30' MES and black, charred chips

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by smitty20, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. smitty20

    smitty20 Newbie

    In a few threads people were discussing the fact that their chips were not burning to ash, but rather just charring to black.  This is OK at high temps, but at lower temps (220-240), smoke is very difficult to generate.

    Through some research, it appears that there is now a small (maybe 1/4 inch) gap between the wood chip tray and the heating element, where as on the older models, the tray was closer to the heating element, if not directly on it.

    So, I posed the question to customer service.  Here was the response.  I will try it next week, but I have my doubts this will remedy the problem:

    Our recommendation is to set your temp to 275* which is the highest temp. After you reach 225*, place 1 cup of wood chips (you can place them dry or soaked for about 10-15 min) and let your smoker create a good smoke (usually 15-20 min). Before placing your food, drop the temp to your normal cooking temp (normally 200*-225*). This way it will continue to smoke at the lower temp. The wood chips will not burn to ash but instead be dry and maybe dark around the ends. You may need to empty the woodchip holder after a second cup due to this.
  2. bobbygee

    bobbygee Smoke Blower

    I doubt it aswell.I returned my 30" for this reason.Works great if temp is 250 and up.Not only is ther ea 1/4 gap but there is an additional piece of metal between the wood chip holder and the heating element..(bad design??) I'm waiting for the 40" version to arrive from Sams.Fingers crossed.I heard alot of good things regarding the 40,thanx to all the great poster here on the forum. :)
  3. tulsajeff

    tulsajeff Master of the Pit Staff Member Administrator OTBS Member

    I know quite a few folks have had some trouble getting enough smoke in the MES.. this is due to the fact that the heating element just goes off once the required temperature is reached. I think the A-Maze-N-Smoker or other smoke generator would be a great way to remedy this.

    In my opinion, there should be a very small heating element that never goes off in the MES right under or even connected to the chip tray and then the larger one can cycle on and off as it pleases to control the temp in the smoker.

    Let us know how the company remedy works..
  4. jsdspif

    jsdspif Meat Mopper

    we had this on the old forum . Mine does the same thing and I had said I think it's lack of air . I was going to drill some holes in the bottom of my chip loader tube thinking that would allow more air flow to the chips . I went to do it and the battery was dead on my drill and I never got around to doing it . The reason I say air flow is my unit will not have smoke coming out and I take out the loader tube and see the pile of chips there not doing anything , and then in a minute or 2 (with the loader tube still removed ) the chips start to smolder and then you see small areas start to glow , they start making smoke and if you let that go on much longer the pile of chips will start on fire and by now smoke is rolling out of the hole where the loader tube is supposed to be , but when you put the loader tube back in a minute or 2 later the smoke will stop and if I pull the loader tube out there are the chips not doing anything again . I think with a little more air flow they will continue to smolder once they get started . I guess I'll go ahead and drill a few holes (maybe just 2  holes 3/8 diameter for now ) and see if that helps . I may also have to open the holes already in the end of the chip loader tube also . At least that's how mine works . I was studying on it a couple nights ago and was going to drill a couple holes then but I didn't want to mess with it while the loader was hot.
  5. smitty20

    smitty20 Newbie

    Be sure to let us know how that works!
  6. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I can't speak for the new MES models with higher wattage, my MES is a 2 year old Sams 40", more like 2.5 years since it was probably mfg a few months before I bought it.

    1st there has always been complaints in the 30" models about the heat element not staying on long enough to keep the chips smoldering.  I have rarely heard that complaint about the 40".  It must be noted, the older models have the larger chips tray, in addition that tray was mounted very very close to the heat element, in fact my tray touches the element in at least one spot.
    (EDIT....  Below is an error on my part)

    The piece of additional metal mentioned DOES NOT go between the chip tray and the heat element. That piece of metal goes UNDER the element between the bars and element.  (The lined out section only applies to older models.)  Notice a gap between the bottom of tray and the metal, the gap is for the element. If you forced the metal between element and tray rails then you will absolutely have a problem with chips smoldering/smoking.  (Thanks to Bearcarver for the correction) (The new models have the extra piece of metal between the element and wood chips tray).

