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View Full Version : Help! My first UDS attempt


Zed
03-05-2018, 05:01 PM
Ok guys and girls I'm going to attempt a UDS. Today I got a larger than normal steel drum from a company next door to my shop. The i.d of the drum is 25 3/4 inches!!! and the height is 38.5 inches. Now I can get a normal size drum but that would cost me some cash and this was free. So my first question is where could a I get a cooking grate for this big boy? I believe Weber has a grate that measures 25 3/8 which would be perfect if I can find one on the cheap. Any idea's?

I think every thing else will be about the same for a normal size drum but if anyone knows different please speak up. I plan on doing this all from parts that are free or real close and or from the junk yard. The idea is to make my own UDS and not a kit smoker. Not that there is anything wrong with kits but for my first I want cheap and me all over it. I'm open to any and all advise you people are willing to give. Thanks in advance and I look forward to being part of this bbq crazy group. Cheers!

Nuco59
03-05-2018, 06:19 PM
Good news! You got a high dollar drum for zero bucks.

Bad news- you might wind up needing a custom grate or go: https://www.amazon.com/Weber-Hinged-Cook-Grate-One/dp/B00BG9RRQY That seems pretty high but you will have some serious real estate and will likely never need another.

Zed
03-05-2018, 07:58 PM
I was thinking this was a hard to come by drum. I called weber after your post and they sell it for 79.00 plus shipping. So if you where me you would spend the money on this drum and push forward? I

el luchador
03-05-2018, 08:01 PM
hi, congrats on getting a big drum.

do you have a steel shop around you? a 4x8 sheet of expanded metal is like $70 and should give you enough for for two grates and a charcoal basket!

or, if you dont want to fab something like that and dont want to spend a lot of money you can put some long bolts in there and use the cheap $10 grates that fit the wsm . you'll lose real estate but you wont spend that much and wont have to cut expanded metal( which is really easy to do actually.)

kwas68
03-05-2018, 08:45 PM
Seems like this free drum is going to cost you in the long run with the added expense of odd-sized grates. I'd see if you can't find somebody with a more standardized size drum to swap with.

Zed
03-05-2018, 09:10 PM
I'd like to have 2 levels in the smoker and I was concerned about the size also. But if I can find some expanded steel with a thickness that will hold up would that not be about the same cost as 2 smaller grates?

-Chris-
03-05-2018, 09:15 PM
Seems like this free drum is going to cost you in the long run with the added expense of odd-sized grates. I'd see if you can't find somebody with a more standardized size drum to swap with.

Agreed, I just bought 4 drums with lids that were stored inside for $40. You will waste a lot of money trying to make this one work, IMO.

Chris

Zed
03-05-2018, 09:25 PM
Thanks for the input. But so that I can say I thought this through, what other than the grates would be a bigger expense compared to ta normal sized drum?

effinUker
03-05-2018, 09:40 PM
Grates and a cover are the 2 big things, everything else would be the same or similar. If it were me, I'd say: Love the one you're with.

Zed
03-05-2018, 09:42 PM
The drum has a removable cover and a strap that locks it closed.

effinUker
03-05-2018, 10:28 PM
The drum has a removable cover and a strap that locks it closed.

Yeah I'd soldier on. May as well just do the big one first.

(My wife made me do that with my motorcycle - get the 1800 now so I don't have to hear you bitch while you're riding the 1300 that you need the bigger one. I love her. :-D)

4dueces
03-06-2018, 03:11 AM
Sounds like a recovery drum? I have one, made my own grates (3) out of expanded metal, made the same sized charcoal basket that i use in a 55 gallon drum, works great. Good Luck.

Zed
03-06-2018, 05:21 AM
Sounds like a recovery drum? I have one, made my own grates (3) out of expanded metal, made the same sized charcoal basket that i use in a 55 gallon drum, works great. Good Luck.

That is exactly what it is, once you said it that rung a bell. I may have found a grate on Craigs list for 15 bucks. Waiting to hear back from the guy on the exact size. In his post it's described as 25 inches, which is perfect. If I could find or make another I'll be in good shape. Also good to know the basket would work in it thank you.

Any good ideas on a hinge for the lid or is that a stupid idea? Also, do you have any pics of your grates and the thickness and size of the expanded metal. It seems there are lots of choices out there.

