I have one of the original Ameriques and my meat thermometer unit has gone bad. Does anyone have an extra they want to sell?  I looked on the accessories page and  they only have the new style thermometer plug. I would need the whole new assembly with the new thermometer. I know they used to sell it but I don’t see it anymore. Does anyone have any recommendations where I can get either an old assembly or the new assembly with the thermometer?

 

Just for clarification the plug that my thermometer has looks like a plug for a guitar or to plug headphones into a tuner unit. 

Original Post

I am in the same situation. We purchased the Amerique unit a number of years ago from Cabelas. The probe went to pot and we contacted Cookshack customer service to purchase a replacement. WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT! The quality original probe was discontinued and replaced by a cheap, complicated set of parts that required disassembling the control unit and soldering various connections (which clearly voids the warranty).

TOTALLY UNSATISFACTORY CUSTOMER SERVICE ON AN EXPENSIVE UNIT!

TurkeyRaiser posted:

I am in the same situation. We purchased the Amerique unit a number of years ago from Cabelas. The probe went to pot and we contacted Cookshack customer service to purchase a replacement. WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT! The quality original probe was discontinued and replaced by a cheap, complicated set of parts that required disassembling the control unit and soldering various connections (which clearly voids the warranty).

TOTALLY UNSATISFACTORY CUSTOMER SERVICE ON AN EXPENSIVE UNIT!

It is even worse now, the only option they give you is to purchase the brand new control unit and a new probe.  That comes to about $1k with tax.  That would be a hard pass.  

oldsarge posted:

May I ask if you repaired the unit and does it work now?  I also have an Amerique and while nothing lasts forever, I would like to know if the replacement worked. Thanks.

I got my monies worth out of the probe and I didn't expect every component to last a decade. Just sad that they won't stand behind the product to provide other options besides dropping $1k to repair it.  

I am not going to take it apart simply because everything else works.  I have a multi-probe wireless that will do the trick.  

Here at Cookshack we do try our best to insure our products are of good quality. Our original meat probe with the RCA style jack was discontinued due to an issue with the jack tarnishing in very humid environments. We now use a gold plated two pin twist lock jack for better reliability.  As with a lot of updates for equipment on the market this can cause you to have to make some modifications for the update. In this case you would just need to drill out the original mount hole to a 5/8 and mount the new style jack in the same spot plunging it back into the control board. This is typically about a ten minute job. We do apologize for any inconvenience and will continue to do our best to supply our customers with the best quality product that we can.

I have two electric smokers. A couple of years ago the manufacturer of the non-Cookshack smoker changed out the probe as well. My switching the probe took just a couple of minutes. Sounds like the new probe from CS is very similar. The  controller is removed and the female plug removed and the hole enlarged by drilling. The new plug is installed. Inside the controller the female connector is attached to the motherboard by a small plug. Unplug (carefully) the old and attach the new.  A very simple repair. No soldering. Remount controller and done. 

My SM066 purchased in August 2013 has the "gold plated two pin twist lock jack" described by electrotech. Definitely not an RCA-type jack. I've had no problem with the probe except a tendency to melt through the outer plastic sheath where it passes through the smoke hole on long cooks.

Yep - I've taken to using a piece of crumpled up foil to keep it centered in the hole. Works ok. I think I have the new style probe that can be replaced, but for a part at $90+ (ridiculously overpriced given the cost of any good oven thermometer probe with wire mesh outer sheath), and with all-negative reviews, I'm not very happy at that prospect. What has happened to CS with this new lousy forum, and seemingly ever-increasing prices for inferior replacement parts? Customer service on the phone seems ok but that's only two or three employees with dedication, not necessarily reflecting the company business model, which seems to have gotten less admirable.

I communicated with CS and sent the link to this post a while back and thus their reply above. I also suggested that they list the replacement parts and prices on the web site  so that those of us without problems can fully understand what all the fuss is about. Another site that sells similar stainless steel electric smokers has what appears to be a very similar probe set up at $50.00. I have it and it is not overly fragile, but I would not abuse it and it works.  But even at that price I consider it expensive.  But when the controller is dependent upon it, I reckon you can charge what you want.

