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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 11-14-2010, 03:09 PM   #7171
colonel00
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You are almost always better off with more charcoal than you need. Usually I start with my basket close to 3/4 full which is probably close to 20lbs if not more. Worst case, you have leftover charcoal. Just shut off your intakes and the fire will go out. Use leftover charcoal for next cook.
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Unread 11-14-2010, 03:18 PM   #7172
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I finally had a chance to get pics of this UDS and cart I built for a co-worker. Its another fairly simple build that people could emulate with minimal tools and skill. The shelves are obviously from some commercial shelving that was being thrown out. I also used some scraps as the arms that swing out to hold racks when not in the drum. I did this so you could stack the racks and have them full of meat without them dripping on anything on the cart.




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Unread 11-14-2010, 04:27 PM   #7173
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Hey all,

Another question for you.

The barrel I bought is a bit shorter (34" height) than most. Consequently I don't have as much usable space in the drum. I built my cooking level at 7 inches below the lip, but after I had the fire basket fabricated -- I realized that the difference between the bottom of the fire basket is only 22" from the cooking grate. It seems that the experts maintain I need a minimum of 24" separation. So, I'm two inches short (insert joke here). This is further exacerbated if I'm using 15 lbs of charcoal that are 4-5 inches of height in the basket.

Will the missing two inches cause significant adverse effect? I wouldn't think 22 inches would be so much different than 24.

Thoughts?

-Bastid
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Unread 11-14-2010, 07:55 PM   #7174
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Well got my first meal off the UDS today. I used "Stubbs" charcoal and hickory chunks. What a difference using a good quality charcoal and wood chunks. I have been smoking on a Brinkman electric smoker for about 15 years. I never wanted to use anything else, until I stumble upon this UDS thread. Took me two weeks to make one and WOW. I AM LOVING IT. I will admit I have some learning to do and look forward to enjoying the Q that will come from burning more charcoals. (I have no patients when I adjust the intakes I want to see results right then. That just aint happening when smoking.)
I had a leap of faith in my ability to use the UDS and invited my bud and his wife over for smoked chicken. Well he had the faith. I cook the chicken for about 3 hours and they came out great. I kept the spices simple, salt, pepper, and a little butter. I also tried my hand at ABT for the first time, I’ll be making a lot more of them. Made a few with bell peppers for my wife (she don’t like no hot stuff) and they were good as well.
I have pron but my card reader is messed up so that means another post at a later time.
Thanks for all the good ideas and reading material. I could not have been successful without it.
J
I do have a question, HOW THE HECK DO YOU GUYS GET ROUND CHARCOAL BASKETS? The smallest I could get mine was about 17 inches and it looks like crap. So I built a square one.

Last edited by abigphish; 11-14-2010 at 07:56 PM.. Reason: i made a mistake :-(
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Unread 11-14-2010, 08:22 PM   #7175
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abigphish View Post
I do have a question, HOW THE HECK DO YOU GUYS GET ROUND CHARCOAL BASKETS? The smallest I could get mine was about 17 inches and it looks like crap. So I built a square one.
Depending on the type of expanded metal you get it can be tough. If you get the stuff from Home Depot or Lowe's you can usually for it into a circle. One tip is to use (very carfully) a propane tank. If you have thicker metal, it can be even tougher. If you look at the pics above, I used a tank to roll that basket but still didn't get the ends to bend well. If you do have the thicker stuff, where did you get it? If it was from a metal fab/welder as a drop, you might ask them if they can form it for you.
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Unread 11-14-2010, 10:11 PM   #7176
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abigphish View Post
I do have a question, HOW THE HECK DO YOU GUYS GET ROUND CHARCOAL BASKETS? The smallest I could get mine was about 17 inches and it looks like crap. So I built a square one.
There is a "grain" to the expanded metal. If you bend it with the long points of the diamond shapes vertical it will bend much easier than if they are horizontal, allowing you to get a tighter radius.
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Unread 11-14-2010, 10:41 PM   #7177
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abigphish View Post
Well got my first meal off the UDS today. I used "Stubbs" charcoal and hickory chunks. What a difference using a good quality charcoal and wood chunks. I have been smoking on a Brinkman electric smoker for about 15 years. I never wanted to use anything else, until I stumble upon this UDS thread. Took me two weeks to make one and WOW. I AM LOVING IT. I will admit I have some learning to do and look forward to enjoying the Q that will come from burning more charcoals. (I have no patients when I adjust the intakes I want to see results right then. That just aint happening when smoking.)
I had a leap of faith in my ability to use the UDS and invited my bud and his wife over for smoked chicken. Well he had the faith. I cook the chicken for about 3 hours and they came out great. I kept the spices simple, salt, pepper, and a little butter. I also tried my hand at ABT for the first time, Ill be making a lot more of them. Made a few with bell peppers for my wife (she dont like no hot stuff) and they were good as well.
I have pron but my card reader is messed up so that means another post at a later time.
Thanks for all the good ideas and reading material. I could not have been successful without it.
J
I do have a question, HOW THE HECK DO YOU GUYS GET ROUND CHARCOAL BASKETS? The smallest I could get mine was about 17 inches and it looks like crap. So I built a square one.
I had the same problem. What I found worked best was to measure the circumference (= 3.14 x diameter) needed and divide by 2. Measure the expando so you have two equal lengths ( each one should equal half of the circumference needed. Bolt up the expando end to end, then carefully approximate the other ends into a circle and bolt them together. Somehow this worked much better than trying to roll the expando around a propane tank.
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Unread 11-15-2010, 04:05 AM   #7178
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I went to a local fab shop to get my baskets rolled. I used the thick expanded metal...your not bending this stuff without a machine or a torch and lot of your time. I told the guys I needed two pieces of some "scrap" expando rolled into a basket. They looked around and found a few pieces, sheared it on the machine and rolled it into a basket. I then wen to the corner store and bought two 30 packs of beer and took it back to them. I took the baskets home and tack welded them together. They will last forever since I went with the heavy duty stuff. The home depot expando is too thin for my tastes.
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Unread 11-15-2010, 07:54 AM   #7179
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I use a Weber charcoal grate as my "form" for the charcoal baskets. I weld a 1" x 1/8" x 8" vertical to the grate and proceed to form the metal to the grate as I weld it.
Comes out about 18" diameter and 8" high. Can hold up to a 10 lb bag.
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Unread 11-15-2010, 09:20 AM   #7180
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unfathomable Bastid View Post
Hey all,

