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Controlling temps in a drum - Printable Version

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Controlling temps in a drum - Phred - 06-23-2009 10:28 PM

I've cooked chicken a couple of times in my drum and still have some questions about controlling the temperature. When I first put the coals in it the temp rises pretty fast up to 400 or so. I've been able to bring it down to 300 all right to cook chicken. To do that I close off all the holes on the bottom except for one and it's barely open while I'm "cooling" it off. Once it hits 300 I open up two holes about 1/3 to a 1/2 (use magnets) and it stays there ok.

Do you just keep the airflow restricted to bring it to 225 for pulled pork? Using one chimney of ranch coals on top of another chimney of un-light coals.



- SoEzzy - 06-23-2009 10:53 PM

Don't light so many coals to start with.

If I start 1/2 a chimney of charcoal briquettes it will settle out at 250 F.
If I start 3/4 of a chimney, it will settle out at 275 F.
If I start a whole chimney, it will hit 300 or better.

I don't ever try and run a UDS lower than 250, there's no need IMO, it cooks well enough at 250 and above.

Re: Controlling temps in a drum - Three4Que - 06-24-2009 10:11 AM

I'm with Chris on this. The drums do a fantastic job. Consistent temp, once dialed in and the pulled pork is Awesome.

- Phred - 07-17-2009 01:10 PM

One more question. If you start with a 1/2 chimney, is that all all lite or half lite & haf unlite?


- SoEzzy - 07-17-2009 01:26 PM

Sorry I wasn't clear.

I put 1/2 - 3/4 of a bag of charcoal into the ring along with some wood, minion method, then add the 1/2 chimney of lit charcoal on top of this base.

I open all the vents on the bottom and all the top ones, put on the lid and let it run until it gets to the temperature I'm aiming for.

I check the wind direction and close all the bottom vents, but the vent furthest away from the wind. If I do this when the temperature is already at 250 there will be a slight increase in temperature, while I go get the meat to put on 15 - 20 F.

When I take off the lid and add the grates with the cold meat, the temperature will drop back those few extra F to settle at the 250 I was trying to dial in.

If I'm just cooking chicken I'll run at 275 - 300, but the setting up the drum is the same, you just need more charcoal lit and added at the start.

The extra charcoal in the ring isn't a problem, it will allow you to cook an extended cook, but if you're only cooking a little, it will snuff out once you are done' (as long as the pit is pretty ail tight).

Re: Controlling temps in a drum - Guest - 07-17-2009 11:26 PM

First, what kind of "drum" are you using? Is it a BDS or a UDS? If it's a UDS, is it a flat or dome (Weber, or Weber-style) lid?

If it's a UDS, it sounds like you have intake and/or exhaust problems. My UDSs have dome lids with three 3/4" intakes and one larger 1" intake. They have Weber lids, which means I have four 3/4" exhaust holes. I should note that the 1" intake came from me removing the upright that you see in the pic. It was a good idea that didn't work very well. The cool thing about the mistake is that I now have much better control after removing the upright, which exposed the 1" hole (no nipple).

I've found that for low-n-slow I need an exhaust/intake ratio of about 3 to 1, respectively. For example, if I want 250*, I open the big hole (1") and leave the exhaust wide open. In fact, I leave the exhaust wide open for every cook, regardless of the target temperature -- just like on a WSM. In short, I only ever mess with the intake.

Also, even much more so than a WSM, it's imperative that that you catch the target temperature on the way up. If you let it go much beyond the target (say more than 50*), you are going to have a hard time getting it down. This is just the nature of the cooker. If you find yourself in this situation, my advice is to remove the meat, plug the intakes (leave the exhaust wide open) and wait for it to get to about 50* below your target temperature. At that point, add the meat, unplug one intake at a time, waiting about 5-10 minutes between each, and let her settle in.

I hope this helps,

P.S. Like Chris (SoEzzy) I tailor the amount of lit (and fully ashen) coals to the target temperature. Each drum is different, so you will have to find what works for you. There is no substitute for calculated experimentation.

Re: Controlling temps in a drum - Three4Que - 07-18-2009 05:31 PM

Chris, when you mention you add 1/2 to 3/4 a bag of charcoal, what size bag are you using?

I've got one of Sampson's UDS, (I believe it is a 55gal drum), and an 18" WSM.

- SoEzzy - 07-18-2009 07:47 PM

They are 18 lb bags of Rancher, so I put in 9 - 14 lbs but that's a guess as I don't actually weigh it.

- Dutchovendude - 07-18-2009 10:16 PM

Chris is right. That is a good method. I also use about 1/2 to 3/4 of a bag (18 lb) of unlit charcoal then dump in about a 1/2 to 3/4 chimney full of lit coals. The amounts used depend on how long and how hot you want to cook. The longer you want to cook, the more unlit you use. The hotter the temperature, the more lit coals you would add.
I also leave the top of my Weber vent wide open and control the temperature only through the bottom vents. I usually use 1 to 2 of my 4 bottom vents that are ¾” diameter. I very seldom use the 3rd and 4th vents. This usually holds 220 to 250 degrees. I cooked at 325 degrees last weekend and all I did was add 7/8 of a chimney to the unlit coals right in the center (like a birds nest) of my unlit coal using 2 open vents.

- Phred - 07-19-2009 04:13 PM

Thanks Gentlemen, that helped me a lot. I have an ugly drum that I made. I can use either the flat lid it came with or a dome that I picked up from freecyle.


Re: Controlling temps in a drum - brisket83 - 10-26-2009 11:34 PM

Have you tried the BBQ guru in your UDS? I have one in an ugly drum I made, and it does a really good job of monitoring the temp. and keeping it constant. Granted, you do have to do an ok job of setting up the coals correctly in the beginning. I just like it better that I don't have to check and move vents manually anymore. Good for really slow cooking, like overnight.

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Re: Controlling temps in a drum - Gene - 10-28-2009 05:44 AM

Controlling temps in a Traeger:
Turn on, set dial on stat to 225*, 275*, 325* your choice, (higher for pizza, ccokies, etc)
Put meat in smoker, set remote thermometer alarm for desired temperature, place probe in meat.
Go back inside, have a beverage, watch football, take a nap, or all the above.
Check when alarm goes off or when curiosity gets the better of you.
Remove and serve.
Have wife clean up. :twisted:
Life is SoEzzy with a Traeger, oops, :oops: so easy.

Re: Controlling temps in a drum - Grill Sargent - 10-28-2009 01:28 PM

Gene....what happens if there's a power failure that last for hours.... :twisted:

Re: Controlling temps in a drum - Gene - 10-28-2009 03:19 PM

Honda 2000 watt generator. Follow B.S.A. motto: Be Prepared.

- Guest - 10-28-2009 07:48 PM

Man that is a lot of advice! To make it easier use a weed burner to start a smaller amount of coals and work your temp up. Keep the lid closed!