I get questions about building a UDS all the time… and I love it because they are pretty simple to make, they are very inexpensive and work like a machine.
I’ve got several of them and always have a few lent out to friends and family. But for my backyard smoking, it’s all I use.
So here are a couple more UDS questions that I wanted to share…
1. My lid has a 2 inch hole with a plug in it. Do you think it would better for me to drill holes in the lid like you did or us a piece of 2 inch diameter pipe for a chimney (or you don’t think it matters)?
I drilled the 2″ hole in my lid because it didn’t have one to start with. If you can remove the plug in yours, it will work just fine, but I’ve also seen people add a stack. As long as the smoke has a way to escape, it will work. The stack would give you the option of putting a dampner on it, so controlling the exhaust would probably be easier. On mine I simply put a piece of strip magnet over it. It works but over time the magnet wears out. If you use a piece of 2″ pipe you could put a ball valve on the top and open/shut it with no effort. This should last the life of the drum.
2. Do you think it would be a good idea to place another rack a few inches above the charcoal basket and put a heat deflector (16 inch pizza pan with holes)? How about placing some sort of water pan on the pizza pan or rack if you do not like the pizza pan idea?
A heat deflector would be a good idea too. It would shield the bottom of the meat and give you better temp control. A water pan takes it one step further as well. The UDS is a simple smoker to use; I haven’t had any problems with temp control but the added features would make it that much more efficient.
3. I saw you last night on YouTube smoking a couple Boston Butts on your UDS. You used a BBQ Guru. I also have a Guru I bought to use on my 48 Lang stick burner. How did you like using the Guru with the UDS?
The control device you see on the videos is a Stoker. It works exactly the same as a BBQ Guru, but I opted for it because it allows me to control multiple pits at the same time. On a guru you’re limited to one pit. I use the smallest fan they sell which happens to be a 10cfm. It attaches with a plate and two bolts held on w/ butterfly nuts. I leave the studs in place and slide the fan on and off with no problems.
The control unit holds the pit exactly where set for hours. The only time temp spikes occur is when the lid is removed. As long as you watch the time you leave the lid off, it will set at the desired temperature. Even if the UDS spikes, once you put the lid back on it goes down fairly quick with the Stoker because all oxygen is shut off expect for the fan pulses.
4. I did not have any luck using the Guru on my Lang smoker using wood. Do you think I would have better luck if I used a charcoal basket. I saw you on another You Tube video building the fire in your completion smoker. It looked like you were using basically charcoal and a little wood for flavor. I loved the idea of putting pieces of onion in with the charcoal. I bet the smell is unbelievable.
I know some guys that have started using charcoal baskets in Langs and they love it. My buddy down in Louisanna builds a version that produces long burns. His name is Jeff and he can build anything to your specs.
I’ve been doing the minion method of charcoal burning for years and have never had a problem with bad smoke. As long as you use a good clean burning charcoal and you have proper oxygen in the fire box, the coals burn at just the right temperature producing perfect cooking temps. The wood and onions are used just for flavor. Your UDS will work on the exact same principle. Just start a small amount of coals and add to the fire backet. The rest will catch as needed and burn. Gravity Fed smokers work the same way too.
I’m a firm believer in the UDS and I’ve also carried it with me to comps when we’re not pulling our competition trailer. There’s nothing wrong with taking a couple UDS smokers to comps, you’d be surprised at the number of teams cooking solely on them. I like the fact that you can build the smoker and cook quality bbq on it. That’s the main reason I built one. In fact I use my UDS at home all of the time. It’s much easier to fire it up vs. my comp. cookers and the meat turns out perfect every time.