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stultznasty 07-23-2013 07:38 PM

New "u"ds recently finished... Seeking some advice/tips
1 Attachment(s)
Hello all,

I recently started and finished my first "u"ds mostly in thanks to the forums on this website. The u is in parentheses as I believe it is far prettier than I expected it to be going into the project taking into account my lack of experience and tools. The pictures are at the bottom. The first is one I took the morning after I burned and painted it, the second was taken after I added some exhaust stacks and tried my hand at the first smoke.

At this point the exterior thermometer is just for show since I discovered a thermometer with a small probe like that doesn't do much good to measure temperatures in such a large chamber where the fire basket is in the middle. I found this out after burning a few sausages in an hour and a half of smoking them that should have taken me a total 3 hours according to various forum posts on here and other websites. I have since invested in a digital remote thermometer that has a meat probe and a dedicated smoker thermometer that can clip to just beneath the grate.

I have attempted Italian sausage again today and am concerned that it took less than an hour to reach cooking temperature. I kept them in until they reached 170F since I was stubbornly trying to keep them in for as long as possible. I was aiming for 250 smoker temp and, since I don't know the temperature spikes from opening the lid that well yet it ended up maxing out at 271 before gradually dropping back down below 250 over about 10-15 minutes when I closed the ball valve all the way. I'm hoping that the meat thermometer was just reading a mix of the meat and the chamber and that the sausages were just undercooked when I took them out? The casings looked done (as in the color of hotdogs) and the insides seemed only slightly raw and certainly tasted fine. I left the meat thermometer in the one dead center as the smoker was going since I didn't want to have to worry about temperature spikes with such a short cook. Are accurate temperature readings with a meat thermometer something ill have to worry about with less thick items like ribs? I'm hoping to smoke a butt pretty soon once I move into a new place so that should give me a pretty good idea of what a thicker cut will do but when I do something like ribs ill need to know the temperature for sure.

This is a pretty disorganized post so I apologize for that and any questions who's answers may have been searchable in advance. Thanks in advance as well for anyone who can answer my questions that I can't seem to word concisely.

stultznasty 07-23-2013 07:39 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Looks like only my second picture got uploaded so here's the first one i described

HookedOnQ 07-23-2013 07:42 PM

Looks great!

Stingerhook 07-23-2013 07:46 PM

I see you have 4 exhaust's, what do you have for intakes?

stultznasty 07-23-2013 07:49 PM

4x3/4"... Same as the exhausts... I was considering plugging one or more of the exhausts if I had too much trouble maintaining temperature but I haven't done enough long burns to determine if thats going to be an issue for me.

sigpi906 07-23-2013 08:04 PM


Originally Posted by stultznasty (Post 2562587)
4x3/4"... Same as the exhausts... I was considering plugging one or more of the exhausts if I had too much trouble maintaining temperature but I haven't done enough long burns to determine if thats going to be an issue for me.

This is EXACTLY what the problem is. I have a 2" probe thermometer above my top grate and a 12" thermometer just below the bottom grate. They consistently read exactly 75* apart... so whatever you are reading on that small probe, add 75*ish to it and that's probably what you're getting.

Also, try bringing your UDS up to temp and then closing off 2 or 3 of the bottom vents. In my UDS, I leave my three 1"bottom intakes open and when I hit 250, I close 2 of them, and leave the 3rd open. Doing this, I can maintain 250-260 for about 16-18 hours on 16lbs of Kingsford.

I didn't get all the way through your post because I'm lazy... you are using the Minion Method, right?

stultznasty 07-23-2013 08:28 PM

I've got a digital thermometer that I've got just below the grate right in the middle so that SHOULD be giving me an accurate chamber temp. Im just skeptical why my sausages were hitting 170 so fast with a max temp of 271... I would figure that could chop an hour off the cook time but not two. As for my lighting method I just have about 8lbs of lump, I drop it in the drum, and light it up with a weed burner from the top.

Q*bert 07-23-2013 10:52 PM

That's a great looking UDS:clap:
Having that many exhausts may cause a few difficulties. Temperature control being the first that comes to mind. A slow, steady burn is what you're (we're) after. It's a lot of workin' & figurin' with just multiple intakes & adjustments to worry about. Add to that trying to figure out what to do with multiple exhausts & you've added a lot of 'work' to your 'hobby' :tongue:
I've got just the one exhaust, and as mentioned above, I start with intakes full open, and then begin to shut things down as the temp rises. Once I get to my desired temp, it's a matter of babysitting just one ball valve.
You won't need a thermometer with ribs. You'll find many good methods on this site & around the web. With ribs it's more about method, timing, & feel. But by all means invest in a good thermometer. IMHO a dual meat/smoker digital thermometer with remote read out is the way to go.
Good luck with the new UDS & welcome to an addictive habit. :thumb:

SmokinJohn 07-24-2013 10:32 AM

Here is what you need to do:

Read N8Man's post on lighting the fire basket. Follow it to the letter for your first 6 cooks.

Once you have your temperature and fire control nailed down, try it with a pork butt of some chicken thighs first. THEN go back to the sausage.

Bludawg 07-24-2013 10:51 AM

Add 50 deg to your thermo and you will know the temp in the middle.

ajstrider 07-24-2013 12:19 PM

I am not sure what exactly this sausage is that you are cooking but I cook a lot of bratwurst and they are done almost always at one hour or less. I envision your italian sausage to be the same and am unsure where it said it should take three hours to cook them?

Thermal Mass 07-24-2013 12:32 PM

Nice looking UDS! Congrats on the build.

The previous posts will get you to the expert class!!:thumb:

Here is N8man's UDS starting thread:

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