The past few years home made drum smokers commonly called
UDS (ugly drum smoker) have become real
poplar with the home BBQ back yard enthusiasts. The professionals
are also using them on the TV network BBQ
shows and by their usage, one contestant has come in second place in the World and/or
National Championship contests.
Robert Webster a local grill master in Hamlet, NC has been building and
using them on a regular basic and has their construction down to a science
now. Robert has made over two dozen of those ugly drum smokers and
could probably build them blindfolded.
Grin if you must! The main part of the ugly drum smoker is a standard 55 gallon
steel drum which can be had without too much trouble and for around 10 bucks
or so you can purchase a new once used drum. All the hardware,
grates, lid, fire basket material, spray paint, handles, long stem thermometer, magnets used for
dampers, etc., are also easy to locate at Lowe's, Big Lots,
General Dollar, Wal-Mart and other supply outlets. One can build the
UDS for around 60 to 100 dollars (raw
material cost) depending on whether you use a Weber type dome lid, etc. A
hand drill, drill bits and a few wrenches are about about the only tools
need to fabricate the ugly drum smoker and a few hours of your time.
Robert Webster called me a couple weeks ago about him and I building one for
myself and I would only need to purchase the
raw materials and we would go from there. Due to a medical condition,
I had to put it on hold but there is no stopping Robert when he has
something on his mind. Today, July 12, 2012 around 11AM my bride
and myself went to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things for a birthday party and
when we returned Robert Webster was in the driveway with his ugly drum
smoker that he finished building for me.
Attached are few pixs of the UDS (ugly
drum smoker) with Robert and I will take additional pixs showing how he
built this one. You can trick it out and add additional items to your
liking but this one will get the job done.
I plan to give it a test run within the next few days since Robert showed me
some pixs on his cell phone of the many things he has been
cooking/smoking in his smokers. The real beauty about the ugly drum
smoker is the ability to produce an even temperature without using a ton of
charcoal and flavor woods such as apple, hickory, cherry, etc., and with the
adjustable air intakes, you can cut the air supply down to about nil as
You can further "trick" the smoker out by adding
a Weber brand grill lid and/or Weber
clone imitation grill lid if you don't want to use the regular flat drum
lid. Robert showed me some pixs of some he had tricked out with
special license plate tags, team logos, etc, and different colors of paints
used. A first class All American made smoker. A special thank
you to Robert who would not take any extra money for his labor. I
could not be out done, so I did persuade him to accept one of my custom made
turkey box calls as a special gift.
I will post additional pixs as I take
them when I get started smoking some meat with this UDS.
Robert had even spray painted the barrel after burning it out...Man, you
can't beat that!
A close up of the wire basket that Robert had fabricated and welded from
expanded metal. He installed some bolts with flat washers and nuts
to raise the basket about 4 inches. A cheap pizza pan will be
bolted to the underside of the fuel basket with a single bolt, washers and
nuts to keep the ashes contained with the fire basket.
There is no water pan in this UDS. Most water pans by design helps
maintain an optimal smoking temperature and acts as a heat sink. It
does not add moisture into the
meat contrary to what many believe.
More pixs to follow.
Web posted by Bill aka Mickey Porter 07-12-12.
DRUM SMOKER IN OPERATION
Robert Webster has been checking on me
every month or two to see if I had gotten around to using the Ugly Drum Smoker
(UDS) and I sheepishly stated, "I hadn't but would get around to it." My
bride has certainly heard that statement (Get Around To It) many times over
the decades....grin if you must!
Well, I finally got into the mood after building a custom hanging porch
swing and our local IGA had twin packs of Smithfield brand Boston butts on sale at $1.29
per lb., and purchased a twin pack weighing 16.88 lbs. which is ideal for
transforming into some beautimous looking and tasting BBQ. There are
links and recipes on this website detailing various methods of doing
which there are no set rules as long as the finished product, Mr. Pig aka
BBQ has a good outer dark crust or bark followed by a smoke ring (pink to
reddish color) next to the
crust or bark and the inner meat soft and pliable. When a Boston butt
is smoked properly, the bone will literally pull away from the meat without
much effort at all and the meat will be moist, juicy and succulent with
good smoke flavor and a very distinctive smoke ring. Whether you choose to add your own home made BBQ
sauce to the pork or as a add on, is up to the individual. I lean
toward the Lexington or Piedmont style versus the Eastern NC style of
Below are sequence pixs taken today, February 28, 2013. Click on the
thumbnails for a larger screen view:
Today, I will be using
plain yellow mustard rubbed over the butts and then apply a generous coating of my
own Wild Bill's Meat Rub. The
mustard helps the rub adhere better to the meat and might help seal some
moisture in the meat in the beginning...just a guesstimate on the moisture
but it does help the rub adhere better.
