Wanting to build an electric uds

Discussion in 'UDS Builds' started by andrewv, Oct 7, 2015.

  1. andrewv

    andrewv Fire Starter

    Hey everybody. I had been researching electric smokers and had been almost set on the MES 40 when I saw a thread on building an electric uds. This sounds great to me even though I am by no means a builder! I think it would be a great project to be proud of once completed.

    moving forward, here are some of the things I know.

    1.) 55 gallon drum, food grade, unlined if possible
    2.) a 1500w heating element that I can purchase from most big box stores.
    3.) using the 22in weber replaceable grates
    4.) using either a cast iron skillet on the heating element with wood chunks to produce smoke or purchase some amps product.

    Now, for my wish list.
    1.) 2 cooking grates for a greater cooking capacity
    2.) a side door for easy access to the lowest grate
    3.) a weber dome lid so my top grate does not need to be 6 to 8 in lower than the opening of my drum
    4.) dual therms for monitoring temps on both grates
    5.) latch system on the side door to ensure a quality seal

    My questions moving forward are mainly around the heating element and how to control the temperature. I have read about temperature relays but would like to find a solution that does not require an electrical engineering degree.

    Finally, the cheaper the build, the better.

    Thoughts? I appreciate any info/feedback.

  2. josephbartman

    josephbartman Newbie

    Sounds like it to me your going to have a amount equal to a store bough unit look into a cookshack or a smoking tex you will be pleased
  3. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Price wise, you will probably end up near the MES 40". I personally would just buy that, but I can understand wanting to build your own.

    I have no experience in building smokers, but I think you can buy actual smoker heating elements that have the plug with a heating control dial like those found on electric skillets. I actually think that there is one like that in the smokingmeat store. Anyway that might give you an idea.

    There are also some heating elements like a fully contained coleman one that are fully metal and have high heat resistance, and you may be able to just put something like that in there.

    Anyway like I mentioned I am not experienced in builds, but I have been wanting to do one for some time and those are just some ideas I have been logging away in the back of my mind.
  4. Me personally?   I use a coal fired UDS and would have it no other way.  The electric version you are shooting for will be "set it and forget it"... my unit is very close to that.  I have 2 grates- and find that 99.9 percent of my cooks can be done one one grate.  Getting to the lower grate if both are loaded with food is a pain.  Putting an access gate/door to get to the bottom grate sounds like an idea until you draw it out and realize that you will only have about 7" of headroom and  are trying to reach across 22 inches of space to get to the other size of the grate.  Not to mention that drums are really thin and get a lot of their strength by being in one piece.  Cutting will be NO problem- mounting a door that will seal well- will be.

    Maybe do this-   build it with the one grate and use the flat lid with the 2" bung for exhaust.  IF you decide you just gotta have the 2nd grate, it can always be added with the dome lid.  That one grate holds a LOT of food. 

    Amazon sells heating elements with a plug in dial type controller- they are pretty cheap.  The skillet with wood chunks will probably not work out too well unless you have a way of "recharging it" during a longish cook.  I have no experience with any of the amps products - they might be great /shrug.  You might be able to rig a tube that you can slide more wood down into your skillet as needed- it's a thought.  Or you could make a small door that you could take a set of tongs and place new wood in the pan.

    Sounds like a fun project- keep us informed.
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If it's electric you want them here's what you'll need. First buy the 1500 watt Bradley or Brinkman replacement element.


    Then buy this plug and play PID:


    I wouldn't bother with trying a cast iron pan and wood chiunks or chips. Either buy the AMNPS or one of the tube smokers from Todd.

    I wouldn't bother with the side door to start. Try it without and then add if needed. I've never found that I have needed to access the bottom rack during smoking.

    I would make provisions for hanging meats. Electric smokers are great for jerky, and sausages and those do best when hung.

    Since you are going electric be sure and add a diffuser above the element to keep crud from dripping on it. You will not want
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2015

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