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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.


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Unread 06-20-2011, 11:02 AM   #1
LoveBBQ
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Default Some questions about starting (and keeping) the fire!

I built my UDS a few weeks ago and have done a couple of cooks on it. I've also used it as a kettle for a couple of cooks with great success. But I have had some trouble with temps at the beginning and could use your help. Here is what has been happening.

1. Fill the basket to the desired level and add wood chunks.
2. Light a chimney, usually about 10-12 briquettes or some leftover briquettes from a previous cook.
3. Once the chimney is going good pour the hot coals into the basket.
4. Place basket into the UDS with all 3 vents wide open as well as exhaust.
5. Once temps seem to get above 300 or so I will close one inlet. After about 5 minutes or so I'll close another and use the ball valve to do the fine tuning.
6. Temps stabilize for about 10 minutes and then start to fall. I've even had the fire go almost completely out before I realized it. At this point I open all vents and the temps start climbing again. Once they get back above 270 I try to start closing things down again. But once I get to just the ball valve only I can't keep temps steady. If I shut the ball valve and leave one nipple open my temps stay good, but a little high (275 instead of 225-250). I don't have this problem when cooking with higher temps when the nipples are wide open.

I am wondering if my ball valve is too high. Hard to see in this pic but there is an elbow just above the ball valve. It is below the exhaust but not by much. Should I get a shorter pipe and lower the ball valve or try something else first?

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Unread 06-20-2011, 11:46 AM   #2
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I would guess it is breathing too much exhaust and there isn't enough oxygen getting too the fire. I would start by getting it a few inches below the lid.
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Unread 06-20-2011, 11:56 AM   #3
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I had my ball valve about 3/4 of the way up and had the same issue. There has been much discussion on this subject in the mother thread, but when I put mine at the bottom the issue went away. My advise is to screw it straight into the nipple in the drum.
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Unread 06-20-2011, 12:56 PM   #4
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I've never used an extended intake on a UDS, just a hole with magnets, so can't comment on height of valve (but have read of issues).

However, I can say with four 1" intake holes 2" above bottom, I have no issues keeping temp, even high temps. I can maintain 375 easy with 2.5 out of 4 holes open. Wide open, and starting with more than 12 briqs, I can do 500 and cook pizza all day long.

Of course I burn through a lot more fuel, but it's fun playing with fire, so I don't mind.
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Unread 06-20-2011, 02:06 PM   #5
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You may be closing things down too late on the climb up. Without trying to hijack your thread, I was trying to dial in my new UDS yesterday and had the same struggles as you, but my valve is right at the bottom. I coulndn't get it to sit at 225-250. I kept going back and forth with it climbing too high, then falling too low with each adjustment. Can any experienced brethren help out with ideas? Do you start with all three intakes open? At what temp do you start to close down the intakes to get it to stabalize? Obviously everyone's UDS has it's own unique intake setting that works for them, what seems to be the average to hold at 230ish? 3/4 open on the ball valve?

Sorry LoveBBQ, not trying to jack your thread, hopefully my questions will help your situation...
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Unread 06-20-2011, 02:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enasnidx View Post
You may be closing things down too late on the climb up. Without trying to hijack your thread, I was trying to dial in my new UDS yesterday and had the same struggles as you, but my valve is right at the bottom. I coulndn't get it to sit at 225-250. I kept going back and forth with it climbing too high, then falling too low with each adjustment. Can any experienced brethren help out with ideas? Do you start with all three intakes open? At what temp do you start to close down the intakes to get it to stabalize? Obviously everyone's UDS has it's own unique intake setting that works for them, what seems to be the average to hold at 230ish? 3/4 open on the ball valve?

