the smoking process. As I stated, each time I open the door I lose about 30 degrees of heat and it takes about 20 minutes to get back up to the target cooking temp. I was told people use sand in the water bowl as a heat sink or other methods but I don't think Todd was in favor of this.

    Ironically, the past two weeks were among the hottest and driest of the past few years so a moist climate was not a factor in the smoking problem. When I do cover the AMNPS with foil I do tent it but I could make it a bit higher to allow for adequate airflow.

    What would you suggest I do to solve this moisture problem in a way that would not involve opening the door every 30 minutes to baste or mop the meat?
     
  8. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Seriouslly the AMPS has a bigger learning curve than the MES30. Really. The smoker you plug in and click on.

    Let me 'splain what made all the difference with mine. I bought a good mini torch. I now see how fast I can light the AMPS. Whereas I used to check it and relight it 3 time to ensure the burn. I am not saying its your problem, but it was mine.

    I got a Ronson Mini 5 piece auto-start butane torch. Can't exactly link it, would be advertizment (so look it up). After I got it, even when its was raining, the pellets were moist although I do allow the AMPS to sit in the smoker while it warms up ready to light. But that burner with a jedi knights pin point flame that looks like a lazer sabre lights those pellets, I blow the fire out.... Poof, EUREKA! I can send smoke signals!

    Of course now that I have shared all this, the next time the "mojo gris-gris"  will be on me and I'll never get it lite. LOL. ITs just like smoking, you just have to get aclaimated to it. When ya do, you'll still not know why you had problems, you'll just not have anymore. You cured and practiced to learn your smoker, have you tryed practicing to start your AMPS besides when cooking?

    BTW when I asked about the chips, people were saying you needed to mix the cherry with others because they were a problem lighting. Just the cherry.

    Listen if an ol' slow redneck coonass county boy can figure it out, it can't be too hard for you.
     
  9. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I don't have the experience of most of the advice you have but I did have problems for the first few times with my AMNPS and I have developed a routine that has worked every time since I started using it.

    I microwave one cup of chips for a minute.

    I dump it into another container and microwave one more minute. You will be amazed how much moisture is in the containers.

    I do this with one cup for each channel I want to fill.

    I then light the AMNPS with a propane torch for 40 seconds.

    I then let the flame burn for 10 minutes.

    If the flame gets small during the 10 minutes, I blow lightly on it until there is a strong flame.

    After the flame has burnt for 10 minutes, I blow lightly on the lit end till it glows brightly.

    I leave the AMNPS in the open air for another 10 minutes to allow it to get going very well before putting it in my smoker

    I do not use water in my smoker (I use a Bradley) and have not had a problem with meat drying.

    All I can say is no problems since I do these things. I hope this helps.

    Disco
     
  10. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ricksta,

    The model you have should not have a problem. Mine is an MES 40, but same guts as yours.

    I never nuke my pellets from Todd.

    I never remove the chip dumper or pull the drawer out at all.

    I keep my pellets in empty juice jugs to keep them dry.

    The big thing is lighting it properly. You can't just light it & let it burn 10 minutes.

    You have to blow on it when the flame goes out, until it flames again.

    Blow down & in toward the unburned pellets to get a big area of red pellet coals in the bottom.

    When the flame goes out, do it again, and again. I sometimes do that 5 or 6 times to get it burning right.

    If that sounds like a PITA, when you can put it on those little bars to the left of the chip burner, and get 11 straight hours of perfect smoke without touching it, I would say it's worth it!!!

    Also I never put water in the pan, and my top vent is always wide open.

    Bear
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2013
  11. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    And I forgot to say, I always tent with aluminum foil. I was amazed at how far the drippings splashed.

    Disco
     
  12. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Absolutely, like Disco said, and like Dave said, keep your foil protector high enough to keep from smothering your AMNPS.

    Bear
     
  13. daRicksta,

    Best thing you can do is to put all of your pellets into cake pans and put them in the oven on its lowest setting for a couple hours. Turn off the oven and leave them in it until cool.

    Once cooled put them into an AIRTIGHT container.

    Two liter bottles work great but they are a pain to get pellets into and out of.

    The best I have used is an empty pretzel barrel with a screw on lid. The opening is huge so it's easy in and out.

    Follow Todd's lighting instructions to the letter

    Chip loader and chip tray both pulled out 1 to 2 inches.

    Tent over top to stop drips

    Top vent wide open at all times!

    No water in pan.

    Preheat your MES which will start the draft drawing in fresh air through the opened loader and tray.

    THEN put your meat and AMNPS into the smoker.

    If you still have problems with properly dried pellets that are lit correctly then you still have an airflow issue which can be corrected.

    You will need to add an extended chimney to the vent.

    A soup can, an elbow, aluminum flashing rolled into a tube, just something to increase the draft rising out the top.

    Adding the chimney made a night and day difference in my MES30.
     
  14. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I bet ya never knew that Todd had so many in customer service........ tells ya he's a pretty well respected guy.
     
  15. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Guys, thank you all. I'm copy/pasting your comments onto a Word doc that I can refer to because these are great suggestions. Guess I gotta build up my lungs, 86 the water pan, pull out the wood chip tray a couple of inches, and I'll be good to go. I'll experiment with nuked/non-nuked/oven heated pellets and track the results and differences, if any. I always place the AMNPS on the two bars to the left of the heating element/chip burner cover.Top vent is always wide open and I always preheat the MES 30, inserting the AMNPS only when it's at the target temp.

    As for the extended chimney, I need to think about that since I'm not really a mod kind of guy. The last mod I did was drilling screws into the leg holders of my Weber charcoal kettle grill to prevent the legs from falling off. I can always find a soup can but I'm not clear on how to attach it to the top of the MES.

    Bearcarver, when I smoked two racks of spareribs a week or so ago I wished I had had the 40-inch MES since the ribs were right up against the smoker walls at the outset. But, the 30-inch on sale was in my price range and usually the 30-inch is fine for my purposes. Even if a brisket starts out too wide by the time it's thru cooking it's shrunk down far enough to no longer be touching the walls.

    Yep, Foamheart, I thought I might get ONE response to my question. This outpouring of help blows my mind. This shows how respected Todd is around here--he hasn't had to outsource his customer service department because no one's on his payroll. I'm still concerned that I never heard back from him; I hope it's because he's really busy building smokers and filling orders. I really do like the AMNPS and with the advice from everybody here, I'm sure I'll no longer have the pellet flameout problem. Thank you all.
     
  16. webowabo

    webowabo Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    well put DaRicksta... gotta love SMF... I haven't found one person yet that has disliked THE forum.. :)

    Mike
     
  17. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    As for the extended chimney, I need to think about that since I'm not really a mod kind of guy.

    I extended the chimney by cutting out both ends of a large fruit can and setting it on top of the smoker....

    I think you can handle that.....  I did.....   Dave
     
  18. Yeah, what Dave said.

    The chimney just sits there...... No drilling required.
     
  19. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey, I love a mod where I don't have to hardly to anything. I can handle this except for, what kind of soup or fruit?

    And yes, I greatly enjoy being a member of these forums. [​IMG]
     
  20. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    This is the only can that will work.......     [​IMG].......

    ........[​IMG]............
     

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