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How often to you have to load a MBS with wood?

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by bilder, Aug 30, 2010.

  1. bilder

    bilder Fire Starter

    I am comparing the Bradley and Masterbuilt smokers and am torn.

    My biggest concern is overnight smoking.  The Bradley seems pretty easy to set up and let it go for awhile by itself.  This looks like it would be great for overnight smokes.  My question is how often does one need to load the MBS  to keep it smoking?  Can it smoke for several hours or do you need to load it up every hour or less in order to keep it going?

    I will be setting the smoker up in my garage (not connected to the house) and the thought of getting up every hour or so when the temps are minus 20 to check on it is not very appealing at all.

    Any tips or hints that will make the MBS into a lean mean overnight smoking machine?
  2. marty catka

    marty catka Meat Mopper

    A few comparisons, if I may.  I own a 30" MES (Masterbuilt) and looked at the Bradley when buying my MES.  With the MES, you can use generic chips or small chunks for the smoke.  Yes, they only last for about 35 to 40 minutes, but the chips are relatively cheap.  With the Bradley, you have to use their pucks with a box of 20 pucks running about $20 for 48 pucks.  Each puck is designed to last 20 minutes, then it gets kicked into the water pan. 

    An option for long smokes in the MES is to add an A-MAZE-N Smoker.  This is a sawdust burner that will burn for 10 to 12 hours.  You can put this in the bottom of your MES, light it off, set your thermostat and let it go.  If you want more smoke, light both ends and refill after 5-6 hours.  There are threads in this forum regarding this little device. 
  3. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I agree with Marty - I have the SmokinTex 1400 and can use chunks in it but have mostly switched over to using my AMS which produces a great 10-12 hour thin blue smoke. I just regulate the tems with the thermostat and dont fill the chunk box

    Good luck with your choice  
  4. bilder

    bilder Fire Starter

    Thanks for the info.  I will look into that burner for sure.
  5. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

  6. dale5351

    dale5351 Smoking Fanatic

    I have an older MES and tend to get at least 3 hours on a load of chips.  I can put three loads of the chip filler in, with each load having about two handfuls.

    BUT -- the newer models have been dumbed down and their chip box is (a) less than half the size of mine and (b) separated from the heater element by an extra sheet of metal.   I'm not surprised any more at those who say they get only 30 minutes.

    I had looked at the Bradley, but (a) it was more expensive and (b) you had to buy the wood pucks at a fairly steep price.

    I now have an AMNS and use it for cold smokes (e.g. cheese) and would use it for warm smokes (e.g. 140F). 

    There are other alternatives to the AMNS -- at a higher price.  A friend got something called a Smoke Daddy and I'm sure a search of the forum would turn up references to it.
  7. bilder

    bilder Fire Starter

    In comparing the cost, I can get a Bradley original with a PID for about the same cost as a MBS40 with Amazin smoke generator.  I can buy pucks for the Bradley locally, so I am not too worried about those.  If I could score an MBS40 at Sams it would be cheaper, but they are out of stock and do not know when they will get more.

    My thing is being able to control temps and to have the ability to leave the smoker running overnight without too much babysitting.  How well does the MBS hold temps for sausage and the like?
  8. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    One caution about the Bradley, according to several owners it is under powered with only a 500 watt element, compared to a 1200 watt in the MES 40" or 800 watt in the MES 30".  In addition you are limiting yourself with the Bradley on wood choice, what if your supplier is out where do you go then?  With the MES and adding the AMNS smoke tray you can burn either the saw dust or wood chips (wood chips found anywhere), so your unlikely to ever have a wood issue.  Almost everyone who smokes will tell you there will be a day when you start a smoke thinking you have everything and discover part way into the smoke you are short on wood.  I used to buy chunks and chips from Lowes, Lowes no longer sells the chunks, and has been out of the chips. 
  9. bilder

    bilder Fire Starter

    You guys have just about sold me on the MBS40 and the AMNS.  Now to just find one locally. 

