Masterbuilt not working properly

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t-bone tim

Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
Feb 24, 2007
N.B. Canada
For those that have the electric [font=verdana, Sans-Serif]MES[/font] smokers ...take note ...

I use my [font=verdana, Sans-Serif]MES[/font] alot ... to do jerky mostly , and salmon ...canadian bacon ...etc etc etc , anything where I need a constant controlled temp ....

anyhow , my [font=verdana, Sans-Serif]MES[/font] , started acting up 2 batches of jerky ago , and quit completely on my last batch on this past Sunday ... it would heat up then start losing temp ... when it was supposed to be heating ... the element seemed a little loose ( although not overly ) when I moved it , it seemed to start heating again ... then would quit .... then it just wouldn't do anything at all ....

anyways the unit only has a 90 day warranty ( mines only been in use ( ALOT ) for 11 months ... so I dove in feet first to try and get her going ... I NEEDED A JERKY FIX ,

firstly the back is riveted on ... so I drilled them all out and removed the back ... all visable wires looked okay , ... figuring the element wires to be the culpret I cut the metal box open covering the connections ( sorry no pics , camera has issues ) with a mini grinder ( the screws to remove it are on the inside of the smoker and not easily accessable )...and sure enough 1 of the connections was pretty well gone completely and the other was ready to go

I went to a locall hardware store and purchased some high temp replacement wires ( with connectores ) the kind for stovetop burners ( same as was used in this smoker application as well ) which were long enough to cut in 1/2 and replace both connections with 1 wire , and having the second one left for another repair if need be ..

I cleaned the ends of the element up well with a small file replaced the terminal connections with the new ones and re-connected the wires .... closed up the protection box , and replaced the back of the smoker using screws ( in case it ever needs fixing again ) ...

if you use a [font=verdana, Sans-Serif]MES[/font] electric smoker and start having heating problems ... you might want to start looking here ... sorry I had no pics of the fix .... camera has issues ,
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An amazing report. Sounds like you did a great job of fixing your unit, T-bone Tim.
Too bad your camera is down. I have been dying to see how the MES is wired and controlled.
Did you notice any relays or solid state devices used for powering the heating element? Also How many temp sensors did you notice wiring for? (see my other posts).
And sorry, but one last question, how did you re-secure the back panel after drilling out the pop rivets?
Thanks and great Job!!

Brian , it's a very simple design ... there is only one temp sensor at the top left corner ( looking into the smoker ) ...

what I guess is a fuse of some sort , on the left side also ( about 2/3 the way up from the bottom ) ...

I didn't have to open the bottom main wiring box ( where the power wire goes into the unit ) so unsure what's all in there ....

as far as putting the back , back on ...I used plain ole self threading robertson screws approx 5/8 " long .
LOL, "Robertson Screws ", as soon as I seen that, I looked to make sure you were in Canada. For some reason those really great screw heads, have yet to catch on in the states.

As for the temperature sensor (thermistor), just today, when I was on the phone with Masterbuilt Customer Service, they were telling me that the MES had multiple (4 to 6) temp sensors. I knew that when I mounted the controller on top of the unit, that there was not enough wires for more than one.

It would have been nice if you could get the heating element without so much trouble
i had problems with the wire connections on the elements of 750 watts or more finally went to a teflon wire and a silver solder on the connections and they havent acted up for over 4 years.

Dave .... probably about 1 1/4 of foam type insulation on the back ...

Mossy the connectors on the wires were weak from heating / corrosion ... one was pretty much gone , the other was very weak / brittle and ready to go !
I had the same problem as Tim so I made sure my camera was handy when I did the repair so they could be added to this thread. Thanks for the guidance, Tim.

Here's the back after it's opened up by drilling out the rivets and taking out about a half dozen screws.


This is the box that contains the connections to the heating element. It's where I suspect the problem to be.


The next step was to remove the tray that holds the wood chips and its housing. It requires removing about 4 screws/bolts. Here is the exposed heating element.

This allows access to the 3 screws that hold the heating element in place. The outer 2 hold the connection box in place. In the picture the screw on the left has already been removed. The center one is actually a small bolt that doesn't need to be removed. It is attached to the ground wire.


Removing the box on the back exposes the heating element connections. The black wire is SUPPOSED to be attached further left. It was completely corroded/burnt through. The connection prongs on the heating element need some steel wool. They're crusty. (sorry about the blurry picture)


It took several stops but I finally found wire for high-temp applications. It is stranded stainless steel wire with a Teflon insulation wrapped in a fiberglass mesh "jacket". Eight feet of it cost $25 (including tax). If I am reading the markings correctly this wire is rated to handle up to 450° [font=verdana,Sans-Serif]C[/font].

The connections were black and crusty so I cleaned them up with some emery cloth.

The old wiring was cut at least a foot away from the heating element connections and the new high-temp wire was spliced on, then new connections were attached. (sorry about the poor focus)

Here the repair is almost complete. The box needs to be put back over the heating element connections and then the sheet metal backing can be screwed back on.

I checked it by running it up to smoking temp before putting the back on to make sure I had all the connections secure.
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Ugh. I was just going to report odd behavior when doing my test run on the cornish game hens.

Unit preheated to 275, I stuck in 4 birds, and 35 min later the unit had gone down to 208. Mostly closed the vents and 30 min later the unit was at about 213.

Guess I'll need to break out the tools and take a look. I wonder if this is a significant known problem to the Masterbuilt team.
Thanks to Tim & Terry (Homebrew & BBQ) mine is now fixed, I was doing a couple of brisket two weeks ago and me and our son and son in-law went ATV ridin while my wife and daughter watched the smoker, she went to check on it and it had quit, luckily I have 2 of them so she transfered the meat to the big MES and kept it cooking, I just took it apart and one of the connections was rusted off from the heat I suppose.

Thanks again guys
I had plans to start smoking two picnic shoulders this morning at 6:00am... and in retrospect, I should have known it was not to be. Last night I recall reading someone's blog post that ended, "If you want a surprise, just tell God your plans for the day." Warning bell #1.

So, I got up nice and early, and after putting the shoulders in my MES, I decided to get on SMF and see what the common wisdom is regarding removal of skin. (I had already decided to skin one, and compare the results) Don't really know how I ended up there, but I was soon reading this thread about MES repairs. Warning bell #2.

Now, I haven't had my MES all that long. Have used it maybe 10 times, and have been quite happy. But I'll be darned... immediately after reading this thread, I went outside to check for that thin blue smoke... nothing.

Opened the hatch and pulled the wood tray. The heating element didn't look all that hot. Looked at the panel indicator: "Heating" was lit. Hmm. Gingerly touched the heating element, and then just grabbed the thing. It was warm, all right... barely warm. Grr.

Long story short: one of the wiring lugs had corroded away to nothing; I don't know how the element was heating at all.

I can't complain, I suppose. What I got for what little I spent was a good beginning of an electric smoker. Now I get to re-engineer and retrofit a bunch of the cheap shortcuts that went into this thing (replacing sheet metal screws with bolts, proper wiring job, etc.)

It's amazing how little support there is for the heating element. And as far as I can tell, the amount of smoke this thing generates is reliant on how close the element is to the bottom of the chip pan. I think there's room for improvement there.

Bottom line: if you have an MES, plan on some repair work at some point.

Off to check for smoke...
Sorry for your problem. If it happens to me I'll take it back to Sam's, I bought the 3 year warrantee for 39.00.
Goo, there's plenty of information on this site to show you how to fix your smoker and make it better than when you bought it. It shouldn't take more than $10-15 or so in materials and a couple of hours of your time. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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