UDS dissapointment

Discussion in 'UDS Builds' started by new2que, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. new2que

    new2que Meat Mopper

    I recently had a post about a craigslist ad for a UDS, and got pretty good feedback from everyone.  Well I bought it and did a test run yesterday afternoon, wanted to get yalls feedback.

    First off, the guys still selling them, so here's the pic from his craigslist ad. (not the one i recieved, although I thought it would be identical... thats honest right? expect the one pictured?)
     

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    For the most part it was as advertised, except he "sold that one" and had to build me another one... mine looks very similar, except no ball valve pipe dampener.

    The not/bolt locking mechanism for the access door broke and is open so i'll have to fix that permanently shut, which I didnt think would be a problem as the basket can hold enough to go the distance... and boy did it.  It held around 225-250 as i've heard they should (i'm a reverse flow boy traditionally), then (even with both cheaply done dampeners on both sides) completely shut, it went to over 380 for the next 5+hours... I havent measured it yet either, but i'm  pretty sure there is only about 14 inches from the basket to the cooking grate, a distance I thought was supposed to be 24 inches. 

    To solve the temp problem should I add another grate to use as a water tray? or do you think the therm. he installed could just be out of wack?  Another thing i've seen is to use the bottom section of another barrell and use it as a lid... making the smoker much higher by puting a grate right at the top of the smoker. 

    Did I get it handed to me?  Feedback appreciated.

    Thanks.
     
  2. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    First things first you need to check that thermometer. Now the next question I have for you is what was your process for starting your lump? Minion method, tourch, starter sticks etc and what was your method? What I do is start mine with a tourch and the key is to get it going enough so it stays going and then bring the smoker up to temp and close up your valves as you are going so the smoker doesn't get too hot. The first time I started mine I got a roaring fire going then threw it in the drum and man my temps were soo high and I couldn't bring them down. Well now I get a fire going then put my basket in the drum and as my temps rise I keep closing my valves. For exampe I have four valves and once it reaches around 170 I will close one valve then at 190 I will close another one and at 200 I will close the third one and then I will regulate the last bit with my final valve to get it to reach 225. If you bring it up to temp it is much easier to make the fire hotter if you need it than to drop the heat. Also if I am looking for 225 heat I will close up the drum around 210 and go get the meat to put on. The reason is when I open the lid to put the meat on I am going to get air in the drum and the temps will come up a bit. I try to lower my temps before each time I am going to open my smoker to spritz or foil or what ever. Hope this helps.
     
  3. coffee_junkie

    coffee_junkie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    There should be 24" from the bottom of the charcoal basket to the cooking grate. For sure check the thermomoters, $20 digital from wally world or bed bath and beyond would be a good way to check it, or take them out and check them in boiling water. Sometimes if they get away from you you have to shut the top dampers down also, maybe for 20 minutes or so. Also, you did not mention how you built your fire, did you use the minion method? If so how many lit coals did you start with? Where you using lump or briqs? I usually start with about 1/3 (or a little more) of a chimney load. I use lump charcoal for two reasons, it does burn hotter, so you can use less....and it creates WAY less ash. I think you just need to play with it a bit. Also get down to the hardware store and get a ball valve, it will help with your temperature adjustments in a big way. Good luck and happy smoking!
     
  4. pandemonium

    pandemonium Master of the Pit

    pics might help too
     
  5. new2que

    new2que Meat Mopper

    rbranstner-

    I used the minion method. I did about 1/3 of a chimney full to start with and dumped it onto the coal.  I used Kingsford Original (Blue?) and then placed it into the barrel, it wasn't too hot from the get go, but rose to 250 within 5 minutes.

    CoffeeJunkie-

    As noted I used the kingsford blue.  I have heard good things about lump, but since my temps are spiking so bad I wouldnt think that hotter is a good idea.  I wish I had a top damper, but he installed a stack and vent so there is no way to close it off...although I guess I could just wrap some foil around it temporarily.  It MIGHT be 24" from the bottom of the basket to the grate, but barely. 

    So am I getting the idea that a water pan would not be a solution?

    Pandemonium-
    I am fairly certain mine is exactly like the pics i've posted... with the exception of having the pipe and ball valve up the top. 

    Thanks guys. I appreciate the positive outlook here that things will be corrected.
     
  6. coffee_junkie

    coffee_junkie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Some use water...but it really defeats the purpose of this type of smoker. Lump does burn hotter, but I have noted that it is more consistent fuel also, try 1/4 of a chimney with lump, and yes figure a way to damper the top, it is usually wide open, but nice to have adjustment.
     
  7. deannc

    deannc Master of the Pit

    In the pictures, it appears there's only 1 air intake, the stack on the side?

