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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 02-05-2010, 09:48 PM   #1
Brandon H.
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Default Want to build a UDS this weekend, but I need some tips

First I would like to introduce myself. My name is Brandon, I live in Dade City, Florida. Pretty much a redneck town. I am 21 years old (yeah a 21 year old that likes BBQ ). I am new here, but not new to forums. I have been wanting to build a smoker for a while now, and now is the time. I have read many many posts on it, and looks at lots of pictures. Sooo on to the smoker

There is a guy locally, that i can get almost new 55 gallon drums with the lid and locking ring for $10 a peice. I bought one, and they are in great shape. It was a food grade barrel. I had a good fire going in the barrel and burned it out, then cleaned it really good and coated it in oil untill I buy some paint.

I have lots of questions first, hopefully I can get what i am looking for.

1. I noticed a lot of people run there air vents out the bottom then vertical up towards the grilling area. Why is that? Will it affect the cooking??

2. I have never used one of these before, or ate off one. I originaly wanted a offset smoker, but I an going with a UDS to hold me off for now. How does the food on one of these taste compared to nicly built offset smoker??

3. Are there any good way to use 55 gallon drums for a smoker (other the UDS style)?

4. Also, when it comes to the charcoal box, how far away does it have to be from the food? I thought I had heard 23" but im not 100% sure. What if I do to cooking grates, will the air vent allow me to adjust the ehat where I want it to cook something on the lower grate?

5. I noticed many use around 6-10 pounds of charcoal, but whats the burn time on that?? And how do you know if you added enough wood chunks to the charcoal??

I have lots more questions, but for right now thats about it. Im a noob, and I have searched, but its hard finding the right info.
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Unread 02-05-2010, 10:17 PM   #2
conroe85
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Welcome Brandon. I just finished my first UDS this week and started the fire in her at 6:30 tonight. I left for work at 9:30 and she was holding steady at 250. I am doing my test run on her to season it up. I also had a food grade drum and I burned a whole can of propane with a weed burner and the orange liner was still there. I had to grind it off with an angle grinder and good sand wheel. After that mess I burned three pallets in her. The next day I dumped out the coals, wiped the outside off and immediately painted the outside with one can of BBQ spray paint found at Homedepot. What a difference...anyway, back to some of your questions. I mixed charcoal and lump charcoal in the basket and threw a few chunks of oak in the mix. I then fired up about half a stack of charcoal and dumped it on top. Temp rose to 300 and I dampered it off. 30 min later I was running at 250 with no prob. I bought a cheapo NBS from Academy in September and spent more time and money modifying it than the whole UDS project. It is very hard to keep a steady temp with that kind of smoker because of the thin metal it is made out of. I am sold on the UDS and will save my $$ for an expensive horizontal one day. 24" clearance is just about right. I am still a rookie at this myself, but I thought I would go into some detail for you because those were some of my questions. The guys on here are awesome and made my project perfect. I will post some pron of my UDS soon. Good Luck!!
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Unread 02-05-2010, 10:28 PM   #3
motley que
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People do the air intakes up so they don't have to bend over. Keep it simple. All your answers are in theUDS thread. Really in the first 10-15 pages. Lots of good info after that but the early pages tell ypu all you need to know. Keep it simple. I have 3 drums. 1 basic and 2 others that I tried stuff on. Guess which one I use all the time
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Unread 02-05-2010, 10:34 PM   #4
conroe85
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I missed a few of your questions. I'm sure more experienced brothers will answer, but I will give you what I know. Some run the vents up the outside for convenience and looks. I can't see how it would affect anything. I barely had my ball valve opened and was running 250. Point is, not a lot of air is necessary once you get your temp where you want it. I would think that 8-10 lbs of charcoal should run good for 10-12 hours, depending on your temp...maybe more. I use small chunks of wood and add one or two pieces once an hour or so. Look for blue smoke and not a massive white cloud. I always thought that more smoke was better, but quickly learned that less is more sometimes and the guys in here confirmed that. I have a lower grate right now because I only have the flat lid. Once I find a Webber lid I will add my upper. I will let you know about the food after Sunday, but I would bet that it will be the best I have ever done.
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Unread 02-05-2010, 11:18 PM   #5
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Here is the place to go for questions http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=23436 All can be answered here. good luck with your build, you will love cooking on a UDS, endless mods & very small learning curve compaired to other smokers.
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Unread 02-06-2010, 12:29 AM   #6
ChiefOsceola
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Like motley que & evapman said, all the answers (and tons of answers for things you never thought of!) are in the UDS thread.

