View Full Version : UDS Lid Options Pros/Cons

05-15-2014, 04:49 PM
Hello brethren. I've been looking thorugh this site and others to help me make a decision but i'm coming up short. My current UDS has the flat top, 8 hole configuration. I want a second grate so I'm deciding between going the Weber Kettle route or buying a second drum, cutting it down and using that for the lid. Seems the vast majority of UDS's I see pics of and hear about use either the kettle lid or say with the flat top - why? Why is the kettle lid the prominent option even if it can take some fab work to get it to function properly? Is there some serious benefit to the dome shape? Is there a serious design flaw in going the second drum route? To tall, too heavy, etc? I can't find a decent kettle lid on CL or at garage sales, don't want to spend the money on a new kettle just to throw most of it away. I can get a refurb'ed drum for $20 at the local barrel shop. Looking for you wise insights and opinions.

05-15-2014, 04:56 PM
I am not sure where to start here. I prefer the flat lid with eight holes. I think it spreads the heat out evenly across the drum and doesn't create any (slight) hot spots below the exhaust. The drums I have easy access too would require work to have a Weber lid fit, I have tried one of my kettle lids. I only use one grate level in mine though. If you go with the flat lid and two grates, you are getting pretty close to the fire and most people who do this will put some type of diffuser plate above the fire, to keep the heat indirect. Options there are clay saucers, pizza pans with holes cut in them, or about anything.

On the other hand, if you had a lid you could sacrifice from a kettle (which it sounds like you don't) the quick piece of flat stock around the lid of the drum will make the kettle lid fit just fine. I have seen pictures of many people doing this modification. You can look on Craigs list for nearly throwaway kettles, the lid is probably going to be in the best shape of anything on the kettle.

A second drum is a good option, it does use more charcoal to fire them both up but if you don't intend to use both except on special occasions, maybe this is the way to go. This also allows easy access to both grates. When you build a multi level grate UDS, it is difficult to reach the bottom grate.

These are your options in my eyes.

05-15-2014, 05:18 PM
Thanks for the input but I think my question might not have been totally clear. My current UDS set up sounds just like yours. I don't want to go with the option of a second grate w/difuser in my current set up. What I've seen done in a few instances is to cut another throw-away barrel down and use the top 1/3 of the second drum as the lid. Still using the flat-top, 8 hole config but you get an extra 12" of headspace with the drum/lid. I may keep my current UDS as is and build a second or just upgrade the current with a new lid. My big quesion is why I don't see folks using the drum/lid. Hope that wasn't more confusing :confused:

05-15-2014, 05:28 PM
I think you idea of using a section of drum to add height and keep your preferred flat lid is perfectly valid. I have a Weber lid on my UDS, but I got the kettle for $20 and I needed other parts from it anyway.

Kettle lid preference - I blame George Lucas.

05-15-2014, 05:35 PM
Unfortunately, my Weber Lid will not fit my drum.
So I am using only one rack and the flat top 8 hole lid.
The aluminum stock which I could attach to the top
to enable my dome lid to fit is is $20,
and I think that's too much for a supposedly cheap smoker.
I've got $88 into mine (most expensive thing were the SS bolts)
and I want to brag how cheap I made it.

05-15-2014, 05:35 PM
Do you want a grill or just more smoker space? I like my flat top, not sure there are more domes out there, could be wrong though it wouldn't be the first time.

05-15-2014, 05:47 PM
or do both a Weber lid and a drum section. Cut it wherever you need to along the "rib" so the Weber lid fits right.

05-15-2014, 05:55 PM
I think it was N8's idea i liked of the grates bolted together.

http://i1226.photobucket.com/albums/ee407/Amerivet/rackstand_zps1e8ca28c.jpg (http://s1226.photobucket.com/user/Amerivet/media/rackstand_zps1e8ca28c.jpg.html)

05-15-2014, 06:43 PM
Just looking for some more smoker space. Going on a hog hunt soon so I'm anticipating needing more room. Plus have delusions of maybe hanging some meat (like pork belly) in there

That set up is what I'm thinking but using the flat lid instead of the dome

I saw a post earlier today with the adjustable racks. Love that idea also

05-15-2014, 07:11 PM
I think it was N8's idea i liked of the grates bolted together.
Conceivably, you could rack 50 pounds of deliciousness on those 3 racks.
I would prefer pulling it one rack at a time. Elucidate me!

05-15-2014, 07:37 PM
I can't take credit for the racking idea, but I can't remember which brethren to attribute it to...
anyone that knows please name names....

on edit...found it, it was the colonel!!!
and the colonel gives credit to mike w...

