Help! I'm in Limbo.

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by suya, Jan 19, 2013.

  1. suya

    suya Fire Starter

    I bought my first smoker right before the new year and I am all in! Love the food that comes out of the smoker and going forward, I think I will always have a smoker.

    Here is my problem. Based on many of the comments on this forum and a great price, I bought the 2012 MES 40' from Sams Club. After which, I discovered some problems. Quickly, the drip receptacle would not slide under the unit (funnel tip too low), probe temp would register 300 (sometimes) and stay there no matter what, control panel would start doing a strange random beeping that leads me to believe some thing is wrong with it, temperature reading vs. actual are way off and not by a consistent number, oh, it was imposible to put dry wood chips into mine without them catching fire.

    So, with that I called MB, and they recommended I exchange it. Went to Sam's yesterday to do just that, but was informed that they had 10 on hand but they are "in the back" with a big sign on them saying "Do Not Sell, Recall". Sam's gave me my money back and now I am without a smoker.

    Question is, what should I do? Is this the best unit I can get at that size for about $300? Should I wait till MB sorts out their issues? Is there an alternative 40' electric smoker I should be considering? Clearly this isn't an emergency, but the MES was my first smoker and I like the idea of it, just not so sure anymore if it was the best purchase. I think I would be willing to spend a bit more if it equates to quality.
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I just checked the site and the Bradley 4-rack doesn't compare on price or capacity (list is $549.00). Potential pitfalls for the Bradley are: needing to buy the proprietary smoke wood pucks; the limited heating element output of 500 watts (may struggle getting up to temp in cooler weather). That said, I don't feel it would be a good choice in your situation as a replacement to the MES 40".

    Have you considered going to propane? They do require a bit more attention to get the temp reasonably stable, but are far less expensive than electric smokers. The GOSM is the first that comes to mind regarding low-cost. They make a wide-body which will handle trimmed full slabs of pork ribs and medium sized whole (packer) briskets.

    Being the MES needs smoke wood added to it, it's really not a set it and forget smoker, so you need to tend it occasionally, and temp checks with the propane smokers should fall in right about the same time-frame as tending the MES smoke wood.

    Just some thoughts...

  3. yardbird

    yardbird Meat Mopper

    I have a propane so I'll jump in.

    I REALLY like the idea of set-and-forget, but I'm learning that nothing is that easy in the lower price ranges. The electrics are really attractive to me for their apparent convenience factor, but having to tend them regularly to add chips and/or water..... not so attractive.

    Tending the propane smoker:

    I have a Smoke Hollow. I will be the first to admit I'm still learning, but here's where I am after about a year of using it...

    When I first fire it up I can approximate where to set the burner control just because I've run it enough times I have a fair idea of where it's going to end up. I have not yet been "right on" but I regularly come pretty close. I've also learned how much to adjust the knob based on how high or low I am (usually high) so I don't have wild oscillations in temp as I try to track it down. So now I start it, go in the house and get stuff ready to take out, after about 15 or 20 minutes I go out and make a temp adjustment, then I can take stuff out and load the smoker. Stuff goes in, I let it alone for 15 minutes or so because I just stuck a mass of cold stuff in there, then I make an adjustment if needed and go in the house.

    Now on a long smoke like pork shoulders I'll go back out once or twice as the day goes on to tweak the temp if needed. Smoker in the sun at the start and then it's in the shade in the evening, wind comes up or dies, outside air temp changes a lot... stuff like that. I can honestly say I don't add chips during a cook. Even a long one (pork shoulder runs 12 to 18 hours). And my crtitics have NEVER complained of a lack of smoke flavor.

    So once you USE a propane for a bit, you really don't have to baby sit it all that much.

    The other thing that keeps me from getting an electric is the fact that they really don't do higher temps at all. I will regularly run whole chickens, turkeys, leg quarters, etc at 350 to 375. Meatloaf is another one that really doesn't care about "low and slow", and I can bake a mac-n-cheese at 350 on a rack above the poultry so it doesn't get dripped on.

    Don't get me wrong. There are a LOT of electric smokers in use out there with great success. And if all I was doing was pulled pork, briskets, and ribs, then I'd probably have one. (That's NOT a slam against electrics as I know you guys are cooking lots more than that). You buy a smoker based on how you envision yourself using it.

    For ME... my next step will be a pellet pooper. But I know that will be an investment.

    I know this got real wordy, but in essence, go with what will WORK for you. In the lower price range (200-300 - ish) you're going to tend it some, regardless of whether it's electric (chips) or propane (temp). You just won't get real set-and-forget setup although with practice you can probably get close.
  4. kathrynn

    kathrynn Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  5. Maybe an older model MES 30 electric smoker. It has a proven track record. Excellent price. Once you understand the quirks of using the unit, it's great. I love mine, wouldn't trade.

