Masterbuilt smoker melted analog control

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Jun 30, 2010

Has anyone else had this happen to them? I unplugged it after a smoke and ash was coming out of the control. I am real lucky I didn't have a fire. When I called customer support they were ready to sell me a new one. Not sure if I want to order a new one or move away from electric.
If you have an ohm meter, I would check the resistance across those two terminals (the burned one and the other side).  Assuming you have a 1,200 watt element, it should read around 10 ohms resistance.  If it's much different than that, your element is bad.  Also there may be some heavy oxidization on the contact which increased the resistance and therefore the heat at that terminal?

So, wait.... Customer service wanted to "sell" you a new one?  How old is the unit and what about warranty or defective product?  How much did they want for one?  You can buy universal replacement elements with controls on Amazon and ebay.
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Like dward said...  that condition is from corroded or dirty connections...   Check inside the black part and see if you can determine where the connection went bad to avoid it happening again...  Masterbuilt is known for poor connections when they build stuff...   Their poor work is a very easy fix before stuff burns up...   resoldering the poor connectors is just one of the fixes...   Now, I know you shouldn't have to do that..  but, other than that, their equipment is good and at a fair price...   I took my  MES 30 apart and resoldered their crap and it's been working perfect for 5 years...   I caught it before it burned up....   Very glad I did...
The actual cause of this problem, is probably that that connection was not tight,began to get a voltage drop at that point, resulting in heat at that point, frying the connection like a welder kinda.

Same fundamental as DaveOmack sed above., that makes MANY MES's fail at the connectors to the elements.

I would clean it, and the male mating element "pee pee" , and try to gently re tighten the female like with a tiny screwdriver the connector on the control

Probably OK then.

Tighten up the OTHER female a touch also.

When you plug the control back onto element, it should feel to need more pressure to push it in.

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All three of these guys are right.

Classic burn-up of a connector due to poor contact, and the resulting overheating of the connector.

This is the reason that a loose electrical receptacle (such as a wall outlet) is a fire hazard. You may not like having to push and pull hard to plug and unplug cords, but that tightness is good because you know you're getting good scraping of the contact surfaces and proper normal forces to create and maintain a good, low-resistance electrical connection.

The problem may have been from something on the contacts that acted as an insulator (grease, oil, smoke residue, dirt, etc,) and prevented good contact. Or, you may not have jammed the connectors together far enough. Or the female contact (in the controller) may have gotten loose and just not been able to grab the male hard enough to establish good contact.

I tend to be a bit more pessimistic about this than Marc. Without seeing it and taking it apart myself, I will make a more "conservative" recommendation:

The housing looks burned around what used to be the female contact. I would not attempt a repair if it was me because it will probably be hard to find a replacemant female contact, and the housing is damaged. Sometimes the burned plastic or Bakelite becomes conductive. And now that it's been overheated, the metal of the female will have been annealed and lost its temper, so it will never be springy enough to grab well again.

I'd replace the controller.

Then, we also know that the male pin on the smoker was also overheated, and may have some non-conductive residue on it now. That needs to be inspected carefully and cleaned or replaced depending on the condition of the pin and the insulator that supports it. That supporting structure may be burned, requiring replacement of the male connector assembly.

Also, we cannot rule out a bad connection behind the scenes where wires make up to the "male" end of things. So all of that needs to be inspected and tested. As Dward51 pointed out, you can test the heating element and its connectors with an ohm meter to see if the resistance seems reasonable.

I'm not familiar with that exact model of smoker. But you want good, tight connections all the way from the male pins of the connector through the heating element.

For everyone:

Make sure the pins and sockets of all high current connectors are kept clean and tight.

Also, I highly recommend a product made by Caig Laboratories, called DeoxIt D5.

This is an anti-oxidizing contact cleaner and preservative.

It also acts as a lubricant. This reduces mating forces, reduces contact wear, and dissolves oxides while also enhancing conductivity. Yet it is not a conductor, and is safe on high voltage connectors.

When squeezed down to a very thin film between the contacts, it fills in microscopic voids and conducts by quantum tunneling. Thus, it increases the contact cross section and lowers the contact resistance.

It creeps back over metal surfaces and re-establishes a protective film when the contacts are unmated, or after an arc. So oxides cannot re-form on the treated contacts.

