Question for the UDS builders

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by fired up, Jul 21, 2009.

  1. fired up

    fired up Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I have scoured the internet and have seen many how-to build uds smokers. The one thing I am having trouble with is the intake holes.

    Do I drill (3) 1" holes AND another for the ball valve or 2 and one for the ball valve?

    Thanks for your help!
  2. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  3. smokin' dick

    smokin' dick Smoking Fanatic

    Each drum seems to run differently. On my first drum I did two 3/4" nipples and one 3/4" ball valve. The second one has one 3/4" nipple, one 1/2" nipple and one 1" ball valve. This one runs much more stable.

    To answer your question, start with three vents total.
  4. forcedsquint

    forcedsquint Fire Starter

    Post any questions you have, lots of friendly people here. You'll find my post from about a year ago with this information in it (doing another I would just get 2" nipple that's threaded all the way across and use it);

    First I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who helped me out and answered all of my questions before my build. Thanks especially to “bbq bubba” and “BBQ Enthusiast”.
    I put my UDS together last week and have been meaning to post a picture. I'm VERY happy with it. I did ribs last Sunday and they came out great using Billy Bones original rub and cheery wood. I had no problems at all maintaining 240 for 5 hours with very, very little babysitting. I only had to check/adjust the main intake (ball valve) every hour or so. I checked it again two hours after I pulled the ribs and it was still at 200, and I only used one chimney of charcoal with about 12 unlit pieces added in. I totally love it and plan on mounting a handle on the top and a tray on the side.
    Parts list:
    (1) 55 gallon steel drum
    (3) 4" pieces of 3/4" black pipe threaded 2.5" on one end. You can find this in the plumbing section of Home Depot. They will cut it and thread it for $1 per cut. Total price was $5.11.
    (6) 3/4" locking nuts to secure the intake pipes. You can find these in the electrical section of Home Depot.
    (2) 3/4" caps for two of the intakes.
    (1) 3/4" ball valve for the main intake.
    (4) Stainless steel bolts, nuts, and washers to hold the food grate. The bolts are 2.5".
    (1) 22.5" Weber grate that I already had.
    (1) 2" black nipple screwed right into the bung hole in the lid for exhaust.
    (1) Thermometer.

    My charcoal "basket" is made from the bottom of an old Brinkman smoker. I just drilled 1" holes all in the bottom and sides. This already had 2" legs on it. I plan on having a 13"X6" basket with 3" legs made from expanded metal soon.
    My food grate is mounted 27" from the bottom and gives me 6.5" of room to the lid. If I need more room I can use the lid from my 22.5" Weber kettle.
    My intakes are mounted 2" from the bottom.
    I seasoned it by spraying it down with Pam and getting it good and hot for a few hours before my first cook.
    If you have a Unibit it really makes drilling the holes for the intakes very easy. I have no leaks anywhere. Can't belive how this thing holds temperature.
  5. danbury

    danbury Smoking Fanatic

    I have 2 3/4" ball valves on my UDS and it's more than enough. Most of the time I have one shut down and sometimes the other one partially closed.
  6. billbo

    billbo Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I drilled 3 1" holes in the bottom and screwed in 3 3/4" pipe nipples. I have a cap on the back one and 3/4" ball valves on the front two. I am going to have a buddy weld them in for me soon.
  7. donnylove

    donnylove Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    I also have two 3/4" ball valves on my 85-gallon drum and almost never have the second one open. For my 55, I welded two nipples on, but just capped the second one. Most everything I've ever read online suggests that one or two 3/4" valves is plenty.
  8. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    It really depends on what temps you want to cook. I do a lot at 350 and usually have all 3 intakes open, using the ball valve on 1 to keep it at or below 350. If you only want to do 2 and need high temps, you can compensate by cracking the lid slightly, but it changes the draw and is harder to control consistency.
  9. travcoman45

    travcoman45 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I did 3 total holes, all 1 inch which accepts 3/4 inch nipples. 2 of those have caps an the 3rd gets a ball valve. When I start I have all 3 open, start cappin off the two an then use the ball valve to regulate. In the end, I usually wind up with one capped off, one open an regulate with the ball valve.

    Be what works fer me.
  10. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have 4 one inch holes with 3 ball valves. I have to say 4 is one to many imo, if I did it all over I would do 3 one inch holes with 2 ball valves and use a cork to seal up the final intake. I think the caps can be a pita to get off if they sit for any length of time.
  11. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    There are numerous ways to do it but I think the way Tip described is by far the most used configuration.

  12. I've got 4 one inch intakes and use flexible magnets to control the flow. I've found that three holes would be plenty and usually only have two intakes half opened during my cooks. The magnets don't melt and work very well, this was an easy alternative. Once you drill your intakes your done.

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