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  #1  
Old 06-18-2017, 10:48 PM
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Default MES custom SS model - mods and pics of a snack stick machine

Well, I finally completed my project. I took a brand new, fresh out of the box MES Elite 30 analog and converted it into a snack stick monster. Hence the MES custom SS model name (SS stands for Sticks and Sausage) Here is what I modded:

1) insulate that dead air space between the inner liner and main body shell with Roxul "rock wool" high temp insulation.
2) increase air inlet opening to 2 1/8" diameter
3) add new air exhaust exit in top center of smoker also 2 1/8" diameter
4) install stainless steel smoke stack with damper in top of smoker
5) plug the stock 5/8" exhaust port with a heat safe silicone plug. Plug will be center drilled and slit on one side to allow temp probe wires to go into smoke chamber
6) replace the stripped sheet metal screws with stainless steel 10-32 x 1/2" screws that mount into stainless steel rivet nuts installed in the main body structural members (use existing holes as pilot holes).
7) add more rack holders above existing rack holders, total of 8 racks can be installed.
8) use that upper structural member and rivet nuts to help hold the inner liner against main body and mount the lower portion of the new rack holders.
9) in stall a rivet nut in the inner liner to hold the top of the new rack holders (not in structural member, just inner liner).
10) add a Auber Instruments PID controller to control the pit temp with a pellet tray for smoke source (remember my goal is snack sticks and sausage so smoking temps will be 180* or less).

Stock out of the box, 3 racks with space for 2 more, and a itty bitty air inlet and smoke exhaust:



After the mods!!!!! Rock wool insulation all sides, top and door. 2 1/8" air inlet and top center exhaust. Stainless exhaust chimney with damper control, 8 total smoking racks for approximately 1,400 sq inches of rack space, and a PID control (PID controller not in photo, its a plug and play box).









Did a trial run on the analog control tonight, no smoke. Held 225* like a rock, so the insulation made a big difference (and that was with the stack vent 100% open). I can still get to 375* in stock configuration if I want, but I have other smokers for higher temp smokes, butts, chicken, etc... I wanted this to be a sausage and snack stick cabinet. I will run a test with the pellet tray and the PID controller tomorrow. I don't think pellet tray placement will be super critical with that large air inlet and keeping temps at 180* or below.

In my original design thoughts I had considered putting a baffle plate about 1" below the exhaust opening to force the air to be more spread out and prevent the straight in, up and straight out. But I'm thinking the meat and drip pan will pretty much force the heated air and smoke to flow through the entire chamber without that plate. If I decide to try it, I just need to swap out the chimney bolts for longer ones and use them to hold the plate as well.

I have a ton of photos of the mod and inner construction of this entry level, inexpensive MES smoker. I took it totally apart down the the individual panels for this mod.

So far, I'm pretty happy with the way this came out.
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Last edited by dward51; 09-09-2017 at 08:18 PM.
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  #2  
Old 06-18-2017, 11:06 PM
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Nice job, where did ya get the smoke stack?
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Old 06-19-2017, 12:47 AM
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Lowe's replacement part.

They had them in black at one time, but that stock is depleted and they no longer carry that line of smokers so they will not be getting any more of the black. They had the stainless version of that same smoke stack still in stock if you use the following grill/smoker info when you order. They did ask me when I bought my smoker (I presume it's an older model?), and I told her I bought it from a co-worker and just needed to replace a part I damaged and it was not a warranty part. Lowe's phone number to call is 800-963-0211

Master Forge 32" Charcoal Grill
Lowes grill/smoker model # 404331 (you will need the model number)

Smokestack was $12 and total to my door with shipping was a little over $19.

The interior diameter is 2 1/4".
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Old 06-19-2017, 12:51 AM
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Thanks for the info!
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Old 06-19-2017, 07:33 AM
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Wow. Nice job!! That's gonna serve you well!
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  #6  
Old 06-19-2017, 07:44 AM
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nice mod.
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  #7  
Old 06-19-2017, 08:22 AM
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Nice build, be watchin for the sticks!
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Old 06-19-2017, 09:19 AM
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That's some great work...You should think about doing this and selling them...
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Old 06-19-2017, 11:14 AM
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Beautiful Job Dave!!!---

A Masterbuilt Analog never looked so good.

I can't wait to see what comes out of there!!

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Old 06-20-2017, 03:28 PM
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So I ran an auto tune cycle on the MES SS last night and figured I would toss in a couple of hot dogs and smoke them at 225* for a while as a test. 2/3 of the way up on a single rack. Of course it ran hotter on the right side due to the way the stock MES heating element is designed (about 2.5 times the cal rod area on the right side under the stock chip tray).

So I guess it's time to mod the mod and tinker a little.

A while back I made the e-WSM mod where I put a heating element in a spare door for my WSM. Took some measurements today and that element will fit in the MES. The element shape is more evenly distributed than the stock MES element. I've also no had any problems with one side running hotter than the other in the e-WSM so I figured I would swap out the elements and see how it performed.

This is the stock MES element, not the concentration of element "squiggles" on the right side. This makes it hotter on that side as normally the chip tray sits on top of this. Well, I'm not using a chip tray.



This is the element from my e-WSM installed in the MES SS. It could be a tad smaller, but it fits. Much more even distribution of the heating surface (note, that air inlet is drilled off center on purpose. I wanted to keep the stock grease pan and it only goes back so far under the smoker base).



A comparison of the two elements.



So I'm running a new auto tune on the Auber PID with this element. I also put a disposable pan lid in where the chip box and water pan normally sit (I moved the top smoking rack to that level). Sticks and sausage normally do not drip unless you fat out and this whole design is to avoid that and be dedicated to sticks & smoked sausage. The aluminum should also help moderate the heat radiating up from it as well (in theory). The only question is how will this impact the smoke flow to the lower racks. I'll have to try a run with some meat to find that out.



So far I'm happy with the element change out. If I like the way it performs with meat, I will probably loose the stock element support rods and move this element up about an inch permanently (I will have to cut the MES body and fill in the stock element location with sheet metal if I do this). This move will let me put the chip tray on the floor of the smoker directly over the air inlet and leave room for a heat shield above it. It will fit there now, but the stock heating element support rods make it a very tight wiggle fit. If I loose the support rods (the new element has it's own support legs on the far end and I can extend them to a custom height), and raise the element a inch, putting the tray in will be a breeze with room to spare. I don't think heat from the element is going to be an issue at the temps I'm running at though. I just want to make sure this is going to work before I cut any sheet metal.

Also I could not find a 12 gauge extension cord shorter than 25' and they were all a bright yellow and sheathed in vinyl which can be hard to flex in colder weather. So I built my own 12 gauge cord 15' long out of black SJ exterior rated cable. Much more supple, and I included a outlet end with a LED pilot light. Cheaper to build and better quality than what I could buy.

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Old 06-21-2017, 01:45 AM
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Great work Dave, now let's get it dirty!
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Old 06-21-2017, 02:05 AM
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4 pounds of whole muscle beef jerky marinading in the fridge tonight. I had some Smoking Gun liquid marinade that I needed to use up and this seemed like the time. I'm on my 3rd tray of pellets in the smoker body to get some smoke film on the inside. Tomorrow will be the trial run and test of the new heating element.
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  #13  
Old 10-29-2017, 04:14 PM
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I've been smoking on MES for years. I just ordered the Gen 2.5. Should get it the 7th NOV 2017. Dang fine smoker, I will consider that mod, sounds ingenious! Thank you!
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