Seasoning and testing the UDS

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by coffee_junkie, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. coffee_junkie

    coffee_junkie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    So I finished my UDS on Saturday, and Sunday I sprayed it down with an entire can of PAM and loaded the Charcoal basket with approx. 12 lbs of charcoal and some chunks of hickory, then using the minion method I started about 15-18 bricks and loaded them in the basket, put the lid on and let er roll. I was told during the seasoning process to get the temps pretty high so I placed the thermomoter on the highest grate and left all three intakes wide open. I watched the thermo raise to about 275* then all of the sudden teh temps skipped to 165* and stayed there, WTF! So I thought it was the thermo, I tested it in boiling water and it read around 210-212 so now I have no idea. The outside temp was around 45* and windy, but I wouldn't think that would affect the UDS (much). The drum stayed at 145-165 for the rest of the afternoon. I cooked some ABTs on it, they took about one hour and the bacon was crispy so it had to be hotter than what the thermo said. I never closed any of the intakes. I was so dissapointed, do any of you have any suggestions?
  2. pepeskitty

    pepeskitty Smoking Fanatic

    I am still leaning toward your thermo going haywire. You may have weak batteries or they maybe loosing contact. Just my first thought.
  3. phreak

    phreak Meat Mopper

    If your thermo is too close to the edge/outside you will get lower temp readings.
  4. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I think you're thermometer is whacked. If you started with 12 pounds of charcoal, and 18 lit briquettes with all the intakes open, you should have been WAY hot -- like 350° to 400° unless you've got an airflow problem. Crispy bacon on ABTs in an hour is going to be a lot hotter than 165°.

    Was the thermo on the same rack as the ABTs? Did all the charcoal burn out of the basket? Any problem with ash buildup?

  5. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have to agree, temps were a lot hotter than what was reported. If it was 45 and windy that's a cake walk for the drum to maintain a steady 240 or so.

    Was the therm a digital on grate level?
  6. coffee_junkie

    coffee_junkie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The therm was in a block of wood with a hole drilled through at grate level. No problem with ash build-up, I even shook the basket to be sure. All of the charcoal did not burn out of the basket, I shut er down after about 8 hours, all of the charcoal was grey, but still a-lot of fuel in there. I am going to try some analog thermos at each grate level, just for backup, can someone suggest a good source? I looked locally but all I could find where those that are geared towards grilling.
  7. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Can you remind me on your build? Size of air intakes? Size of basket ect.
  8. zjaybird

    zjaybird Meat Mopper

    I got lucky and found a temperature idicator at walmart in the outdoor section on closeout. Marked down to $12 from $19. It is 50-500 1/2 npt threads and 2 inches long. When I tested it in boiling water it 10 degress off....which is typical at high altitudes. I think it was grill care.
    bottom left hand corner.

    Best of luck....
  9. coffee_junkie

    coffee_junkie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Here is the beginning of my build.

    I used aluminum foil to seal the lid, which is now the bottom. The charcoal basket is an 18" dia smokey joe charcoal grate with 12" of expanded metal wrapped around it. Instead of 2" bolts for legs I just wired the charcoal grate 2-1/2" up within the expanded metal. So the bottom of my basket is 24 1/2" below my bottom cooking grate. I have three intakes, (2) 3/4" x 2 1/2" nipples and (1) 3/4" ball valve, spaced evenly along the circumfrance 2" above the bottom of the drum. Pretty much just followed the typical build seen here.
  10. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'd get another digital and set them side by side. You'll probably run into situations where you may want two digitals anyway like if you're doing 2 or more pork shoulders.

    Do you have a dial thermo on the outside of the drum? That's a good reference point although some math will be invloved.[​IMG] Side mounted thermos are usually 30° to 50° lower than the center grate temp. Or you could slide in a 12" deep fry thermo.

    Lots of options. Too many really. [​IMG] But from what you've posted so far, I'd say the UDS is fine but the thermo is whacked.

  11. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Your build sounds good. I'd have to go back and say again it's the therm. I too would skip the analog and get another digital.
  12. pandemonium

    pandemonium Master of the Pit

    maybe you need a little more room under the charcoal basket? my first test run sounds like yours i had charcoal left too but after mounting a pizza pan to the basket wich raised it too it seemed better
  13. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you determine that the thermo is correct, that's probably not a bad idea. If your intakes are 2" from the bottom and the grate is only 2.5" off the bottom an extra 1/2" may help. Also, how many and what size are the exhaust holes? I believe my Weber has four 7/8" holes.

    But I'd still bet if you did crispy ABTs in an hour you were probably running at 350° to 375°.

  14. coffee_junkie

    coffee_junkie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks for the help and advice. I will try the turkey fryer thermo mod and back it up with my digital, it has to be the digi therm, but will confirm that this weekend. This is my third digital I will have to take back, the first two where CDC and this one is a Polder, I guess I better go with a maverick and be done with it. I will try raising the basket if needed.
  15. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Watch your temps, if they get too high it will fry the probe. I know from experience.

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