Hi All! New to smoking. WSM or UDS build?

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by bbqbeginner, Jun 18, 2015.

  1. bbqbeginner

    bbqbeginner Fire Starter

    Hi All,

    New to smoking and wanted to introduce myself. I'm John from Milwaukee, WI. I currently have just a gas grill that I use for the basics like burgers, brats, steaks, and chicken breasts, but I wanted to start cooking some different meats like brisket and pork shoulder. Also, don't really care for the way gas grills cook chicken. I remember when my Dad would make chicken on the old Weber years ago and it tasting phenomenal. So that has brought me here and trying to figure out which route to go for my first smoker.

    I like the idea of the WSM seeing as it seems to have great reviews and can just jump right in and start smoking, however, the price seems a little high to me for what it is. Looks like all they did was take a regular Weber grill and elongate it. Considering you can pick a Weber up new for about $100, the $299 and $399 price for the 18.5" and 22" WSMs respectively seem very high for just an extra cylinder of metal. What's everyone's experience with the WSM? Would you recommend 18.5" or 22.5"?

    The other option I'm looking at is building an UDS. Most difficult part for me so far is trying to find a barrel. Nothing on CL in Milwaukee area. I called a local place that reconditions them and they were at $25 for a reconditioned barrel (they said they burn off the inside), but was still painted on the outside, so I would need to remove that. Perhaps they could burn off the outside for me as well for an extra charge. I was looking at SS barrels online, but they seem to be quite pricey even for used ones, but then I don't have to worry about burning off paint at least. Once I have the barrel, I think I can easily handle the rest of the UDS build by myself or with the help of a friend that knows how to weld. Also wondering whether to build it out of 30 gallon or 55 gallon drum. Any pros or cons to either size? I'm thinking 30 gallon will probably require less fuel to run, is that correct or not really any appreciable difference? I won't be cooking for huge amounts of people, just friends and family, so not worried about being able to fit tons of meat on there.


  2. drewed

    drewed Meat Mopper

    Milwaukee?!?!  Cheesehead!  lol ( I can say that as I'm in Waukesha)

    I have a 22.5 WSM.  It is big.  Unless you are going to try to feed an army of people, I would get the smaller one.  Yea, they are a lot of money, but it is a webber.  It works out of the box, doesn't need to be modified, but can if you want, and will last dang near forever.

    A lot of guys make really good Q on UDS.  I don't have one, nor would the wife put up with one on the deck.  Getting a barrel can be a bit of a chore, but you should be able to make one for 1/2 to 2/3 the price of the smaller WSM.

    There are also great Q coming from regular slightly modified weber kettle grills.  You may want to look into that too.
  3. Hello there, i have a 14.5 wsm and i love it they are about 199 at wally world around here. i also am in the process of building a 55gal uds you can make one for around 100 if you make it with 2 fixed racks and a "no weld" charcoal basket there are builds all over this forum and the internet for help, also plenty of people who have built them on here to help as well. and that will be all the smoker i will ever need. but i hear that smokin on a weber kettle works pretty well also, i dont know personnaly i have never smoked on a kettle. as far as the size of a 55gal drum it will be equal to a 22.5 wsm and for the 30 gal im not usre on its sizing but i would assume its somewhere around a 18.5 wsm in size. 
  4. [​IMG]   Good morning and welcome to the forum, from a cloudy, overcast and rainy looking  day here in East Texas. Lots of great people with tons of information on just about  everything. 

  5. bbqbeginner

    bbqbeginner Fire Starter

    Which size do you think will be sufficient to smoke a brisket? 
  6. bbqbeginner

    bbqbeginner Fire Starter

    What are you able to smoke on the 14.5? Able to do full brisket?
  7. Yeah,that is one excuse i am using on my lady to let me build a 55 gal uds because to to make a full packer in my 14.5 i would have to cut it up and it still may not fit But... if you wanted to have both a small smoker and a big one you could build a WSM mini (simular in size to a 14.5 wsm) out of a weber smokey joe and a large stock pot. alot of people done that before the 14.5 wsm came out last year alot of good builds on here for that as well 
  8. as far as what i can smoke on my 14.5 wsm a whole chicken, 10# prok butt, tritip roast pretty much anything except a full rack of ribs (which i just cut in half for now) and a full packer will fit just fine and there are two racks so 2 of anything 
  9. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Look at Big Poppa drum kits...impressive looking and performance. $140 for kit.
  10. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Basically your question boils down to cost - because a well built UDS will work just as well as a 22.5" WSM (or close enough to it that it really won't be a big difference). I will say I have never used a UDS nor own one, but I do know there are a lot of folks that get great results out of them and usually only end up spending approx. $100-$150 for a nice quality build.

    Now I do own and love my 22.5" WSM! It just plain works, no fuss, no expensive mods, and a big plus for me since I live in Oregon is that it doesn't rust! Yes it is a big smoker, but really I like having the room when I need it, also I figure if I'm going to fire it up then I'm going to fill it up as well. So usually I end up doing about 1 or 2 smokes a month, then I vacuum pack the meat for use later on - usually in dinner sized portions to make it easy.

    If you do want a WSM I personally wouldn't go smaller than a 18.5", the 14.5" would be great for camping or maybe dinner for two, but not if your wanting to do big family dinners or that 20 lb. turkey for thanksgiving. Plus you can build a mini-WSM for cheaper that is basically the same size. For me the drawback of the 18.5" was I couldn't lay racks of ribs flat without cutting them in half, also some briskets can be a tight fit till the shrink up a bit. With my 22.5" I have no fit issues at all, I can put 3 racks of ribs flat on each grate, or with rib racks you can fit 6 on each grate; two briskets on each grate with room to spare, three if you crowd them a bit; three pork butts each grate easily, four if you get a little creative. I personally had 4 pork butts and 3 briskets on my smoker for a party that my parents did - the were feeding 75-80 people and asked me to do the meat. (I did the briskets in my rib rack.... lol, actually worked well)

    Basically in my opinion you can't go wrong with a 22.5" WSM, they work well, have a small footprint, and still hold a lot of food if you need them to.
  12. but i totally agree with what JIRodriguez  said and i have the 14.5 and i want a bigger one so if a 55 gal uds or a 22.5 wsm is in the budget i would go for that first and then buy or build a smaller smoker for when you just want to smoke that one chicken or one pork butt ect... 
  13. bbqbeginner

    bbqbeginner Fire Starter

    That all looks delicious! Can't wait til I can finally start smoking. I think I'm going to try and call a few more places locally to see how much it would be to have a drum sandblasted. One place I was able to get ahold of wanted $75 or $100. Seemed a little high to me. Can't imagine sandblasting a barrel taking that long, especially if there's not liner on the inside. I can get a barrel open-top with no liner reconditioned for $25 or brand new for $60. I'm thinking that if I'm getting sandblasting done anyway I might as well just save money and get a reconditioned barrel. Would love to get stainless, but they are too expensive even used. If price for barrel and sandblasting is too high, might just wait until I can save up for a 22.5 WSM. Can always then do a 30 gal UDS build for smaller smokes then. I like the thought of being able to run two smokers as well if I want to smoke things that need two different temps.

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