So I finally finished up my UDS build this weekend and broke it in with a 3 hour empty burn with the intakes wide open, then cranked it down to 225* and seasoned it with a few fatties, then cranked it open again and let it run the rest of the day. I have to say that if there any non-believers reading this thread, if you follow the general guidelines set forth by the brethren they will definitely deliver as promised. When all was said and done, I ended up running around 350* for 9 hours total and 225* for 3 hours total and only used about 8 lbs. of charcoal. Un-farking-believable. Now on to the pr0n:
For this first build, I went with the no-frills-no-skills approach. No welding, no step-bits for the big intake pipe hole, no grinding or cutting. The basket is made up of the charcoal grate from a Weber kettle, 2 12x24" sheets of 18 ga expanded steel, and then some bolts, nuts and bailing wire where necessary:
And here's the UDS itself. For the intakes at the bottom, I drilled 3 3/8" holes around the bottom and covered them up with 1" diameter magnets. Bottom rack is 22" above the base of the charcoal basket and the top rack is 6" above that. Thermometer is the basic 100/475 from BBQ Bonanza.
Minion method setup. Coals lit with weed burner
First batch of "seasoning" fatties
With two intakes blocked and the third at 3/4 open, it settled in to 225* exactly shortly after this and held steady with no tending. I'm blown away by the efficiency of the rig!
And here's a shot of the final product. The one on top was stuffed with sauteed onions and cheddar with Corky's rub. The one on the bottom was stuffed with bleu cheese and bacon with steak seasoning on the outside instead of a rub. I got busy tending to a sick kid so they overcooked a little, but still turned out great.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread. This UDS will bring me and my family a lot of joy and full bellies for many years to come. For anyone on the fence about building their own UDS, do it! There's just something incredibly satisfying about smoking your food in something you built, which just happens to be something that most others use as a garbage can!