A few questions before I get started on my UDS...

Discussion in 'UDS Builds' started by thaddy1978, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. I read a thread about why people don't put doors on the side of the UDS, but wood and charcoal will only smoke for so long, won't it? I have used both wood and charcoal in my Brinkmann Gourmet El-Cheapo and had to continually add to keep up the smoke. Also, I may start using primarily wood, as where I live, I have a seemingly endless supply. Do I need to make any mods to the UDS to primarily use wood?

    Have any of you used a Weber grill lid instead of the flat lid? Is one better than the other?

    The ball valve some people use, does it make that much of a difference in air flow (I am assuming that is what it is used for). I have seen what looks like galvanized pipe sticking out of the bottoms of some...wouldn't drilling holes be easier? Then again, if those pipes are threaded I suppose they can be capped to adjust air flow.

    Do these need water bowls in them? I have been watching one of these BBQ shows on Netflix and one guy uses water (the steam) to help keep things moist and also to help tenderize. I always had water in my Brinmann, but with the UDS, I haven't seen or heard of anyone using a water bowl/tray of any kind. Not needed?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
  2. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thaddy , I too am using all wood in my UDS and have a door in the side to feed it more fuel. Some have placed pans to hold Play sand into them and use it for ballast(heat retention) , cover  with fiol for esay clean-up.

    I distain the taste of commercial products and like the wood flavor ; i have sealed the door with high temp. sealant.I use a Webber type top for the covective properties(circulating air).

    Good luck and send Q-view...
  3. I've built quite a few of these and use mine as much as I can get away with.  I have never built a door into the side for a couple reasons:

    1. Another avenue for uncontrolled air intake unless you are really vigilant in sealing it.

    2. A large charcoal basket, with temps/burn rates well maintained, negates the need to add fuel.

    These cookers can easily go 12-15hr on a full basket of charcoal.  

    I use lump wood charcoal that I make myself.  It's actually quite easy if you live in an area where you can open burn in a barrel.  I make the enough lump to fill two 5 gallon buckets and my charcoal basket each time I burn a new barrel out to make a new cooker.   This is good b/c you don't have to worry about the fillers in briquets and lump starts MUCH faster and adds better flavor IMHO.

     The ball valve is used to micro-manage your airflow and does a great job.  The threaded pipes used also allow you to manage your air intake and cap off when needed.  Many people also just use regular kitchen refrigerator magnets to cover their intake holes in the bottom and I hear that works well also.

    I do not run a water bowl in mine, I think the drippings from the meat dropping down onto hot coals and vaporizing back up in smoke toward the meat adds better flavor.  UDS cookers afford you the ability to get as close to cooking over an open fire as possible while still having a huge amount of control over your temps.

    I've always used a flat lid with an 18" smoke stack to help with draft.  The kettle tops are only an advantage IMO if you want to add a second rack, which I have never worried about.  I'd rather have a good excuse to build another new cooker if I need to cook more than one can hold.  :)
  4. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    With my charcoal basket I can get up to 36 hours of cook time. No need for a side door.
  5. desertlites

    desertlites Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    What ^ he said. I have a large basket for the all niters and a smaller 1 for shorter smokes.
  6. Wow, thanks for the replies, everyone! Still have a lingering question, though. How long will it smoke. I had to keep adding wood to my ECB I used to have simply because while it was still hot and cooking, the smoke would stop and I would have to add more to keep up the smoking. I like to use different woods to add flavor, not just use charcoal. In my (VERY limited) experience, it was the adding of small chunks of wood at regular intervals that kept the smoke up.

    Also, those that fill their charcoal baskets up, roughly how many pounds do you throw in to get the amount of burn/cook time you mentioned.

    OldschoolBBQ, do you have pics you could send me of your set-up...and all you others too if you so desire.

    RazorBBQ, how do you make your own charcoal?

    Sorry for all the newbie questions you all, but I figured it was best to get all the info I can before I start cutting, burning, sanding, painting, building, and then smoking. [​IMG]
  7. All the newbie questions is what these boards are for so no need to apologize.  When I found this forum the combined experience of those here helped me immensely! 

    1. I've never had a problem with getting smoke for the duration of my cooks on the UDS.  I add several good sized chunks and it'll go forever.  With the ECB I suspect you had to continue adding wood b/c there was minimal airflow control and that smoking wood quickly burned up.  Trust me, it won't be a problem with the UDS.

    2. Making charcoal is easy and if I remember right, there is a great thread on this site somewhere about it.  In fact that thread was a great tutorial with pictures and everything.  I don't do it exactly like the author of that suggests, but its close.  I fill a 25 gal drum with chunks of wood I want to make charcoal from and put it on top of a cinder block.  I turn a 55 gal drum upside down and drop it down over the 25.  Carefully lower everything to the ground and bring the 55 upright so your 25 is upside down and centered in the 55.  Then stack any kind of wood you want around the outside of the 25, yard scraps, 2x4s, whatever.  Set it on fire and let it go all day and night.  Next day when it's all cooled down, you pull that 25 out of there and you have homemade lump charcoal.  See pics below.


    Load all the way to the top, totally covering your 25 drum.  I stopped loading wood here to show the basic concept.


    Here's the end result.  Takes about 24-36hr from start to finish, mainly to cool down enough to get to it.  This is some peach wood charcoal I made.  I usually pull my 25 drum out and if its even a little warm, which it usually still is, I put the whole thing into one of my cookers, removing my charcoal basket, and lock it down airtight, and let it cool further, just to make sure there's nothing that will catch fire again once I store it in the house.  I use these homer buckets with the gasket on the lid to seal out the moisture for long term storage.  It's easy and a hell of a lot cheaper than buying the stuff IMHO.
  8. That is awesome! Thanks so much for all of the great replies!!!!!!!!! Can't wait to get my drums and get started.

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