Nuco59
03-06-2018, 05:31 AM
I'd keep it, use it and love it. The grates (however/where ever) you get them are going to be more pricey than the 22.5 inchers- no getting around it. Buy one /have one made and get it built -fire it up. You can always add a second grate at a later time. (I find a 2nd grate on a UDS style cooker to be a huge PITA- but some folks love them)

good luck!

Zed
03-06-2018, 05:59 AM
I'd keep it, use it and love it. The grates (however/where ever) you get them are going to be more pricey than the 22.5 inchers- no getting around it. Buy one /have one made and get it built -fire it up. You can always add a second grate at a later time. (I find a 2nd grate on a UDS style cooker to be a huge PITA- but some folks love them)

good luck!

Do you know if a lower side door for getting to the charcoal would be practical?

brochip1
03-06-2018, 06:28 AM
If you're looking to place hinges on your drum you can check out this site: http://udsparts.com/hinges-latches.html
The down side is that if you're going as cheap as possible these wreck that idea. However you can get a simple stainless hook at any hardware or big box store for less than $2.

el luchador
03-06-2018, 08:07 AM
Do you know if a lower side door for getting to the charcoal would be practical?


it would be practical, but could also introduce air leaks unless you seal it well.

Zed
03-06-2018, 08:13 AM
it would be practical, but could also introduce air leaks unless you seal it well.

Ok fair enough. I assume a basket full of charcoal can go a full 12 or more hours? If not I guess you have to pull the meat, grate and basket to refill.

OEF5
03-06-2018, 08:21 AM
As for a side door...I have 3 UDS which I made, each has a coal basket that is made from the Weber Kettle coal grate with 2x4 expanded metal rolled and bolted to make it round. These hold a full bag of lump Charcoal and I can run them for at least 12 hours before I even have to think about adding any fuel.

In the 14 years I've been using my original UDS I've only ran out of fuel on one cook and that was on a HUGE Ham that I got at a butcher shop, had to finish in the oven as it was really too big for my UDS.

This is even running them in -15, so don't over think the UDS, the reason they work, if built right is that they are pretty dummy proof, light the fire in a chimney, pour on your basket, put in your drum, put the cooking grate on, put the meat on, let it cook.

As for the parts, your most expensive part is going to be your thermometer unless you go really cheap, which you can do, I chose to put Tel Tru's on mine though. Enjoy the UDS once you get some Que off of it you will looking at an offset, and then you will be looking at a stick burner. Which this forum and these guys and gals will definitely help you spend some money. This is not the place to come for any type of BBQ addiction treatment, it's the exact opposite! :heh:

dadsr4
03-06-2018, 08:24 AM
You could use a 22.5" grate as the 2nd one by putting it on legs. Here is one that fits on my kettle, but 7" bolts would raise it up to the normal UDS level.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=1074&pictureid=11155

el luchador
03-06-2018, 08:28 AM
Ok fair enough. I assume a basket full of charcoal can go a full 12 or more hours? If not I guess you have to pull the meat, grate and basket to refill.

my 12" high, 17" diameter basket full of coals will go 40+ hours at 210 degrees depending on a couple of factors

dadsr4
03-06-2018, 08:30 AM
Here is a post of a UDS using bolt legs.
http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/640x480q90/841/rk7i.jpg
https://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showpost.php?p=2958759&postcount=2

dadsr4
03-06-2018, 08:40 AM
And here's how N8 did it.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=852&pictureid=11814

effinUker
03-06-2018, 09:15 AM
You want a door in it I'd look at a lava lock door.

https://bbqsmokermods.com/lavalockr-quick-coaltm-wsm-door-mod-for-22-5-weber-smokey-mountain-or-55-gallon-uds-smoker.html

SmokerKing
03-06-2018, 09:18 AM
You want a door in it I'd look at a lava lock door.

https://bbqsmokermods.com/lavalockr-quick-coaltm-wsm-door-mod-for-22-5-weber-smokey-mountain-or-55-gallon-uds-smoker.html

that won't fit on a recovery drum, it's curved to fit a 55 gallon

Plus, it doesn't look like you could remove your fire basket through the door, should you ever need to

effinUker
03-06-2018, 09:22 AM
that won't fit on a recovery drum, it's curved to fit a 55 gallon

Well crap, I tried! :-D

Czarbecue
03-06-2018, 03:26 PM
24" grates but it has handles...

https://www.amazon.com/Sunnydaze-X-Marks-Cooking-Grill-Diameter/dp/B00B02OLDY/

Zed
03-06-2018, 03:35 PM
So I can buy a sheet of expanded for 65.00 bucks locally and build everything I need. Or I can drive 2 hrs one way and get a 25 inch grate for 15 bucks and then find the fire box elsewhere.