    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  6. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    The first word that truly caught my attention was "recall". I do not recall seeing it used in a post before (although it may have been and I missed it) so maybe MB is going to get some of these 

    problems remedied. I truly hope so as it is a very popular smoker. Have you communicated this recall info to MB to validate the recall and get additional advice?  Maybe a timeframe when a fixed version will be available? You might want to look at the smoker KathrynN mentioned or an older MES 30 as Linguica  suggested. 
  7. suya

    suya Fire Starter

    Thank you all for your suggestions and advise. I actually liked the MES 40. I liked the size of it, and as it is currently 14 degrees in Milwaukee, the 1200 watt heating element appeals to me. I really had just taken it back to Sam's with the intention of exchanging it till that option was taken from me. Yes Sarge, they used the word recall and said there was 10 of them in stock with a big sign that said Do Not Sell, but they couldn't tell me why. I have seen some rumblings on this site about a retro fit for the wood chip tray or holder but not sure what or why.

    I also really think I want to stick with electric. So far, I have never just set it and forgot it, but the automatic temperature regulation (if it works) also appeals to me as a novice. 

    I think while I make up my mind, I will call MB to find out what they have to say, then I might make a couple of trips to Cabelas and Gander Mountain just to look around. Who knows what I might find. Personally I am just a bit concerned about quality control at MB, but there are so many happy people on this site with them that I might just give them another chance.
  8. suya

    suya Fire Starter

    So, as I'm thinking about this, I have come across the Smokin-It Model 3 electric smoker. There is not as much talk about those on this forum, but it might fit my needs. It seems to hold just as much food if not more, the constructions seems to be of better quality, it also seems to hold more wood. It doesn't have a window but that might be an advantage for insulation (Wisconsin, remember) and the electronics are much more basic (also, might be an advantage). 

    Anyone have any experience with this? Either way, I think I'm going to wait another few weeks till the season gets in gear, then I'm buying another smoker! Its almost like my iPad. Didn't know I needed it till I got one :)
  9. kathrynn

    kathrynn Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Suya....I have just been looking at new smokers. I have ordered another smoker....yes a smoke vault gasser. None of the others went or used 1800 Btu. The SV has steel construction and holds tons of food. I like the 24" one. Rack/tray size is 21x14 and there are 4 places for them. Amazon has a great $ on them now with free shipping. Just a thought.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  10. I'm a newbie and just reading thru posts, but when Googling what you had (out of curiosity). Old Generation & New Generation (maybe you already know this?).  Even tho they are out of stock now, to me it meant that the older model is still available 'somewhere'....ya think?  Maybe that's not what it means at all.  Like I said, I'm new at all
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 3, 2013
  11. I just posted a link from Amazon showing a New Generation and Old Generation MES 40 but since I'm new, my post is being held.  So when/if it does show up, it may be a day late and dollar  But what I was saying was there seems to be two models of the same MES (both temp unavailable) so maybe it's the newer one that's having the problems?
  12. suya

    suya Fire Starter


    I had the new generation. I liked the 1200 watt heating element because it gets cold out here. I am honestly not sure what the recall was for, but I had multiple problems with mine. I really did like the food that came out of it, but it didn't feel like it was going to last years :-( I bought it at the end of Dec. 2012 and returned it less than a month later. 
  13. The Concord, CA (SF Bay Area) Sam's club had the "old" MES 40 in stock a days ago for $299
  14. suya

    suya Fire Starter

    Thanks Mr. Spike, but I'm starting to really get excited about the Smokin-It Model #3 smoker. It doesn't seem to have the bells and whistles of the MES or the window, but it seems to have the size, a 1200 watt heating elements and the build quality seems to be better than the MES 40 (18 gauge stainless steel construction). Probably going to cost an extra $100 or so, but I hopping to be able to use it for years without the hassle, worry and modifications required to make the MES work right. 

    Will let you all know when and if I pull the trigger.
  15. smoke happens

    smoke happens Smoking Fanatic

    I love my #3, in fact cancelled my MES back order to get it. Here is the thread where I set it up
  16. suya

    suya Fire Starter

    Thanks Mr. Happens,

    You might have been the first to call my attention to the SI#3 smoker. I do have a question for you. When I get mine, it will live outside on my patio. It will by under an overhang, but, outside non the less. I plan on getting a cover for it so it will be protected from rain and snow. Do you think that will be ok, or should I be parking this thing in my shed or garage when not in use? 
  17. smoke happens

    smoke happens Smoking Fanatic

    I don't see a location in your profile, but I'm in WA outside of Seattle so it's pretty damp here 8 months out of the year. Although I believe this unit would do just fine living outside as it is all stainless steel and it would be covered, I will make room in the garage for mine. I leave my Weber Genesis outside, it has a cover on it, and it does fine but requires a pretty good cleaning in the spring. It's almost all stainless as well. I assume the smoker would be the same, it would do ok but you would need to make sure there is no funky stuff leftover to act as an incubator for stuff to grow on.
  18. jimmybh

    jimmybh Fire Starter

    Bought my first smoker about 6 weeks ago, a smokin-it-3. Agonized in making my decision sifting through reviews, ads and opinions. So pleased I decided on the smokin-it-3. Quality is strickly top shelf. The 3 stooges were definitely not in on the planning and construction of this unit. Plenty of room for full racks of ribs. The pulled pork does not last long. Smoked salmon is awesome.

  19. looks great.

    happy smoken.

  20. I really like the looks of the smokin 3... I don't have the extra 200.00 thou :( I only have 300 to spend. :( wish they had a store near me! :(

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