View Full Version : First smoker / UDS build with pics

09-08-2009, 08:35 PM
Well I found a nice barrel a couple weeks back and was at first just going to use it as a burn barrel.

Then I got a weber kettle grill given to me and noticed the lid fit perfect and thought it would be cool to make a smoker out of it.

Google it... Found this forum.... read like 100 pages of the UDS thread, and here I am after 3 days in the garage with a pretty cool UDS!

My barrel had the tan liner but was used for a foodgrade acid, So I drilled three 1" holes at the base, and stuffed it full of scrapwood I had in the garage, soon there was flames shooting 6 feet out this sucker and in a short while the drum was paintless inside- Had to use a wire wheel and grinder to get all the leftover outer paint off.

The next day I gave it a thick coat of black engine block paint and rubbed the inside down with vegetable oil.
Oh yeah- I had to cut the top tid out with a skillsaw but towards the end of the build I had an idea and reused it to double up the bottom of the barrel before drilling holes and installing 4 castor wheels from an old creeper I had in the garage. I only have one weber grate at the moment but had a small weber kettle I used fo the fire box. I had to drill a hundred holes in the thing- but still not sure if it will have proper airflow- If not- no big deal, im a welder and have plenty of material at work to make another one. I liked the idea of using the little weber kettle for the coals because it has a nice handle but not sure if it will hold enough coals?

Anyway- I destroyed a couple other grills I had for parts like the shelves and handles. ended up converting the bottom three 1" holes to 1/2" with the use of large washers and 1/2" fittings, my air shutoff valve is in the back - didnt want it in the front or I would of been tripping over it.

Well- it took me 2 full weekend days,and 2 evenings to build this thing and I went through about 3 cases of beer, now I have a nice mess in the garage to clean up.

The build cost was $10 for a brand new drum, everything else- I had, only other things I had to buy was some large washers for my nipple fittings, a shutoff valve, a small thermometer, and the digital which I route through a small hole in the drum next to the shelf it sits on.

Total cost, about $45.

Now- Ive been dreaming of smoked ribs and brisket but have never smoked anything before so I do have a few questions.

First- Do you think the small weber kettle with holes in it will work well for the fire box?

Second- I did add a second "4 holed" weber exhaust vent but didnt have a 1/2" holesaw bit so had to use a 1" bit- but, the weber vent damper covers the extra size of these holes. Do you think I will be OK running all 8 holes open or may I have to shut them all partially? I added the extra 4 holed vent because I read here a bunch of times that one needs a minimum of eight- 1/2" vent holes.

Last question- I will be googling how to smoke ribs,brisket, ect. Will those cooking guides adapt well to a UDS style smoker or will they all cook faster?

Any UDS cooking guides?

Thanks to all who read through my long drawn out post- but im just excited to have finished my first UDS! And the Ol' Lady and everyone else dont seem to enthused yet.... Hopefully I can smoke up some good eats to change there minds soon! :biggrin:

09-08-2009, 09:05 PM
Excellent Paint Job you got going....Fire it up for a seasoning run and see how that charcoal basket works out, it maybe fine for shorter cooks like ribs and fatties and ABTs....Good Job!!!!

09-08-2009, 09:08 PM
Sweet looking UDS, like M8man says "Fire it up" get it dirty. Can't wait to see some of your results from cooking.

09-08-2009, 09:10 PM
Nice job. Dig the paint!

09-08-2009, 09:15 PM
Get started, make them enthused! nice work, looks cool.

09-08-2009, 09:24 PM
good looken drum!!

Mark Stanton
09-08-2009, 09:28 PM
Looks good! Test run time

BBQ Grail
09-08-2009, 09:30 PM
Nice. Test drive time?

09-08-2009, 09:32 PM
nice drum, feed em and they will understand

JD McGee
09-08-2009, 09:32 PM
Nice lookin' pit bro! :-P My only concern would be the charcoal basket clogging up with ash. Might not be an issue using lump but briqs might pose a problem. Only one way to find out...fire it up! :biggrin:

09-08-2009, 09:36 PM
That's a real nice looking Drum. I think the fire box should work. Might be a good idea to put some kind of "Ash Pan" to collect the ashes. Otherwise you'll be having to dump the drum over to empty the ashes that fall thru the holes. Give it a go and see how it holds the temp.

09-08-2009, 09:42 PM
I love that paint job! :mrgreen:

Meat Burner
09-08-2009, 09:55 PM
That is an excellent UDS! Fire that bad boy up and smoke on. Would agree with JD about the charcoal basket being a little iffy. Drill another hole between each on and you are golden. Keep us posted brother.

Crazy Harry
09-08-2009, 10:16 PM
fire it up and find out.

09-08-2009, 10:34 PM
I'm diggin' the new drum!

09-08-2009, 10:46 PM
Looks good from here! Swab down the inside with cooking oil, roll up a couple of fatties & do your seasoning burn. By the way, it's a violation of Brethren Law to only cook one fatty (unless it's a monster!).

09-10-2009, 05:32 PM
Well I ended up building a new fire basket today- used the grate from an old weber and some expanded metal around it- its about 12" tall and 15" wide, I put some 2" tall legs on the bottom. I filled a chimney with briquets and surrounded it with the rest of the coals (9 lbs total) I planned on lighting the coals inside the ring and after they got going- pull the ring off and stick the basket in the barrel- but all the coals caught fire right away and was dancing around getting the basket in the barrel without burning myself. Next time I will add a few lit coals to the rest while the basket is IN the barrel already-lol.

Anyway- no meats to throw on this sucker tonight- just getting it going to get aquanted with my new UDS and trying to get the temps mastered.

This weekend I will roll up a 2lb fatty and a few back ribs- cant wait

09-10-2009, 05:38 PM
Great looking drum!!

09-10-2009, 05:53 PM
Be sure and post pics.

AR Pork Producer
09-10-2009, 06:45 PM
Looks good. I hope mine turns out that pruddy!

09-10-2009, 08:07 PM
Gave my UDS a test run for about 4 hours, very impressed with how easy these are to keep at a desired temp, I ran it with one nipple cap off and the ball valve open and it stayed about 225-230 degrees the whole time!

But I didnt notice much smoke at all???? I added about 6 chunks of mesquite right ontop of the hot coals but none of them seemed to really start burning???? I noticed some smoke for about the first 20 minutes after I started the coals but after that I didnt see any smoke coming from the vents and had to check the coals a few times because I actually thought they went out since I seen no smoke, but the temp stayed a steady 225-230 the whole 4 hours.

I only used a 9lb bag of charcoal and it seemed the charcoal in the middle burnt first and then its ashes fell through leaving an outer ring of uncooked charcoal along the edges- any suggestions? should I use more charcoal?

Found these 9lb bags of royal oak charcoal on sale for $1.99 a bag so bought a few.
Is this charcoal any good?
I didnt notice but it is minute light and when I added some hot coals to the fire basket full of charcoal it all instantly ignited. I had the fire basket out of the UDS, next time should I do it with the basket inside the uds?

Should I avoid minut light and match light type charcoals in the future?

Anyway- the smoker seems to work great- I just need to learn the tricks of using it. I think next time I will use 2 bags and mix the woodchunks up in it. Whatever is left over after that I can use again.

09-11-2009, 06:31 PM
I would most definitely stay away from Match-light or other self starter coals, they have petroleum in them and your UDS and your food will have that smell in it and the food will taste of it. easiest solution is to soak newspaper in cooking oil in bottom of chimney or firebox, then coal on top and light. or get a weed burner.....