New to MES 30

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Original poster
Feb 7, 2014
I've been smoking fish, pork butts, and the occasional stuffed chicken thigh for a while now with my ECB. (Hiya post My wife gave me a MES 30 for Christmas, and I am ready to put it into use. However, I have a few questions about how to get the most out of my new beauty this weekend. Most of the questions have to do with using the MES which is why I'm posting it here instead of many throughout the foums.

Quick note: Other mods are/may be incoming. Currently I have a Maverick thermometer and an AMNPS.
  1. Using the AMNPS, I see that using the water tray is not recommended. Do I leave the tray in the smoker empty, foil it, or should I remove it?
  2. Assuming I use my AMNPS, is there any reason to leave the wood chip tray in the MES, especially since I may need to reverse one of the bolts?
  3. Using the AMNPS, I've read that pulling out the wood chip loader  a bit might be necessary. Am I recalling this right, and how would I know if I do need to do this?
  4. I know there are may different ways to smoke pork butts. Using the ECB, I was making pulled pork that I was happy with. It used a brine, dry rub, and apple juice/rum spray every hour. One of the perks of the MES is that it is sealed. Am I going to be harming my pulled pork by opening the MES once an hour to spray the pork as I did in the ECB?
Thanks you your time and help. I'm hoping to try my hand at ribs and/or brisket next week for my boy's birthday.

I have an mes 40 (gen 2) that I use an amzn with. I leave the water pan in (empty) but have been told I can fill it with beach sand to use as a heat sink to keep temps up. Haven't tried that yet, but plan to.

I wouldn't open it every hour to spray. You let to much heat out and it'll just take longer. From my pork butt experience in my 40 it always comes out good.

Not sure what the ideal rules for the 30 and amzn are. The amzn is kinda tricky to get the hang of. I keep my chip loader out a few inches and sometimes out all the way depending in air flow. The chip tray is always pulled out about 1 1/2". The amzn has a tendency to go out in the mes smokers so keep an eye on it.

As far as using the actual mes chip loader/tray I always had fires within minutes if I used wood chips. I started using wood chunks that I split down into finger size pieces and they wouldn't catch fire, but they would produce thick, white smoke that you don't want. I'd use the amzn for sure. I've had issues with the amzn but it's better than fires using chips.

I've had nothing but great success with ribs in the master built using the 3-2-1 method. You should use it for your kids birthday. Everyone will love it. I haven't tried a brisket in it as I've failed a few times with briskit on my barrel smoker.

Overall after a year of owning the mes I find it to be a cheap piece of junk. All the issues I've had have been talked about over, a vs over, and over, and over on Internet forums so masterbuilt is well aware of these problems, they obviously just don't care about they're customers satisfaction.

With that said I wish you better luck than I've had as far as quality of your product, and I hope your bbq is a great success for your kid. Just keep and eye on the amzn cause without proper air flow it'll go out and then you have no smoke, just an outdoor oven.
Let me start by saying thank you for the warm welcome that I have received to this community (here, in my introductory thread, and in PM's). I can't wait to start smoking on a regular basis. My old Brinkmann was such a pain, that I would almost exclusively for special occasions, and almost never just on a whim.