The racks are not bolted one to the other....
the bolts simply act as legs so the racks are stackable one on top the next....


05-15-2014, 09:45 PM
This is one a friend of mine built a few yrs ago Works like a Champ http://www.theqjoint.com/forum/showthread.php?4141-The-Topper

05-16-2014, 12:38 PM
That's the ticket right there. Just called and put a drum on hold. Little more expensive than last year but $27 for a reconditioned DOT drum isn't too bad. (I guess DOT drums have thicker walls - learn something new every day)

05-16-2014, 01:41 PM
I got 3 grates with a flat lid. Bottom grate I run a water pan/difusser.

One fellar on here does 12 chickens on 3 grates with a flat lid , so I don't see why you need a dome lid or barrel ext just to add a second grate?

Some guys have used Stainless Steel Salad Bowls for domed lids.

05-16-2014, 02:11 PM
I used a piece of flat steel strip 1/8x1/2", long enough to form a circle the size of the drum. Admittedly I have a sheet metal roller, but it could also be formed by hand or simply tack one end to the drum top, pull a little until the next bit is in line, tack again and repeat all the way around. With a flat strip welded on edge on top of your drum, the Weber lid fits fine. I also cut a thermometer port into my Weber lid, and used a thermometer with 8" stem to stick down a ways.

I have had great luck finding cheap or free used Weber kettles. Often the powder coating has been damaged and rust has formed beneath. I just knock off the rust with a wire wheel on an angle grinder and paint it black. I'm not a fan of fancy paint on cookers.

My point is, the Weber lids work really great. Not saying other things don't. Just that they do. I didn't want to reinvent the wheel here, just to build a simple basic cooker that works well. Mine works perfectly.

The only thing I do on UDS builds that I don't commonly see is that I weld 3 tabs around the bottom. The tabs are punched 3/8" for threaded casters. Having the drum on wheels really helps as otherwise they're awkward to move.

I guess there is one other thing I do that many guys don't. I drill 1/2x1" bolts axially 1/4" and stick 1/4" pins through them, then peen the ends of the pins so the pins can't come out. Then I can slide the pins in and out. I did this because I use 2 racks and it's tricky to lift out the lower rack full of meat past fixed rack mount bolts. I like my simple retractable mount pins, but I do have to clean the gunk off them every year or so else they get sticky.


05-16-2014, 02:26 PM
Shorter peeps may not be able to reach all the way into a stacked drum. Just sayin...

05-16-2014, 02:37 PM
Shorter peeps may not be able to reach all the way into a stacked drum. Just sayin...

Uh, the stacked part is all lid which lifts off .. if I understand it correctly, all the food is in a drum with regular depth. Not any deeper.

05-16-2014, 03:19 PM
I did exactly what you're thinking about:


The spare barrel that I cut the bottom off of to make the lid was just barely smaller in diameter than the main barrel, so the lid fits snugly inside the rim of the main barrel. The white strip is a Nomex grill gasket. Once it heats up, the lid expands a little and seals up just fine without it, but it was pretty difficult to yank off sometimes. The gasket seals it up but doesn't let it stick.

05-16-2014, 07:28 PM
I'm a complete neub, so I can be wayyy of on this, but I thought i read that one reason for using a domed lid is to keep condensation from dripping on your food.

05-17-2014, 03:03 AM
if you got the tools & skills, then use a 2nd drum as its cheaper.
If like me you dont have the tools or skills, then go find a dome lid :o)
I paid 20 to get my dome lid welded to my drum lid for a perfect fit.

UDS is meant to have that 'i made that' feel. so less commercial pieces the better 'o)

05-17-2014, 08:44 AM
Been building my BUFORDS with a cone top. Of course, it costs a few bucks and you need to have a welder to make it fit.


05-17-2014, 08:59 AM
Using a dome lid has the added advantage of giving you extra headroom for your second rack without adding height to your drum. As someone pointed out up above, adding a new section from a drum will be perfectly fine, but it will also make your cooker an extra foot taller on the outside, which means its just a bit more difficult to reach down to the very bottom for cleaning, removing and inserting your fire basket, adding some more fuel, etc. But if that isn't a big deal to you, seems like it will work just fine.

05-17-2014, 09:02 AM
Uh, the stacked part is all lid which lifts off .. if I understand it correctly, all the food is in a drum with regular depth. Not any deeper.

Ahh . . . I hadn't understood that either. You're just basically making a deeper lid.