    Below are pics of the new 40" mes and my old model 40" showing my tray with very rusty piece of metal, you can see several things about the older MES.  1st the chip tray is full size not reduce to half size, 2nd the two rails the tray slides on is a little higher or further away from the heat element on new units.  My tray is warped from the heat, meaning it gets plenty of heat, and the chips were turn to ash, I never have blackened pieces.

    Its really simple, you need 3 things for fire, heat, fuel, air.  The design of the MES with its 3 inlet air holes in the end of wood tray tube, appears to provide plenty of air as long as the vent is wide open.  Obviously the fuel is wood chips. As pointed out by Masterbuilt cust. service, put a small amount of chips to start.  For older MES PREHEATing solved recovery time and possibly chip smoldering, GET that metal hot, even with the higher wattage units the especially a 30" if the element cyles off either the chips have to be hot enough to keep smoldering or the metal has to be hot enough to assist, so PREHEAT, at least 30 min.  Start the MES at 270º for preheat and leave the temp there until you load the meat, after meat is loaded and the first chips added then reduce the temp to your desired cook temp.  The number of chips you should start with is 6-10, even if I soak my chips I will have smoke in about 2-3 minutes.  10 minutes later add another 6-10 chips, 10 minutes later a little more but not more than 15.  Now you should have a good bed of hot chips and coals and ash plus the metal is real hot.  At one hour I stay with about 12-15.  If you are using chips and chunks add the chunks on the 2nd or 3rd 10 min cycle, but still use chips during those first three cycles.  If the smoke has stopped and you know you have good fresh chips, then empty the chip tray and start the process over.

    These are ronp pics  (I reduced the 1st one)





    Last edited: Jun 13, 2010
  7. smitty20

    smitty20 Newbie

    So, I believe I have found a fix, but it certainly is not ideal.  If you look at the below picture, instead of loading chips in the designed chip tray, I tried putting some chips on the metal to the LEFT of the tray.  This piece is actually under the heating element when the tray is slid all the way in.

    The chips were actually burning up to quickly, so I tried some soaked chips and thus far it's working brilliantly.  Chips burning to ash completely.

    Ideal? No.

    Workable? Yes?

    Safe? I hope so!
  8. werdwolf

    werdwolf Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Deltadude did a great job above. On the older models at least, if it is a hot day I leave the chip tube "cracked" by not pushing it in quite all the way.  If it's like a 90 degree day, I just hook the door and don't seal it so the heating element keeps working to generate smoke.
  9. fourthwind

    fourthwind Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I change the size of my chips, chunks, or dust depending on what temp I am smoking in my 30 inch MES.    Lower the temp.  smaller the wood.  I always soak the wood as well.  Another tip is to add a few pieces of lit coal to the box when using chunks or large chips.  Not only helps with flavor, but add's heat to the wood box.
  10. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member


     Look again at the pics, and my notation above them. The piece of metal does go between the chip drawer & the element on the new MES30. The one you're talking about comes out with the chip drawer, and when you put the drawer back in, it is supposed to go under the element. That's just like the older model that I have, and probably the same as your MES40. The metal I'm talking about that causes the problem is the bottom of the opening that the drawer slides into. That is the piece of metal that isn't in the older models. The newer model that my son had (until he took it back) did not smoke unless you went up to over 230˚. I even took the drawer out, and set a few chips on that piece of metal that was in between the element & the chip drawer. It still didn't want to smoke. 

    As far as running the temp way up to get everything hot, that might help if you're planning to smoke/cook something over 220˚, but if you want to smoke  below 200˚ it would not work with that model. Even mine works better if I go up gradually, because if I would go up to say 200˚---Then come down to 150˚, the fact that my element would be off all of that time while going down to 150˚ would cause all of the chip smoking to stop. The only thing that keeps the wood smoking is the element being on. Going way up and coming back down defeats the purpose. However, like I say, that might work to take it up to 275˚, and then down to 240˚, because everything stays high. But some of the ones they made of that new model will not work at all, like the one my son had-----The only thing to do with that, without modifying it to the point that nobody would take it back, is don't touch it----TAKE it back. In my son's case, he took it back to Cabela's & got an MES40.

