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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


View Poll Results: What's your stance on "mods"?
Most of them are unnecessary. 10 17.54%
If it works for you, do it. 19 33.33%
They're interesting to see, but I don't really use them myself. 2 3.51%
Mod me up! The more the better! 3 5.26%
Each smoker is a unique reflection of its designer, and beautiful in its own right. 23 40.35%
Voters: 57. You may not vote on this poll

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Unread 04-21-2010, 10:56 AM   #1
Sean "Puffy" Coals
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Lightbulb MY take on the UDS- step by step build

OK, so my first build went alright, but I'm not really happy with the way it's
working. It's a pain to adjust the 3 inlets I made, steady temps are
basically non-existant and I spent a ton of money and time making a
cleanout door that mostly just gets in the way and causes heat loss.

Rather than spend another $50-$100 fixing all the issues with my first SDS
(sexy drum smoker) I decided to just take the lessons I've learned and
start over. This is my general blueprint:

As you all can probably see, there is going to be only 1 air inlet pipe made
of 2" inside diameter black iron pipe with a simple slide valve. The green
bars represent a "V" shaped piece of 3/4" flat steel bar attached to a piece
of steel rod with a handle at the top. When you move the handle up and
down, the "V" pivots, shaking the ash off the coals.

I found a set of 2 cabinet door hinges that look like they will work for the
lid, and the shelf has a handle hold cut out of it, like most commercial gas
grills have.

The cooking grates are 21.5 inch replacement grill grates with an 18" piece
of 3/16" steel rod bent to form handles. I know most people don't put their
grates so close to the coals, but that's the idea behind the heat diffuser.
It'll just be a flat piece of steel with a bunch of holes drilled to allow heat
and smoke thru.

Have the barrel all cleaned out already and have bought most of my parts
and hardware. Going to have it sand-blasted tomorrow. I'll post the pics
sometime after.
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Unread 04-21-2010, 12:19 PM   #2
bobsuosso
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I wonder if it would be a good idea to install a tee w/ plug instead of an elbow at the bottom of the long length of 2", to drain any condensate (rain) that gets caught in it, on the idea of a drip leg on gas pipe?
Nice job, if you don't mind I might copy it, good luck
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Unread 04-21-2010, 12:36 PM   #3
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Hope this one works for you. I built a basic UDS and have none of the problems you are having.Sometime simple is better.Just my .02 worth.
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Unread 04-21-2010, 12:37 PM   #4
Smoke & Beers
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[QUOTE=Sean "Puffy" Coals;1258049]OK, so my first build went alright, but I'm not really happy with the way it's
working. It's a pain to adjust the 3 inlets I made, steady temps are
basically non-existant and I spent a ton of money and time making a
cleanout door that mostly just gets in the way and causes heat loss.

I've built 12 drums using the basic Redneck Norcor blue print and have success with all of them holding temps. Perhaps the cleanout door is causing your temp problems...not because of heat loss, but the added air flow?

Remember the KIS method (Keep It Simple)...

Let us know how #2 turns out!
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Unread 04-21-2010, 12:43 PM   #5
1FUNVET
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[QUOTE=Smoke & Beers;1258206]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean "Puffy" Coals View Post
OK, so my first build went alright, but I'm not really happy with the way it's
working. It's a pain to adjust the 3 inlets I made, steady temps are
basically non-existant and I spent a ton of money and time making a
cleanout door that mostly just gets in the way and causes heat loss.

I've built 12 drums using the basic Redneck Norcor blue print and have success with all of them holding temps. Perhaps the cleanout door is causing your temp problems...not because of heat loss, but the added air flow?

Remember the KIS method (Keep It Simple)...

Let us know how #2 turns out!
I also followed Norco' plans
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Unread 04-21-2010, 01:58 PM   #6
pahutchens
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Some creative ideas worth considering
No bottle opener?
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Unread 04-21-2010, 02:15 PM   #7
McGurk
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IMHO, A guy should probably learn how to wrench on an old Monte Carlo and get it running good and reliable before trying to improve 1/4 mile times on a Ferarri!

Get some aluminum duct tape (not the stuff you're all thinking of but the REAL stuff) Tape the access door closed, tape over your intake vent, drill holes for nipples with a ball valve on one and caps on the others, and give it another try. You won't be doing that much more work, and probably spending way less money than you would on your second build.
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Unread 04-21-2010, 02:19 PM   #8
jswordy
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[QUOTE=Smoke & Beers;1258206]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean "Puffy" Coals View Post
OK, so my first build went alright, but I'm not really happy with the way it's
working. It's a pain to adjust the 3 inlets I made, steady temps are
basically non-existant and I spent a ton of money and time making a
cleanout door that mostly just gets in the way and causes heat loss.

