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Unread 07-28-2011, 11:53 PM   #1
JMSetzler
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Default WSM vs UDS Temp Control

I have done two smokes on my WSM with an empty water pan... no water, sand, or anything in the pan at all. When I use the WSM this way, which I should NOT do, I run into a problem of keeping the temp under control. In these instances, I have to remove the lid periodically and that feeds the oxygen to the fire and gets the temp way up. The last time I did it, I shut down all the vents and still couldn't bring the temp back down below 300 degrees.

Since I'm considering building a UDS, will I expect the same situation there? Most of the UDS designs that I have looked at don't use a water pan or a diffuser plate of any kind. If those lids come off too frequently, will the temp run away?
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Unread 07-29-2011, 12:28 AM   #2
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I have only done two cooks with a friend's UDS and the temperatures held just as steady as a WSM albeit I only cooked for up to 5 hours at a time.

Several have used a diffuser because they don't like the taste of the fat hitting the coals and shooting back up at the meat.

I only used the top grate on this smoker so maybe that isn't an issue with it being so high?

I think if you don't overdo the amount of charcoal you use you are probably going to have no trouble with temperature control.

Did you find another drum?
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Unread 07-29-2011, 12:33 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by sandiegobbq View Post
Did you find another drum?

Unfortunately, no. I might visit a scrap yard tomorrow and see if they have anything I can get...
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Unread 07-29-2011, 12:33 AM   #4
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Short answer: yes.

However, there's more to it. Towards the end of the cook, I only have a few minutes of off lid time before the fire starts to run but putting the lid on always brings back under control. I've not cooked on a WSM though, so I don't have any direct correlation.

When I first started cooking with my UDS I thought I'd be adding a water pan. I guess it wouldn't hurt but with a half dozen cooks on it, I'm not in an hurry to add one.
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Unread 07-29-2011, 12:59 AM   #5
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I left my lid off one tip while I painted glaze on the chicken. Mistake. Temp went way up!
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Unread 07-29-2011, 06:20 AM   #6
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It's all in the design. All of my smokers use a smoker plate or diffuser and a water pan. Those two items allow one to control the temp without shutting air down or making changes in the airflow, resulting in more time involved to get a cleaner burning fire. I do believe this can affect the taste of the food, not in a good way. I won't argue about the humidity issue while using the water pan, which I like. I will say I think they are a great way to control temp issues. When the wood used for smoke flavor ignites and raises the interior temp, pouring room temp fluid in the pan along with bleeding excess heat off by removing lid and replacing instantly corrects the problem. Also allows me to place lower rack, two on 55gal. models, within one inch of pan and using flat lids with over 7.5" rack spacing. I like being able to load the firebox for a long cook and controlling it. Not putting just enough charcoal in to hope to keep temps down. What happens when one doesn't figure the correct amount? Having to add fuel not only takes time but changes the potential taste of what's being cooked IMHO. I see plenty of cookers that perk right along with no temp problems at all. But I do hear of all these runaway temp issues and spikes that won't go down. The pan fixes that. Even if it was used strictly as a heat sink, like filling with aluminum foil balls or other material. Steve.
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Unread 07-29-2011, 06:32 AM   #7
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i have a UDS and an easy way to keep temps under control is to plan when you are going to open the lid to spray/glaze/sauce etc. if you know you will open, shut down your valves a few minutes before. this lowers the O2 in the drum. open, do your thing, close up BUT, leave the valves shut for another couple of minutes. you just opened the lid and fed it O2 so wait a bit, then open the valves back up to set the desired temp. you should find that you keep you temps pretty stable doing this.

YMMV

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Unread 07-29-2011, 08:08 AM   #8
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JM,
I haven't used my UDS yet but I did build a "heat shield" into mine. About 12" below the cooking grate, I have another grate that can be used for food but I plan to use it primarily as a water tray to catch drippings and hold water that will add moisture and maintain heat temps. Won't be as fancy as the WSM I have, but it should do the trick.
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Unread 07-29-2011, 08:17 AM   #9
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What sbramm said. Just close down your intakes before removing the lid and you'll be OK...especially once you practice the timing a bit. Every drum is a little different so just experiment until you find what works best for yours.
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Unread 07-29-2011, 10:36 AM   #10
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try some practice runs on the wsm, i use a 10 or 12 inch clay pot base, wrapped in foil in my drip pan, catch the temps on the way up, and its rock steady for hours and hours.

the vents wind up being 1/8 to 1/4 inch open and it runs forever.

i dont leave the lid off long but never had spikes like you mention.

also cooker should be good and stable at your temp, mine is usually 275, it likes it there. also make sure you dont have any large air leaks..

just a thought.
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Unread 07-29-2011, 12:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMSetzler View Post
I have done two smokes on my WSM with an empty water pan... no water, sand, or anything in the pan at all. When I use the WSM this way, which I should NOT do, I run into a problem of keeping the temp under control. In these instances, I have to remove the lid periodically and that feeds the oxygen to the fire and gets the temp way up. The last time I did it, I shut down all the vents and still couldn't bring the temp back down below 300 degrees.

Since I'm considering building a UDS, will I expect the same situation there? Most of the UDS designs that I have looked at don't use a water pan or a diffuser plate of any kind. If those lids come off too frequently, will the temp run away?
If you haven't gotten a grip of the 18" bullet, and you feel you should NOT use a dry waterpan and you are lifting the lid and wondering why the temps skyrocket and can't control them-

Then building yourself a drum smoker and cooking that style, you might as well copy and paste your question and save it for the Drum smoker thread.

Seriously- 99.9% of the time I cook with a foiled over dry waterpan in the 18 & 22 WSM's.

I load the charcoal ring, fire them off with a weed burner (Jim Minion calls this lighting his cooker) and when the coals start to ash over on the edges, assemble the bullet. All 3 vents open 100%- Now this is the kicker-have all your meats ready for the cooker, and when the dome or grate temp hits 225*-250* quickly load the racks, the temps should drop to @210* then close the 2 side vents and control the temps with the remaining vent (I position it below the door) in a matter of minutes the temps settle in at @225-230* and just cruise.

To answer the Drum question-YES, they will tend to have temp spikes if you continually open the lid, and the size of the basket and amount of charcoal has a lot to do with not being able to reign in runaway temps. I only use 10-12 lbs of charcoal for long cooks in my drums compared to 15-21lbs in the WSM's.
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Unread 07-29-2011, 12:44 PM   #12
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I'm still getting used to my new UDS and I've noticed the degree of temp spikes, although not severe like some report, greatly depend on the amount of charcoal you have in the basket and whether you're using some sort of a diffuser or not.
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Unread 07-29-2011, 04:23 PM   #13
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I have a rule- after taking the lid off of the UDS, I don't look at the thermometer for a half hour after I put the lid back on. Hasn't failed me yet......
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Unread 07-29-2011, 04:25 PM   #14
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Just put water in the pan, why is everyone so freaked out about doing this?
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Unread 07-29-2011, 06:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbramm View Post
i have a UDS and an easy way to keep temps under control is to plan when you are going to open the lid to spray/glaze/sauce etc. if you know you will open, shut down your valves a few minutes before. this lowers the O2 in the drum. open, do your thing, close up BUT, leave the valves shut for another couple of minutes. you just opened the lid and fed it O2 so wait a bit, then open the valves back up to set the desired temp. you should find that you keep you temps pretty stable doing this.

YMMV

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