I've been using one form or another of this product since the mid 1970s. It's nothing short of miraculous.

Use a small amount on all contacts and do not wash it away with solvent. Leave a film of it on the contacts. Where I used to work (on industrial and laboratory electronics) we called it "technician in a can". Good stuff!

Tabbed in.
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What model MES have this kind of connector? Mine I think is a gen 21/2 and I I just have an a cord out to connect to an extension cord. I've never seen a connector like pictured here.

DWDunlap in Richardson, TX 
What model MES have this kind of connector? Mine I think is a gen 21/2 and I I just have an a cord out to connect to an extension cord. I've never seen a connector like pictured here.

DWDunlap in Richardson, TX 
DW, afternoon....   analog and digital smokers are really different...   That being said, Masterbuilt is known, around here anyway, of using some cheap components in their 110V electrical..

On the digital stuff....  where the wires connect to the heating element...   lower back of the smokers, has been a problem...
I completely forgot about digital and analog smokers. My bad. As far as the heating element problems I had read on here about it and opted for the three year extended warranty.

That connector pictured looks like something from my old Sunbeam electric fry pan had in yester years.

DWDunlap in Richardson, TX
Sigmo is RIGHT ON.

Only thing I would comment on is the Caig product.

VERY high quality historied, but spendy.

The BEST available for SOME uses, but in this case., not needed at all.....

#1 - Tightness of the connection, as Sigmo and others have said.

#2- AFTER that,  for THIS, I would not spend $20 shipped for Caig, but just put a thin layer of Vaseline on the male Pee Pee..

Don't worry abput too much, the pressure of the female constriction wil wipe off all excess.

Now someone will chime in with "Vaseline is not conductive"

Bottom line, listen to this post and Sigmo.

Lastly, he is being logicaly cautiously prudent in saying toss out the old control, get a new one.

I'm just poor and cheap, and w 30 yr Electrician background.    Marc
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I completely forgot about digital and analog smokers. My bad. As far as the heating element problems I had read on here about it and opted for the three year extended warranty.

That connector pictured looks like something from my old Sunbeam electric fry pan had in yester years.

DWDunlap in Richardson, TX
That's exactly what it looks like to me.  On an electric skillet or frying pan, the controller has a probe that stabs into the casting of the pan/skillet to sense the temperature.  Then there are the two contacts, one on either side of the temperature probe.  It looks to me like Masterbuilt has simply built the smoker to use one of those same electric skillet controller/cord units.  That's kind of clever because it takes care of the whole controller/sensor using what is likely a standard part that they can just buy in quantity.

Again, I've never looked at one of these analog Masterbuilt units, but that's what I'm guessing based on the photos.  It's really not a bad way to do things.

You might be able to buy a whole electric skillet with its controller for less than what MB wants for their controller.  If so, it's possible that the controller/cord/connector gadget from the skillet would mate properly and work just fine to the smoker!  And you wouldn't lose the use of the skillet.  You could use the controller for both as long as you don't need to use them both at the same time.

But you'd have to make sure all of the dimensions and specifications are the same.  So I really shouldn't even say that.  Forget I said it!  ;)
Sigmo is RIGHT ON.

Only thing I would comment on is the Caig product.

VERY high quality historied, but spendy.

The BEST available for SOME uses, but in this case., not needed at all.....

#1 - Tightness of the connection, as Sigmo and others have said.

#2- AFTER that,  for THIS, I would not spend $20 shipped for Caig, but just put a thin layer of Vaseline on the male Pee Pee..

Don't worry abput too much, the pressure of the female constriction wil wipe off all excess.

Now someone will chime in with "Vaseline is not conductive"

Bottom line, listen to this post and Sigmo.

Lastly, he is being logicaly cautiously prudent in saying toss out the old control, get a new one.

I'm just poor and cheap, and w 30 yr Electrician background.    Marc
Yep.  That's right.

That "Dielectric Grease" that you find in almost every connector under the hood of a new car is not conductive.  And you wouldn't want it to be.  It's just there to keep water and corrosive stuff away from the contacts.  The contacts still mate, metal-to-metal, where they squeeze the grease out of the way.  If it was conductive, it would create short circuits between the pins.  Can't have that!

Marc's absoluely right.