    Thinking I will build an UDS for use in the summer as well.  Not sure how one would hold heat during the winter up here.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2010
  10. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    When I bought my MES 40 from Sams, it was not to be found locally, so I used a promotion from Sam's paid the freight and bought it over the internet via Sams.  Even if you have to pay $40 more it is worth it for a 40" MES
  11. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hi bilder,

    I checked into Bradley first too, because I thought that puck feeder was a good idea. Then I looked into the price of the pucks. It's not the availability of the pucks that's the problem---It's the cost. The cheapest you can get them is the box of 120 for over $40. That's 3 for a buck. Each puck lasts 20 minutes, unless it jams the feeder (then it lasts longer). That comes to at least $1 per hour. That doesn't sound like a lot of money, but if you're paying $8 for a Pork Butt, do you really want to pay $8 for the smoke to do that one butt?

    With the MES & the "A-MAZE-N-SMOKER", you can load the AMNS with sawdust, light it, and stick it in. Then you can turn your MES on, set the temp and the time on your digital control unit, and put your meat in. After about a half hour, you can check that everything is going the way you want---heat right----AMNS smoking good. That's it !  You're good to go! If you have a therm with a transmitter & receiver, and alarm, you don't have to hang around the smoker.

    Nobody here will tell you what to do, but many of us do know the MES units.  I too would go with the MES 40

    Wish my MES 30 would grow up!!!
    Just my 2 cents,

  12. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I bought my Bradley Digital 6 Rack last August because of all the hype on them.  When I got it I was super excited as I bought their biggest and best Model the 6 rack digital.  I have used it twice.  The first time we took the pork butts out of it after about 10 hours because we couldn't get the cabinet temp up over 198º and finished them in the oven.

    The second smoke we decided to see how long it would take to complete in the smoker and after 23 hours we got the pork butts to 189º or there about.  I have never been able to get cabinet temp above 200º.

    I contacted Bradley and their great customer service said it must be the Temp sensor and they mailed me a new one that I could install myself.  So much for a Warranty.   Then I decided to start reading every post on their forum and began to notice that everyone was either adding a second element or a PID or some other fix so that the thing would get to proper temps.  Also having to by Bubba Pucks in order to use the last three pucks in the feeder.

    I also noticed that the majority of those liking them smoked Cheese, Fish, Sausage and things not needing long smokes or higher temps.

    I also noticed a lot of complaints about not getting up to temps leading to the threads on how to over come that problem by adding the items to the smoker listed above.

    here are some of the major differences I find.

    I bought a new Bradley Digital 6 rack last fall and have used it 2 times. It is worthless in my opinion. I plan on selling it on Craig's list and taking my loss.

    Bradley 6 Rack Digital
    • Dimensions: Inside 15”W x 11.5”D x 33”HT  Must Cut a Slab of Ribs in Half to Fit on Rack
    • Dimensions: Outside: 17”W x 14”D x 39”HT - 24"W with Generator on side
    • Internal Heater: 500 watt cooking element / 125 watt smoking element
    • Bradley Price: $599.00
    • 1 yr Factory Warranty (They Send You The Parts You Install Them, Some Warranty!!!)
    • Must use Proprietary Pucks  Bradley Smoker Bisquettes 48 Pack - HICKORY  $16,99 From Yard and Pool
    • Bubba Pucks Needed to Feed Last Three Wood Pucks  
    • Bubba Pucks - Bradley Smoker Woodsaver - Set of Three $25.95 From Yard and Pool
    MES 40"
    • Sam's Item # 173462
    • Dimensions: 41" x 20" x 24-7/8  Will hold full slab of ribs without cutting in half
    • MES Price at Sam's: $299.00
    • 3Yr Extended Warranty: $39.00
    • MES has 1200 Watt Heating Element
    • Uses Common Wood Chips or Chunks Which Can Be Found Anyplace Cheap. Can Even Make Your Own.
    Which would you buy after comparing side by side?  The cost of operating the Bradley skyrockets once you get past their original hype.  The original cost alone is a $160.00 more than the cost of the MES + the 3yr Warranty from Sam's. If It Breaks Just Take It Back and Get Another One!!!  And the MES is BIGGER!

    On another forum a lot of us frequent there are many MES users and ALL are Extremely Satisfied with them.  They don't have the problems Bradleys do with recovery times, wood chips can be added without opening the door, many advantages.

    I would highly recommenced getting the MES 40" if you are looking for a good electric smoker.

    As for the Bradley Digital 6 Rack, I managed to sell it on the 4th of July for $350.00 exactly half of what I had  invested.