Some things that I learned from this first smoke are:
  • I need to foil. I did it with my Brinkmann. I knew to do it with the MES, but for some reason I skipped that step, and I paid for in in the clean up.
  • Along the lines of foiling, I need to tent the AMNPS. I only got through one line of the AMNPS before drippings put it out. It seems that the smoke that I was getting after it went out was from the drippings burning and the wood pellets. I won't say "not good eats" because the pork was tasty, but deffinatly not the ideal way to get smoke.
  • I like the flavor of the pork from my Brinkmann better than what I got in this smoke. With the Brinkmann I would spray the pork with apple juice and spiced rum every hour for the first 6-8 hours. Then I would foil with more juice and rum, and finish in the oven. I didn't spray or even open the door once because the MES seemed to take forever to recover from putting the meat in, and many people sing the praises of not foiling and smoking the whole time. I did like the extra bark from this smoke, but there is some tinkering needed. Maybe spray every 2 or 3 hours?
  • I purchased a Maverick to keep an eye on the temps. As many have said, the reading on the MES was higher than the actual temps. However, a couple of hours into the smoke just to opposite was happening. The MES was reporting temps lower than the Maverick. I noticed the same thing as I was pre-heating the MES. As it was warming up the MES was reporting temps higher than actual, but somewhere between the beginning for the warn up and the end things flipped. The MES was reporting the temp at 275 while the Maverick was just above 300. I understand that it is normal for the MES to be inaccurate. That is why we by more reliable probes like the Maverick, but is it normal to for the MES to report high at the start of a smoke, and the switch to reporting low part way through?
  • I lit the AMNPS with the Wagner HT1000 heat gun that I bought 15 years ago to help me shine my boots when I was in the Army. It hadn't been used since 2005, but now it has a new purpose in life, helping me smoke anything and everything.  
So the first smoke was a success, and many lessons were learned. If I can do this right, here are a few pics for the smoke.

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In my mes 40 (gen 2) the amazn smoker fits perfectly under the water pan and stays covered from drippings. I'll assume the 30 is different? I

The Q view looks great!!

The mes thermostat is one more thing that I could go on and on about but why bother... It's talked about everywhere else mes chat is going on. Bottom line is don't trust it period. Do a boil test on your maverick probes and then only trust them.

Without spraying the meat every hour you'll definitely get better bark. I don't like opening my mes door much but I usually end up doing so to make sure the amazn is still lit.

Don't feel like you cannot open it to spray down your meat if that's your thing. Just play with it and figure out how far it's setting you back as far as time goes. Maybe try it every 2 hours next time and see if the time it took to recover and the results were worth it. If they were maybe try an hour and a half the next time. It's all up to you. Maybe spraying every two hours doesn't get you the desired results, and maybe it does. Have to try to find out.
In my mes 40 (gen 2) the amazn smoker fits perfectly under the water pan and stays covered from drippings. I'll assume the 30 is different? 
It won't fit under the water pan, above the heater, but your post got me to play with it some more. If I pull out the drip pan, the AMNPS will just fit under the heating element when the drip pan is put back in. It's a very tight fit with the wood chip tray in place. However, I don't see much of a point to the wood chip tray if I'm using the AMNPS. Has anyone tried this the the MES 30? Will it work under the heating element, and is the wood chip tray necessary?
I'm not sure if you should be putting it right under the heating element. Wish I could help more but I only have the 40.
  I think that Todd chose the dimensions of the AMNPS specifically to fit right where you put it and that is where I put it in my MES 40 mostly, depending on what load I have in it. I never spray or spritz what I smoke. I usually keep the door shut unless I need to open it for some reason. 

  I have my water pan filled with "play sand" (because it is sanitized) and covered with foil to keep it clean. It acts as a thermal mass which helps with temp recovery if you do open your door and avoids temp spikes because it takes some time to heat it.


Check out the mailbox mod.with the search bar.    I did it to my MES 40 and I love it.  A $15 alluminum mailbox from Menards and a short piece of 3" dryer vent tube. I removed the chip loader tube and the chip box completely. The vent tube fit perfectly in the loader hole. This mod lets you check on the AMNPS without opening the smoker door, and with one 1/2" hole drilled in the door of the mailbox the pellets burn the way they are supposed to. ( total ashes not black partially burnt pellets ) The mailbox also has mounting holes on the bottom side that also let the air in.       Dave
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I've been looking into that mailbox deal Cuebiz. Really looks like the way to go. Gonna have to try it.

Any issue with your door latch? Mine broke right off the side of the smoker. The peg that holds it in place on the bottom snapped right off. Not really sure what I'm gonna do about fixing it. Been using bungee cords to keep it closed...
No problems with that yet. I think the hardware store will have a cabinet latch to replace the whole  thing. That's the route I would take. Should be an easy fix. Good luck.  Dave is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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