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Started my first UDS build today. Back to the basics!!

Discussion in 'UDS Builds' started by flyboys, Oct 12, 2013.

  1. flyboys

    flyboys Smoking Fanatic

    I used to have the 18" WSM, but gave it to my brother in law when he began an interest in bbqing.  At the time I was primarily using my MES 30 for convenience.  I couldn't justify spending all day around the smoker while my wife was chasing around after our young kids.  Well, the kids aren't toddlers anymore and I want to get back to the basics.  They are old enough now to help me and learn the basics on cooking real bbq.  I like the MES and still use it, but I want the option to cook over a fire again.  I also have a Weber Kettle, but the size just isn't cutting it.  We have 6 kids, so I need some room to cook! 

    I've been on the hunt, and found a 55 gallon drum in decent shape for $25.  It was an open top and used to store Fructose.  It didn't have the lid anymore, which isn't a problem.  I want two grates in it, so I'm going to use the 22.5 kettle lid.  The only setback is it contains a tan lining.  After reading up on here and various other places on the internet, I've decided against removing it myself.  I found a place that will sandblast it for me for around $20 to $30.  If they only sandblast the inside, then I'll do a burn with wooden pallets to remove the exterior paint.

    I figured I would start a log for my build including money spent and update it as I'm working on it.  I have zero welding experience, so this will be a no weld build.  I am currently undecided if I'm going to save the money and piece out my 22.5 inch Weber Kettle or pick up a cheap 22.5 inch grill.  I have been striking out with Craigslist so far, but am still holding out till the last possible minute.

    My plan is to drill 4 evenly spaced 1" holes around the bottom of the drum 2" up from the bottom for air intake.  I will then fill it with black 3/4" pipe nipples.  Three of the nipples will have caps, and the 4th I will attach a 90 degree elbow and 24" black pipe with a pipe valve at the end to control air flow.  For the lid, my kettle lid does not fit, it is off by about 1/2".  I'm either going to buy some metal from home depot to attach to the interior top of the drum, or I'm going to cut out the upper few inches of the bottom part of the 22.5 inch kettle grill to attach.  I'm going to attach it with 1/4"x2" ss bolts, and use them to hold my top grate.  I'll then back fill it with oven rope and high temp silicone.  I'm undecided on which route to go.  I'll detail it out step by step below with pictures once I actually get around to doing it.  If anyone can give me pointers or help along the way, I'm all ears.  I've never done anything like this before and really welcome any and all help.

    Hopefully this will help someone else who has been bit by the uds bug.  And hopefully someone will add on to this to give me better ideas and prevent me from making a mistake!

    10-10-2013, picked up the drum and ordered a Neiko Titanium step drill bit off of Amazon.

    Drum- $25.00

    Drill Bit- $17.79 (includes shipping)

    Total Cost To Date- $42.79


    Built Charcoal Basket

    I took two pieces of 12"x24" expanded metal and bolted two sides together with three stainless steel bolts, three ss nuts, and 6 ss washers.  I then formed it in a circle by bending it around an empty propane tank I had laying around from my grill.  I attached the other end together the same way.  I attached it to the charcoal grate of my 22.5 inch weber kettle by using two ss u bolts.  The basket is 12" high and measures 12" across.  I haven't made the ash catcher yet, so that will be for another day.  I plan on making a three inch space between the bottom of the basket and the catcher.  I'm also going to have the catcher sit about a half inch or inch off of the bottom of the drum.  Or I was thinking about putting a few fire bricks at the bottom of the drum and sitting it on them.

    Parts List:

    2-12x24 sheets of expanded metal- $18.74

    2- SS 1/4x1/8x2 U Bolts- $5.92

    1- 10 pack SS 1/4x1 1/2 machine round head screws- $4.44

    2- 4 pack SS 1/4 hex nut- $2.36

    4- 3 pack SS 1/4 washer- $4.72

    Cost- $36.18

    Total Cost To Date- $78.97

    My step drill bit actually arrived today, 2 days after I ordered it!  I chose the regular shipping too!  Using a rope, I wrapped it around the drum to measure it.  I placed a mark on the rope and measured the rope.  It came to about 71".  To get the evenly spaced holes, I divided 71 by 4 and marked off 17 3/4" on the rope.  I made my first mark 2" from the bottom of the drum and used the rope to make marks at the 17 and 3/4" mark around the entire drum.  At each mark, I just measured 2" up from the bottom.  Using a T Square, I made the same marks at the top of the drum in line with the bottom marks.  I will then use this when I add the holes for my grates.  This way everything will be in line on the drum.  Apparently I never charged the battery on my drill from the last time I used it, so I was unable to drill and decided to call it a day.   I will keep this updated as I work on it.  My goal is to have it finished in a few weeks.  We are having a party November 3rd and I would like to have that as its maiden voyage!
  2. pc farmer

    pc farmer Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I will be watching this build.

