UDS insight ......heat, cook time, how to minimize heat loss, etc

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by learnem, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. learnem

    learnem Newbie

    I picked up my UDS a little over a month ago. 

    It is a 55 g drum, with a plow disc with a T handle for holding charcoal, There is 1 1" hole on the lower side for air.  The top of the barrel has 6  3/4 in holes, which is used for rebar to hang meat from with meat hooks.  One side of all the rebar has a washer welded to it, to help mitigate heat dissipation.     It also came with a 22.5" cooking grate that can be used while the rebar is in use.  IT has a temp gauge, which rarely sees above 230 degrees.

    I consistently see smoke coming from around the lid.  The edge of the lid is rolled to go up and over the top edge of the barrel.

    To improve my cooking time and temp control, I have bought and used magnets to cover the top rebar holes, when not using the rebar to hang meat, and have just started a charcoal basket build. It will be 9" high and 18.5 in diameter (about 58" in length)

    I am interested in any feedback y'all can give me regarding how to extend my cooking time, and possibly give me a greater temperature range, like up to around 250 degrees.  I tried the 3 2 1 method for ribs a couple weeks ago, and had to had 2 chimneys of charcoal to carry it through the entire 6 hours. by then, the temp was down to around 175 degrees

    I have considered adding more holes on the bottom, using a ball valve to control the airflow.  I have also thought about attempting to get a tighter fit on the top with the lid, though I cannot think of any way do do it.

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Thanks in advance

  2. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The only thing I can think of is your charcoal holder. Not enough. I think you'll find that once your charcoal basket is done you'll be in good shape. My UDS has a basket about the same size as you're building, and I can hold steady 220-225 for 20 hrs.
  3. learnem

    learnem Newbie

  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    There are threads on how to build a charcoal basket... Check them out..... Generally the basket is up 3" or more from the bottom of the UDS... that allows for air flow and ash storage during a smoke.... making 2 more air inlets on the bottom and ball valves on 1 and pipe caps on the others will give you ultimate air control.... See if you can add a drum clamp to the lid and add some sort of sealing stuff to the groove in the lid to make it air tight.... maybe those changes will help the performance..... No reason to not get at least 16 hours out of one load of charcoal......

  5. learnem

    learnem Newbie

    Thanks for the insight Dave.  My current plow disc sits on the bottom of the barrel, that may be an issue.. 

    What do I use to drill the hole?  a drill bit, or a hole saw?
  6. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You'll find that the biggest thing is.... practice, practice, practice. Your UDS is different from my UDS, is different from someone elses UDS. Simple; cook stuff, do dry runs with no food, get used to how it works.
  7. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    What hole?
  8. learnem

    learnem Newbie

    I only have one inlet hole on the side  near the bottom for air for the fire.  I may need to add 1-2 more.  How many fire feeder holes do you have?
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you can find a step drill, they work well in thin sheet metal... If not, a small starter hole and a die grinder... or a hole saw.... Make the holes so a 3/4" pipe nipple will fit... I think that is 1 1/8" or something close... Conduit "nuts" hold the nipples in place.... charcoal baskets are usually held up off the bottom of the UDS with 4" long bolts double nutted with washers in the expanded metal screen.... That disc makes a good backyard wok if you weld in the center hole.... In Mexico they are called a "disca" or something like that....

    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
  10. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have 3. One has a ball valve and the other 2 are capped. Honestly, I've never used the capped holes, I've found that the one with the valve is good enough, and even then, it's only open about 1/4 full to maintain temp.
  11. learnem

    learnem Newbie

    Here is the low down

    Got the basket finished, put some old charcoal and mesquite laying around for the test burn.  I also picked up a Maverick single probe temp gauge.  I have my basket on 6 in bolts instead of 4 in...  I may trade down depending on how the first cook with it goes, as my UDS also has meat hangers too.

    Started the fire yesterday @ 1pm.  The temp dropped down below 200 F for the first time this afternoon @ 1:30 pm.  Over 24 hours of above 200 F temps. 

    I used my magnets to cover up the bottom air vent about 1/3 open, which seemed to keep the temps between 280 and 230 for the most part. 

    I found out my barrel temp gauge is WAY off.  I tested my Maverick with ice and boiling water.  Within 3-5 degrees either way, but when my pit was showing 280, the barrel gauge said 150 (the probe was right next to the barrel gauge probe.)  I'll stick with the maverick for the pit temp from now on.

    I want to thank all you who replied and gave me your 2 cents, it certainly has helped my situation. 
  12. learnem

    learnem Newbie

    My disc has a T of rebar welded in it

Share This Page