UDS heat problems

Discussion in 'UDS Builds' started by charlieboy, Jun 23, 2011.

  1. charlieboy

    charlieboy Newbie

    Hi all

    This spring I got the itch to build a UDS and it turned out pretty damn nice  through advice through this site

    The only problem with it is that when I use Kingsford the temp starts off good 225 then it won't hold with all of the vents closed it will jump to 250 then it will soar to about 300 then it holds but the thing will never go down until all the coal burns out ... the next morning

    is it possible that I am lighting too much coal for start up  here is my typical procedure fill 1 full chimney light it up when the top coals are turning white dump it ontop of a 3/4 full charcoal box of unlit coal

    my coal box is a grate from a smokey joe with 9ga expanded metal mesh welded around it about 7 inches tall

    now when I use lump it can be better controlled but the lump burns through a full tinder box in about 7 hours is that just because all I have found is the lump from Home Depot

    The UDS is sealed tightly it has 3 1" nipples welded in with caps on 2 and a ball valve on 1 it was filled with water to make sure it was airtight and passed

    just not sure where to go from here the food always turns out fine just finishes earlier than expected but it would be nice to be somehow able to use kingsford control the temp and shut it down to save coal for the next smoke

    thanks for any tips

    heres a pic of the beast


    ps in this pic the shelf looks tiped it is actually not

    I have no idea why this pic wont load ???
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011
  2. jlstout

    jlstout Newbie

    My UDS does the same thing.  I started using a metal ring in my charcoal basket, and using it to burn my charcoal around in a circle.  Whenever I try to get too much in there, my temps go up to about 300.  Did a brisket in 7 hours last weekend at 300 and it was the best one I ever cooked![​IMG]   I only have problems on longer cooks with the temp spiking like that.  When I do ribs at 240, I just put in a small layer of charcoal around my ring, and dump in a full chimney.  Works great.  I usually only use kingsford btw.
  3. coffee_junkie

    coffee_junkie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Too much to start. I use about 1/3 - to 1/4 chimney to start. If you are using lump use only about 4-6 fist size pieces to get started. Just remember it is way easier to gain heat then to get rid of it. Start low and move up, instead of the other way around. It takes me a good 1/2 hour to get my drum rolling and the smoke settled down before I can put the grub on.
  4. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I just put a charcoal iron in my loaded basket and once it starts going pretty well I throw it in the UDS and bring it up to  temp with my air vents. Once the temps start going up I keep closing my  intakes one by one. You can also do this same method with a torch.
  5. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

  6. austexrod

    austexrod Fire Starter

    I agree!

    Try this minion method: half a basket of lump charcoal, half a chimney starter of charcoal briquettes. When the briquettes are burnt orange, dump on the unlit lump add your wood chunks of choice. Make sure your thermo is at the cooking grate level. START COOKING!

    I don't wait for the temp to hit or the lump to catch, after the chunks go on..... the meat quickly follows. 

    Now, I am still in my smoking meat infancy but it works for me and it is easier to get the temp up than to bring it down. You know this! Buena suerte!

    PS. make sure to cap the 1" intakes, turn the ball valve to half open and your dome damper to halfway. The only adjustment you should have to make, in most cases will be reduce the diameter of the openings for the valve and or the damper.
  7. ecto1

    ecto1 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I turn my chimney upside down and fill the top so i know I don't start with too much charcoal.  It helps keep you from getting a roaring fire going and uncontrollable temps.

    thunderdome likes this.
  8. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have troubles with mine when I go to shut it down. I have to put a welding glove over the lid vent to stop the air from entering the drum thru the lid.

    How well does the lid fit to the drum? 

    Maybe your taking on air from that point but I doubt it.

    And I also agree with the others that its easier to gain heat then kill it. 

    I have also decided to use only one shelf in my drums, I still use the dome lid on the ones that I have but I only use the lower shelf.

    The reasoning is that I have plenty of room for extra drums, space isn;t an issue. And I have had issues when having the lid off for to long of a time while rearranging meat. 

    BTW... I load a 16"dia by 12inch tall basket,(weber grate for the bottom and expanded for the sides.

    I light one side with my propane weed burner and it runs great.

    Lump tends to be able to run hotter for me, and the reg coals seem to run just a tad lower while lasting longer.

    My basket is 3 inchs off the bottom of the drum, and my air intakes are about an inch up from the bottom lip. 

    Good luck my friend, pls let us know how this turns out.
  9. cromag

    cromag Smoking Fanatic

    great idea
  10. charlieboy

    charlieboy Newbie

    thank you for all of the great advice

    -upside down chimney is a great idea

    -ordinarily I only use the lower shelf and try to keep the lid off for the least qmount of time as possible because that is when the temps spike

    -the lid fits pretty tight but I have to have air leaking somewhere i'm going to fill it with water again today and check for leaks again

    -my coal box is 12'' diameter 7'' tall 3'' off the ground

    last week I tried some abt's lit it with 1/3 of a chimney temps started lower but with all lower vents closed it still eventually reached 300

    thursday i made some ribs did the same thing with all the lower vents closed it slowly slowly crept up to 280 then I turned the smoker 180* and temps subsided to 250

    but the smoker will never shut down all the way until all of the coal is burned away--- thinking of putting a divider in my basket so I can use only 1/2 of the basket size also considering making a cap to cover the basket for shutdown to conseve coal

  11. charlieboy

    charlieboy Newbie

    finally figured out the pic situation heres the smoker


    here the coal basket

  12. bigr314

    bigr314 Meat Mopper

    ECT01,Thanks for the tip on using the chimney upside down. That has helped me out a great deal.
  13. Not sure what the problem might be........you must have an air leak somewhere. 

    I run the same setup, and I usually use about 12 -15 hot burning coals to get started.  15" diameter x 12" tall basket, 3/4 full of unlit briquettes.  The last cook i did was a 10 lbs. brisket, and I had it cooking at 235 for nearly 14 hours.  I finally shut the vents and closed it all up at about 16 hours, and I still had 3 or 4 inches of charcoal in the bottom for next time.  After about an 2 hours, the whole unit was back down to just above ambient temp.  However, I always leave it closed up outdoors overnight to make sure everything is completely cold.

  14. bteem

    bteem Newbie

    I have the opposite problem, I cant get my heat up past 225-240.   When I built my UDS I went to a guy who welds and also builds custom grills. I told him I wanted a charcoal basket made out of expanded metal . He said that wont last more then a full season and suggested him making mine out of stainless steel. We went 1/8" thick and dimensions are 14x14x8. We drilled holes along the bottom sides, 3 on 3 sides and 4 on the last side. The 4 holes were to be facing my ball valve. ( I also have 2  nipples intakes) .  When I smoke over night my temp is about 200-210. As soon as I take off the lid, coals come alive and temp rises until I put lid on and time takes temp back down. I took the basket back to him, he drilled 6 1" holes in the bottom for air flow, same problem.   I cooked ribs last Sunday, had all vents on bottom open and used wifes hair dryer to blow in air flow into ball value and that took care of my temp problem, in fact at times had to turn it off as it was at 250 and didnt want any more heat.   If I ever want to do chicken at 325 I cant get temp there. Any suggestions before I go out and buy a expanded metal basket?  Or is it something I can fix with what I have?

    I can take pics and send if need be.

    Thanks in advance,


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