My 16 Gallon Mini UDS build.

Discussion in 'UDS Builds' started by sawzall, May 9, 2011.

  1. [​IMG]

    So I built a "mUDS" for my daughter for mother's day. Works really good until the ash buildup chokes it after about 3 hours. I think I need a better charcoal basket. For a charcoal basket I used the insert for a stainless steel steamer pot. I drilled all the holes in the bottom out to 1/4". I was going to go bigger, but the stainless steel is so hard it destroyed my brand new step bit in the process. I cut a few slots out hoping the ash would fall through but I don't think it's working good enough. For the rack and lid I bought a $22 Uniflame portable grill from Walmart, pictured below. 


    I had to bend the lip on the lid slightly and I also used a hammer and curved dolly (used in autobody repair) and flattened the rolled lip of the rim.  The lid fits very tight now and seals great.  I modified the hinge bottom and mounted it on the barrel.  It works fantastic!  I even mounted the lid retainer so you can actually pick the whole thing up and move it around by the lid handle. The air intakes are four 3/4" ID pipe nipples that I threaded into the barrel and then welded since it's cheaper and easier than using nuts, washers, and / or couplers.  3 have removable caps and one has a ball valve. So far, the valve opened about 1/2 way keeps it at a steady 225-230 for about 3 hours.  The thermometer in the lid as a candy thermometer that is the perfect length. With the lid closed it sits about an inch off the top grate.


    My only concern is the charcoal basket.  I was looking at this cheap charcoal chimney


    and was thinking I could cut the handle off and use it instead. And maybe sit it on a pie plate to use as an ash pan. Any thoughts on this?
  2. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would buy some expanded metal and make a charcoal basket out of that. It works well and is cheap.
  3. michael ark

    michael ark Master of the Pit

    [​IMG]small size should be a fuel miser
  4. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Very cool!!

  5. Unfortunately, the only place close to me that sells expanded metal will only sell full 4x8 sheets and they want $75 for it!  I told them to go @#$% their hats!  That's why I'm looking for a cheap easy solution.  I figure a charcoal chimney should work fine, and it's only $10

    It is, I played with it for about 4 hours and it used about 1lb of briquettes.
  6. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I've been pondering the idea of building a mini as well. 

    Personally I think the coal starter will work with a few mods. 

    I had tossed around the idea of removing the handle, then marking a one inch grid on the outside of the starter. Then drilling 5/8" or maybe even 3/4" holes at every grid intersection. 

    It would be pretty easy to rm the handle and drill out the rivets so that the outter skin could be laid flat for marking and drilling.

    Then probably use a heavier piece of whatever drilled on the grid again for the bottom.

    Roll it back up and rivet it back together. 

    If you try this, please post back with the results.

    Sitting here thinking about it, I have an elcheapo brinkman thats stainless, could work rather well for this.

    Good Luck and awesome job on the build.
  7. Well I made a new basket today. One of the guys I work with brought me a big piece of expanded metal from his scrap pile.  Had to burn the paint off, but it will be just fine! 

    Here's the first basket made from a steamer insert.



    And here is the one I built today:



    I used the charcoal grate from the little uniflame grill I sacrificed for parts and wraped the metal in a circle and used hog rings to hold it all together. Then I took it over to our body shop and tack welded it all together.  The ash pan is the bottom of the steamer pot I got the original attempt at a basket from.  I just cut most of the top off and tacked the bolts I used for stands to the sides.  Should make clean up easier for her.  Currently testing it out.  I have noticed it came up to temperature much faster than before.  Currently holding 230F for the last hour.  I have about 3lbs of Royal Oak Plus briquettes in it.  Will see how long it runs on that much fuel.
  8. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    On a good day with temps in the 80's I can get near 30 hours on about 13 lbs of kingsford lump. 

    Keep in mind thats a near perfect burn. Most times I run in the twenties and finish before the coals run out. 
  9. Just an update, I tried out the expanded metal basket with pretty much the same results.  So I put a total of about 6lbs in and tried it again.  I lit 8 briquettes and waited for them to fully ash over. I put them in a small pile in the middle of the unlit pile.  I had no problem running 230F for 4 hours.  I put four 1/2lb burgers on the grate with some mesquite and let it go for about 2 hours.  When they were done, I shut it down.  It used less than 1/4 of the fuel in the basket for 6 hours. I would call it a successful build! The burgers were great! They had an amazing smoke ring, it almost penetrated all the way through.  The center 1/8" or so was not pink.  It was very impressive to say the least!  What does surprise me is that I need the 3/4" ball valve opened about 85% for it to run @ 230F.  It runs around 250 with it opened 100%.  I assumed it would need less air since it's so small...but I guess the fuel dictates the air requirements, not the size of the smoker.  As soon as I find a suitable 45 gallon drum (55 gallons to you guys south of the 49th) I'm going to build a full size one for myself.  It was lots of fun and the comments I got at work when building it were hilarious!  They all thought I was crazy!  Now I have about 6 people wanting me to build them one!
  10. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Nice build!
  11. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Nice job! I have been kicking the idea of a mini-UDS around myself. I love my 22.5" WSM, but sometimes I just want to do some burgers or something small and the WSM is overkill.
  12. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I like it...
  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Nice Job !!!!

  14. slimtony1974

    slimtony1974 Fire Starter

    Do you have any more pics?? I have that same grill and would like to see what the bottom looks like??

  15. michael ark

    michael ark Master of the Pit

    Is it a option to use the base and make it like a webber?More room, proven fire pit, you already have it.Thats my 1-2-3of ideals.
  16. Sorry, no more pics. It's gone to it's new home.  It just looks like a regular uds only smaller. 4 nipple, 3 capped and 1 with a ball valve.  4 nuts and bolts to hold the grate and the charcoal basket depicted above.
    Well, my first idea was to make a mini WSM like I seen on the Weber forums, The first mini grill I purchased was much more like a Weber Smokey Joe.  It turns out finding a suitable pot is next to impossible where I live for any reasonable kind of money.  The only one I found was at my local Canadian Tire store but it was missing the lid. Instead of selling it to me at a discounted price they put it in their crusher.  I was so mad I left with some foul language issued.  I drove back to work and there the answer was staring at me.  A whole stack of the small drums at the back of the shop.  We get automotive undercoating in them.  I opened up an "empty" one - they still have about 4" left in them that the undercoat machine won't pick up. Turns out the drums are lined with a plastic bag and then filled with undercoating.  I pulled the bag out and voila, brand new bare steel drum inside. Then I thought why waste my time with cutting the drum down like a pot when I could just make a mini UDS with it.  While perusing my local Walmart I found the Uniflame grill and thought the hinged lid would be cool.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2011
  17. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

  18. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I LOVE Farmer Engineering

  19. jennenga

    jennenga Fire Starter

    Here's what I did. Made a charcoal basket out of expanded metal with a grill grate for a base. I ran 3 inch carriage bolts thru the grate to act as legs. At the base of the legs, I attached a cheapy wally world pizza pan to act as a ash catcher. By making legs,it keeps the basket up off the floor, and prevents the ash from choking the burn.  Works pretty good. Just an idea. Good luck!  
  20. zjaybird

    zjaybird Meat Mopper

    I have to ask where is Gladbrook Iowa?   I grew up near Lake Okoboji and honestly have never heard of that town.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2015

Share This Page