Most of the high temps are going to be in the lower 1/3 of the drum when you are cooking and thats were the paint is going to flake, I wouldn't worry about the rest. As far as the pipe nipples, you may have to put a backing nut on them, take all the nipples, nuts etc and make sure they are not crossthreaded and go on easy, if you are just screwing the conduit into the drum make sure the holes are smooth on both sides, if they go on loose, put a washer or a knockout plug reducer and put backing nuts on them. Some people say the Weber lid fits on their drums, I've tried it on prospective drums that I was going to use and it didn't so I cut the rolled flange off the bottom of the kettles and set it in the drums and the lids fits perfect. You don't really need a Weber lid on the drum, use the flat lid and bide your time until the free one appears!
Brian - Left Hand Smoke BBQ PNWBA 2010 Team of the Year
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