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Old 07-19-2011, 03:23 PM   #8273
Got rid of the matchlight.
Join Date: 04-13-11
Location: Norfolk, VA

Originally Posted by Claude View Post
Well, my first UDS is almost done. I had posted a while back about grinding the edge off of the top of a closed barrel and then using that top as the lid. I regret to report that I have no report. The friend that is helping me build got tired of seeing the parts laying around his shop and just got started. He used a plasma cutter to cut the inside of the lid and then ground down the edge a bit. It works out, though. I had an extra barrel around to cut for my lid. We cut it just below the first 1/3 rib so that the "lid" has a full rib. Thus, the lid will wedge inside of the lip of the UDS. Does anyone have any comments about the lid being over the lip versus inside the lip? I already have another tab open, searching "aluminum foil mod." I'll report back on the air tightness of the lid later.

The burn out was completed today. The next couple days will be some light grinding on the outside to prep for painting. I hope to do a test burn as soon as I can thereafter. Assuming all goes well, fatties to season after that.
Well, it's a good thing that I had read most of this thread before I tried my first cook. I ran into a number of problems that were quickly solved with no worry or fuss on my part. I basically ended up with a redneck build - . The welding of the nipples didn't go well so we picked up some conduit nuts. I didn't find out until later that the conduit nuts mostly melted during the burn out. More on that later.

I got the UDS home and did a quick test burn one evening to see how it held temps. The temps were stable, but quite a bit higher than I thought they should be. **Lesson #1 - Calibrate your thermometers** As it turned out, my fryer thermometer was measuring almost 50 degrees high. Adjusting down, the temps were right around 275-300. I tried to shut it down to save some coals. But, with the poor connections that I had at the bottom valves, I was obviously getting too much air in to extinguish the fire. The next morning when the fire was still burning, I decided to just open her up and let it finish. **Lesson #2 - While air tightness is important, there is a certain amount of fudge factor if you don't need to completely extinguish the fire.**

This is where I got ambitious. I picked up two butts from Costco and prepped for my first UDS cook and my first overnight cook to feed the guys at work the next day. **Lesson #3 - Some may prefer otherwise, but, in a pinch when your hose nipple falls out, a small sheet magnet off the fridge will do.** I started half a chimney and poured it on top of the basket. About an hour later I put the meat on the grill (10:30pm). I checked the drum every half-hour or so. By 11:30, it was getting a little too high (I was going for 225-250ish)**Lesson #4 - Small adjustments in your ball valve will make a big difference and will take some time to become apparent.** I sort of ignored this last lesson. I made one more adjustment and went to bed.
I woke up at 5am and the drum temp had dropped to 175. My butts were still at 155. I opened the ball valve all the way up. By 7:15, the drum was at 225 and the butts were at 155. **Lesson #5 - If you butt didn't finish cooking or you run into some problem, you can always foil it up and finish it in the oven.** I put the butts in the oven at 300. Just over an hour and a half later, the probe told me that the butts had reached 195. I wrapped them in a towel and put them in the cooler. A couple hours later, the butts were still a little warm (180ish). But, it was time to eat. I pulled the meat (wow, was that easy) and served it up. The meat turned out great. I felt like I had a pretty decent smoke ring and no off flavors. It certainly didn't last long around 20 hungry guys.

I ended up using the top 1/3 of another drum for my lid. I do not have a great seal. I tried a modified weber top that I found on the side of the road that didn't give me a great seal either.

Hence, the aluminum foil mod. She sure is ugly.

One of the butts.

What was left.

Thank you to all of the posters on this thread. It was fun. I will post more food pron next time. For my next cook, I will also be sure that I can check the drum a little more often (as opposed to leaving it alone for 5 hours)... during the day might be nice.
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