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Unread 03-08-2010, 11:31 AM   #1
steveheyes
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Default UDS Temperature problems

Hi all,

I did my first cook on my UDS this past weekend and had some problems with temperature, the cooker would spike if the lid came off but then drop off very quickly and I couldn't maintain temperatures over 200F. I cooked one 10lb pork butt.

My UDS is built according to all the principles outlined on this site. It's a standard 55 gallon drum, 3 3/4" intakes, 1 with ball valve, 8 1/2" vents evenly spaced around the lid.

We did an empty test burn a week ago and it held like a charm at 250F.

When I took the meat off, I noticed that only the region in front of the ball valve was burning, it was like the fire hadn't spread well or had gone out. But I know that earlier during the cook there was an even spread of burning coals. I had all three intakes open for most of the cook, but I had one closed after the initial spike becaue I thought that was what I needed to hold temperature.

I attribute the temperature issues to one of two problems and I'm inviting your opinions on both or any alternatives you can think of.

1. The charcoal we used was not too good. we bought some restaurant grade lump but the bag was full of small pieces, we got the best we could but the lumps were mostly small.


2. I inject my pork very heavily, I use a brine pump and get a couple of pints in there. When we examined the drum afterwards, there was a puddle of liquid in there around the outside of the ash pan, I wonder if there was too much injection in there and as it leaked out it dripped on the fire, extinguishing it. My other cookers have a waterpan so I don't get this problem.

I hope someone can give an opinion on this.

Cheers

Steve
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Unread 03-08-2010, 11:46 AM   #2
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I found I could not get my UDS to go above 225 until I had enough exhaust. Four - 3/4" intake holes (that usually run at the halfway point) and six 3/4 inch exhaust holes in the lid did the trick.

Now I can go to about 310. Without pics, I think exhaust is your problem

Jeff
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Unread 03-08-2010, 12:23 PM   #3
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I'd add another intake, usually they have a total of 4. On cold weather days it takes more time to get temp up. Lump charcoal will help if you can find it. When you take the lid off you get more oxygen in drum, so add more intakes.
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Unread 03-08-2010, 12:38 PM   #4
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When I ran my test burn it sat solid at 250F with one intake capped, one open and the ball valve about half open. Fully open it rose to 300+ makes me think the airflow is ok.

8x 1/2" exhausts should be ok I'd have thought.

I used lump charcoal but over here in England we struggle to get good charcoal. The brand I used is generally quite good but this was a bad bag.

What is puzzling me most is the puddle of liquid that was left. Makes me think the amount of injection I use is too much for cooking directly that way. As I said in the op I do pump a lot of injection in there.
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Unread 03-08-2010, 12:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BRBBQ View Post
Lump charcoal will help if you can find it.
Read the OP again
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Unread 03-08-2010, 01:01 PM   #6
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Sounds like you hit it with the bad charcoal and the overflowing injection. I'm asuming there is space under your fire basket. You have plenty of exhaust and intake. Ive gotten my best results with a 50/50 mix of ro lump and Stubb's and my worse results with any kind of kingsford. Also another grate with a foil pan will help by keeping the juices off the charcoal and defuses some of the direct heat. Sometimes i run the pan empty, sometimes with a little apple juice or water.
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Unread 03-08-2010, 01:13 PM   #7
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You should have enough intake, though I think that a little more exhaust can't hurt.

Regardless, lots of mopping, or in your case, injection liquids, WILL douse your coals to some extent. I've never bothered with injections cooking direct in my drum, but I have doused coals back when I would use a mop. I changed over to spritzing because of that and didn't have any more "dousing" issues.

I guess it depends on how much injection you used, and if you notice an area of a butt or brisket leaking a bunch, just point that to the outside, and maybe it won't drip continually on the coals.

Better luck,
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Unread 03-08-2010, 01:48 PM   #8
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I have 1/2" pipe nipples in my exhaust vents (they allow me to close the smoker down with caps) what I can do is remove those and my exhaust holes will be 3/4". so 8 of them should be absolutely plenty. It's worth a try.

I'm going to back off the injection for the next cook and hopefully with some better charcoal it'll get better.
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Unread 03-08-2010, 02:05 PM   #9
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I'd be willing to bet you hit it right on the head with your original analysis of the issue. It's likely a combo of both bad charcoal and too much liquid on fire.
I'd do a couple more cooks with good charcoal and less injection or defuser plate before I made any mods to cooker yet.
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Unread 03-08-2010, 02:16 PM   #10
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i agree with the liquid puttin out the fire.
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Unread 03-08-2010, 03:13 PM   #11
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I can't speak about the injection, but I know that if my charcoal gets damp, it doesn't burn worth a crap. I try to reuse whatever coals didn't get used the first time and now I am using a smaller amount with each basket full because of this problem.
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Unread 03-08-2010, 03:19 PM   #12
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Thanks for your input guys.

It's really good to know that you guys are here to help out when things aren't working as they should be.
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Unread 03-08-2010, 04:08 PM   #13
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Hey
What size is your charcoal basket? Are you using the expanded metal with 3/4" openings, suspended about 3" off the bottom?

Try it out again with some fresh coals. It might be a moisture issue.
Small pieces of lump should burn hot -n- fast.
Remove the exhaust pipe nipples.

Let us know how it goes.
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Unread 03-08-2010, 04:14 PM   #14
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I know that trying to use a bunch of small pieces of lump is a major pain in the ***. Worst cook I ever had in a UDS was a result of loading the basket with the "bottom of the bag:.
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Unread 03-08-2010, 04:27 PM   #15
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I put a second grate about 6 inchs lower so we can put a tin pan for any juices I only use it for pork butt and brisket do to injecting also .. lots of fluild
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