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Heat Deflector and Smoke Stack

Tyler Anthony

Newbie
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0
Joined Nov 18, 2018
Hi,
I am preparing for my first UDS build but I have a few questions.
  • Is it necessary for me to have a heat deflector? I was considering getting a pizza stone to possible mount on top of my charcoal basket if I need to. I have seen a lot that don't have one, so I was just curious if anyone has strong opinions either way?
  • Do I need a serious smoke stack? I was wondering if I could mostly control my heat through the intake valves and just leave one of the lid holes that a drum comes with open or if it is absolutely necessary to have controllable exhaust valves?
  • Do you use an ash pan? if not how to you clean your smoker?
Thank you
 

Chasdev

Smoking Fanatic
488
348
Joined Jan 18, 2020
Deflectors will get very hot after a while and radiate as much heat as the fire below but closer to the meat.
I burned the bottom of a brisket relying on a deflector.
The air temp never got over 300 but the underside was carbonized and at the same time the upper half was perfectly cooked.
For short cooks they work but longer than an hour or so, watch out.
 

thirdeye

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
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Joined Dec 1, 2019
Hi,
I am preparing for my first UDS build but I have a few questions.
  • Is it necessary for me to have a heat deflector? I was considering getting a pizza stone to possible mount on top of my charcoal basket if I need to. I have seen a lot that don't have one, so I was just curious if anyone has strong opinions either way?
I don't have one but the Hunsaker drums have them and I think they sell it as part you can add-on. Their design makes a vortex of heat. If you cooked a pizza near the charcoal basket how would you get it off the stone?
  • Do I need a serious smoke stack? I was wondering if I could mostly control my heat through the intake valves and just leave one of the lid holes that a drum comes with open or if it is absolutely necessary to have controllable exhaust valves?
That might work fine. My lid has (8) 1/2" holes that use electrical panel plugs, I can fine tune them with magnets but usually have 5 open and control the heat by using the lower intakes which are 3/4" holes.
  • Do you use an ash pan? if not how to you clean your smoker?
I don't but a couple of my buddies do. I modified a garden hoe by grinding the edge to match the radius of the drum, then adding sides. I just chase the ash and scoop it out.
 

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krj

Smoking Fanatic
427
313
Joined Mar 23, 2009
1. Not necessarily, some like the divider between the fire and meat, others lean towards the "flavor" that dripping meat that meets hot coals gives. Pretty easily to add brackets to test both ways and see which you prefer.
2. This one is a yes for me. I do believe you should leave it full bore open while cooking, and control temp via intake valves. That said, I do say yes because it will make your shut down process go better if you can kill all the air to the cooker.
3. I do, and it's a pizza pan screwed to the bottom of my charcoal basket. If you decided to go with one, then for cleanup you could dump the can after it cools off, or use a vacuum. Definitely wait a couple days if you go the vacuum route. They will blow up if fire is introduced into the canister.
 

forktender

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
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Joined Jun 10, 2008
You don't need one...the best thing about the drum smokers are the flavor the meat gets from juices dripping into the coals. For drum smokers the term KISS "Keep It Simple Stupid" works best. You don't need a stack you just need a place for the smoke to escape which can be the 2'' bung on the lid removed or the lid slid over an inch or two to let the smoke escape. You don't want too big of a gap or stack on a UDS or you won't be able to control the fire temp because it will draw in too much oxygen. I used a plywood for many years as my lid and just slide it over enough to hold around 220*. On my drum now I use a lid off a weber kettle that I found on the side of the road. The three 5/8'' vent holes weren't enough, so I just drilled them out with a uni bit until it worked right. The three holes are 7/8ths of an inch now, and it will hole between 220-280* for hours without any adjustments. As long as you have at least four 3/4' air inlets and a place for the smoke to escape you'll be good to go. Heck, way before they were called UDS we wouldn't even use a fire basket we cut the top and bottom of the barrel and built the fire right on the ground. For air inlets we just dug a small hole so the fire could draw in the air it needed. We hung the meat off of rebar dowels and used plywood or a steel driveway motor oil drip pan as the lid, and they worked great.
 

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