I placed the two Boston butts on the wire rack in the UDS sometime around 8:15
A.M. and inserted the probe from the Pyrex digital thermometer of which I
didn't take a picture of the probe in the meat. The outside
temperature was around 41 degrees and the meat temperature was 39 degrees F.
The temperature of the UDS was at 298 degrees and after about 15
minutes started dropping and was down to around 234 degrees at the last
check. I put at least 12 lbs. of charcoal in the fire basket and
filled the Weber charcoal chimney about 3/4 full and placed the chimney over one
of my gas cooker burners and it took about 15 minutes to get them glowing
red. After the charcoal was properly ignited, I added the contents on top of the charcoal
in the charcoal fire basket. I also
added a handful of hickory nuts in their shells to the charcoal fire basket
little extra hickory smoke flavor instead of using chunks of hickory wood or
10:06 AM, I checked on the temperature of the UDS which was holding at 226
degrees F. and the meat internal temperature was 102 degrees F. Will
keep check on the temperatures every few hours. Remind myself:
"Do not open the smoker lid to view the Boston butts;
doing so increases the smoke/cooking time about 30 minutes."
talked with Robert Webster and he usually keeps the front one (1) inch diameter
air vent hole open aka damper and keeps the 2 inch diameter lid vent open. I had
the lower rear vent damper hole opened and closed it and opened the front vent hole
which gives more of a cross or angled air flow. I checked the
temperature again at 10:36 and the meat internal meat temperature was 114 degrees
F. and the drum temperature was 257 degrees, therefore the cross draft
apparently does increase the drum temperature. The usage of four one
(1) inch diameter magnetic disc really simplifies controlling the air
flow in the ugly drum smoker and you can further trick that out by using
valves installed in the one (1) inch vent openings if you want to spend the
extra money which doesn't regulate the air flow a bit better.
Looks more high tech though.....grin if you must!
Pix of the Robert
Webster model Ugly Drum Smoker with smoke billowing from the
lid vent hole. Weber makes a large dome lid for their grills which
fits a 55 galloon drum if you want to further trick out the
UDS. There are knock off Weber
grills and parts to the same specifications but out of cheaper materials.
The internal temperature of a Boston butt with the ugly drum smoker
temperature running at around 250 degrees
will increase steadily until it reaches about 165 degrees F. and will hit a
plateau and takes several hours to get over that plateau and will slowly start
increasing again fairly steady until the magic temperature of 190 degrees
plus is reached which causes the meat cartilage to totally break down, although
the meat is done for chopped BBQ much earlier. Robert stated that he
ran his drum temperature around 275 degrees F. which reduces the smoke time
a few hours without effecting the outcome of the BBQ one bit!
At about eight (8) hours into smoking the Boston butts, I wanted to take a
peak and also flip them over with the fat cap side up. Yes I know,
"If you are looking you are not cooking."
The internal meat temperature was 165 degrees F. and the drum temperature
was 225. After flipping them over, the drum temperature dropped to 204
degrees F....that is why it adds cooking time when you are opening the
smoker to look instead of cook! There are not many that place the fat
down while smoking the Boston butts, whereas many believe that having the
fat cap side up allows the fat to better season and leak or wick into the meat
which is not true. The fat rendered will simply leak off the top side
of the butt without actually entering into the meat itself. The
drippings from the fat cap hitting the charcoal embers puts that good flavor
into the smoke sent back upward from the charcoal fire basket.
The BBQ pros rule as follows: Place fat cap toward the heat source....fat
cap down for vertical smoker and fat cap up for horizontal smoker. Pix below:
If only "Smellavision" was invented. Can you say
"beautimous" out loud? At
this point, I plan to let the butts smoke for another couple hours and
depending on the internal temperature of them, might finish them off in the
oven for a couple more hours at 350 degrees F. until the Boston butt
internal temperature reads 190 degrees which is about right for pulled pork.
