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I decided it's time to build my own UDS

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

So I made a few phone call and found a local machine shop that was willing to donate a used 55 gal drum.  When I got there they had a few old oil drums that were all beat up pretty bad as they were being used for machining scraps and then none of them had lids.  I was able to find one that I thought that I could hammer it back into shape and find a used Weber Lid for the top. 

So I was off to the True value to get some Part.  After explaining to the salesman there what I was trying to do, He chuckled and mentioned that “Barrels Boxes & More” was 5 doors up the street when talking to them about the lid I figured it was easier to just buy a new drum

Since i had  almost nothing on hand I ahd to spring for all new parts:


1              1 new open head 20 gage steel drum  

1              Handle for lid                                       

4 sq'        13ga expanded steel fo the                -- coal basket-- 11" dia x 12 high

4              3/4 x2inch nipple                                                       

2              3/4 black elbow                                                                   

2              3/4 black cap                                                                   

2              1/2x3 steel bolts               --  Intake pipe standoff though I may use sq steel tubing

3              1/2x1.5 in stainless steel bolts                    .     

10           1/2 in nuts                              --  going to double nut bolts

1              1/2 in nut                                   --  surround Temp probe hole

1              1/2x1.5 in steel bolts                 --  coverTemp probe hole when not in use

8              1/4 in x 2 stainless steel carrage bolts  ---    Rack support       

8              1/4 in stainless steel nuts                       ---   rack bolts     

1              15 ash pan                                          --- free  from old cabelas cooker smoker

1              11 in grill wok                                    ---  coal pan bottom lots of holes for air flow

2              3/4x30 black pipe                              ---  air intake pipes

2              3/4 in brass ball valves                       --- air shutoff valves


And I Still need

To craft a handle for coal basket

High temp paint

Temp gage


While I was hoping to burn it out  tonight we are in  the middle of a T storm  I suppose I’ll start the burnout  tomorrow and get it ready for a first cook  Sunday.  


I got to thinking though (always dangerous) should I bang out the drum lid to make it into convex shape so that when the steam condensates it drips down the inside of barrel?  My Thought is that I don’t think I want it to rain on the meat

post #2 of 20


post #3 of 20

Looking forward to the build. I just use the flat lid that came with mine, works great. icon14.gif

post #4 of 20


post #5 of 20

Most drums are smaller than the weber lid so it won't fit on the drum top itself. You'll have to cut the top off the kettle itself (about 2 inches down) and attach it to the top of your drum so the lid will seal tightly. 

post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 

Here comes the Qview


A pile of parts:



                   UDS parts.JPG


4 1 inch Intake holes Punched out 4

I used a 1 Inch rigid conduit Punch.  I'll have to weld the pipe in to seal it


    Intake holes.JPG


The burn out begins


               burnout 1.JPG


And know I wait......



post #7 of 20

Looks like a good project. Keep us up to date.


post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 

A few more pictures and update after a 6 hour burnout  most of the outside pant is gone and i think a wire brush is all that is needed  to clean it up.


I got the lid mostly done (handle and  exhaust holes) 4 - 7/8" and 4 - 3/8 equally spaced around the barrel.  I think this equates to a total exhaust area of 2.8 inches -- seems a little low




More interesting is the coal basket it should get me a few hours burn time 13 x 9 on a 15" weber grill and 1/2 " square steel tube to keep it up off the ash pan


the ash pan is an old charcoal pan from a cabelas cooker smoker with 1/2 " square steel tube as feet


     coal basket .JPG







post #9 of 20

You are going to love your drum.  I own too many of them to count and love them all.

post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 

And just a tad over 24 hours later.....  Shes been painted inside oiled and ready to be fired up


     UDS finished.JPG


I think I'll start with Half a chimney of lump, a 10" By 3" piece of split (maple ) and a full basket of lump and try to figure out how to control this one.


I think its time for a beer (or 2)



post #11 of 20

Your gonna love it once you get it dialed in. icon14.gif

post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 

at the moment it seems to be holding at 230 with one intake fully open.  I'm begining to think that i need more exhaust area. i would like to see it sitting at 250 the way its set now, not that there is anything wrong withh 230


of course it could be the lump  i'm using also. 


Either way There'll be ribs and a butt in there tomorrow.  for its first cook

post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 

Well the cure process went well  was able to maintain 200+ overnight.  Not too bad for a rainy 50 degree night    I will need to make some modifications though there ie 2" of water in the bottom of the barrel.  The charcoal stayed dry but it did coolect enough to cover my intakes halfway.  i guess if  rain is expected i'll need to keep one of the caps open.  Ribs and a butt will go on later this morning.


You know Maybe I can equip it with a small bilge pump......  icon_idea.gif

post #14 of 20

Looks real good! Looking forward to your first Q.

post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 

First cook Is history and I and the missis are very happy Two racks a little too tender  but very tasty . I used the 321 method and I pulled the foil they were falling off the bone. so i let firm op for 45 minutes and pulled them.

    1st cook.JPG


    3 hours.JPG





post #16 of 20

Looks-Great.gifBoth the uds and the ribs.

post #17 of 20

Fantastic build,,,,,and those are some pretty good looking ribs.


Welcome to the ugly side.

post #18 of 20


post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 


I just had a thought ....  as im watching the Thin blue smoke rise from the exhast port of the UDS I got to thinking how easy it would be to use a UDS as a feed for a smokehouse for cold smokes.   or maybe a half drum built on the same principles.   just unsure if the uds puts out enough smoke to fill a 54^3 foot chamber....


btw i decided to try a couple of chicken halves.  the drum is holding nicely at 325


Chickens done here's the qview

    Smoked chicken (1).JPG


Smoked chicken (2).JPG

Edited by Talox - 6/14/11 at 2:14pm
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 

BTW I added the stacks to keep the rain out.  3 -1" & 2 - 3/4 for roughly 13^2 inches of exhaust.  a 2 in bung hole is approx12.5 

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