First thing I would do is to make sure the blade can be removed to clean behind it. I had to put penetrating oil on the screws for mine for 3 days and use a hand held impact driver to remove them. Then give it a thorough cleaning.
I make up a big batch of Amazing Rib's "Memphis Dust Rib Rub". Then I make a light salt brine with 1 can of frozen apple juice concentrate, sprinkle the butt well with the dust and put it in the brine for 24 hours. Take butt out for brine, pat dry, add a generous coating of dust and then smoke...
I would leave the spider and screen any openings to keep wasps and hornets out.
You could use both hardware cloth for rodent/critter control and screen for insect/fly control. Remember that screen does cut down airflow, so you may need to change opening dimensions.
My #3 needed some additional seasoning before the temps stabilized. And it also needs some mass inside to make temps even out.
I just got a #1 for camping and the first 2 times running empty while seasoning, it got around 300 also. But when I smoked a turkey breast, it hit the 225 deg and...
My recipe is much like Flamz911 with an addition of 2 TBS A-1 sauce, 1tsp fish sauce and only 1 tsp of Cure #1.
I also don't use a jerky gun. I mix meat and marinade well, let it sit for an hour. Then I roll it out on silicone baking mats to about 1/4 to 3/8 in thick into a 10x14 in rectangle...
I mainly do jerky in my Smokin-It #3 which only has a 1 inch top vent, and I have to turn the heat up to 170 when the ambient temp is below 75.
When I use my MES to do jerky, I do close the vent some and I have to turn heat up to 200.
Most power strips are rated at 12-15 amps. Your element is going to draw 12-13 amps by itself.
I think you are very close to overloading your circuits. I would look at getting a 20 amp circuit dedicated to the smoker. And if you use any extensions cords, make them at least 12 gauge and as...
"AXIAL 8038, Muffin 120V AC Cooling Fan, 80mm x 80mm x 38mm, Low Speed. $17.99 ... Low
Operating Temperature: 14 to 230°F
Fan Bearings: Dual Ball
Fan Model: LS8038A
Speed: 2000 RPM"
I just set the fan over the top vent, but put a paper towel between fan and vent to help move moisture...
Setting temperature with an analog thermostat is kind of like a broken clock. The clock will be right twice a day, the temps will be right twice every time the thermostat cycles.
As others have said, the only solution to tighter temperature control is a PID controller.
I use Jenny-O turkey breasts all the time and still brine them. Using brine helps improve the flavor according to my taste testers. I do a wet brine when I want to do an overnight brine. And dry brine when I have time to let it set for 2-3 days.
For food safety I also use Prague powder #1 in...
I smoke for 2.5-3 hours with my mailbox mod. I run the propane torch around the inside of the MES for a couple of minutes to get it warmed up. Seems to help draw the smoke through better. My preferred pellets are 100% apple wood.
When I started making Lonzino, the recipe called for using brandy to rinse the bung when trussing. And using brandy as a spray to keep moisture levels from dropping to quickly. I picked a good brandy because I never cook with anything I won't drink. I really can't taste the brandy on the...
I smoke for for 3 hours with apple wood and let it dry overnight in fridge. Then I like to make a saturated salt bath with a good brandy and rinse the cheese with it . Then I put in vacuum bags and seal.
Soy Vay "Very Very Teriyaki" low sodium marinade sauce makes a good base for a jerky marinade.
I mix one bottle of that with 1/2 cup soy sauce, a Tbs of Sriracha, 1/2 can of frozen orange juice, 1/2 tsp coriander and 1 tsp fish sauce for my 5# batches.
Second what Band collector said. I used Hi Mountain before when I started making jerky. It is worth trying it as directions call for. It does pull moisture from your meat, so it kind of makes it's own liquid so you should put it in a pan or in a ziplock baggie.
There are lots of liquid based...