    I had called Masterbuilt first---Twice----And got either two different young girls, or one girl with two names. They/she were/was nothing short of comical with their lack of knowledge of how their unit functions, and they/she said someone would call back, but never did. I love my MES, but I have no use for the way I was treated by Masterbuilt in regards to my son's smoker. I had bought it for him, because I love my MES30, and I praise MES, and still recommend their MES40. Then when there is something wrong with the one I buy for my kid, and all I get is foolish answers from one or two little girls on the phone, it ticks me off! At least Cabela's is an upfront outfit.

  11. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Bearcarver, after reading your reply and looking closely at the pics ronp has, your right and I clearly missed the extra piece of medal.  As I said initially I really can't speak for the new models performance since I don't own one.  It's a shame that Masterbuilt has failed you in their customer service, most of the folks on SMF have had pretty decent service and response from Masterbuilt with the MES.

    Note: I lined out the incorrect statement and noted the edit in my original post....  thanks again for helping me see the light.. :)
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2010
  12. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thank You for your reply deltadude,

    Like I said, I still love my MES30. I keep wishing it would grow into an MES40. I think the problem with their customer service is the little girls in the office are given a print-out of answers to questions, such as:

    #1 Don't use an extension cord

    #2 Soak your wood chips

    #3 Don't open your vent all the way

    Whether these answers have anything to do with your problem doesn't matter. They are the ones they know. They have never used one of their products. I asked the one girl if she ever saw an MES30. She said, "Yes, there's one in our showroom".

    Later DD,

  13. jsdspif

    jsdspif Meat Mopper

    I drilled 4 holes in my loader tube about 1/2 inch and drilled out one of the existing holes in the end of the loader to 1/2 inch . It seemed to help slightly . One problem was my MES is in the garage and there was pretty much no breeze whatsoever . Normally there is some air circulating thru the garage but that day none . I was running at 230 and when the element would go off I checked the chips a few times and they were doing a little smoldering but within maybe 15 seconds of having the chip loader removed they would start smoldering pretty good . I was thinking if there was just the slightest breeze I think they would have burnt just right . I did have some ash in the pan where as normally at 230 I'd just have black chips . I'm going to keep an eye on it  next time and hope for a little breeze and then decide what I want to do . My next option I'd probably open up the other 2 holes in the end of the loader tube . If you do yours , use a sharp drill bit and don't apply much pressure while drilling , otherwise you get a heck of a burr to file off . My MES is the older  30" unit (about 3 yrs.?) with the larger chip pan . I'm also going to try the preheat at 270 for about 30 minutes next time and only 7 or 8 chips at a time .
  14. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You might try an exhaust fan.  You can test this with a couple of parts.  Get a exhaust extension maybe 4-8", and a working computer fan, and maybe a dimmer type switch to control fan speed, also a ac/dc adapter.  Use tape to secure the exhaust and fan at the top of the extension.  This will create a draft pulling more air, you maybe 5 to 10 cfm.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2010
  15. scubadoo97

    scubadoo97 Smoking Fanatic

    [​IMG]I added an exhaust fan that I use when making jerky or when I first add chips and I'm getting a lot of white smoke.  Just a CPU computer fan stuck onto a vent tube.  Used a DC adapter to power it when needed.
  16. ryanhoelzer

    ryanhoelzer Smoking Fanatic

    I've had some intermittent issues with this but not enough to mess with it.  I decided I'd play around with it some.  Has anyone taken this in between piece out?


    That eliminates the 2nd layer of metal between the chips and the burner and gets the chip tray right down on top of the element.  Also lets a little air in because the tray is sitting kind of loose in there.

    I was also thinking about drilling some holes in the bottom of the chip tray.
  17. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    On the one I bought for my son, I even took the drawer out, and put the chips right on that shelf you just took out. It still wouldn't burn the chips under 250˚. He took it back & his new MES 40 works great.


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