Sorry LoveBBQ, not trying to jack your thread, hopefully my questions will help your situation...
No hijack there! Those are the same things I am trying to figure out. It seems I can hold the higher temps just fine, but the lower temps have me fighting a little. Maybe I just need to use a few less briquettes initially to keep the temps down and leave a nipple off. Or hell, maybe throw in a diffuser to reduce the temps a little too. She seems to hold great at about 275-300 with a nipple open and the ball valve open.
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Unread 06-20-2011, 02:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Downtown Smokeout View Post
I had my ball valve about 3/4 of the way up and had the same issue. There has been much discussion on this subject in the mother thread, but when I put mine at the bottom the issue went away. My advise is to screw it straight into the nipple in the drum.
I may do just that on my next cook to see what happens.
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Unread 06-20-2011, 03:26 PM   #8
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I have two capped nipples and a ball valve. Start my basket minion style with 10 briqs +-1. I let it sit outside the drum for 2-3 minutes, put it in and seal her up. All three open to 190, put on the second cap at 215, and either leave the valve open or close it just a little depending on how hot it is outside. Winter style is one nipple open, valve cracked maybe half way. Settles at 228-234 every time. Like you said, every one is different, sounds like you might not have enough vent going. I used to leave the bung out of the top, since the weber mod I leave the vent wide open. Just remember to give it 15 minutes before you decide how it reacted to your last adjustment, maybe longer.
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Unread 06-20-2011, 06:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Downtown Smokeout View Post
I have two capped nipples and a ball valve. Start my basket minion style with 10 briqs +-1. I let it sit outside the drum for 2-3 minutes, put it in and seal her up. All three open to 190, put on the second cap at 215, and either leave the valve open or close it just a little depending on how hot it is outside. Winter style is one nipple open, valve cracked maybe half way. Settles at 228-234 every time. Like you said, every one is different, sounds like you might not have enough vent going. I used to leave the bung out of the top, since the weber mod I leave the vent wide open. Just remember to give it 15 minutes before you decide how it reacted to your last adjustment, maybe longer.
When I drop my basket in my temps rise quickly, to over 300 at the grate level. I don't let it burn like that very long. Maybe I need to let it go for a little bit like that before I start closing things down.
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Unread 06-21-2011, 12:44 AM   #10
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I have my ball valve up high like you do (fat and lazy mod) and do not have issues with the fire dying. As someone suggested above maybe you do not have enough of the top vent open. I usually start capping my intakes on the way up and the temp usually settles around 250 with the ball valve half or 3/4 open. The advice to wait a little before making more adjustments is invaluable.
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Unread 06-21-2011, 08:14 AM   #11
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Try positioning so your intake is up wind from the exhaust?? Divers must do this or risk CO poisioning.
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Unread 06-21-2011, 08:34 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caliking View Post
I have my ball valve up high like you do (fat and lazy mod) and do not have issues with the fire dying. As someone suggested above maybe you do not have enough of the top vent open. I usually start capping my intakes on the way up and the temp usually settles around 250 with the ball valve half or 3/4 open. The advice to wait a little before making more adjustments is invaluable.
My exhaust vent is always fully open. I would think that if it were an exhaust problem though it wouldn't matter how many intakes I have open.
Quote:
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Try positioning so your intake is up wind from the exhaust?? Divers must do this or risk CO poisioning.
The wind swirls around my house. It is always moving in a different direction. I added an elbow to the intake hoping that would help pull clean air in and I make sure the exhaust is always on the other side if the drum. But that doesn't seem to be working.
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Unread 06-21-2011, 11:41 AM   #13
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Thanks for the tips guys! I'll have to try those next time I fire it up. I did notice a big jump in temps when I put the wood in the basket too. The coals sat at about 350 steady until I dopped in a couple chunks of wood, then it spike to 450. Do you add wood right away? On top of the lit coals or on top of the unlit coals before adding the lit? (I'm pretty new to charcoal/smoking, - I've been a gasser for years - )

I have eight, 1/2 in. holes drilled on top for my exhaust, these should be sufficient right? (I have the bung holes closed)
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Unread 06-21-2011, 02:39 PM   #14
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My input( I've read to many posts to ignore this). Start closing your intakes on approaching the temp you want. Trying to bring the temp down to where you want
it will be a battle you wont like.
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Unread 06-21-2011, 03:31 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enasnidx View Post
Thanks for the tips guys! I'll have to try those next time I fire it up. I did notice a big jump in temps when I put the wood in the basket too. The coals sat at about 350 steady until I dopped in a couple chunks of wood, then it spike to 450. Do you add wood right away? On top of the lit coals or on top of the unlit coals before adding the lit? (I'm pretty new to charcoal/smoking, - I've been a gasser for years - )

I have eight, 1/2 in. holes drilled on top for my exhaust, these should be sufficient right? (I have the bung holes closed)
I bury the wood chunks in the unlit charcoal, so it will give a steady continual burn, and won't ignite too fast. I also wait 15-30 minutes after dumping lit coals and replacing lid to allow the fire to stabilize and start putting out TBS. I shake my head when watching videos of folks putting meat in their UDS/WSM right after lighting coals.
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