It normally takes about 12 to 14 hours of smoking/cooking at around 225 to
250 degrees F. to get the internal meat temperature to around 190 degrees F
for true pulled pork depending on the size of the Boston butts.
At around 4:36 PM, (after over 8 hours of smoke time), I transferred the twin Boston butts to the oven and used a
large baking pan and placed a wire rack in the bottom
to suspend the butts off the bottom of the baking pan to allow the drippings to
collect away from them. I tented the Boston butts using a couple
sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil and inserted the digital meat thermometer
probe into the largest Boston butt. The oven temperature was 350 degrees F.
and left for about two hours until the internal temperature was reading 190
degrees F. I double checked with a regular meat thermometer which was
reading about 10 degrees lower and used that reading instead of the higher
reading from the digital thermometer. It is about time to replace the
digital thermometer since they do loose their accuracy over time; probably
the flexible plastic coated probe section which is the weak link in the
I loosely tented the Boston butts with the used heavy duty aluminum foil
after removing them from the oven and will let
them rest about 30 minutes before pulling the pork from the bone with a
couple forks and did later enjoy a pulled pork sandwich for supper; that is
country folk semantics for dinner. As evidenced by the above pictures,
the Boston butts had a good dark bark or crust on the outside and the bone
literally pulled from the butt with no effort. Also, the smoke
penetrated deeply into the Boston butt; check the close up
pix of the smoke
ring (reddish pink color) next to the bark or outer crust of the pulled pork. After pulling
the pork, I made another fresh batch of my Anson County City Slicker
BBQ Sauce and added several cups to the large
bowl of pulled pork and mixed it in. I placed aluminum foil over the
pulled pork and placed it in my basement game refrigerator and will vacuum package
it into one (1) pound portions in the morning and freeze for later usage.
Adding BBQ sauce to the pulled pork is optional, however I like it with a
little spice added into the pulled pork for some extra
kick to it. When frozen, I believe the flavors do
tend to tone down a good amount but still wonderful stuff.
I checked on the ugly drum smoker temperature at 6:05 PM and it was 403
degrees F. with plenty of charcoal still glowing orange/red with all the
vent dampers wide open and removed the digital thermometer. I checked
on it again around 10:00ish PM and the embers were still glowing. I could just as easily used the ugly drum
smoker to finish the Boston butts by increasing the air flow into the drum
but vapor locked on opening the additional dampers...as simple as
that....how about being brain dead on that one! Ok, grin if you must,
I know I am and Robert Webster will too when he reads this short story and
know there will be some verbal shrapnel
coming my way from him. It might not be a pretty
sight........'''grin again if you must!
SUMMATION: For 60 to 100 dollars worth of parts including the 55
gallon metal drum, a hand drill , couple drill bits and wrenches, this ugly
drum smoker will be hard pressed to be out performed. Even though it
looks like some Redneck
engineering or something
Rube Goldberg might have created
on paper, the thing works
very well and does a much better job than my 600 dollar plus gas grill and
definitely works better than my Weber kettle grill because of the increased charcoal
capacity and placement with the ability to maintain a long smoke, continuous
temperature over 12 hours with only one burn of charcoal. Also, it will
hold at least four (4) good size Boston butts using one rack and a pile
of chicken halves or quarters, etc. The pulled pork was outstanding!
I personally prefer a dark crust or bark
on anything I grill or smoke; some
do and some don't. Each to his or her own!
A special thank you to Robert Webster for making the ugly drum smoker for me
and his persistent nudging until I finally got it into operation!
I warmed up some of the left over Boston butt pulled pork and made a quick
"snack" this morning for brunch. I slathered some of my Anson County
NC City Slicker BBQ sauce on the pork after this
pix; it just doesn't get any better than this!
Web posted on 02-28-13 with update on 03-02-13 by Bill aka Mickey Porter.
LEAVING ON A
If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please take this
moment to accept him by Faith into your Life, whereby Salvation will be
Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord
Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the
dead, thou shalt be saved.”
link of Bible Verses About Salvation, King
James Version Bible (KJV).
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and
sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of
soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the
thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is
eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of