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Unread 08-12-2008, 09:18 AM   #1
va_connoisseur
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Default UDS - First Attempt

Greetings All,

I am looking to construct my first UDS and have a few novice builder questions...

1. What method do you all find to be the most accurate at taking at the grate temps? I have heard of the probe in the potato trick but are there others.

2. I have seen a couple of design for the UDS but none seem to have legs, does the bottom of the barrel not char the ground? (yeah, real novice questions but I am a Brinkmann Vertical Smoker guy, and that things has legs)

3. Due to the rigid/airtight confines, these rigs hold the temps real well and for hours, however I have noticed most people cook with standard charcoal and not lumps or wood chunks. Is it because the latter burns too hot and/or fast?

And I have read the several hundred posts on this forum and a couple of other and did not see the answers to these questions. Thanks in advance for your help. And once the barrel arrives, there will be "construction porn". Hmmm, new term, maybe I should coin it. LOL
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Unread 08-12-2008, 10:16 AM   #2
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va, all good questions.
1. Potato works great. You can also buy some inexpensive stove temp gauges at most hardward stores that work fine. ($4-5 range) Maverick makes a nice one for about $15.
2. Bottom does not real real hot because the charcoal basket should be about 3" from the bottom. That allows the ash to collect under the fire and airflow under the fuel to burn properly.
3. Fuel is your choice. Any combination will work. If you have a preference, use that and put a 2-4 wood chunks in for flavor. That is all the wood you really need even in a 10-12 hour burn with about 1--12 lbs of fuel. I mix about half and half with lump and charcoal, and I know it will be consistant. That just comes from practice.
Hope this helps and good luck with the build. You will not be sorry!!!!!!!!!!!
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Unread 08-12-2008, 10:31 AM   #3
va_connoisseur
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Thanks for the reply. Also, the plans I have seen online seem to only use simple tools. Is it a safe bet that I will not need a welder or anything? LOL
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Unread 08-12-2008, 10:48 AM   #4
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I've built three now and haven't needed a welder. The only specialty tool I needed was a step bit or unibit, which now I don't know how I lived without this long. When making my charcoal baskets, I went to a local metal supply place and had them cut the 3/4" round bottoms out of expanded metal for me and then used 1/2 expanded metal to form the vertical part of the ring. I used 1/2" cuz it's much easier to form into the circle.
I'm a briquet guy myself in the drums, in fact I just use Kingsford () and then chunks of hickory and/or cherry. And I use the minion method on that charcoal...
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Unread 08-12-2008, 11:54 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by va_connoisseur View Post
Greetings All,

I am looking to construct my first UDS and have a few novice builder questions...

1. What method do you all find to be the most accurate at taking at the grate temps? I have heard of the probe in the potato trick but are there others.

2. I have seen a couple of design for the UDS but none seem to have legs, does the bottom of the barrel not char the ground? (yeah, real novice questions but I am a Brinkmann Vertical Smoker guy, and that things has legs)

3. Due to the rigid/airtight confines, these rigs hold the temps real well and for hours, however I have noticed most people cook with standard charcoal and not lumps or wood chunks. Is it because the latter burns too hot and/or fast?

And I have read the several hundred posts on this forum and a couple of other and did not see the answers to these questions. Thanks in advance for your help. And once the barrel arrives, there will be "construction porn". Hmmm, new term, maybe I should coin it. LOL
1. I use two things, a Maverick ET73 and I have a 12" Tru Tell thermometer that reaches the center of the drum and slides in just below my lower grate. No pics right now some camera issues this morning. The pics attached are older ones.

2. I built mine a bit differently. I cut the bottom out and set the drum on a stand. I did not want to reach into the drum for cleaning out the ashes so now I just lift the drum over the charcoal basket and the cleanup is easy to get to. The legs are 8" and I am thinking about changing them to 6", They just screw into the flanges welded to the bottom of the stand so will be easy to change out. So my design did involve some welding and I don't have a welder so I paid to get this done. But I like the design and how it works.

3. The only trouble I have is occasionally I have to much intake and I have trouble keeping the temps down. I adjust the amount of exhaust and that helps me out. I use strictly briquettes with 4 or 5 wood chunks or wine barrel pieces for the smoke and I get plenty. The thing I would worry about using only wood is keeping the temps down in such a small area. But I have never had a wood burner so I am not sure on this subject.