Czarbecue
03-06-2018, 03:36 PM
So I can buy a sheet of expanded for 65.00 bucks locally and build everything I need. Or I can drive 2 hrs one way and get a 25 inch grate for 15 bucks and then find the fire box elsewhere.

Try to build it first if you have the supplies. Nothing beats homemade. My trailer looks like chit but I am very proud of it.

Zed
03-06-2018, 04:39 PM
Sounds like a recovery drum? I have one, made my own grates (3) out of expanded metal, made the same sized charcoal basket that i use in a 55 gallon drum, works great. Good Luck.

You have any photos of the grates? Im trying to get an idea of how to make them sturdy out of expanded steel.

Nuco59
03-06-2018, 05:35 PM
Having a lower door on a UDS or not falls into 2 camps

One group points out that "it is not really needed" and will lay out logical reasons to support that view.

The other groups says "I want one whether I need it or not - neener neener- so there!"

I'm in the "it's not really needed" group but also a card carrying member of the "It's your drum- do your thing" group.

Share pictures of your progress, if you don't mind.

Zed
03-06-2018, 07:49 PM
Anyone ever use one of these for a charcoal basket?

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Bayou-Classic-30-qt-Perforated-Basket-B300/100171548?cm_mmc=Shopping%7cTHD%7cgoogle%7c&mid=slrRi1fyd%7cdc_mtid_890338a25189_pcrid_1404267 13082_pkw__pmt__product_100171548_slid_&gclid=CjwKCAiAlfnUBRBQEiwAWpPA6VFc6QQySaQRshH0B2w-G3korON2Z63Cbq5WzxIczXlsL0PW_sJFJBoCaYAQAvD_BwE&dclid=CNyKucyL2dkCFUWVAQod0ugAAA

effinUker
03-07-2018, 05:57 AM
Find an old steel milk crate for a charcoal basket.

brochip1
03-07-2018, 07:20 AM
Those perforated baskets work well for your charcoal. It's what I have in mine (I got it for $7 on clearance at Academy). The only problem you'll have is that the bottoms tend to burn out rather quickly. For the price, you could probably buy expanded metal and make your own for less.

Zed
03-07-2018, 05:33 PM
Guys I have a old aluminum pressure cooker about 30 qts or so. It's thick walled and Id like to use it as my charcoal basket. Any reason I could drill holes and use it?

el luchador
03-07-2018, 06:02 PM
You could use that,or just buy a steel bucket for 5 bucks, burn it out and make a few holes

Something like this

https://youtu.be/GFrLXqZs6ew

Nuco59
03-07-2018, 06:07 PM
You can make a basket out of anything that will hold coals and will survive the heat. But like building anything, you will find that some materials are better suited than others. I'd avoid aluminum or galvanized steel. If you are good at scrounging, the bottom foot of a 30 gallon or 16 gallon drum with a piece of xpando to hold your coal would make a dandy charcoal basket.

DRMSMKER
03-07-2018, 06:30 PM
Like anything, you can build it cheap and it will work great. But there is always a point where too cheap of materials means you will have to keep building it. but I do want to see how budget you can get. I take pride in being thrifty and because of that I've learned a lot about rebuilding or fixing something over and over when spending a little more the first time would have done the job. Sometimes buy once, cry once makes sense. Good luck and post pics!

Happy Hapgood
03-07-2018, 06:47 PM
I'm not a UDS guy but just want to ask from a safety point, What was reclaimed into the barrel and how are you going to prep it to handle food?

Not trying to be Debbie Downer, just heard other folks on the forum discuess this in the past.

Good Luck with the build!

Zed
03-08-2018, 05:54 AM
I'm not a UDS guy but just want to ask from a safety point, What was reclaimed into the barrel and how are you going to prep it to handle food?

Not trying to be Debbie Downer, just heard other folks on the forum discuess this in the past.

Good Luck with the build!

