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UDS builders/users, got a question...

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
After 4 test runs, I finally got my Brinkmann charcoal/water smoker modded (read: enough holes drilled) to keep a stead 225-250 and finally try some meat on it. Saturday, I did a 5 hour smoke and cooked a 3.5 pork loin, and a about 1.5lbs of chicken thighs.

HOLY CRAP! This was the best thing I've ever cooked (and probably eaten) in my short life. My whole family liked it, even the gf and mom who do not really like smokey flavors, but it was an instant hit, all thanks to this site.

After doing this, I've thought of ideas to make my free Brinkmann even better, but I think it's cheaper to start building a UDS instead. My question is, what do UDS users do as a water pan, if they have one at all? I'm sitting here pondering it and do not recall seeing any with water pans, and that got me pondering why the Brinkmann even has a water pan, if most smokers use only smoke? What is the purpose of it, and do I need to factor this in to my build?

BTW, anyone in DFW, I found a place selling food grade drums, USABARRELS.COM, so check them out if you need one, and if anyone knows someone selling something closer to Fort Worth, let ME know, haha.


I'll probably end up driving out there to get one, though.
post #2 of 14
Water and fire don't mix.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Also, how is that I had to drill 50 holes into my Brinkmann that has a 1 inch ring for airflow around it on the already, but I can get a way with 3/4 ball valves on the UDS?

Engineering miracle?
post #4 of 14
You don't need a water pan with a UDS. I believe the reason the ECB has one is to act as a thermal mass to aid in temp recovery and to act as a shield between the heat source and the meat.

The UDS doesn't need any help in the temp recovery department because of the massive updraft of heat that is created when the lid is removed which sucks in a lot of air through the intakes.. It tends to stoke the fire and the most common effect is a temp spike if the lid is left off too long or the intakes not closed when the lid is off.

The UDS doesn't need a shield between the meat and the heat source because the first cook grate is usually 24" above the bottom of the charcoal basket.

As far as your question on the holes, you are comparing the charcoal basket to the intake vents. You had to drill holes in your charcoal tray but a UDS usually is a 13.5" diameter charcoal grate from a small Weber with an 8" piece of 3/4" expanded metal around it on 3" legs.

No problem getting air to the charcoal in this case.

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Wow, thanks for the info.

How tall is your basket? Any photos of it compared to a Weber chimney or something? How much more than a chimney does it hold?
post #6 of 14
Just finished my UDS build on Saturday. I used it to cook for the first time on Sunday. I have a cheapo verticle smoker with a water try too, but WOW what a difference. I would use the UDS anyday over the little guy. It was VERY easy to control temps, the fuel lasts for a LONG time and the best part is my neighbors asked if I was "cooking with a trash can"
post #7 of 14
My basket has 8" high sides. It sits on 3-1/2" bolts double-nutted which hods it 3" off the bottom of the drum so it is 11" tall overall..

It will hold 12 pounds of Kingsford Competition briquettes or 18 pounds of Royal Oak briquettes. biggrin.gif There is a huge weight difference between the two. The RO makes a TON more ash than the Kingsford Comp. I've never wieghed how much lump it will hold.

With the basket loaded 2/3 of the way full with Kingsford Comp, it is no problem at all to cook for 16+ hours on a single load at temps of 250ish. Very handy when doing briskets. And I usually have PLENTY of fuel left to kick the temp up to 350° after the brisket is done if I feel like doing burnt ends.

post #8 of 14
i just made a uds and also have brinkman one like yours and i cant get over how great my uds is, you wont be disapointed if you build one, i promise lol it is the best!!!
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
When you use the Kingsford at 2/3 full, are you using the minion method, or a chimney?

I think I'm going to try and pick up a drum this weekend. That USABarrels place is only open from 10am till 4pm, so I'll have to figure that one out.

post #10 of 14
Yes; you use the minion method on the drums.
post #11 of 14
The Minion Method is really the only way the UDS will work -- for smoking anyway. It makes one hell of a grill any other way though. biggrin.gif But that's the beauty of a drum. It is very versatile.

When I am smoking I fill the basket as full as I think I need with unlit then I light 8 or 10 briquettes in a chimney and dump them into the center of the basket. Put the basket in the drum and let it warm up slow.

This is a very important point -- when you use your UDS the first time, don't dump a full chimney of lit in the charcoal basket or you'll have a raging, hot drum on your hands.

post #12 of 14
Is this an example of "The Minion Method"?

I fill a 1 lb coffee can that I've cut the top and bottom out of and put the plastic lid back on with about 12 briquettes, then dump them in my chimney and light them. While they're heating up, I take the plastic bottom off the coffee can, put it in the center of my basket and fill in around it with more briquettes and wood chunks. When the charcoal's ready, I dump it back into the coffee can and remove it with channellocks.

post #13 of 14
For the most part . . . yes.

Here are the details of the Minion Method.


post #14 of 14
great link Dave that's where i learned it
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