I hope it works out for you. I'm all for innovation and any way you look at it, its a home made smoker, so its up to you how you go about modding the basic model.
On the other hand I'm in the camp of I built a basic UDS following the Norco plans and mine has worked as advertised from the first time I fired it up. My only mods have been going from a flat drum lid to a weber kettle lid (free), 2nd grate (came with the lid), and side handles.
It seems like so many folks who have had problems with their first drum deviated from the basic drum build in some way. The UDS is easy to build, but also easy to outsmart yourself. Smoke & Beers already said it...Keep it Simple.