Starting UDS Build - Question on Dome Lid

Discussion in 'UDS Builds' started by hickorybutt, Jan 5, 2015.

  1. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    Well I decided to build a UDS. I want a smoker that doesn't require a ton of babysitting - at least not as much as my offset cooker. I don't always have all day to sit by a fire and feed a split every 30 minutes. The WSM is just out of my budget, but thought the UDS would be a good value and similar concept.

    Already bought the barrel which is food grade. I'll burn it out eventually.

    I want 2 racks so I bought a cheapo 22.5" kettle grill at Sears tonight (The BBQ Pro). It is currently on sale for $47. I figured I could get a dome lid and also a grate out of it. My only concern is that it is very cheap and the metal is really thin. Thinner than a Weber kettle. For those with experience with a UDS, will this be an issue with temp maintenance and control? Seems like the thin lid won't hold heat in as good. I mean it's not like aluminum foil thin, but just thinner than the Weber cousin. And significantly thinner metal than the drum. If the lid isn't going to be a good thing I can just take the grill back to Sears.

    Thanks! Looking forward to the build. This isn't something I'm going to start and finish this week, but will do it over the next few.

  2. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would use it and see what happens. I dont think it would be a problem.
  3. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm with Adam use it and see how it performs. Did your drum come with a lid? You can get 2 racks in there with the flat drum lid.

    More of a concern with the kid you have will be the seal where it mates with the drum. Easy fix with some stove rope. If you are really concerned about the thin metal a welding blanket can be bought cheap from Harbor Freight. Honestly though the thin metal shouldn't be a problem. My UDS has 3" of open venting on top of the lid that never gets closed.
  4. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks for the input guys.

    Yes the drum came with a lid. How do you get 2 racks with a flat lid as far as spacing goes? I'd like enough space to get pork butts on both racks. Was thinking that I would need at least a minimum 6" on each rack. I've read that you need 24" from the bottom cooking rack to the bottom of the fire basket. If I put a diffuser plate in there, would it allow me to lower the bottom grate a little closer to the fire?
  5. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    With a flat lid you could go 6-7" down for the first and go 6 or so down from that for the other. I like having a holy type of diffuser also.
  6. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks FWI

    I also read that creosote condensation can build up and drip on meat with the flat lid as opposed to running down the sides with a dome. Anyone have that problem? I would have to guess it's not that big of an issue with all of the flat top UDS out there
  7. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I use a flat top, not a problem.
  8. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Now no problem with that unless you have a pan full of water in your smoker.

    As Keith stated you can have racks set at 6" apart. I made an adjustable rack system and can set my rAcks at 1" intervals starting 2" below the lid all the way down to the bottom. My charcoal basket also mounts in the racks and I can lower all the way down or raise it up as high as I want.
  9. I run mine 7 inches down, with a water pan below. The water pan/diffuser is 6 inches down. It's at the first rib on the drum exactly. 
  10. I have used both a Weber and a cheapo and can't tell the difference. I weld a ring in the top of mine to get a good seal as well as a couple more inches. I have 5 racks in mine.

    The orange plugs are so I can put a probe in at any rack level.

    Happy smoken.

  11. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks for the input from all of you.  I've decided to go with a flat top.  Will be less work (won't have to weld an extension like David's design - although I like the idea!).  And I also could use the $47 back that I spent on the kettle grill for the dome lid.

    Here is a design that I've mocked up.  It will allow me to have 2 racks but I'll only have 17" from the bottom food rack to the bottom of the charcoal basket.  I'm going to add a diffuser though to hopefully shield some of the heat and distribute it more evenly.  And if my bottom rack runs a little hotter, then I'll either rotate meat during the cook or just use the hot rack to my advantage if I'm cooking multiple kinds of meat.

    Let me know what ya'll think!

  12. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I have never needed a diffuser in mine, but I don't regularly cook on the bottom grate. It is usually used for the drip pan. Sometimes potato's. It won't hurt anything to have one though. Maybe it's a good Idea.
    never have had that happen. It is all about having enough airflow. top vents are always open in use.

    Last edited: Jan 7, 2015
  13. That will work just fine. If you will add a few more bolts to hold the racks you could add more racks if needed for ribs or??? as well as a large bird and??? Bolts are pretty cheap.

    Happy smoken.

  14. gunkle

    gunkle Meat Mopper

    I have that same grill lid on mine no problems.
  15. I use a diffuser in mine I made from a propane tank lid. I use it for Briskets,Ribs, shoulders to keep fat off coals, and if a flare up occurs when lid is off won't hurt meat. I get better temps with flat lid.
  16. Cool, I'll be watching,  I think they are pretty neat

  17. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks for the continued advice guys. I'm gonna try to start it next weekend with drilling my holes and then burning it out.

    Would have started today, but had to split some smoking wood and stack it to let it start seasoning for the summer. Right half is hickory, left half is pecan. Hickory is from my mom's place and the pecan is from a few limbs off a tree at my grandmother inlaw's. I can almost smell the hickory right now rolling over some ribs.......
  18. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Wait till you smell the pecan mixed with Cherry, you may just give away the hickory!
  19. Hey HB  You got a great combo there, Pecan is still my favorite, 

    You are ready now     How fresh is your wood?

  20. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    Just cut it right before Christmas while we were down in GA, and I brought it back to Cincy. So I'm hoping it will start getting ready to cook with around July. I like my wood to be right in the middle of green and seasoned. Burns longer. Maybe the hickory will need to season a bit longer since it is naturally a stronger wood.

    I have about a third rick of cherry left... Hopefully it will last so I can mix it with the pecan

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