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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    8

    Default fine tuning the build

    hi drums.

    i've got my UDS in a workable state and am ready to start fine tuning. here's my meat machine:
    put it through its paces this weekend and am starting to learn how she goes.

    i'm not completely happy with the exhaust as it is. i feel like there's a hint of a fuel taste in the meat (the mrs. said she didn't notice it). i'm wondering if a bit of stagnant smoke might be getting trapped. currently running just the 2" bung in the lid as exhaust. think i'm going to throw on a 4-6" piece of pipe and see if that helps a bit.

    the bigger problem, though, is my fire is taking a nose dive around the 5-7 hour mark, irregardless of what i'm doing with the intakes. a good stir of the firebox brings it back to life but that's not awesome. after i put it out at around the 10 hour mark and let it cool down, i find that the coals around the top and sides of my firebox are nicely combusted but the center is not (the firebox is 12x12x12", expanded steel with angle iron corners). i'm wondering if some sort of air tunnel (drilled coffee can, expanded metal cylinder, etc.) in the center of the firebox may help. anyone experience anything like this? FWIW, i'm using kingsford blue.

    thanks in advance.
    Last edited by jallen013; 12-09-2014 at 10:55 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Tulsa, Ok
    Posts
    2,326

    Default

    We have plenty of experts here, so you'll get plenty of advice.
    I'm not sure if it would make any difference, but my first thought was square charcoal basket. How far is it off the bottom of the drum? What size is the expanded metal? What was the drum used for in its former life?

    How bout a few pics of the inside?

    Btw, welcome
    Master Cabinetmaker,KCBS Certified Judge,Student of the smoking arts,All around gear head
    Ugly drum smoker,Chargriller,Custom Backwoods Chubby,Bellfab backyard model

    "I love what mine cause, whats mine is all mine. Gives me a reason to go get more"- John Popper, Blues Traveler.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Pattison, TX
    Posts
    6,964

    Default

    First I gotta say that's a right fine lookin' drum!


    Now to address your concerns. Many of us, myself included, have had great success with just the bung for exhaust. My only suggestion is to rotate the lid periodically throughout the cook for even smoke and heat distribution. Adding a stack is cool but not necessary.

    The temp drop is not unusual because of ash build up choking air flow. Shaking or lifting and dropping the whole can generally clears the ash enough to make it breathe again.

    But I would suggest doing away with briquettes and go with a good lump charcoal. You'll have less ash and therefore better air flow. And that "fuel taste" probly won't happen.

    As for air tunnels and such, others here have done that with good results. I'll let them chime in with their advice. But I've never felt any of that was necessary.

    Curt (cabinetmaker) has some valid questions. The answers may also solve your problems.

    That's my Good luck!
    "Once I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken."
    Tom, smoker of meats and fine cigars
    UDS, Vicking grill


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    8

    Default

    the charcoal basket sits about 2" off the bottom of the drum. it's made of angle iron and 1/2" (i think) expanded steel. i bought the drum bought brand new - only raw steel inside.

    too dark for pictures tonight. i'll grab some tomorrow.

    i was thinking about lump today, too. will grab some this weekend and see if that helps prevent the choke.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    8

    Default

    Alrighty... didn't get home till after dark but I got something for pictures.

    Drum
    -

    Fire basket
    -

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Pattison, TX
    Posts
    6,964

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jallen013 View Post
    the charcoal basket sits about 2" off the bottom of the drum. it's made of angle iron and 1/2" (i think) expanded steel. i bought the drum bought brand new - only raw steel inside.

    too dark for pictures tonight. i'll grab some tomorrow.

    i was thinking about lump today, too. will grab some this weekend and see if that helps prevent the choke.
    I would recommend 3-4 inches off the bottom, assuming your intake vent holes are centered at 2 inches from the bottom. that would allow more airflow to draft under the fire.

    Also, your basket looks pretty tall, more than you need. I wouldn't put in more than 10 lbs or so of charcoal.

    That and some good lump, you ought to be good to go.

    Hope this helps.
    "Once I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken."
    Tom, smoker of meats and fine cigars
    UDS, Vicking grill


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    8

    Default

    thanks tom. i'll load in a 1/2 box of lump set the valves and see what she does.
    if it's still choking out i'll add a couple inches to the legs of the firebox.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    South of Peculiar, MO
    Posts
    6,737

    Default

    I've seen problems with the pipes used for intake air. Those having the problem removed them and solved their problem.
    I've also seen them that worked fine.
    Hard to say if they are causing you issues, but something to look at if you continue to have the fire die out.
    I use one 3/4" ball valve and have no problem.

    Another
    "If you can't smell smoke it ain't a barbeque joint" peculiarmike

    TQJ Plankowner

    "Life's tough.....It's even tougher if you're stupid."
    - John Wayne

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Tulsa, Ok
    Posts
    2,326

    Default

    I agree with Tom on the height of basket and height off the floor. 3"minimum.

    I think I agree with Mike too on the risers for the intakes. I think I may cut a pvc riser and add to my intake on my next cook to see if it does make a diff on how the unit runs.
    Master Cabinetmaker,KCBS Certified Judge,Student of the smoking arts,All around gear head
    Ugly drum smoker,Chargriller,Custom Backwoods Chubby,Bellfab backyard model

    "I love what mine cause, whats mine is all mine. Gives me a reason to go get more"- John Popper, Blues Traveler.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    St. Petersburg, Fl.
    Posts
    4,717

    Default

    i'm not completely happy with the exhaust as it is. i feel like there's a hint of a fuel taste in the meat (the mrs. said she didn't notice it). i'm wondering if a bit of stagnant smoke might be getting trapped. currently running just the 2" bung in the lid as exhaust. think i'm going to throw on a 4-6" piece of pipe and see if that helps a bit.

    This is more than likely an intake problem and not exhaust. It's more that the fire is not burning clean and smoldering causing the problem. Do away with the angles and uprights on the intakes or increase their size to 1" rather than 3/4".

    the bigger problem, though, is my fire is taking a nose dive around the 5-7 hour mark, irregardless of what i'm doing with the intakes. a good stir of the firebox brings it back to life but that's not awesome. after i put it out at around the 10 hour mark and let it cool down, i find that the coals around the top and sides of my firebox are nicely combusted but the center is not (the firebox is 12x12x12", expanded steel with angle iron corners). i'm wondering if some sort of air tunnel (drilled coffee can, expanded metal cylinder, etc.) in the center of the firebox may help. anyone experience anything like this? FWIW, i'm using kingsford blue.

    This also is partly an intake problem and your fire basket needs to be higher to allow ash not to clog the air to the fuel.
    In your pics your basket looks to be very tall. You don't need to fill it all the way, as Tom said 10 pounds is more than enough. Also Kingsford Blue will work fine and be more consistent burning than lump. lump will have more spikes than KBB. I would get used to using the KBB and learning how your UDS likes to run and what temp it settles in for the most consistent running. Most seem to like around 275.
    Another thing that can cause some of the things you stated is how you are starting your fire. Place your KBB in the basket, then take 12-15 briquettes from the center of the basket, light them in a chimney, and then replace them into the hole you took them out of. This will, along with the improved air flow help with the burn of fuel in the basket.

    JWWFM-YMMV
    Jim

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