Upgrading to a chamber vac

Chez

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My food saver is beginning to fail and I decided to upgrade to a chamber vac.

What are the pros and cons of different models? About the only thing I've decided on is one with an oil pump. Prices are all over the place, $200- thousands of $$.

What is your experience with them?
 

orangejuicy

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We've got a Weston that we picked up in Kenai at Trustworthy Hardware. The first fillets we did, I wasn't sealing for long enough, and some of the bags opened up. Once I corrected my error on that it worked great. We only have about 80 fish on it across two seasons, but so far so good and we have been using it for freezing garden harvest as well. Bags are definitely cheaper. Neighbor has a more commercial model, don't recall what it is, but he's been running his for over a decade. I think we looked at one like it for $2,500. Our Weston was around $700-$800. The seal is far better and our fillets last longer before they get any freezer burn.
 

JEH97LX

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It sounds like you know what you need. Definitely get one with an oil vacuum pump. The ones without oil are essentially low end disposable versions.

Costco in Anchorage carries a LEM Maxvac for ~$700 ($650 on website, thought it was slightly higher in store). We've used it for a 3 or 4 years now and it's been fine. If you want a higher end perhaps made in USA, Vacmaster is probably the gold standard. Also, I bought a cheaper Metronic impulse bag sealer off Amazon to reinforce the seals on some specialty long-term storage bags (aluminum-coated, oxygen free long term food storage bags) as the heat adjustments on the LEM are limited if you need extra heat on heavy bags.
 

Brian M

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Been been running an MV31 (I think?) from Alaska Butcher for about a decade. Between my brother, parents, and friends we have put over 100 big game animals and well over a thousand fish through it and it is still going strong. It's expensive upfront, but what is the value of your hard-earned wild food? Worth every penny in the long run.
 

urbanhillbilly

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This is my second season with the LEM from Costco, it is $650 in store right now. Same product on LEM website is $1,000. It’s been great once I figured out how to dial it in for my needs, although I’m sure one of the higher end ones would blow my mind lol! If budget is what you’re wanting then go with the Costco LEM, plus you can always take it back for a full refund
 

kwackkillncrew

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MVS31x from alaska butcher supply and be done with it. If you need to save for a little bit do it. Reasons we got that one is because it has a oil pump, built like a brick house and if anything ever happens to it alaska butcher supply can fix it. I dont believe that they are able to work on the cheaper air pump ones they sell. They usually have a sale on them during the sportsmens show.

my buddy got a chamber sealer on amazon for 700 bucks or something like that and it doesnt have the capabilities of the mvs31x.

You can also use the retort foil bags with the mvs as well. This allows your to chamber seal the bags and then pressure cook them just like you would with jars. When ever i make a big pork butt, brisket or a bunch of chili i will chamber seal them in the retort bags and then freeze them. bring them on hunts or camping trips. just throw the retort bag in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes and you will have a awesome meal.
 

kasilofchrisn

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I bought my parents a vacmaster chamber vac several years ago.
It is the oil less model and cost ~$1,000.
The Mvs31x is selling for $3,295 at AK butcher supply right now.
That's a big difference in price!
The vacmaster does good on retort bags with the seal bar it came with.
We've had zero issues with it so far.
I wouldn't hesitate to buy another vacmaster!

Sent from my S41 using Tapatalk
 

Chez

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Thanks for the responses

I ended up getting the LEM from 3 Bears (same as costco model and after figuring in the drive to los anch it saved me around $125 or more in fuel) and so far so good. It will process up to 1 gal bags, retort, mylar and jars, plenty for my needs and will last a lifetime as long as I change the oil. One thing I really like about it is the vacuum process goes through the heat bar legs, not the side or bottom of the platform and I never need to worry about spills getting sucked into it.

Yeah I would have loved a bigger one because I could vac multiple bags at a time but I just could not justify the price over the time savings.
 

Doug in Alaska

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Been been running an MV31 (I think?) from Alaska Butcher for about a decade. Between my brother, parents, and friends we have put over 100 big game animals and well over a thousand fish through it and it is still going strong. It's expensive upfront, but what is the value of your hard-earned wild food? Worth every penny in the long run.

I have the same machine. It's paid for it's self many times over.
 

Chez

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Thanks for the responses

I ended up getting the LEM from 3 Bears (same as costco model and after figuring in the drive to los anch it saved me around $125 or more in fuel) and so far so good. It will process up to 1 gal bags, retort, mylar and jars, plenty for my needs and will last a lifetime as long as I change the oil. One thing I really like about it is the vacuum process goes through the heat bar legs, not the side or bottom of the platform and I never need to worry about spills getting sucked into it.

Yeah I would have loved a bigger one because I could vac multiple bags at a time but I just could not justify the price over the time savings.

Need to update on the vacmaster

It does a great job on everything so far and decided to get started with the retort bags but ran into a glitch. After making all the proper adjustments for heat, seal time and cool down, it will only seal one of the two heat strips. I called LEM and the guy told me its not designed for use with retort bags. I let him know that prior to my purchase I called and they told me it would work with retorts, how can re resolve this? He said do you have any other questions? I said no, I want this to wok the way you said it would work prior to my investment. He said there's nothing he can do but they're working on it...

Then I called VacMaster and they told me they changed their design and their machines are no longer rated for retort sealing.

Has anyone else run into this issue?
 

malverts

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I tried the LEM from Costco in the summer of 2021. It worked OK, but left some air pockets. I tried everything I could think of to improve the performance (added solid items to the chamber, increased the vacuum time, changed the oil, varied the oil level, etc.). I borrowed a Vacmaster VP 215 and it had far better performance. I took the LEM back and ended up buying a Vacmaster. I just couldn't see spending $700 on something I wasn't satisfied with.
 

Chez

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I tried the LEM from Costco in the summer of 2021. It worked OK, but left some air pockets. I tried everything I could think of to improve the performance (added solid items to the chamber, increased the vacuum time, changed the oil, varied the oil level, etc.). I borrowed a Vacmaster VP 215 and it had far better performance. I took the LEM back and ended up buying a Vacmaster. I just couldn't see spending $700 on something I wasn't satisfied with.
Mine seals everything great with regular chamber vac bags but wont work with the retorts. I'm surprised you had issues with your LEM. I wish I could have returned mine but it was a week or so after the time limit 3 bears has on their return policy
 
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I had been watching the Vacmaster 215. The smallest WITH the oil system. Research on the unit showed better sealing ability with hydrolic air removal that just air pump removal. I watched Amazon and when it popped up on a prime deal for $650 with free shipping I snagged it. That was about 5 years ago. Change the oile every season. Only issue I have is that if there are pin bomes I need to freezer wrap the fish or crab legs first to keep the package sealed.
 

dahlenburg

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I had been watching the Vacmaster 215. The smallest WITH the oil system. Research on the unit showed better sealing ability with hydrolic air removal that just air pump removal. I watched Amazon and when it popped up on a prime deal for $650 with free shipping I snagged it. That was about 5 years ago. Change the oile every season. Only issue I have is that if there are pin bomes I need to freezer wrap the fish or crab legs first to keep the package sealed.
Have you tried thicker bags for fish with pin bones. I went to the thicker 5 mil bags and haven't had a broken one yet from pin bones. Even the 4 mil was a big step up from the standard 3 mil bags.
 
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