UDS with Side Fire Box

Discussion in 'UDS Builds' started by jemm, Aug 9, 2011.

  1. The smoker I have as of now was a gift/loaner from my neighbor in NJ who got it for free from a friend who lives in MA.  Since I live closer to his friend when I'm in MA, he asked me to pick it up and said I could use it for awhile.  But, it's going to my neighbor in September.  Because of this, I started looking around for different smokers to buy/make and I'm pretty set on the UDS idea.

    I'm a noob when it comes to smoking and definitely when it comes to smokers so I'm asking for a little guidance here.  My thought was an electric heating element like what meateater is using (one from cabela's), 2 grates with a thermometer at each level, valve on the bottom, four openings on top with plugs for exhaust airflow as necessary equally spaced apart and (here's where my main question comes in) a side fire box.  Does it make sense/is it necessary to have a side fire box on a UDS?  I understand that I could simply put chunks on top of the electric heating element but I'd rather keep temp maintenance as simple as possible since I am pretty new at this.

    Building everything isn't a problem.  My dad is a good welder and I'm sure between the two of us we can/will make it work.

    Also, say I was making a pork shoulder and some ribs for dinner, and I had the ribs on bottom and the pork shoulder on top, how difference would the temps be between the two levels?  Planned on the heating element around 6" off the bottom of the barrel, bottom grade around 20" above that and the second grate 12" above that.  Make sense?  Figured the fire box inlet into the UDS would be put in around 2" above the heating element?  Tried searching around a bit for this stuff so I wasn't asking repetitive questions but didn't find a lot on fire boxes with a UDS.

    I appreciate the help,

  2. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I've never seen a SFB on a vertical UDS before but not saying it wouldn't work. With charcoal I think it would work but not with electric. I can give you the dimensions on my 30 gallon watt burner.It's 29" tall and 19" across and I have racks at 10" 17" and 24" tall. I have the element 5" from the bottom and put a few bags of chargriller ceramic pucks under it to help hold heat in the dead of winter. I put a water pan on the first rack and meat goes on the others. Hope this helps. [​IMG]
  3. Any reason why you don't think it would work with an electric over a charcoal?  How often do you replace the ceramic pucks and how difficult is it to access the bottom of the drum?  Does the bottom come out or do you kinda just have to reach all the way down?  And what have you found with temp differences between the 17" and 24" rack with food on both?
  4. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I think the electric would have a hard time keeping up to temp in a SFB, I could be wrong on that since I've never seen one. The pucks I haven't replace no need to they stay clean with the water pan. , I have a small shop vac and I use that to suck up any wood dust or whatever from the bottom. I just pull the grates out and I can reach to the bottom no problem. I have a couple analog therms with a short probe one on the front of the drum at 17"  and one on the center on the lid. I just use these to watch drum temps for fluctuations. I use wireless probe therms to monitor my meat temps I don't bother monitoring temps of the grate next to the food, I don't see the reason myself. But that's just me. [​IMG]
  5. O ok, does the sfb make it colder?  Makes more sense to do a pan on top of the heating element to hold the wood chunks then?

    Sweet, makes that easy with the pucks too.  I'm probably going to end up doing much like what you have but with a 55 gallon.  Might only worry was that with the food in the way of the other food and the difference in height that there might be a large difference between temps from one grate to another.

    Figured I'd do a thermo at the lower grate and one on top in the center of the lid.

    Appreciate the help, feel like I'm asking a million questions but I'd like to do this right the first time.  I'm on a college budget right now so can't afford to make too many mistakes!
  6. carbon

    carbon Newbie

    Funny, that very thought of using a SFB occurred to me last month while building my first UDS as I have a Chargriller SFB which I bought as a small grill several years ago that I no longer use.

    Perhaps on my 2nd UDS build I might do this, but shortening the drum a bit to decrease chamber volume and drum height.
  7. zjaybird

    zjaybird Meat Mopper


    Can you send me a pics and specs on your electric uds...I have a friend that wants me to build him a charcoal uds in a 30 gallon and I thought it was too small for that unless he wanted a water pan.  I would like to know more about yours and it might be exactly what he is looking for.


  8. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    P.M. replied to! [​IMG]

Share This Page