And  I know about cheap, too!  :)

I confess that what I'd likely try for myself is probably a lot like what you advise (except I would use the DeoxIT - but of course, I have a can right next to me as I type this, so that's different).

As for the cost of the DeoxIT:

I agree that it might be a bit over the top to go out and buy a special product just for this one-time use.  But the thing is, if you have a can of this around, it'll last a very long time, and you'll think of many uses for it.

A 5 oz can of the D5 lasts even me, doing lots of electronic and electrical repair, installation, and small-scale manufacturing, several years.  For most people, they'll only buy one in their lifetime.

I gave a can of the old Cramolin R5 to my dad, and he used it for many years.  He's passed away now, but that can is still in the same place in a cupboard above the washing machine, at mom's house, right where Dad kept it.  And I use it every so often when I'm working on something electrical for her.  I think of Dad every time I use it or any of his tools there.

Anyhow, don't think of DeoxIT as ordinary contact cleaner.  Most of that is nothing more than solvent.  The solvent stuff can be useful for flushing away grime or getting solder flux off of circuit boards or the like.  But the DeoxIt is something you use very sparingly.  It's hard to get the newer cans to dispense a small enough amount, actually.  The older ones, back when it was called "Cramolin" were easier to control.

Their old ads said something to the effect of "The less you use, the better it works".  I always thought the logical conclusion of that would be that to use none at all would be the best!  But I guess that's not what they meant. 

The advantages of the DeoxIT over Vaseline or other dielectric grease type products is that it dissolves most metal oxides.  So it acts as a cleaner.  Also the function of filling in the microscopic gaps and improving the conductivity by increasing the effective contact surface area is unique in my experience. And one of the key points here is that we want to lower the contact resistance as much as possible to prevent the kind of overheating we saw in those pictures.

I first heard about it being used for audio equipment where it eliminates the contact diode effect you can get when metal oxides are present in various connectors.  It also works great on noisy potentiometers.

But several incidents where I used it really made a believer out of me.

One was a situation where we had a number of self-resetting thermal circuit breakers in a low voltage (12V) system.  Small motors which could draw several hundred amperes (briefly) as well as the wiring in the system were protected by these "breakers".  There was no real substitute for these gadgets, but they all dropped quite a bit of voltage across them when high current was being drawn.  So they limited the peak power to the motors, and this was not acceptable.

Taking these breakers out of the system, and measuring their contact resistances, we found them to typically have up to 200 milliohms. (No doubt the contacts were silver alloy, and thus, tarnish, forming a very hard oxide layer).  I took some of the Cramolin Red oil (the equivalent of the "D" type DeoxIT) and mixed up about a 2% solution of Cramolin Red in Freon TF.  I then dropped all of the breakers into a jar of this solution and let them sit until the bubbles stopped coming out.  Then I'd pull them out, let the solution run back out of them, and they then had a film of the Cramolin Red oil everywhere inside and out.

Then I just rapped each of these breakers on a table top a number of times to make their contacts jiggle inside.  That allowed the Cramolin to rub between the contacts, cleaning and treating them.  You couldn't open the breakers because they were riveted shut.

The average contact resistance for each one then went down to less than 6 milliohms!  Not bad for not even being able to directly get to the contacts to properly clean them!

The system then worked reliably for many years with no further intervention.

Another anecdote was a whole series of Varian gas chromatographs that had an ongoing problem of blowing power fuses that protected the wiring and circuitry for their column oven heating elements.  They drew about 15 amps at 120VAC, not unlike our smokers.

You'd find the power fuse blown, but it wouldn't really be blown from overcurrent.  Instead, it would be well cooked, and the wires and faston connectors feeding the fuse would also be burned back for several inches from the fuseholder.

So the problem was just bad contact between the fuseholder and the fuse itself, causing overheating.  Eventually, the fuse element would melt, but not due to overcurrent.

So you had to replace some wiring, the fuseholder, and the fuse, of course, to get them going. But you knew it'd just fail again before too long.  One of the problems in a laboratory seems to always be hydrochloric acid fumes.  HCl seems to produce the most insidious fumes of all of the acids for some reason.  And it really goes after electrical contacts.

Anyhow, simply treating the new fuseholder and fuse with Cramolin Red (like the new DeoxIT D5) made the things run forever with no further problems.

