Another UDS build...

Discussion in 'UDS Builds' started by bruno994, Feb 25, 2015.

  1. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    Been building UDS cookers for a few years, started out building some mini ones out of 15 gallon drums, then moved on to the 55 gallon variety.  For my friends I build them at cost, but typically I will build and sell at $225 each.  After several builds, you start to find easier ways to do certain parts of the build not to mention handy ideas here and there.  Hopefully some of these might help others who are looking to build a UDS....

    After battling getting my 3/4 x 9 expanded metal sheet in a perfect circle shape (never accomplished that feat!), I had an epiphany, why not heat and bend the metal and form a hexagon?, I cut my 12" tall by 4' wide piece of expanded metal (using an abrasive blade on my circular saw), then marked the first line at 4", then every 8" after that, until I had 4" left on the other side.  Laid it on the work table and started heating up the metal and bending to the appropriate inside angle of 120 degrees for a hexagon.  Once all the bends were made, the two ends matched up perfectly, forming a hexagon and a much better looking charcoal basket.  If you don't have a torch, bending the expanded metal can be done with a couple clamps, a 2 x 4 and a sturdy work bench or saw horse.  After welding together the two ends, I welded the hexagon to the charcoal grate, a 16" replacement for the Weber Kettle.

    Added a 16" pizza pan to the bottom to catch ashes, gave it about a 2" gap between the pan and the bottom of the basket.  Then I took a piece of 1/4" rod, heated and bent to make a handle to be able to pick the basket up and also to act as a resting spot for the heat diverter / deflection plate, I use the perforated pizza pan for this purpose, but you can also use a charcoal grate that goes in the Old Smokeys.  

    Last edited: Feb 26, 2015
  2. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    I use just 3/4" x 1" black iron pipe nipples for the intakes, 4 of them, spaced equally around the bottom of the barrel, 3" from the bottom.  I don't add ball valves or risers to my builds, but do advise the buyer that if you want to fine tune your temps, what to purchase and add to the drum.  With 1 cap off, the UDS will hold a fairly steady 225-250, with 2 caps off, you're looking at 275-300, with 3 off 325-350, with 4 off you are in excess of 350, which is how I set it when grilling / smoking burgers or chicken breasts.

    The drums I buy from a local guy are new, never used, without liners.  I still do a good burn out to remove the paint and the kids like to roast marshmallows too.  Once I have done the burnout, I wire wheel the remaining paint and residue off the entire drum, then brush on Ospho, a rust remover and inhibitor.  I let that sit for 24 hours, then wire wheel the surface of the drum smooth again.  Once all my holes are drilled, I will give it 2 to 3 good coats of high heat black paint from Rustoleum.  

    The lids come with the strap and a rubber gasket, I ditch the strap, because the gasket provides enough of a seal.  They also don't have bung holes, so I buy the 4" dampers from along with the thermometers.  I use a Dremel tool or a jigsaw to cut out the exhaust triangle shaped holes.  The 5" spring handle is available through several folks on ebay as well as welding supply stores.    

    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  3. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    On the exterior, I like to add a few little things that come in handy.  I add a hook for hanging your grate while you are getting the drum fired up, I also add one of the same hooks to the underside of the lid, next to the thermometer to hang the lid on the top of the barrel...

    I also mount a tool rack, for hanging your grill brush, tongs or you can also hand your grate there as well...

    Any 21 1/2" grate made to replace the 22" cooking grates on Webers or Old Smokeys will work, I buy the cheap ones at Wal-Mart for $12.99...

    View from the top, looking down at the grate and the deflector plate.  With the flat lids, I have found that 8" to 9" from the top of the drum, is an idea location for the cooking grate.  Leaving you enough room that if you wanted to add another grate 4" above it for additional room for flat items like burgers and chicken breasts, you can.  The 8" to 9" allows for plenty of room to cook turkeys, briskets and butts with no problems at all. 
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  4. Great tips. I might have use your hook for the grate idea. I'm always looking for a place to put the grate.
  5. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    Nice. I like the hinged grates from weber. Yeah they are a few more bucks but well worth it to add a couple chunks of wood if you need to.
  6. Hi mate. What size is that perforate pizza pan, and what material is it? Looks perfect.

  7. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    Statts, it's just a pizza pan at Wal-Mart, perforated for crisping up your pizza.  Not sure what it is made of...
  8. Thanks. What diameter pan was it?
  9. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    16'...sorry I forgot the size.
  10. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    good job. let's see what you got going

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