Problems with my Masterbuilt Electric Smoker 30"

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Original poster
Nov 27, 2013
So I have been smoking for a while using an offset rig, with good success but recently had an addition to the family, so finding time to do a good 6 - 18 hour smoke is a little bit more challenging. To help I figured I would try a Electric smoker for things like Brisket, ribs and smoked pot roast..

I picked up the Masterbuilt 30" Analog off Amazon this past week for $99 during a flash sale. Cleaned it, assembled and seasoned it before my first attempt.

The problems:
1) Wild Temperature swing, I turn it on High to clean it, came out and found the temperature spiked, using a laser probe it registered 500 degrees, which seems very high for this kind of rig. Later on a "medium high" hit 220'ish which seemed more like the target spot. Later "low" was around 220, and the previous dial setting went up to the 380 range.

2) Wood chips would not burn, just smoldered and smelled fairly terrible. I do have it assembled properly (appears to be a common problem), was not using large chunks and had the water pan in. Chips were dry, not soaked as seems to be suggested.

3) No adjustable air vent, I see lots of talk about one, but only see a small 1" whole on the top right rear.

I have the same model as you for the 1+ years.  Yes, the contol is doing what it does and is the basic such as an electric fry pan.

Now, here's what I have done.

1) bought a silicone door gasket seal from home depot(black color for exterior doors) enough to seal 2 doors for around $17

2) drilled 2) 1/2" homes in the bottom below where the chip tray goes. I'm still playing around with hown much air intake is needed for  required smoking/cooking temps.

3) drilled a 3" hole in the top, left, back coner and added a 3" metal elbow to act as a smoke stack. You will need a 3" hole saw of other tool cutting the whole.

 note: next time I would drill the hole on the side, back corner, at the top so that mositure doesn't drip on the meat.  I had this problem smoking salmon at low temps.  100*-180*

4)I bought a PID controller with a thermocouple/temp probe and a 12/24 volt to 120volt solid state relay off of ebay for around $35.  Bought "project box" from Radio Shack for $20+/- and a few rubber grommets from home depot.   With the PID controller, I leave the smoker element on high and let the controller turn on/off the element as needed.   You will need a male and female plug end from a 12 guage extension cord. to be able to plug the Pid onit into a wall plg and them into the element on your smoker.  BTW, the PID and thermocouple isn't the most accurate(+/- 5*) but with a few tests in a ice water bath and boiling water, you can find your range for accuaracy

5) I now have have a maverick #732(?)for accurate internal temp monitoring form inside the house.  I still have not figured out how use all of the functions of it such the over and under temp alarm

Not really too involved

In order of mods, I did  #4, #3, #2, #1 , #5

Total spent, less than $100 excluding the maverick.

goof luck... it's still a fun learning curve and I've never totally ruined a piece of meat, fish, cheese, or garlic


Where are you aiming the laser probe to take the temperature? Not sure that would be accurate for an ambient temp reading unless I'm understanding wrong. 
Where are you aiming the laser probe to take the temperature? Not sure that would be accurate for an ambient temp reading unless I'm understanding wrong. 

Non-Chrome metal, water pan and chip pan (which is completely blacked and corroded over after one use), same targets as when working on an engine / electrical stuff.
Wow, inexpensive but allot of effort to make it work. Do you think it's worth the effort vs a more expensive bradley or a stick burner
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I very well could be wrong but wouldn't taking the temperature of a surface with a laser therm be different at times than an ambient temperature probe that is taking the actual temp inside?
Great thoughts above but I am sure you realize an old analog smoker doesn't operate using the same procedures as a digital.

You use a analog, you must load your tray with dry chips, place the food in, close it up and the go to high for 15 to 45 mins. (depending upon the meat/chips/and the weather). You can not open the smoker again because the chips are smoldering. You then turn the adjustment to one of the lower setting to cook. I don't know MES analog but I believe they have 3 setting, high, medium, and low. The ones I used had 7 temps to chose from. Normally I just when down one notch to number 6. Then you'd time it. I was using 'em long before there was anything but short little screw in thermometers to sense the smokers temp. No one thought of IT.