I used to have to buy it directly from Caig Labs.  Then they got into some sort of legal battle with the original manufacturer in Germany and changed the name and the formula and started selling it through various retailers.  For a while I could get it from a local electronics store.  But Amazon also has it, and I get free Prime shipping, so that's where I've gotten in most recently.

I see it on Amazon right now for $14.18 with free shipping for Prime members, or $11.95 + $3.49 shipping from another seller for non-prime.  I think Parts Direct and Guitar Warehouse, etc., also sell it now.

Really.  If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it.  Shake the can, then try to get just a tiny amount of it to come out.  Or squirt a bit of it into the bud of a Q-Tip type swab to apply it.  It takes practice (especially with the new cans) to get them to just dribble a small amount out.  They want to go off all at once and spray out about 100 times as much as you really want.  I've blasted myself in the face with it on a number of occasions trying to get a little bit into a small opening, but having it suddenly spray out a blast and bounce back at me.  That can't be good!

A small glass vial (like what we call a VOA vial in the laboratory) is a good thing to spray some into.  They have teflon-lined seals, so you have only glass and teflon in contact with the stuff.  Then you have a little bit that you can get out with a swab or the like.  You can also drop contacts to be treated into the vial, put the lid on, and shake it around to treat them, then fish them out with some forceps or the like.  For crimp-on connector contacts that I use a lot of, I just put a few hundred in a small vial, squirt in a good shot of the spray, put the lid on and shake it around to get them all good and oily, and then I just leave them in that container and whenever I use some, they're all pre-treated and ready to go.

The D5 is a 5% solution of the oil mixed into some (no doubt politically correct) solvent.  It used to be Freon TF, and that was fantastic.  But alas, those naughty CFCs are ozone-killers, so you can't have that stuff anymore.

Try it on a flashlight that you have to smack to get it to work.  Get it into the switch and onto all of the contacts, including the battery, and see if it doesn't fix it.

For treating contacts and crimp-on connectors as well as the wire you're crimping them onto, you can squirt a bit into a small container and then dip all of the contacts in it and dip the stripped ends of the wires, too.  Or you can buy just the pure oil and dilute it in your own solvent for treating large batches of connector contacts.  If you do that before you crimp them onto the wires, you'll get the benefits of it at the wire-to-contact connection as well as the mating surfaces of the connector pins/sockets themselves.

About the only drawback I've heard is that once treated, the oily residue can collect fine dust.  But I've never actually seen that cause any problems in real life.  And it's dusty, dry, and windy here.

I also saw a situation in the oilfield where very high concentrations of H2S caused "whiskers" to grow on surfaces heavily treated with it.  Very odd!  It didn't seem to cause any problems, but it was just strange.  That was with the old original Cramolin Red.  But it really did help to clean up H2S-caused contact problems.  H2S really is hard on many metals.

But I've used it on high voltage connectors in radiation measuring equipment that uses photomultiplier tubes, and runs at 800 to 2,000 Volts, and never had any leakage or breakdown problems in connectors or on circuit boards, etc.  And even very small amounts of leakage current would have been apparent in those applications.  So that's been a good test of it on that front.

I should probably work for the place as much as I recommend the products.

Maybe they'll send me some for free the next time I need some.  Seriously, even using it for work, I don't go through enough to consider its cost to be an issue.  Now regular "contact cleaner" (solvent in a can), I can see going through a can of that pretty quickly trying to flush gunk out of something.  But that's just not how I use the DeoxIT.  Try it, man!  You'll love it.  It really is a good "tool" to have on hand.
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Sigmo -   One of the best explanatory posts I have ever read on any Forum I hang at.

Excellent work.

You reminded me about the fact that because this contact did majorly overheat, it has permanently lost it's springy action.

I recall soldering on crimp on T&B "female flag disconnects" , and the springiness was TOTALLY shot.

I agree -------  throw away the xtrol, get a replacement.  

And clean up the element male connector  as said above.

And, as Sigmo said, Caig products are very highly respected, not some Snake Oil.

But for this, I would still.just get a drop of Vaseline from your local bathroom.

UNLESS you have other uses for it, but be aware they make a number of similar, but still very different products for different uses.

I'm sure Sigmo has used more than one of them for different jobs..        Marc
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Yeah, that's right.