As for the forum,  not many are happy with it but are coping. Certainly does not feel like family any more.

electrotech posted:

Here at Cookshack we do try our best to insure our products are of good quality. Our original meat probe with the RCA style jack was discontinued due to an issue with the jack tarnishing in very humid environments. We now use a gold plated two pin twist lock jack for better reliability.  As with a lot of updates for equipment on the market this can cause you to have to make some modifications for the update. In this case you would just need to drill out the original mount hole to a 5/8 and mount the new style jack in the same spot plunging it back into the control board. This is typically about a ten minute job. We do apologize for any inconvenience and will continue to do our best to supply our customers with the best quality product that we can.

I called and talked to a person in tech support and was told that this was no longer available and I would need to purchase the entire Control Board.  If you still have the new probe as an option why was this not given to me?  I feel like it is just a way to get additional money out of your customers.  If this is an option how do I purchase it?  

oldsarge posted:

I communicated with CS and sent the link to this post a while back and thus their reply above. I also suggested that they list the replacement parts and prices on the web site  so that those of us without problems can fully understand what all the fuss is about. Another site that sells similar stainless steel electric smokers has what appears to be a very similar probe set up at $50.00. I have it and it is not overly fragile, but I would not abuse it and it works.  But even at that price I consider it expensive.  But when the controller is dependent upon it, I reckon you can charge what you want.

As for the forum,  not many are happy with it but are coping. Certainly does not feel like family any more.

I appreciate you forwarding this to CS but as you can see in my response I got a very different explanation when I called.  I actually asked about the option that electrotech mentioned and I was told this wasn't an option any more.  I guess we will see what will happen.  I am glad you knew how to forward this to them, I had no idea.  Thanks again!

 

From the conflicting reports here and the apparent backstepping by CS on their advice to customers, something is clearly wrong at a deep level at CS. This is very concerning and very sad to us who knew CS as the best smoker company without question, just a few years ago. I sincerely hope they can get their act back together soon, before their customer base just goes somewhere else. My AQ is working fine, but my trust that CS will help solve any problem that may arise has taken a hit. They apparently keep trying to fix things that aren't broke, without allowing for older units to be fixed if necessary without great customer aggravation and expense. Not a good business model.

I believe this is the probe for the Amerique. I would check with CS and see if the female connector on the controller is part of a package or if this is just for the probe.  Everything gets updated at some point in time for reasons known to management, such as having run it's life cycle. The new Amerique has an elongated wood box and heating element; not like what I got back in 2012. No idea why the change but it is what it is.  Any way, here is the probe:

http://www.cookshack.com/PV530

electrotech posted:

ZXreed I do not know who you talked to but the only controllers with the meat probe option that we can not use the new style probe on were the original IQ controls that used the LM34 meat probe and they are all commercial models. We apologize for any confusion.

I do appreciate you clarifying this for me.  I need to weigh my options with this considering when I review the probe it has 6 reviews and all are bad with it failing.  What kind of warranty are you giving with these probes considering at $92.29 that seems like more problems and more money.  When I bought my AQ from you it was the best available bar none.  It looks like CS has sat back while your competition has improved their products and there are a lot more options available for the price you are charging.  I will reach out to customer service and see how much the swap is going to cost.  

oldsarge posted:

I believe this is the probe for the Amerique. I would check with CS and see if the female connector on the controller is part of a package or if this is just for the probe.  Everything gets updated at some point in time for reasons known to management, such as having run it's life cycle. The new Amerique has an elongated wood box and heating element; not like what I got back in 2012. No idea why the change but it is what it is.  Any way, here is the probe:

http://www.cookshack.com/PV530

Thanks oldsarge for posting the link for me.  It doesn't rate very well considering all 6 reviews say about the same thing, it fails.  How long have you had your AQ and what has been your experience with the new probe?

Picked up my AQ around 2010-2011, probe worked but had obvious bare wires showing.  I sent a picture to CS and they promptly sent me a new one.  Of course they are easy to burn the sheath on the cable as I quickly did after that.  I purchased a new CS probe but now use ThermoWorks probes when using the AQ and have not used the CS probe for years.

This AQ probe issue is such a lightning rod for negative publicity for CS that I'm really surprised they haven't fixed the problem for good: offer a good quality probe, sheathed in stainless mesh, with durable connectors, at a price competitive with identical after-market probes such as ThermoWorks or even Polder. What is the problem with that?? I'm getting the feeling that there is someone high up in the current CS management chain who doesn't get customer service anymore.

Not yet. But when my AQ probe with the melted outer sheath finally quits, I'll be explaining to them in detail why I'm not spending $90+ for the same piece of garbage. The only "advantage" of the AQ probe is the ability to go to 140 degrees "holding" temp setting automatically when the probe temp setting is reached. But the AQ is so well insulated and air tight that it doesn't cool down very fast at all, so this "advantage" isn't worth much.

