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BPS UDS Build with Photos and Lessons Learned

johna

Newbie
16
20
Joined Sep 11, 2012
I've been smoking meat for about 6 years now. I started with a little electric water smoker that I picked up off of Craigslist. Smoked a lot in it and wanted to move up so I got an electric cabinet smoker. It's starting to rust out (from the inside) and I really started to want to move away from electric. I decided to combine my fondness for building stuff and smoking to make a UDS. Big Poppa's kit seemed like a good set up.

Luckily, living outside a major metro area, Detroit, I found a barrel refurb place that sold me an unlined barrel that had only held soap. They knew what I was using it for and recommended it. They sell a lot of barrels for grills and smokers, tho mostly the horizontal type. I feel confident that it will do the job. They also washed it out for me.
 

johna

Newbie
16
20
Joined Sep 11, 2012
Here's some pictures of the build in progress. One thing that came in really handy was to knock a dimple where the holes are supposed to go, AND then use a 3/32 or 1/8 drill bit to drill a starter hole from the dimple. I felt that even with a dimple the stepped bit started inaccurately sometimes. Don't even think of starting with the step bit without at least tapping a dimple in the center of where your hole is supposed to be; it will walk on you. I used a framing nail and a ball peen hammer to make the dimple.
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johna

Newbie
16
20
Joined Sep 11, 2012
Another lesson learned: There will be "hanging chads" on the inside, especially in the 1/4" holes. Before doing any burnout/seasoning, I went through and used the step bit from the inside to knock those bits of metal off.

Second pic is just it with most of the tools I used: two drills, a sharpie, a tape measure, a square, a nail and a ball peen hammer.
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johna

Newbie
16
20
Joined Sep 11, 2012
Once I drilled all the holes in the barrel, I was dying to light a fire. I had grabbed a couple of free pallets outside the hardware store and lit them off a couple sections at a time. Another lesson learned: start your burnout early in the day, it will take hours for the coals to die down. I started mine at 3 and it was still roasty at 7pm.
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johna

Newbie
16
20
Joined Sep 11, 2012
Just bought the high temp paint today, but need to figure out how to get it and the environment warm enough to paint. It's too cold outside right now.
 

SmokinLogs

Smoking Fanatic
864
335
Joined Dec 5, 2017
Keep us updated! I built a UDS recently and am loving it. I didn’t use a kit. I did my research, and I just kind of rounded up all the parts I thought I might need and jumped into the build. It took a lot of trial and error to get it consistent and reliable but I couldn’t be happier with it. I actually enjoyed the learning process. Now it just needs a cool paint job. Hope your build is going well.
 

johna

Newbie
16
20
Joined Sep 11, 2012
Sorry for the silence. We had a very mild winter so far here in Michigan right up to the day I burned out the barrel. It got quite a bit colder after that. I will try to season the interior this weekend without the hardware on it. But exterior painting is going to have to wait for a mid winter warm up. Which is a bummer.
 

fivetricks

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
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Joined Jan 7, 2017
If you don't mind me asking, where did you buy your barrel?

I saw a place at 9 and telegraph that filled theirs with salad oil, but I haven't put my hands on them so idk if they're the right product or not.
 

johna

Newbie
16
20
Joined Sep 11, 2012
If you don't mind me asking, where did you buy your barrel?

I saw a place at 9 and telegraph that filled theirs with salad oil, but I haven't put my hands on them so idk if they're the right product or not.
Sorry for the delay, didn't realize I had a question! I got it from C-Mar products in Detroit. Literally almost right next to the Bridge on the river. You can get down there quickly on the freeway, and your not far from the old Train station. Make sure they know you DON'T want a tight head, and I recommend you call ahead.
 

johna

Newbie
16
20
Joined Sep 11, 2012
Good news! I just found a can of brush on High Temp rustoleum at HD. Now I can paint in the basement without getting overspray everywhere. Hoping to get this further along in the next week.
 
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johna

Newbie
16
20
Joined Sep 11, 2012
The weather has finally warmed up a bit and I'm getting the barrel ready for paint. At least by the end of the month. FYI, the cheap angle grinder from Harbor Freight, with a wire wheel on it has done a great job of taking the remaining paint off that the fire didn't burn off. Wonder if it would work on an epoxy liner for food grade barrels?
 

johna

Newbie
16
20
Joined Sep 11, 2012
Well that took a while. I finally sanded the outside clean, painted it and put it all together. Well I didn't print the the lid yet. But after a year I'm really ready to get this thing cooking.

KIT NOTES
1. Count your parts and hardware. Unlike your kid's Lego sets they don't include any extra nuts or bolts. Besides loss there are opportunities to damage them. I'll explain how in a bit.

