When I got 2 barrels for a couple UDS builds, I convinced the wife this would be a very cheap project. After gathering most of the parts, she was questioning my definition of cheap. Soooo in order to keep peace and save a little money, I decided to order the thermometers from an ebay store called 'Mainland Valve and Fitting". They appeared to be more of an industrial therm, but they were a fair amount less than the tel-tru's I found.
I bought the 3" diameter face, 6" stem, model. They shipped them fast and were delivered in a couple days. So far they seem much better than some of the ones I've seen in stores, and were reading perfect in boiling water. I'm just a little skeptical that I may be kicking myself later for not going with a tel-tru.
You'll do fine with them. I bought some similar units, with the recalibrating screw, from another ebay vendor awhile back, and they are holding up very well. Just keep the gunk cleaned of the probe stem after each use, and check the calibration once in awhile, they'll be good to ya'.
Make it right with just enough, or make it fail with a bit too much...
Seriously, I bought some el cheapo (a little spanish lingo there) therms, and the first night it rained, here is what I had....Farkin POS!
I drilled 2 small holes in the bottom to drain the water out...seriously, there was that much in there, and blew it out with my air compressor. It now works pretty darned well.
On a side note, here is my Tel Tru...
That thing is awesome, it has suffered through wind driven rain, hail, snow, and the blistering kansas heat and humidity of the summer and never skipped a beat. It is also a 5" which is large enough to see through my kitchen window...(my own version of a wireless??)
Bottom line, some of the cheaper versions might have some drawbacks, but if you can adapt and overcome, they might provide you a reliable alternative...but if money is no object, you will never regret buying the best.
you have to be careful using a short thermo in a uds I had one in mine and the reading with the thermo and a reading with a digital gauge in the middle of the drum was 2 very different readings I don't pay attention to the gauge any more I only use the digital stuck through a potatoe in the middle of the smoker.
My butts and briskets are one heck of a lot better now. It doesn't matter what the temp is 6" out from the side it only matters what the temp is where your food is.
Brinkman Pitmast Deluxe (with alot of mods)
Great Out doors grill
And one great UDS Crooked Creek Viszlas
I did notice they didn't appear to be very water resistant. I may see if I can seal them up better. I plan on using a digital near the center, or wherever the meat is at. I realize the temps will be different 6 inches in from the edge, but I'm hoping the difference will be consistent enough that the dial therm will at least give me a reference.
It doesn't matter what the temp is 6" out from the side it only matters what the temp is where your food is.
What you can to is have a digital in the middle when the drum is running where you like it and completely warmed up, then make a note of what your dial thermo says. For instance, when I have the Teltru with the 3" stem on my drum, I shoot for 190° to 200° on the dial, which I know will get me between 225° and 240° in the center because of readings I have taken previously with a digital in the center.
On Edit: ** Ooops, I guess you already figured that out.
Having said all that, I still often use my 12" deep fryer thermo which gives me the temp at the center just underneath the grate.
Brinkmann Smoke 'N Pit with Afterburner
Taylor 1470 Digital Thermometers
Auber Smoker Controller (fan plug goes in the middle port ) Proud Smoked -Meat Member #88
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