How many UDS owners have 'doors' on their drums???

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Master of the Pit
Original poster
SMF Premier Member
Jul 4, 2008
St. Louis MO
just looking to see how many have gone the extra step and cut doors in their drums to feed the fire....

IF SO: how do you feed the fire with the charcoal basket in the way....

IF NOT: how do you feed your fire??

Some of you HAVE TO FEED the fire on long smokes I would imagine, just curious.
There are a few who have doors cut in them but for the most part there aren't doors. Part of the reason is it is really hard to get the door sealed good and if you don't you are going to have issues holding your temps or with it getting too hot. Also with a UDS you don't usually have to add fuel to the fire. I can go over 20 hours with mine so there is no reason to add more fuel to the fire.
Both of my drums will run an easy 20 plus hours with the large charcoal basket. Now that's loading it with about 12 to 15 lbs of lump.

I did make the first one where the bottom comes off for cleaning but in reality its more of a pain in the behind then anything. Lump has so little ash that with a pizza pan or similar in the bottom, the clean out is no problem. The only time I get grease in the bottom is when I have it loaded to the gills and the drippings miss the fire basket.

The key to the drums working so good is the strict control of air flow. Having a door is yet another place for the air to leak in. In My Opinion.

A couple weeks ago I cook a PR and a brisket, brother in law wanted nothing at all on it just bare brisket. The PR got salt and pepper. Both turned out fantastic, not dry at all. I don't think this would have been the case in a different style cooker.

I credit the drum for a great turn of food.
I've never found a need for a door.  It can cause major issues with temp control if not sealed well.  

I've cooked over 18 hours (brisket) with approximately 10 pounds of coal and 5 or 6 chunks of wood in the basket and still had at least 4 pounds of coals in the end, so it could have easily gone well over 24 hours.

The UDS is known for its fuel efficiency and is easily capable of smoking anything you throw in it without reloading the coals, with a properly sized basket.
Over thanksgiving I had left the vents open on accident and 30 hours later still has a fire in the UDS.
WOW, very interesting indeed!!!

I just saw the UDS layout in the WIKI area and saw that he had a door on his... so i was wondering...

OK so then ONE LAST Q.... how much of the coals are lit when you start your smoke in order for that 'minion' method to last that whole 20 hours??... that's just way more impressive than I thought about UDSes.

You let them burn from center out, or from top down?? or what?
The way I set mine up is by dumping 10 to 12 pounds of charcoal in the basket, move the coals to form a small hole in the center and then place 8 hot coals into the middle of the coals.  
Myself, I use the propane weed burner and just light one side of the basket.

I have read that some use a coal can in the center with hot coals then lift out the can and let it burn.

I think I remember someone using paper down the outside of the basket in one spot and light it.

One giant thing with the drums is once its lit, don't keep the lid off for very long. If I have help I will have someone open the lid and I will grab the whole shelf while he puts the lid back on.
I also just stick a propane torch in my basket. I just move it around 4-5 spots on the outside of the basket while I am prepping everything outside. The key I have found is to bring it up to temp by starting a smaller fire and then bring the temps up by using your air flow controls. The first time I tried mine I got a huge fire going in the basket and I had a heck of a time trying to get the temps down low enough to smoke. As long as I now the coals will burn on their own then I throw it in the UDS and adjust the air to bring the heat up to where I want it.
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THNX GUYS for the feedback...

I got to get me one, no doubt... I need me one of those 'set it-forget it' days of smoking.... all mine require lots of attention.

Sure, sometimes that's the FUN PART, and sometimes it's not...

Anyone suggest just buying a NEW DRUM off the internet?? or just hunting one down locally?
New drums would be the way to go if you can get one that doesn't have the red poly liner in it. I spent a ton of time getting that crap off, and eventually did but you know what they say...time is money.
I think I forgot to mention that once in a while I will grab the handle and jiggle the whole thing around.

Other then that I don't mess with it much.

I also agree with meat eater,

Build it how you want it, the basics are there so the little changes shouldn't make that big of a difference. Thats how new ideas and methods come around.

Can you imagine what the forums would have been saying if some guy posted (Hey I'm gonna make a smoker from a trash drum that will cook for 20 plus hours.) That is before the drum was invented.

Give it a shot and you just might learn us a thing or two.
I've been tempted to just buy a clean drum online.  I never realized how difficult it has become to find a drum.  Everything seems to have switched over to plastic for the most part around here.  The shipping is usually pretty high ($50 to $60) for online orders but sometimes I think I could justify that if I take into account my time/gas trying to find one and the labor or cost involved in removing a liner.  

As far as the door, sure, if you feel the need for one by all means install one, there's no wrong or right way.  Personally I just haven't had a need for one. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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