A lot of springy contacts are made of phosphor bronze or the like. It's pretty springy stuff when properly heat treated, yet is far more conductive than spring steel would be. But like a lot of metals, their crystal structure can take various forms depending on the heat treatment.

And the same is true for pure copper, too. It can be hard or soft just depending on what's happened to it.

I've done the same thing to that same type of connector by soldering them. I thought I was doing the right thing, getting that better connection by soldering rather than crimping. But as you said, the females lost their gripping ability. Bummer!

You could probably restore it somehow, but it would probably be a pain.

I do know that a very interesting thing happens to copper tubing (or any copper). If you have a roll of nice, malleable, soft copper tubing, and you toss it in the back of your pickup truck, and drive around for a while, especially on bumpy roads. The vibration and rattling of it will make it get hard and brittle, and you won't be able to unroll it or make the usual bends in it without it breaking.

It just work-hardens and can become fairly useless! You could probably heat it up and slowly cool it and make it soft again. You kind of have to baby it if you want it to stay nice and workable.

I have used the Cramolin Blue (now called Shield), and their pro-gold. But I end up using about 20 times as much of the red (called "D" now) as either of the others. It cleans and lubes and protects. So it's pretty universal.

The blue (shield) is really just for protecting new or already cleaned contacts. And the red does a good job all by itself.

So that's what I recommend for most uses.

Sorry to lead this thread further off track. I'll be curious to hear what happens with the smoker, of course!

Tabbed in.
I know this post is old, but as I have a blow up of the internals of the controller, from another forum, I'm posting it here, below:

So, curious about my controller (MES30 McLamore "Signature") with the gobblygook techical model of: 20075517 9807170063-IM Legsteel-Tri 170628-GB
I grabbed the controller, and using a Phillips head screwdriver, opened it up and GASPED. This unit has been used maybe a total of 10 times so far.

Masterbuilt buys enough of these to have no manufactures name but theirs. Or they pay the maker to keep the info offline. Mine reads:

HX-001 and E466167. In a box is: 1717. 125VAC, 15A Max. 60Hz. AC Only.

In AC electricity the white colored wire is the "HOT" and the (in my case) blue colored wire is the "Neutral". From the pix you can see both of them have burnt almost through. This isn't the Made in China syndrome. This is deliberate under-engineering to cause the consumer to spend exorbitant sums on upkeep. The connectors need to be much heavier weight metal. That's likely to be copper coated steel connectors. As the strain relief is molded onto the power cord, repair of the wiring in difficult. The actual contacts for power are probably proprietary. I say that after a search of Allied for 15A/120VAC conns.

As this post about the problem is the only one on the internet I would like to hear from anyone who used DeOxit and the results.
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This is what my element wires looked like after 5 or 6 smokes with the MB 40, using the chip tray.


Now I use the smoke box from jonok, 12 to 16 hour runs no burnt wires.

Yes, but the poor connections in the digitals were also mentioned up higher in the thread, and a big point of this thread is just bad connections frying due to poor contact. So I think that post is on-subject. :)

Here in the US, the white wire is supposed to be the neutral, and the colored conductor is the "hot". Usually, that's black, but sometimes red or another color.
The Masterbuilt product, although made in 2016, was used no more than 10 times before the control crisped up under use. I would not expect them to give a free replacement of the same part. Attached here is their Facebook agent's response to my question about whether they have information about WHY this would happen.

replacement control.png
I heard back from an electrical engineer about this. Here is what the conversation looked like.
On Thursday, August 29, 2019 at 5:53:34 PM UTC-7, zzzzzzzxxxxxxxx wrote:
On 30/08/2019 2:54 am,bbbbbbaaaaaa wrote:
The thermostat that plugs into my smoker has blue corrosion on the hot side of the wiring. The manufacturer insists that this is from using an extension cord. Why would that cause the thermostat/controller to burn out?

The faceplate wattage on this grill is 1500 watts. The extension cord (60 feet) is a 16/2 gauge.

The maker, Masterbuilt, won't sell replacement parts, only new controllers for $50. Pricey when the whole box cost $250.
If the extension cord isn't the problem, I'm going to solder/crimp some new connectors inside the controller.

I reckon they are having you on, low voltage (if any caused by the
extension) wont burn out a 'stat. Just remake the connections and check for condensation etc in the controller is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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