As for the coal grate...what I've read there says that you need at least 24" from the bottom of the coal grate to the bottom rack.

Still a noob here too, but that UDS thread is a Godsend.
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Unread 02-06-2010, 03:22 AM   #7
snoqualmiesmoker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandon H. View Post
1. I noticed a lot of people run there air vents out the bottom then vertical up towards the grilling area. Why is that? Will it affect the cooking??
Read the whole UDS thread. The whole 145 page bible. It will answer all you need! But people do this who hate bending over. Though in the rain, water will go down it.

Quote:
2. I have never used one of these before, or ate off one. I originaly wanted a offset smoker, but I an going with a UDS to hold me off for now. How does the food on one of these taste compared to nicly built offset smoker??
The food is amazing, but an offset is a different animal. You are cooking over the coals and wood, not "offset". You will get a whole different flavor than that cooked on a different pit.

Quote:
3. Are there any good way to use 55 gallon drums for a smoker (other the UDS style)?
Sure, a horizontal monster: http://www.thesmokering.com/pits/met...by/default.jsp

Quote:
4. Also, when it comes to the charcoal box, how far away does it have to be from the food? I thought I had heard 23" but im not 100% sure. What if I do to cooking grates, will the air vent allow me to adjust the ehat where I want it to cook something on the lower grate?
again, read the bible. It will show you the reasons for this. Sounds like you want to use a double decker? You planning to use a weber lid?

Quote:
5. I noticed many use around 6-10 pounds of charcoal, but whats the burn time on that?? And how do you know if you added enough wood chunks to the charcoal??
trial and error will show you how much wood to use, as each UDS is different. Also, how much wood you use depends on how much smoke you want in your meat.
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Unread 02-06-2010, 07:06 AM   #8
Captain Dave
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Here's the best advice I can give you. Go for a tight, very controllable air intake system. It's all about temp control, and air intake = temperature.
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Unread 02-06-2010, 09:18 AM   #9
Brandon H.
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Thanks for all the replies guys, I appreciate it. I do have a Lincoln 120 MIG welder, so welding isn't a problem. I am still sort of stuck on a offset firebox smoker, but has anyone made one of these with a 55 gallon drum? I have a 20lb propane tank I could use as a firebox, but I fear its too small. What would make a good firebox if I go the offset route and use the 55 gallon drum? I have plenty of angle iron, and there is a metal shop .75 miles away.
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Unread 02-06-2010, 09:58 AM   #10
motley que
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Bite the bullet and do a drum then compare to your offset
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22-1/2 Weber Kettle with Rotisserie
Weber Performer
WSM
30 qt outdoor cooker
Blue Drum Smoker
Red Drum Smoker
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Weber Smokey Joe - my 3 yr olds pit
Blue Thermopen
Harbor Freight Weed Burner


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Unread 02-06-2010, 11:10 AM   #11
Drifter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandon H. View Post
Thanks for all the replies guys, I appreciate it. I do have a Lincoln 120 MIG welder, so welding isn't a problem. I am still sort of stuck on a offset firebox smoker, but has anyone made one of these with a 55 gallon drum? I have a 20lb propane tank I could use as a firebox, but I fear its too small. What would make a good firebox if I go the offset route and use the 55 gallon drum? I have plenty of angle iron, and there is a metal shop .75 miles away.
UDS (upright style)= Easy and cheap to build, easy operate.

Horizontal Barrel Smoker= A lot of work to build and design, and more expense in materials. Uses more fuel and requires more "babysitting" while cooking.

Both have their benefits, but they are two totally different kinds of smokers. It just comes down to what you prefer. Each kind will have it's own "flavor" of 'que also. I have both, and I generally use the UDS, because the offest is more work. Just my $.02.

Edit: my offset is a cheep-o store bought, not made from barrels.Don't know if that makes a difference or not.
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Last edited by Drifter; 02-06-2010 at 11:13 AM.. Reason: forgot something!!
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