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, bolts, nuts, flat washers, 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 pictures 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 picks 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.
More pixs to follow.
Web posted by Bill aka Mickey Porter 07-12-12.
Robert made a smaller
version of his UDS using a 30 gallon drum and below is pix of a chicken that
he smoked on 07-05-14:
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 (When I 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
Our carport looks like a Nightmare on Elm Street with
all the blue plastic drums of shelled corn (deer feed) at the end and also the lawn
tractor and yard tools, etc. We are on a dead end street and were in
the County as far as property taxes but the city finally annexed us to get the tax base revenue and we got
a street light and that was it for that large chunk of city annexation money. We also get
free garbage pick-up twice a week but the town
now has a separate charge on our water bill for that
free service. We have our own
septic tank system but eventually they will require a sewer hook up once the town
gets a pumping station installed or figure out how to get poop to flow up
hill without a pumping station which will then triple our water
bill. Maybe our city planners need to visit Washington, DC to see how
that element works!
Only in America, has the new norm,
"Taxation Without Representation" become so
prevalent to support the free loading Bureaucrats in DC who can only point
fingers at the other party with zero results and actions to keep America
safe. When they, (Bureaucrats) talk about Entitlements, it is like the
calling the kettle black! A fair day's work at a fair day's pay would
kill off about 99 percent outright and the other remaining one (1) percent's
vocal cords would become so severely damaged and silenced, whereby their
empty, vane, useless political garbage promises, jargon and posturing would remain as
mere thoughts in their empty cranial cavity removing a humongous amount of hot political gas pollution
from our planet causing Global warming to subside with the Greenhouse Effect
re-named the Whitehouse Effect; e.g., (cleansing and purging our
planet)! Seems like we
are reverting back to the Colonial days before the Revolutionary War when
King George III was pulling the purse strings. Now, we have multitudes
of King George III (all parties) in Washington, DC manifesting and
implementing the same
agenda; living like
high on the hog
at the expense of the Mr. and Mrs.
John Q Public taxpayers
reminiscent of the proverbial lamb being led to slaughter.
I would not trust a Bureaucrat in DC in an outhouse with a muzzle on! Enough ranting, back to the
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!
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 published on 02-28-13 with updates on 03-02-13 and 07-06-14 by Bill aka Mickey Porter.
Above pulled pork prepared on 09-02-14 and was
"off the chain good."
BABY UDS ROBERT WEBSTER MODEL VIRGIN COOK ON 07-08-14
My friend Robert Webster surprised me today with a small baby ugly drum smoker
made which is ideal for cooking for two or small family of four. I
definitely had to field test the baby UDS this afternoon with a small fryer
sitting atop a ceramic
"sittin' chicken" fixture that holds your liquid.
Go to my Sprite Can
Chicken for additional information. Below pix of Robert with the charcoal basket.
NOTE: There is 160 pounds of
Kingsford Original charcoal
in the background behind Robert's head. Lowe's had it on sale during the
recent Holidays (two twenty pound bags for $9.99) and a good time to stock up on it:
Below is a pix of the charcoal smoked chicken after about an hour and a half
with the Baby UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker) temperature running around 325 to 340
degrees. It is amazing how the temperature remains constant during the
cooking/smoking cycle and burns very little charcoal in the process.
The above UDS chicken served with loaded mashed potatoes, butter beans, cole
slaw, seedless grapes and garlic bread and was "off the chain good."
This was more or less impromptu and realize there is no greens on the plate
for my food critics and will try and do better the next time........grin if you must! There was a good
presence of charcoal smoked flavor imbedded in the chicken which was moist,
juicy and succulent even though the chicken internal temperature was a
little over 190 degrees F. My bride and myself savored every morsel.
Below pixs of the plated chicken:
Click on below thumbnail sequence pixs taken for a larger screen view:
I guarantee you this Baby UDS will get some serious usage on the end of our
carport. Robert Webster always turns out a First Class All-American
Product no matter what it is. Robert believes in the same philosophy
as I do, "Anything worth doing, is worth doing
right," to quote Fred Bear, Archery Legend.
Web published updates on 07-08-14 and 09-03-14 by Bill aka Mickey Porter.
COUPLE BOSTON BUTTS ON THE UDS 05-02-15
I found a couple Boston Butts in the freezer purchased the latter part of
last year and decided to make some UDS BBQ aka pulled pork. I thawed
the butts out and yesterday applied a good coat of yellow mustard and a
heavy coating of Wild Bill's Meat Rub and let rest in my game refrigerator
lightly covered for about 24 hours. I got up early this morning
around 0315 and had a bout with Vertigo and found some left over meds from
2013 which was the last time I had the stuff. I had the Boston Butts
in the UDS by 0600 hours and had the UDS temperature running around 275
degrees F. for more than 8 hours. The last time I checked the Boston
Butt internal temperature and it was around 196 degrees of which 190 degrees
is required for true pulled pork where you can pull the shoulder bone from
the meat without any effort and the cartridge is basically melted away.
There is a good crust or bark on the outside of meat that has been smoked
with wood or charcoal smoke leaving a good reddish smoke ring about 1/2 inch
deep into the meat. I threw in a handful of dried hickory nuts which
adds a good flavor to the meat as well. Below a few thumbnail pixs and
it was no trouble to use two forks to shred the meat instead of chopping it.
I let the butts rest for a while and made my standard
BBQ sauce and mixed
it with the pulled pork for some "beautimous"
tasting and looking BBQ. There was plenty of BBQ and packaged most of
it up to freeze for later usage when the ole taste buds get a hankering for
some good smoked BBQ.
Web published update by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 05-02-15.
ROBERT'S LATEST UDS
Robert Webster sent me a pix this morning of his latest ugly drum smoker (UDS)
made from a 55 gallon barrel and his if first class All-American for sure!
His smoke stack is a section of a chrome tail pipe. He is supposed to
send me some pixs of some vittles he has smoking in there as I type:
Web published updates by Bill aka Mickey Porter on 05-23-15.