    Although I'm still a rookie with the UDS (only done about 6 burns including two smokes), it almost sounds like you used to many coals to start the fire.  A third of a chimney is a lot.  I also have been using Kingsford blue bag because it's all I can find.  My last fire I only put 8 coals in the chimney and using the minion method I had great temp control by adjusting my caps as the initial temps started to rise, similar to what RB posted.  I have 2 caps and 1 ball valve for air intakes though.  And looking at the posted picture it appears you only have the 1 stack intake?

    I've also been wondering how well these ones I've seen with the door cutouts are able to control the air feeding the fire when they aren't sealed.  It just seems to me that it wouldn't seal good enough and would allow uncontrollable air to feed the fire....again, just my rookie thoughts typing out loud. 

    Also, that thermometer is not going to give you an accurate reading for the temp on the cooking rack.  You'll need to place a digital on the cooking rack (over the coals) where the food will/would be.  You can then get an idea how far off the 2 inch probe through the side of the can is compared to the actually reading over the hot coals.  Most say upwards of 40 degree or so and during my burn the difference between the can probe and the rack probe was between 20 and 45 degrees different depending on the situation (right after raising the lid, fire gets hotter, lid on for a while basket fire settles etc).

    But the biggest issue I think is the number of coals you used to start the fire....once you get that much burning in the basket you can't control it once it gets going.  Your next burn try only using 8 coals to start your fire.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2010
  8. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I can fit 3 grates in mine, the top grate I use for grilling. I use a water pan in mine for more even heat distribution and to keep my drum clean. Some folks dont like it but it works for me. Here's my layout. Hope this helps.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Bingo!! [​IMG]

    Seal the darn door and bring it up to temp slow like rbrastner said and you should be fine.

    Dave
     
  10. pandemonium

    pandemonium Master of the Pit

    I agree with Dean about the door not sealing and letting air in but like meateater said his door lets air in but he is used to how much it lets in and just adjusts the intake as needed. And he right about the thermometer not reading actual grate temp so you will need a digital one you can put on grate level in center of grate and compare it to your other gauge and then you can see what temp the analog gauge should read to be at a good temp. The main thing that makes a uds efficient and easy to maintain temps is being air tight, so if the door leaks bad its gonna be harder to control and use more coal than needed.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2010
  11. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Basically, don't give up on that drum. You can make it into a fine smoker. Maybe a little work but it will become your favorite smoker once you figure it out. Lots of help around here also. [​IMG]
     
  12. deannc

    deannc Master of the Pit

    Definitely don't give up as meateater said!  A little tweaking and getting the feel for how your's burns is all it's going to take.  Do another burn or two.  I gotta say the butt I just smoked in the UDS had a flavor my gasser could never match.  
     
  13. pandemonium

    pandemonium Master of the Pit

    Yes you just need to get familiar with how yours will work best because they are all gonna run a little different, next time maybe just run it without food for awhile to get the hang of getting the right temps, that way you wont be stressed thinking your ruining your food.
     
  14. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    When I use regular ol blue kingsford I light 1 briquette per pound, So If I load ten lbs I light 10 briquettes. Sorry to hear about your unhappy dealings. You are right tho, you should get what you see, if theres pics posted. That would be the honest way to do business.
     
  15. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    He also uses a water pan which knocks the hell out of the temps.  But since he has the door, they probably equalize.

    I would bet he would have a hard time keeping the temps in the 225° to 250° range without the water pan.

    I know it works for meateater and he is happy with it and I respect that.[​IMG]   But if it were me, I'd lose the door and the water pan.  Shouldn't need to reload any way so you really don't need the door.

    Dave
     
  16. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    DDave, no disrepect on how you run your drum, we all beat a different drum. I only respectfully advice on how I apply my technique for members to choose for an option. Mine runs 250 like clockwork with a waterpan. If a member wishe's to choose your method so be it. I offer a option for newbies, that's all. [​IMG]  Kingsford,R.O. Lump...Ford Chevy Dodge.
     
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2010
  17. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Although, I don't agree that a water pan is needed with a drum, I must support Meateater on this. 

    Drums are different, and we all must find what works for us and our particular drum.
     
  18. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Now thank you for that, I believe whatever works for you is the formula. I don't own a BGE, Treager, SFB, or many other smokers and will not condone others and their way's!  I've cooked fish in a sand pit in Oxnard Ca. with beach wood.
     
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2010
  19. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You are welcome, but I think you may have written the opposite of what you mean't to say.

    I think what you mean't to say is that you "will condone others and their ways"
     
  20. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Nope, just like I said. To each his own. [​IMG]
     

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