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Temp Fluctuations in First Few Hours
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Thread: Temp Fluctuations in First Few Hours

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Temp Fluctuations in First Few Hours

    Hello All -

    First of all, thanks for the great site and all the wonderful info. Built my first UDS recently and am delighted with the results. This thing cooks FAST. Not a bad thing but definitely noticeable. Still can't believe how well food cooked on the drum turns out.

    That being said, my drum seems to rock and roll temperature wise for a while and then settles in and is very steady. I typically am looking for 225 to 255. Did a pork butt Saturday - and it turned out great - but in the first three hours i got as low as 210 and as high as 299. And it is moving the whole time...either up or down. I'm making adjustments constantly trying to correct it with an eye on not letting it get too high. Then about hour three it just locks down (this time it was at 242) and doesn't move for HOURS. That makes me very happy. This time I left the drum running after I took off the butt at 203 IT (took 7:42...fast) and it went for 8 hours with less than 10 degrees variation until I finally choked it out. So, the drum is capable of holding like a champ...just having trouble getting there quickly.

    I typically start my fire with 10 - 12 KF briquettes in a chimney. Then I put that into the basket with 3 or 4 fist sized chunks of wood and a 50 / 50 mix of lump and briquettes. I start controlling temp on the way up and as soon as I get to target I quickly open the lid, put the food on, stick it with the Maverick food probe, and get the lid closed back quickly. I also have the Maverick barbecue probe in the center near the meat. I do NOT open the lid to turn or spritz or anything.

    I am trying to understand why the fluctuations are happening and if there is anything I am doing to cause it. Am I putting the meat on too soon? Is it my fire building or lighting technique? Am I just hovering too much and making too many adjsutemnts? Any thoughts or suggestions greatly appreciated. Thanks!
    Last edited by FalconerRods; 11-04-2013 at 11:29 AM. Reason: typos!

  2. #2
    Moderator Kevinish's Avatar
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    Seams to me like your lighting technique is pretty good. I might let the drum settle a little longer before you put any meat on, but that may not have any effect. It's easy to over steer on the temps too. After each adjustment you make, give it a good 20 min to see how it reacts.

    Since you are adding the wood chunks, I'm not sure how necessary the lump is. I might give it try with just briquettes and the wood chunks. Lump has been known to burn inconsistently, you can get pieces that burn hotter and colder.

    That's my 2 cents. Hopefully we get some more opinions on this...

  3. #3
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    I am fairly new to drum smoking also. I have not tried cooking on the drum with lump, only with Kingsford Briquettes. I have followed Big Poppa's advice to keep the bottom vents turned away from the wind. Also, I took advice and only place the starter coals on one side of the coal basket. On my last cook I was able to maintain a center grate temperature between 225 and 248 and found it to stay very steady for long periods of time. Also, I found I could control tempts better by shutting one bottom vent after getting the drum to tempt and nearly closing the other side.

    Good luck.
    BP SS Drum Smoker, Grill Dome Extra Lg, Grill Man 3' X 4' Gas Grill, Weber Kettle

  4. #4
    I think your issue may be with your mix of lump and briquets. Lump burns hotter than briquets. Try using all of one or the other. I prefer briquets for low and slow and lump for super hot grilling.
    2 BPS Engineered Drum Smokers, steel & stainless steel
    Smokin' Yankee's Competition BBQ Team
    CBBQA
    KCBS - MCBJ, CTC

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by FalconerRods View Post
    i got as low as 210 and as high as 299. And it is moving the whole time...either up or down. I'm making adjustments constantly trying to correct it with an eye on not letting it get too high. Then about hour three it just locks down ......So, the drum is capable of holding like a champ...just having trouble getting there quickly.......I also have the Maverick barbecue probe in the center near the meat.
    It sounds like you may be over correcting your air flow too much at the beginning. Unless it's really going in the wrong direction fast. Try making small corrections and waiting 20-25 minutes before you adjust again. Keep in mind if your drum temp is rising and you tighten up a vent it may continue to rise for bit until the existing air has been used, the coals cool and the residual heat leaves the drum via the top vent. This all takes time. If you are over correcting or correcting to often you will get a yoyo effect until you get it to level out. Make small moves and be patient. Also make sure your temp probe is at lest 2" from your meat as your drum will appear cool if it is too close.
    Stainless Steel UDS
    22.5 Weber Kettle
    Custom Built Offset Reverse Flow

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