Another question for you.

The barrel I bought is a bit shorter (34" height) than most. Consequently I don't have as much usable space in the drum. I built my cooking level at 7 inches below the lip, but after I had the fire basket fabricated -- I realized that the difference between the bottom of the fire basket is only 22" from the cooking grate. It seems that the experts maintain I need a minimum of 24" separation. So, I'm two inches short (insert joke here). This is further exacerbated if I'm using 15 lbs of charcoal that are 4-5 inches of height in the basket.

Will the missing two inches cause significant adverse effect? I wouldn't think 22 inches would be so much different than 24.

Thoughts?

-Bastid
I think you should be fine. The closer you get to your fire, the hotter your cooking surface obviously but you should be able to control your temps sufficiently to account for that. It's been my experience that there's about a 50 degree temperature gradient for every 3"-4" distance from the fire. I have two grates on my drums. The bottom is between 23" and 24" from the bottom of the fire basket. The grate above it is 4" above and consistently runs 50 degrees cooler than the bottom grate.

I'd think that dropping your cooking grate to just 22" would only mean that you'd need to dampen your fire down a little more.
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Unread 11-15-2010, 09:47 AM   #7181
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Southern Home Boy View Post
I think you should be fine. The closer you get to your fire, the hotter your cooking surface obviously but you should be able to control your temps sufficiently to account for that. It's been my experience that there's about a 50 degree temperature gradient for every 3"-4" distance from the fire. I have two grates on my drums. The bottom is between 23" and 24" from the bottom of the fire basket. The grate above it is 4" above and consistently runs 50 degrees cooler than the bottom grate.

I'd think that dropping your cooking grate to just 22" would only mean that you'd need to dampen your fire down a little more.
Thanks a ton, Southern. I was thinking the same but since I'm the newb on the block, I thought I'd ask rather assume anything. I did my "test burn" last night and held 225 perfectly (measured by a side gauge at cooking rack level) for several hours. But that's without FOOD. We'll see what it does with a 10lb brisket I have planned for this weekend. I'm thinking about punching a hole in the lid for a second thermometer. I'm assuming this will show me roughly 50 degrees cooler temps. Thoughts?

-Bastid
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Unread 11-15-2010, 10:20 AM   #7182
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I think there are two common methods for lighting. There is the chimney method - where you put a dozen or so fully lit coals on the basket of unlit - and there is the weed burner method.

With the harbor frieght weed burner (that you probably already purchased to help with the burn out), you set it to a medium flame (with all of the nipples open - it needs air), till you get a small percentage of the coals started. Once you think they are caught, then close up the top and watch them temps. it's trial and error - but after a few runs you will get the hang of it. catch the temps on the way up and close your nipples as needed.

That said - I have a BBQ Guru on mine. I set the Guru (with the temp probe outside the barrel - so it is just blowing wide open), and hit the coals for a couple minutes with the weed burner). Once I feel like the coals have caught (and I probably overdo the weed burner just a bit here), I close up the pit and insert the temp probe. I usually have a stable pit at cooking temp in about 15 minutes.
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Unread 11-15-2010, 10:29 AM   #7183
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unfathomable Bastid View Post
Thanks a ton, Southern. I was thinking the same but since I'm the newb on the block, I thought I'd ask rather assume anything. I did my "test burn" last night and held 225 perfectly (measured by a side gauge at cooking rack level) for several hours. But that's without FOOD. We'll see what it does with a 10lb brisket I have planned for this weekend. I'm thinking about punching a hole in the lid for a second thermometer. I'm assuming this will show me roughly 50 degrees cooler temps. Thoughts?

-Bastid
Do you have a flat lid or domed lid?
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Unread 11-15-2010, 12:20 PM   #7184
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Southern Home Boy View Post
Do you have a flat lid or domed lid?
Southern,

I have both a flat barrel lid and a weber kettle lid. I plan on drilling the hole for the thermometer in the flat lid (my weber kettle lid already has one). Unfortunately, my kettle lid doesn't fit the barrel tightly. It kinda balances on top of the rim, actually, even though the seal seems to be fairly good.

-Bastid
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Unread 11-15-2010, 04:53 PM   #7185
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unfathomable Bastid View Post
Southern,

I have both a flat barrel lid and a weber kettle lid. I plan on drilling the hole for the thermometer in the flat lid (my weber kettle lid already has one). Unfortunately, my kettle lid doesn't fit the barrel tightly. It kinda balances on top of the rim, actually, even though the seal seems to be fairly good.

-Bastid
You probably won't see too much of a difference between the flat top and the cooking grate, maybe 20-25 degrees would be my guess, but try it and see what you get. I could be totally off.
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