If you are talking about the meat probe, and I believe you and others are, it is only for cooking to an internal temperature of the meat.  The box probe is permanently mounted in the smoker and it communicates with the controller to maintain the set temp. When the meat probe registers the desired internal temp, let's say, 200 degrees, the controller goes to the keep warm setting of 140 box temp, and will maintain it.  But like you said, the smoker is so well insulated it will not drop to 140 for some time. 

If the AQ were a $400.00 smoker, I would agree that $90.00 is way too much for a mere meat probe.  But the AQ is far more expensive than that and consequently parts will be likewise expensive.  This fact is not lost on the component manufacturers who provide to CS that which they do not manufacture in house.

As I mentioned above, I use a small stone to help keep the cable off the vent hole ring.  The sheath gets discolored but that is from the smoke and is easily wiped off.  When not in use, it is played across the racks in a single coil; no tight winding or anything. Bought in 2012 and still going strong. 

We have certainly taken these comments to heart. We have tested many probes including the ones Polder and Thermoworks use without any better success than our current probe. We are currently testing a probe that we have had some success with and look forward to being able to use it. We should have testing done in the next few weeks.

We really appreciate all our customers feedback and work diligently to improve our products.

Stuart

Oldsarge, I guess I'll have to disagree that a more expensive smoker necessarily means more expensive parts, although in general the individual parts costs obviously have to add up to something expensive. I think it just depends on material costs and manufacturing expense of a given part. Thermocouples aren't very expensive so I assume the cost per probe unit is mostly driven by manufacturing for low sales volume. Just for comparison, I have a wall oven in my kitchen that cost about twice what my AQ cost. It came with a meat probe whose OEM replacement cost is about 2/3 the cost of the AQ probe. So who knows?

Jay - It all depends upon the source. CS is making their smokers in the USA and the controller is USA made.  The board in mine is from a company in Ohio. That is going to cost. And as Stuart said, they would have to increase volume and go overseas. I know folks from the old forum as well as other forms that I belong to who have smokers with PID controllers. And in addition to the smokers controller, they use auxiliary units with alarms and stuff all manner of probes through the hole to monitor multiple cuts.  Technology has it's own price.  It is what it is. Hopefully you will find a work around.

I understand PID feedback controllers - I designed and used one in graduate school in 1974. Unlike many others, I'd be happy for CS to find appropriate, high quality, and less expensive components overseas. I'm no political liberal but I do recognize the ultimate futility of insisting everything be made in the US when we make some things better than others, and they make some things better than we do. It's all about best business practices to increase sales and profit, at least in my opinion. I want US companies to succeed, using any means necessary. No offense meant to anyone.

And I promise, this will be my last non-barbeque post on the topic. Sorry.

stuart posted:

We have certainly taken these comments to heart. We have tested many probes including the ones Polder and Thermoworks use without any better success than our current probe. We are currently testing a probe that we have had some success with and look forward to being able to use it. We should have testing done in the next few weeks.

We really appreciate all our customers feedback and work diligently to improve our products.

Stuart

Stuart I appreciate your response as well.  You said that it will be compatible with current probe but this was started by myself regarding my AQ that has the original RCA style plug.  I was told by obviously one of the less knowledgeable tech support agents who told me I would need to buy the entire new Control Module.  This was obviously incorrect and now that you are indicating that you will be coming out with a more durable probe than the current version.   I feel like this backs up my point that there is a failure to be looking out for your customer.  If I would have followed electrotech's instructions I could have spent $90 for a probe that the company knows has a problem yet would be willing to sell me when you have an improved option only weeks away from release.  If I knew that the probe was going to work better than past and current versions then I would understand the cost associated with this.  For someone like my who will need to buy the new module and the probe I am glad I had not made a decision to spend this money.  

I am very disappointed with how CS has chosen not to provide their tech support agents with the correct information to start with. Then mislead the customer again to purchase something that is so inferior that you have a replacement being tested and should be ready for sale shortly.   This whole situation has left a bad taste in my mouth.  

I apologize that you were given incorrect information, not sure exactly how that happened as both Tony and Bill are well aware that you can put the new style probe on the original AmerQue. You do have to drill out the hole for the new jack. Drop me a personal email at s_powell@cookshack.com with your shipping information I will get you the parts you need.

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