View Full Version : 1st cook,new UDS

09-29-2013, 11:54 PM
'I'm new to this forum, what an amazing resource it is, So glad to have found it.
I'm not new to cooking in a barrel, Seems most old timers here in Calaveras County own one; The local Volunteer Fire Dept has had "Chicken in a Barrel" fund raisers every year, at least since I was in high school, and that was 40 years ago.

But, my old barrel, at 10 years old, is showing its age. The bottom finally rusted through. Not really a problem, just cut out off the bottom and placed an pan under it, set the charcoal basket on top. But still...

There was no way to regulate the air flow, at least to the point of maintaining a temp for any period of time. We had a door cut through the side to add briquets, or smoke wood, and either 3 or 4 lengths of rebar, from which the chicken would hang of SS hooks. My fire basket is an old rim off a VW, with pieces of rebar welded on the bottom for an air gap. I added eye bolts to it, so I could use a grill, to cook fish or ribs, about the time I got my first Weber kettle. When beer butt chicken showed up, we decided to try it with a turkey, and thats when I used the weber kettle dome lid for the first time. The barrel cooker and a Weber Kettle are a natural combo.

So, in looking for ideas on how to regulate airflow, I found the UDS and the BBQ Brethren, maybe a week ago, got a couple barrels and built my first one today.

Did my first cook in it, did some Chicken, rubbed with lemon juice and Season-All, the first seasoning salt I ever used, only seemed right, it has always been the way, and first meat I cook in a new barrel. With the temp peaked at 375, but that was enough, and I had enough heat left to do 4 huge Portabella mushrooms, and a foil package of Italian squash. Everything turned out great.

I made a slight tweak or two. In hopes of getting that high temp of my old style barrel, I used 4 of the 3/4" intakes. I did not install the risers on the intake, or gate valve. I also drilled 8 holes, for exhaust, just under the rim. No water can enter, as I do barrel in the rain. It also allows me to retain the ability to hang meat to cook. It lets me cook 7 whole chickens at a time, if needed, and nearly as many Tri tips.

I did not install the risers on the intake, or gate valve. BBQ'i why I did not. Guess I'm short enough, its not too much of a reach. The temp only peaked at 375, but that was enough, but I'd like a little more. One likely cause, my old fire basket only holds about 7 lbs of briquets. I'll try it with the full sized basket, and see what my temps will peak at, before I start cutting more air intake holes.

I used the method discussed here, to light mine off. Used a dozen lit briquets to ignite my pile. It took longer then I was used to, to get up to temp, so I'll probably try a whole chimney full next time. I'm thinking as long as I have that intake air regulated, I'll be ok. I played with capping the intakes, seemed like it was a 20 degree drop/increase, on or off. Is this what you all see?

Anyway, very happy with the UDS, going to make another one this week. Got a little get together on the 19th, got a bunch of chicken to cook, so I need a couple more barrels. Thank you for reading, and for any advice you maybe be able to pass along.

09-30-2013, 12:04 AM
Good Deal and Welcome . We like pictures of cookers and the meats so maybe you can take some at your cookout and post.....:grin:

I usually run my UDS at 275-300* but it has climbed to over 400* when I had the lid off wrapping the meat in Butcher Paper - it took it an hour to come back down to 300* with 3 intakes capped and lid on tight.

Sounds like u do yours like the Pit Barrel Cooker

09-30-2013, 12:48 AM
I was busy fiddling with new wireless meat probe, (awesome!) trying to figure out why my new dial temp gauge would not read over 200 (defective?) I used the wireless probe to get what I think was an accurate reading, and once that was in the meat, my old turkey fryer was what I relied on.

Also, the outside of the drum is still in its post burn out state, all grey, and will probably not get painted for a while.

I'd really like to paint them both Camo, but don't know If I can get those colors in Hi temp. I've seen some really eye catching barrels, but I doubt mine will be one.

I'll take a picture of the UDS I built, with the rod racks, and my old one too. It has slots cut thru the rim for the rods, the new one has holes. I thought lifting the rod, chicken and all was going to be an asset, but didn't use it as much as I thought.

Sounds like u do yours like the Pit Barrel Cooker Funny thing. Noah and his twin brother. went to high school with my oldest daughter. His parents live across the street from me. I gave thought to buying one of his, but I'm a hands on kind of guy. He has done a great job with every aspect of his business. Great website, packaging, how to video's all well thought out and very professional.
I have about a 25 year head start on him but we all went to the same school of Barrel BBQ though.

09-30-2013, 06:12 AM
I built mine different than most, I knew I wanted more air flow to reach higher temps and be able control that much air. As everything comes down to controlling the air, in and out and a fire basket big enough to last 20 hrs for long smokes. I cut a 4 inch hole in the lid, I used 2) 1 1/2 pipe elbows with one 1 1/2 to 1 1/4 bushing and one 1 1/2 to 1 bushing and 2 inch magnets. I'm able to stay at most any time I want using the intake and exhaust. With everything full open and the bushings removed, I can run way over 700 degrees for hours ( pizza, steaks, burgers etc). Most want only a smoker and use a grill for the other stuff. I use mine for all of it. But that's me.

09-30-2013, 09:22 AM
So, area wise, I have the same amount of air intake, but less exhaust. My 8 1/2" holes at the top are half of what you run, and if I ran 3 rods for a full load of meat, the holes are obstructed even more. One of my barrels has a 2 threaded plugs in the top, removing one would make for an easy test.

I also need to get the bigger fire basket done, so I can run it with a full load and see what happens.

What is your "usual" air intake configuration for chicken, and what temp do you try to run at?

Thanks for the help! I'm sure all these questions have been asked and answered a hundred times before, so thanks for your patience.

09-30-2013, 02:00 PM
For chicken without a drip pan, the 1 1/4 inlet open, other side blocked it will run 315 degrees on average. With a drip pan I use one of the elbows wide open and the 1inch bushing open I get 425 just above the coal basket, above the birds I'm running 315. All these with the top vent about 1/3 open. For 250 degrees I just use the 1 inch bushing open/no drip pan. Or if using a drip pan I have to use a mix of the bushing inlets and the magnets. I could get by without the bushings, but the magnets are hard to adjust as your are barely sitting on the edges of the elbows and the magnets are strong. Also with the large top vent I can look in on my food real well without lifting the lid.

Paul B
09-30-2013, 07:30 PM
Ooooooooo, I like shiney!!!

Paul B