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Neonnblack 01-24-2013 06:16 PM

UDS briquet/wood question
This is my first real post other than an intro in the new members spot. I have a question on briquet control in my UDS. I have thick skin and cant take criticism so feel free to speak your mind.

I have a recently built UDS specs are as follows:

55 gallon drum.
Still using the dual opening drum top(looking for a kettle top).
I have four intakes 2 inches from the bottom equally spaced.
Using magnets to control all four intakes.
Fire basket is ~11x8x6.

I'm trying to get the temp control better, i have it at consistent heat 215-230 or so. But im adding more charcoal about every 40 minutes, obviously this isnt right, considering i see people say they can let it got overnight no problem.

I started with 15 or 16 placed flat in the basket then put 7 pre lit (in a chimney) on top. Took about an hour or to hit 225. After that i needed to keep putting another 8 back into it to keep the temp up.

Would starting with a bigger pile of un lit charcoal help me? Say 30 or so unlit in the bottom and maybe 10 started in the chimney? I dont mind having to add any, but every 40 minutes im thinking is a bit much.

Also, when i start to throw wood into it how will that change the process?

Thanks for the help guys and gals.

HeSmellsLikeSmoke 01-24-2013 06:24 PM

Fill the basket with unlit charcoal leaving room for about 10-15 lit briquettes on top. It will burn down slowly like a pipe. Distribute a few chunks of smoking wood throughout the basket so one chunk will be engaged in the fire as it burns down to the bottom. You should drastically improve your burn time this way.

This is called the Minion method named for Jim Minion who came up with it.

smokainmuskoka 01-24-2013 06:27 PM

You should have more unlit in the basket, yes. It also sounds like the basket is kind of small for long cooks. Most responders you'll get will tell you that they fill their basket up, with wood chunks mixed in with the unlit coals, and then start with some lit briquettes to start it up. once you're done cooking close your intakes and exhausts, the fire will choke out and you can use whatever charcoal you didn't burn the next time you cook.
You might want to consider replacing the charcoal basket. Mine's 14" diam X 9" tall and I'm very happy with it.

Bludawg 01-24-2013 06:31 PM

Fill the basket bury 4-5 fist sized chinks of wood in the coal light up 8-15 briquettes in a chimney and dump it on top of the basket. leave it sit about 10 min then lower it in the drum. Open all the intakes and the exhaust. as the temp come up start closing off the intakes 1 at a time when you get to 50 deg of your target temp close the last one about 1/2 and give it 20 min, settle down. Make final fine tunning adj to lock it in. it takes about 15 min for changes to manifest. When the cook is over close the intakes and the exhaust to snuff out the fire saving unused coals for the next cook.

funugy 01-24-2013 06:31 PM

You need more charcoal. I think your basket is too small.

My firebasket is 16" diameter and 12" tall. I fill it about 3/4 to full every time I cook no matter how long I am cooking for. I normally light about 15 coals and put on top of the unlit coals and let the UDS sit for about 45 min before it is up to temp and the thick white smoke subsides. With my basket I have cooked 16 hours and still had coals to snuff out when done. I do this just by closing all the intakes and exhausts. I just add to the leftover coals for the next cook as needed.

Do a quick search for "Minion Method" and you will see tons of ideas.

Carbon 01-24-2013 06:39 PM

My charcoal basket is also 14" in diameter and always kept near full with a mixture of new and partially spent coals from the previous cook. I add to it about a third chimney full of lit coals to get the UDS going.

ClintHTX 01-24-2013 06:42 PM

Minion method. Nuff said.

Swamp Donkeyz BBQ 01-24-2013 06:52 PM

+1 on filling the basket and then adding lit coal. Go to the search at the bottom of the page and type in Minion Method. It works perfectly.

Neonnblack 01-24-2013 07:03 PM

Fantastic guys, im already loving you.

jrn 01-24-2013 07:59 PM

N8man has a nice tutorial. It was my "go to" info when I first entered the uds world. He'll probably chime in. If you can't wait, there's a link in his signature. Btw, you are going to love your drum!

jrn 01-24-2013 08:04 PM

And like others have mentioned, give it a good half hour or so after lighting before you put the meat on. You can see the smoke actually settle down, going from white smoke to that sweet thin blue smoke. Then it's ready.

smokainmuskoka 01-24-2013 08:06 PM


Originally Posted by Neonnblack (Post 2340838)
Fantastic guys, im already loving you.

what's not to love?....

N8man 01-24-2013 10:56 PM

Neonnblack, iff'n you gets a chance, check the link right down there
at the bottom of my siggy. It's a little something I writ up a while
back with my musings on the howzits and whatzits driving my DrumPit...

I hope you find it helpful...

Astrobeerman 01-25-2013 03:05 AM

N8man, great sig link. Very helpful for a noob like myself. This is for anyone, is there any advantage to using all briquetts, or mixing with misquite (or lump charcoal) at some ratio? Any longeviity time advantage? In your post, the full baskt pic looks to have a mixture of briquets and lump, in the 1st 1/3rd fill, is there a mix ratio (of briquettts to lump) to your madness?? I hope I'm making sense in my writing. Thanks on advice.

Neonnblack 01-25-2013 10:25 PM

Great link N8, thank you very much, i was starting to get frustrated with controlling burn time and temp, I've ran through a 17 pound bad of charcoal testing things. And yes i do need a bigger fire basket. Ill rework things in the morning and see how it goes. Gotta be ready for next thursday 21 pounds of sweet sexy pork ass is waiting.

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