    You have a good plan.

    I would make it so you could lift the basket to be able to sear.

    I also have ( 2 ) 1 inch capped intakes and ( 2 ) 3/4 inch ball valves.

    Helps to get up to temp quicker and hotter if needed.
  3. Sounds like your off to a nice UDS. Keep the pics coming. If we see anything wrong we will let you know/

    Happy smoken.

  4. flyboys

    flyboys Smoking Fanatic

    Thank you Dave.  I actually spent the last several nights reading a lot of your posts about UDS'S!  I know I won't go wrong now!

    Thank you c farmer, I was contemplating having two 1 inch and two 3/4 inch, I think I am going to do that.  I like doing chicken, so I will need the higher temps.  I am also planning on putting a rod across the top of the basket to lift it out.  But as far as searing, the other thing I was thinking was to put bolts in for a third grate just above the basket, that way I can sear and also add a pan to act as a diffuser.  Do you find uneven temps on the grates to be a problem, or am I overthinking it?

  5. pc farmer

    pc farmer Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I dont have a diffuser so I know my grate temp varies.

    My sear position is right below my top rack.

    Your thinking might work.

    I will put my diffuser on my sear position bolts I think.
  6. flyboys

    flyboys Smoking Fanatic

    I think you just made up my mind c farmer.  I'm going to add a grate above the basket.  I can put a drip pan on it as well to make gravys, sauces etc.  I could technically use that portion as a grill too , just have to be careful taking the top off too much.  I'll be sure to let you know how it works out.
  7. pc farmer

    pc farmer Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I use mine as a grill all the time.
  8. As far as putting a rack just above the basket. I like the idea. I often use my bottom rack as a drip pan rack to catch the good juices

    . As far a searing. If you have a bottom rack, Move the fire basket up on it. Then sear. That way you don't have your head down in a 350° or higher hole.

    Happy smoken.

  9. flyboys

    flyboys Smoking Fanatic

    That way I can use both grates and still have a drip pan.  I will definitely move the basket up to sear, I would be willing to bet that putting my head in there while its all fired up would more likely than not leave a mark.  Thank you both again for the advice.
  10. PM me if i can be of any help. You should be able to get it finished in very little man hours if you get the time to work on it.

    Happy smoken.

  11. flyboys

    flyboys Smoking Fanatic

    Thank you Dave, I will.  I have to work the rest of the weekend, but am off the beginning of the week.  I'm hoping to devote some time to it then.
  12. pc farmer

    pc farmer Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Yup " the mule " knows his sh*t.
  13. [​IMG]
  14. flyboys

    flyboys Smoking Fanatic

    As you do too!
  15. pc farmer

    pc farmer Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Well maybe, he helped me build mine. Lol
  16. flyboys

    flyboys Smoking Fanatic

    After almost two weeks, I finally got my drum back from the company I had sandblast it, and I am pissed! 80 freakin dollars! This just put me waaaay over budget. Not much I can do now though.
    Sandblast- $80
    Total to date- $158.97
  17. pc farmer

    pc farmer Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    It will be worth it.
  18. rcwbud

    rcwbud Fire Starter

    Mine is very similar to what you are doing here. I put three levels of grates in, one at thirteen inches down, one at 9, and one at three. I use two grates at any given time and simply use the two on the bottom for longer or shorter cooking. The variance in them is about 15 degrees and the bottom one I use for grilling. I am a little curious as to why four holes on the bottom and the varying sizes. I put three on mine and use magnets to cover them. I light my charcoal with all three open but to get 270 degrees I have to completely shut two of them and only open the other one a half inch. I have four on the lid that are open (for that temp) only about a quarter of an inch. I get about eight to ten hours at 260 to 285 at that setting. If I had four holes on the bottom, and had them open at all, I would never get below 350 degrees. My problem is keeping the heat off rather than finding more heat. I think you will find that to be true as well.
  19. OUCH! I think it was a little to much for sand blasting. Your going to love the way it cooks after you get it going.

    Happy smoken.

  20. flyboys

    flyboys Smoking Fanatic

    From everything I read on tan liners, I didn't want to spend all the time and effort in removing it. I just wish there was some healthy competition in my area for sandblasters.

    Thank you for the info rcwbud. I smoke poultry a lot more than other meats (financially challenged) and like to have the heat in the 325 range. In researching it and speaking with c farmer, my thinking is it will be easier to maintain a higher temp if needed. I was thinking that I can always put the caps on to bring it down. I've already drilled 4 pilot holes, but haven't finished them to size yet.

    Yeah, I had to pull some overtime to pay for it. Now if I could just find a day off to finish it! This weekend isn't looking promising either. Hopefully next week.