I've built 12 drums using the basic Redneck Norcor blue print and have success with all of them holding temps. Perhaps the cleanout door is causing your temp problems...not because of heat loss, but the added air flow?

Remember the KIS method (Keep It Simple)...

Let us know how #2 turns out!
I have to say that is right on in my experience. It is so rare to hear someone complain about temp control in these, I just have to comment. I used the "fat belly mod" for easier air control, but once she's burning, I close up all vents except the one with the ball valve on it. I have 4 vents instead of 3, is my only "major" mod to the airflow system.

The door could mess it up, all right, by letting in too much air. You could seal it temporarily with fireplace cement to check that. But I'd also look closely at fire basket design and how you are lighting it.

Is your basket at least 2" up off the floor of the drum? Is the basket large enough in diameter that it takes up most of the drum diameter? Both are important. Look carefully at your basket design. Mine will do two 8 hour or so smokes when HALF filled with coal and fist-size chunks of wood. I just shut off the air after the first smoke, then relight for the second.

The BEST way to light the fire, in my experience, is with a Harbor Freight propane weed burner, and I learned that here from others. In 2 minutes, I can get that fire going evenly and well across the basket. Lower the basket in there and once that UDS hits the temp and all vents are closed except the ball valve, it will sit there solid on that temp for hours and hours.

If that isn't your trouble, I would look at the upper venting, and especially if you are using the drum lid. I use a Weber lid, but guys I know who use the drum lid say you must use a 6" or longer piece of 2" pipe in the large bung to improve draw (if you are not using holes drilled around the lid).

There are only so many things that can go wrong with your fire. Too little air in, not enough going out to make a sustainable draw, or the air that does get in is not getting to the fuel because of poor basket design/size. It's rising past the fuel without feeding the fire and going out with other hot gases, cooling the smoker as it does.

Pix. May give you some ideas...





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Unread 04-21-2010, 02:46 PM   #9
chasmosis
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I hope it works out for you. I'm all for innovation and any way you look at it, its a home made smoker, so its up to you how you go about modding the basic model.

On the other hand I'm in the camp of I built a basic UDS following the Norco plans and mine has worked as advertised from the first time I fired it up. My only mods have been going from a flat drum lid to a weber kettle lid (free), 2nd grate (came with the lid), and side handles.

It seems like so many folks who have had problems with their first drum deviated from the basic drum build in some way. The UDS is easy to build, but also easy to outsmart yourself. Smoke & Beers already said it...Keep it Simple.

Good Luck.
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Unread 04-21-2010, 02:55 PM   #10
Bbq Bubba
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Lose the door & your temp issues will be gone.

Remember, KISS.
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Unread 04-21-2010, 03:04 PM   #11
Skidder
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Sorry but I still can't understand why some don't just build it the K.I.S.S. way and be happy. It's a proven setup. Most that don't always come back here with complaints. I understand that it's fun to experiment but then when things go wrong there right back here wondering what happened. Good luck I hope you can work out the issues.
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Unread 04-21-2010, 04:48 PM   #12
jswordy
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There are some cool mods that do work.

I use super heavy duty foil in the bottom of the drum, a "mod" to aid in cleanup. Every few months, I remove the foil and replace. Saves washing the drum.

I have seen guys screw 3 L-hooks into the fire basket sides, then use U bolts on the top 3 grate bolt areas. They hang the fire baskets from the L hooks in the U bolts and put a grate over them, so they create a grill/smoker combo using the same barrel. That is a neat mod that sort of makes it like an Egg in versatility.

The fat belly mod saves a lot of bending to adjust the airflow.

I also added a grate to hold an aluminum foil water pan.

But the basic design -- that is tried and true.
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Unread 04-21-2010, 04:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bbq Bubba View Post
Lose the door & your temp issues will be gone.

Remember, KISS.

Yes, this is your problem. Any air leak will cause temp problems and I guarantee the door is leaking air.

I'm all about improving and trying new things, but you have changed so many variables that if some thing does or does not work as planned you will not know where to begin looking for problems or making changes, you'll just be guessing.

I would take 1 used drum, make only 1 change and test that out before making any other changes (a test should be more than one burn, more like 3-4). The drums can be made to look cooler and you can add bells and whistles but the basic design is right on the money.

keep us posted.
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Unread 04-21-2010, 05:19 PM   #14
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Nice UDS Build.
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Unread 04-21-2010, 05:40 PM   #15
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good looking design ,good luck ,post pic when you get it built
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