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Rehabilitating my defective MES 40

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by ringodad, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. ringodad

    ringodad Fire Starter

    For the whole ten months it worked, I really enjoyed my MES 40. Then, something went electronically kaput. I isolated the problem to the solid state relay. For once, a Masterbuilt did not fail due to shoddy connections at the heating element! Unfortunately, I had owned the unit for over five months before taking it out of the box for use. You guessed it - no luck on scoring a free replacement. I also kick myself now for not buying the three year extended warranty at Sam's Club, but that's water under the bridge.

    I decided to kill two birds with one stone and am constructing a PID controller box for it. One big question popped into my mind - everyone I've read about who has used a PID has done so on the Bradley Smoker with a separate smoke generator. I am worried that the tight control I will get with the PID, with an advertised plus/minus one to five degrees in temp swings will cause the unit to not generate smoke! I'm afraid that the heating element just won't be on long enough in duration to get the wood going. I am a sausage maker, so the tight temp control will be great, but it seems the tradeoff will be that I'll need to construct a smoke generator. Has anyone else gone down this path, and if so, what did they find?

    If a smoke generator is in order, does anyone have any good suggestions beyond just using a hot plate in a separate enclosure?

    It's not all bad - if I need to add a smoke generator, I look forward to being able to reliably cold smoke foods!

    ps - Don't tell me to buy a smoke pistol or similar device. I'm the king of the tightwads!

    Thanks all.
  2. texacajun

    texacajun Meat Mopper

    First question if you do have a bad relay you can do a continuity check to verify it is bad. I have some pictures and a wiring diagram if you need them.

    Second question I have read allot a post on PIDs but have no experience with them.

    Third one word A-Maze-N Smokers   and there cheep $29.99. Even if you are the King of the tightwads.

    And lastly why did you ask "If a smoke generator is in order, does anyone have any good suggestions beyond just using a hot plate in a separate enclosure?" Then you said "Don't tell me to buy a smoke pistol or similar device." I am very confused by this.[​IMG]
  3. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    And I'm Your Neighbor!

    Call me and you can see it in action.


  4. ringodad

    ringodad Fire Starter

    I was looking for advice from someone who had built their own smoke generator using some form of combustion for heat rather than using another electrical heat source. I was concerend about the load I'd need to power both the MES element and a separate heating element like in a hot plate, as I need to use a longer cord than what was originally supplied with the unit - I'm getting in trouble for using it in my garage! I was hoping for some good ideas that would create "clean" smoke for the unit. I could just revert to a pie plate with an enclosure and chimney to direct smoke into the unit, but then I get ashes and what not going into the smoke chamber to settle on the food. I had this idea in my head for a small unit that has a heat source that vents the combustion gases (either from a wood fire, alcohol stove, kerosene, propane, etc.) that heats a pan of wood chips with the wood chip smoke then vented into the smoker. I've done a lot of smoking the "old fashioned" way with a smudge fire, and the results can be mixed due to creosote and above-mentioned soot and particles.

    Half the fun is thinking about the project and being a DIY type. Of course, it would be great if it also worked.
  5. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    What Todd said. I don't even use the chip box anymore on my MES, the AMNS smoke generator does a better job & is cheap to buy & operate. Sounds like a perfect match for you.
  6. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    What Al said, but I use the MES chip drawer for high heat smokes. Everything else gets the sweet smell of the AMNS.

  7. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I have a propane GOSM, but I couldn't go below 180° so I installed a Aubers Ramp/Soak PID to control a finned heater strip and use a AMNS too, you're right, the +/- temp swing won't allow the element to stay on long enough to create smoke, mine fluctuates only 2° +/- of target temp, it can be programed longer but from what I understand the values for +/- are equal and can't be changed, if you have a 1200W element and increased the +/- tolerances, say 15°, you would have temp fluctuations of 30°, if you set the target temp at a temp high enough to produce smoke it would heat up until the hi temp was reached and then it would shut off until the lo temp was reached before turning back on again, I believe your MES is insulated so that could mean your meat could stay in the danger zone for a long time.

    IMHO the AMNS is the way to go and he's right next door to you.

    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Are U invisible!!!!! TBSmoke got in my eyes?
  9. garyt

    garyt Smoking Fanatic

    I dont think you can do a contiunity check on a ssr, it dosent have actual contacts on it and wont turn on unless it has a load on it. it uses a Triac or a Scr to conduct
  10. ringodad

    ringodad Fire Starter

    Thanks for your posts everyone. I have Todd's number and if Santa delivers me some extra cash I'm going to look into the AMS for use in cold smoking. Thanks also, Passing Thru - you speak wisdom. You're right - I'd rather keep the sausage in the proper heat zone according to the stage it's in at the time. I had thought that I could fool around with the interval on the PID, but then I'd be right back to the crappy temp swings that the MES controls had. I could turn the temp down manually and then get some smoke by ramping the temp up 20 degrees, but that would just add more time onto an already long process. On the average, my sausages take about 10 hours to reach the cooked stage. I am thinking about modifying a Nesco roaster into a steamer cabinet to speed the finishing process, as it seems many sausage makers use steam cabinets to finish their product. I just love the taste of the sausages completely finished in the smoker, however.

    Interesting note: I was at a surplus store last weekend and found a whole box of 120V 350W heating elements. I almost sprung, but the guy wanted $12.50 each. I'd have to find the right cord for it as well. I found several appliances at thrift stores that would have fit the bill for $2-$5, but was flying so could not bring them home. So now I'm on the hunt for a popcorn popper, Fry Baby, waffle iron, anything similar that has an element in it with a cord included. I'm gonna cut that element out of the metal casing with a dremel tool and a buddy and I are fabricating a small metal boxI I can put it in with a pan on top for my wood chips and a chimney running into my MES. I'll plug that thing into the controller box that contains my PID and SSR and add an on/off switch to run it when I want and... away we go! I appreciate the comments about the AMS, but I love trying to figure this out using as limited financial resources as possible. Pkus, I have a 5 gal. bucket of my own blended wood chip smoking mix and I want to stay with that to keep my own smoke signature. When the project is done I'll post on Q View. If anyone does consider adding a PID to whatever electrical smoker they're using, Nate Elston's blog about it is wonderful.

  11. texacajun

    texacajun Meat Mopper