Most analog type cookers do not have vents, they serve no purpose. You can not recharge the chip tray while cooking. AND if you overcharge the chip tray you will turn your food bitter from a creosote taste. By using the proper charge of chips it will just smolder untill they are used up or run out of oxygen and it will simply hang in the smoker being absorbed. I assure you one with proper temp setting can be a thing easily mastered. But it takes time and a dang good instruction manual. I suggest you se if you can find a Redi-Smok  manual. They are hard to find I understand.

Analogs are a smoker unique unto them selves and take a bit of a learning curve. Believe me, I have worn out three in the last 30 something years. 

MES has historically had heater problems with the setting being as advertised in the manual. You are the first person I know who has one so I am sorry I can't give you a history or even what you can expect from MES. But the high is supposed to be high because it starts the smolder and then you back off to the cooking setting. You never use it to cook, its too hot.

Sorry I am not more help, but if you can find a copy of the old manuals it will help you under stand it much better.

Good luck with it.
My heat coil on the MB analog is on the lower left of center so I drilled a 1 1/2 inch hole upper right rear corner. Then using a folded metal coffee can lid and a pop rivet I made a swinging door to control air flow. Remove the grease cup and the cabinet has a small drip hole in the bottom and the Masterbuilt doors are not air tight so intake has been no problem. I did add 4 small L brackets and a rack to put a drip pan on just above the chip pan and water pan. Keeps the unit cleaner and blocks direct heat from the coils so I slow smoke with indirect heat and don't grill my food. When I use the AMNPS I have just set it on the lower meat rack above this drip pan and have had no problems keeping the dust smoking. When smoking at heat 160 & over I just fill both chip and water pan with dry dust and put directly on the element and get plenty of long smoke.

Preheat the cabinet before putting food in. Start on low and wait 5 minutes for temp to stabilize. Slowly raise temp in small turns of the dial in this manner until desired cooking temp is achieved. You must wait each adjustment because uninsulated cabinet absorbs some of the heat. This process usually takes about 1/2 hr. total to get cabinet to desired temp. and dry sawdust to start smoking. If I want a long smoke I start 1 pan dry & 1 pan with damp dust at the same time. As the dry pan finishes the wet pan usually has begun. This way I don't have to open door to add more dust. You will find as the unit is really smoking well you will have to back off on the heat control because the smoking dust does give off a bit of heat also. Simple mods. cost me $2 for the L brackets, " already had hole saw and coffee can lid" that have been working for over 3 years. Even if unit worked perfectly as shipped you would want to add drip pan because original system is a mess to clean. After many trials I've found unit works best with dry saw dust or small dry chips like Little Chief brand.
Is it worth it?  yeah, cheapest hobby I have. The wife isn't complaining.

None of this stuff broke the bank. 

It's all in the fine tuning.  Even the more expensive units seem to need some tweaking.
My MES 30 has been working great.  It was dented in shipping so I got it for just under $100.  My wife loves this hobby.  She has been very happy with everything we have made in it, even the mistakes.

So far we have done, cheese, ham, turkey x2, beef ribs, rib eye steaks, beef country ribs, and now a pork shoulder roast.  Oh, we stuch four oscar meyer beef franks in for about 45 minutes while doing the shoulder with hickory.  They were pretty darn good!  Good enough that we will do an entire package and then repackage them and freeze them so we can use as needed.

I absolutely love my MES 30.  I got it because I wanted to get started and see if this hobby was for me and after all my research the Bradley which was my first choice was just out of the budget to get it in time to turkey day.  So when I found this cheap at Walmart online I got it.  the first one we used on turkey day was damaged so that it wouldn't seal on the rear corners, so I called them and they agreed to take it back and send a new one.  It was dented, but usable, so we negotiated a much lower price.

When I wear this one out I plan on building my own since it will be an important part of my built in outdoor kitchen.

If you love the AMNPS get a metal mailbox and 3" duct work. This will fit in the opening on the side and will eliminate the chip tray. You have to drill a hole in the mailbox and secure the metal duct work with some metal screws and foil tape.. Place the AMNPS inside the mail box and it will work as a vessel for the pellet tray.

This doesn't take up space in the smoker. No alterations to the smoker.. 

Metal mailbox..

3" flexible ductwork..

Metal foil tape.

That is it... If you ever need to add pellets you won't have to open the smoker door. I did have to close the  holes in the mailbox door to decrease the airflow a bit..

Beats the chip tray hands down.

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