Great question, the drum as far as I know based off where I got it was a recovery drum for a fragrance used to make soap. The inside appears to be bare metal. I have no idea if it was used for other liquids before so I will assume it was and proceed accordingly. I plan on first rinsing it and washing it out. While doing so I will inspect further for a clear liner out clear coat. Then if it passes that step I'll burn the barrel until I feel it's good to go. If I missed any steps any please speak up.

Zed
03-08-2018, 05:27 PM
Ok I found an old post on here (https://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=76639&page=3) that had a grill grate that I think will work for my big fat recovery drum. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001ASH9O6/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 I paid nothing for it because I had Amazon reward points to cover it.

I also found another drum, this time a 55 food grade from a guy locally that I will pick up Saturday for 20 bucks. Im going to build 2 just because I can. Maybe start the Big Bertha and later on build out the 55. I had an idea to do a 2 story UDS with the bottom drum having a door and pretty much being the fire box. Then the top drum with racks and and maybe some polls for hanging. Any one ever seen this before?

4dueces
03-09-2018, 02:12 PM
[QUOTE=Zed;3962790]You have any photos of the grates? Im trying to get an idea of how to make them sturdy out of expanded steel.

4dueces
03-09-2018, 02:30 PM
I do, but I can't figure out how to attach it.

4dueces
03-09-2018, 02:34 PM
i978.photobucket.com/albums/ae265/4dueces/IMAG0097.jpg

4dueces
03-09-2018, 02:45 PM
http://i978.photobucket.com/albums/ae265/4dueces/IMAG0097.jpg

Here ya go.........

Zed
03-10-2018, 03:49 PM
Thanks for the pic. I assume you welded a piece of flat stock around the perimeter? Also I have a chance to get a sheet of 1in expanded steel for 30 bucks. It seems 2 big for charcoal though, anyone got some thoughts on this? That being said I had an idea today for a charcoal basket, a weber little smokey. It has legs and a vent at the bottom and it's build to withstand heat from charcoal. Couldn't I just take the lid off and place it in the bottom of the smoker? Would it hold enough charcoal? They cost 30 bucks and that's what a grate and 2 pieces of expanded steel costs. What do you guys think?

4dueces
03-14-2018, 08:50 AM
It is flat stock welded around the edge. I guess the little smokey might work, only 1 way to find out. Not sure it will hold enough charcoal for a long cook. The baskets I make are using the charcoal rack from a 22.5 Weber with 9" tall expanded metal welded to it and 3" legs. It will hold 20 lbs of Kingsford charcoal.

ebijack
03-14-2018, 09:07 AM
a weber little smokey. It has legs and a vent at the bottom and it's build to withstand heat from charcoal. Couldn't I just take the lid off and place it in the bottom of the smoker? Would it hold enough charcoal? They cost 30 bucks and that's what a grate and 2 pieces of expanded steel costs. What do you guys think?

I believe the bottom holes will fill up with ash and your fire/coals will go out. Enough coal for how many hrs/temp?
But give it a go.

kls44
03-14-2018, 12:50 PM
Forget the smoky joe unless you want to make a mini smoker. You will only get about 7-8hrs. before the ashes choke it out. Get the charcoal grate for a 22.5" Weber grill and some expanded metal. You may be able to find a cutoff piece at a metal fabricator for cheap. Make some clips from a wire coat hanger to attach the ends together and to the grate. Mine is 12" tall and have done 3 cooks of 8hrs.+ on one fill.

Zed
03-17-2018, 10:25 PM
I've not come across any other threads or pics of one like this. I took a 20 lb propane tank and cut the top off. Then I layed out 3/4 inch holes every 1.5 inches with an alternating pattern. I cut the bottom out but left the original foot and dropped in a Weber little Smokey charcoal grate. This in total cost me 8 dollars. I got the old tank for free. It seems to burn wood like a champ. It measures 11.25 wide by 13 tall. I'm curious if anyone else has done this. I will add an ash pan and a handle tomorrow. What do you guy's think?

Zed
03-18-2018, 06:43 PM
Ok so this is the finished product. I decided to use the top that I cut off as an ash pan. I had some threaded rod laying around and I cut three legs out of it. I welded them to the foot that I left on the bottom of the tank. Then I drilled three holes thought the soon to be ash pan and tack welded it to the rod. Then I added a handle from a old busted 5 gallon drum I had laying around. I really like how this turned out. Now I just hope it burns long enough for a good cook. If not then I guess I got a little portable cooker!