The drum on the right is my UDG (ugly drum grill) in case your wondering.
I don't think mine is as consistant tempwise as those with airtight bottoms but I like mine and will try another build this winter and I cannot say for sure knowing myself, but it will probably be a KISS UDS this time.
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Last edited by Barbarian; 11-19-2009 at 07:34 PM..
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Unread 08-12-2008, 11:59 AM   #6
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These are all great answers from some of our UDS experts. Have you read the Ugly Drum Smoker thread. I know it's long, might even take a day or two, but it is well worth the time.

You'll learn more about the UDS and it's builders and it will keep you on track.
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Unread 08-12-2008, 12:02 PM   #7
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Make sure you read the UDS thread. Its a wealth of information if not a bit scattered. Its entertaining at the very least.
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Unread 08-12-2008, 12:07 PM   #8
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As for UDS fuel; I think I'm alone in just using wood chunks. I don't need no long/unattended burn times. Norcoredneck and I have also made powerpoint presentations. Send us an email if you want these.
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Unread 08-12-2008, 12:29 PM   #9
va_connoisseur
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark View Post
As for UDS fuel; I think I'm alone in just using wood chunks. I don't need no long/unattended burn times. Norcoredneck and I have also made powerpoint presentations. Send us an email if you want these.
Thanks, I read the UDS thread over the past couple of nights. Lots of good info but those few questions had not been answered.

My screen name is at yahoo <hint>. As I start constructing my experiment I will keep you all posted.
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Unread 08-12-2008, 12:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by va_connoisseur View Post
Greetings All,

I am looking to construct my first UDS and have a few novice builder questions...

1. What method do you all find to be the most accurate at taking at the grate temps? I have heard of the probe in the potato trick but are there others.

2. I have seen a couple of design for the UDS but none seem to have legs, does the bottom of the barrel not char the ground? (yeah, real novice questions but I am a Brinkmann Vertical Smoker guy, and that things has legs)

3. Due to the rigid/airtight confines, these rigs hold the temps real well and for hours, however I have noticed most people cook with standard charcoal and not lumps or wood chunks. Is it because the latter burns too hot and/or fast?

And I have read the several hundred posts on this forum and a couple of other and did not see the answers to these questions. Thanks in advance for your help. And once the barrel arrives, there will be "construction porn". Hmmm, new term, maybe I should coin it. LOL

I have had a couple of times cooking hot and fast that I burned some pretty nice rings on the ground. The briquettes are up off the floor of the drum about 3"'s but the coals fall through the grates and when your cooking fast it can warm up pretty quick. I set mine on thin cinder blocks now when I'm cooking at contests where the barrell would be setting on grass.
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Unread 08-12-2008, 12:51 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CajunSmoker View Post
I have had a couple of times cooking hot and fast that I burned some pretty nice rings on the ground. The briquettes are up off the floor of the drum about 3"'s but the coals fall through the grates and when your cooking fast it can warm up pretty quick. I set mine on thin cinder blocks now when I'm cooking at contests where the barrell would be setting on grass.
I keep mine up on bricks. Once had a fairly severe flare up when I had the lid off to long. It killed the grass under the cooker.
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Unread 08-12-2008, 02:44 PM   #12
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I'm thinking about putting casters on mine so I can roll it around. What would you recommend?
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Unread 08-12-2008, 02:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stiltz6ft9in View Post
I'm thinking about putting casters on mine so I can roll it around. What would you recommend?

I use this steel deck cart, works fine.
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=38137
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Unread 08-12-2008, 09:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by va_connoisseur View Post
1. What method do you all find to be the most accurate at taking at the grate temps? I have heard of the probe in the potato trick but are there others.
Same as Barbarian, 12" thermometer just below the bottom cooking surface.
Works great no problems at all.





2. I have seen a couple of design for the UDS but none seem to have legs, does the bottom of the barrel not char the ground? (yeah, real novice questions but I am a Brinkmann Vertical Smoker guy, and that things has legs)

No legs, I have mine on concrete. Blocks work good also.





3. Due to the rigid/airtight confines, these rigs hold the temps real well and for hours, however I have noticed most people cook with standard charcoal and not lumps or wood chunks. Is it because the latter burns too hot and/or fast?

Lump or briquettes its your choice.
I have noticed that when I use LUMP and the lid is removed for a small amount of time (1 1/2 to 2 minutes) the temp will rise up higher than with briquettes.


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Unread 08-12-2008, 09:38 PM   #15
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VA, I also have my drums on 2" blocks most of the time. My cooks are on hard surfaces so burning underneath has not been a problem of staining anything. Lots of good advise from the brethren here. Don't get too hung up on the little things at first, just build that super smoker, cook on it, enjoy the great product, shock your friends and yourself with a great taste, and then tweek the small stuff. ENJOY!!!
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