Help-Charcoal Basket-Lighting and cook times

Discussion in 'UDS Builds' started by titanitecalgary, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. Hello,

    I have built by 1st UDS. My basket is using a 14.5" weber charcoal grill with expanded metal wrapped around it. Its sits 3" off bottom of the barrel and is 9 inches high. For my 1st season burn I had temps of 350-380 for about 4-5 hours with no issues, then the temp started to fall down. I cooked ribs yesterday and I filled the basket about 1/2- 3/4 full. I have been lighting the lump with a blow torch. 1st time (season burn) lit 2 spots, one on each side of the basket and that seemed to work ok (probably because all vents were wide open and lots of air). When I did the ribs, I lit it the same way and it went out about 3 hrs into the cook and didnt burn all the charcoal.

    For people lighting their lump with a torch, are you lighting one spot in the middle of the basket? Also, how long are you heating the lump? Just enough to get it going or really get a good burn on it. I've read a ton of posts where people can get 12-15 hrs easily out of a similar sized basket. I am wanting to cook brisket and pork butt this weekend and I am worried that I will either be reloading charcoal or moving meat into the oven. It was a bit windy on the weekend, but I think the riser and 90's I have with the ball valves should eliminate some of those issues maybe? Or am I dreaming? Any other advice on how to get enough cook time to do the bigger pieces of meat?

    Thank you in advance!

    Details on my barrel... Piping is all 3/4 ": I have a 90 elbow out of drum, 24 inch vertical riser pipe, then a 90 elbow with the ball valve mounted horizontally, then a 90 elbow on the ball valve facing down (to keep wind and water out). There is one on each side of the barrel (say at 9 and 3). Then at 12 and 6 I have a 3/4" nipples. The 4 openings are all 3" off the bottom of the drum. When I fire the drum, I have all 4 wide open, then plug the two nipples and then choke the air down with the 2 ball valves. Lid has eight 7/8" holes that I cover over with magnets to get temp around 250-260. 
  2. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I have the same size basket. For my smoke this weekend I filled mine half full with lump and a few wood chunks then lit a half full chimney of lump. I let the lump in the chimney get red hot (10 minutes or so) then added it to the basket. It burned great for 10 hours and when I shut it down there was still 2-3 inches of lump left in the basket (running 270-300 degrees). 
  3. Jumping in on this thread as I've just finished my build and will be doing my first cook this weekend. 

    Did you put the half chimney of lit charcoal on top of the unlit charcoal in the basket? Or did you use the method where you keep a hollow in the middle of the unlit charcoal with a paint can or similar, and pour it in there (is that the Minion method?)
  4. so ms smoker

    so ms smoker Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

      I don't have a UDS (yet) but if you had some of the exhaust holes covered, you may have choked out the fire. Normally leave the exhaust fully open and control the temp with the intake.Just my $ .02.

  5. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

  6. I am going to give it another trial run tonight with out Meat to see if I still have heat in the morning. I think I didnt get enough of  a fire going to start with, then when I lifted the lid to put the meat on (with the drum at about 225 degrees) I had a big temp spike up to 325 or so, then shut down intake and exhausts to try and lower the temp, and I either totally or partially killed the fire. I'll try keeping exhausts wide open and simulate (lift lid) putting meat on at 175, with anticipated heat spike and shut down intakes to try and keep temps at the 250 range. 

    Thank you!!
  7. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    Are you planning on leaving it unattended all night to see what happens? 

    My experience with lump charcoal is that you will not get as consistent of a burn as briquettes so the temps will still fluctuate after you get to your set point as one piece burns out and another lights.
  8. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You can also do a 50/50 mix of lump and briquets for a nice steady burn with a lot less ash as well.

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