2. Did I lose the screws for the handles in the past year? Somehow yes. They aren't on the parts list and #6 3/4" is what I needed.

3. My bottom vent cover holders don't fit perfectly to the sides of the drum. I will need to determine if this makes an air flow control issue. I bet rtv silicone will fix that.

BUILD NOTES
1. Get a couple of extra tools. A 7/16" ratchet socket (deep or use an extender too) is much better for the inside than a wrench. Get a four inch magnetic parts holder bowl from harbor freight. If the magnet comes off the bowl even better. A small pocket flashlight, harbor freight also sells a good one for $5 on sale.

2. Don't over tighten the acorn nuts. I snapped a piece of a leg off a u bolt. I could keep using the u bolt but the acorn nuts was shot. They cost $1.5 at the hardware store..

3. Ignore the instructions and install the hardware starting at the bottom with the vent covers and work your way up the barrel. I hit my head several times on the grill bolts.

4. I put my barrel in a big Rubbermaid tub so I could keep it tilted and off the floor as I installed hardware.

5. The vent covers are too hard to reach while you're trying to put the nuts on the bolts go from the inside and then tighten on the outside. so I took the magnet from my magnetic bowl with pops off because the glue is weak. I then put the bolt and lock washer through the hole from the inside and then slapped the magnet on top of the head of the bolt; the magnetism between the magnet and the barrel held the bolt in place so that I could then put the vent cover over the bolt and start threading the nut. The both isn't magnetic but the magnet presses down so hard on the top of the bolt that you should have no trouble getting the nut threaded on. keep your nuts loose until you're done with all three bolts of the vent cover as I had a little bit of issue getting the holes completely over the bolts. a rat tail file might be necessary to make enough room so that you can fit all the holes together.
 
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johna

Newbie
16
20
Joined Sep 11, 2012
This it starting to get seasoned. I started with half a basket of Royal Oak lump charcoal. Not sure how much I like the charcoal as there are a lot of small pieces that fell through the basket.
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johna

Newbie
16
20
Joined Sep 11, 2012
I was able to hold the temp at 225 by shutting the lid vent and the intakes were covered by 3 and 1/2 holes each side. The leakage at the lid rim gave enough air flow to keep it going
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johna

Newbie
16
20
Joined Sep 11, 2012
AFTER ACTION REPORT

Loading up the basket only half way was a mistake, I ran out or low twice in the four hours while I was seasoning it and then ran really low at the end of my chicken smoke I did on it. I started losing temp during the snowstorm as i smoked my chicken.

I tossed the hickory chunks on top of the lit charcoal and they seemed to just catch fire and burn like firewood. Then I read where people buried the chunks i the charcoal before lighting the charcoal. I'll try that next.

If it hadn't been for the running out of charcoal near the end I would have had a great first outing.
 

fivetricks

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
1,376
635
Joined Jan 7, 2017
Not sure how tall your basket is. Mine is 12" tall. It will easily run 16+ hours on a full basket. You may have a leaking issue if you're burning through fuel that fast
 

johna

Newbie
16
20
Joined Sep 11, 2012
Not sure how tall your basket is. Mine is 12" tall. It will easily run 16+ hours on a full basket. You may have a leaking issue if you're burning through fuel that fast
I think my first issue was not loading up the basket enough. However I also burned through 3/4 of a 8 lb Royal Oak Lump Charcoal bag in about four hours. I have a feeling leaking may be also be a cause, since lots of smoke came out between the barrel and the lid. I'm thinking of running a thick bead of RTV Silicone inside the rim of the lid, where it rests on the rolled upper lip of the barrel.

I bought another bag of RO Lump yesterday and will try again this weekend to see how well it works with a full basket.
 

johna

Newbie
16
20
Joined Sep 11, 2012
One more building tip

The instructions have you put the hook to the "left" of the handle, that is, if the the vent is the front. If I continue to go with the vent being the "front" of the lid, then I have to remove the lid with my right hand in order to hook it on the barrel. I found this awkward as I usually have a utensil in my right hand when checking or turning meat. I am going to put the lid on the other way next time I cook so I can remove with my left hand and while have utensils ready in my right.

So, think about this when placing your hook on your lid.
 

gary s

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
OTBS Member
25,656
4,264
Joined Jan 6, 2011
Looks good can't wait to see your first smoke

Gary
 

fivetricks

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
1,376
635
Joined Jan 7, 2017
Instead of putting the silicone on your lid, see if you can find one of the clampdown rings that you can get for those barrels. That's what I use it's really not an issue at all to tighten and loosen the bolt what I need to remove the lid.

as you continue to use a smoker over time your lid will continue to warp and reshape from the heat. That's why I like the ring because it holds it all in place
 

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