Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS)

This project started when I was doing a pork leg and it was too big (and tall) to fit in my old charcoal BBQ (18″ Eurochef kindly donated by a good mate). Old bricks  and clamps where to hold the lid down.

After some research I found a DIY smoker called a UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker). After much thought and research, I opted for a food safe drum (stupid move) from a chocolate factory, formally it was full of sucrose. So far I’ve invested $5.


Checked the local fire laws – unfortunately our shire does not allow burn off’s,incinerators or fire pits. To be honest our property isn’t big enough and I’m not a huge fan of the toxic fumes. I emailed a few local businesses to get quotes for sandblasting, the best came in at $70 (as a once off only), and the worst was $230.

Next was the second most expensive part, the rack/grill and possibly a 22″ Weber lid. I could have waited until the next roadside collection, but instead decided to buy an old “parts” Weber from Gumtree. The racks needed a really good clean and the lid has a many chips out of the porcelain and rust spots/holes. If your a Weber enthusiast you may want to stop reading as the lid is about to be butchered.

To stop the inside of the drum rusting I made a make-shift coal basket, exhaust damper and painted the drum and lid with high temp paint. The inside was lined with canola oil, before the first test run.

I left it near the outside of our gazibo area and it got rain sprinkled on it. The drum lid and drum had rust marks showing through the high temp paint a few days later. Not really happy about it, as the paint was $21ea (x2). I later resprayed it with gloss enamel engine paint, and installed some thermometers.

Now to work on the ‘parts’ Weber lid. It was rusted through where the handle meets the dome. I drilled the 4 tack welds and gently swayed it back and forth until it came off. Then filled the holes with high temp JB weld. Sanded the JB weld down and partially sanded the porcelain so the paint would adhere better. Because of the JB weld, the new handle had to be angled in the adjacent direction to the old handle. Had there not been as many chips in the porcelain I would have tried to restore it better.

The Weber lid rim has about a 1/4 inch (6mm) gap between it and the drum lip. So to sit flush either the rim has to be made smaller or the lip made bigger. I tried to bridge the gap using fibreglass rope with a sticky backing on it, but during testing the heat from the fire just melted the sticky backing and the fibreglass fell onto the meat and it was ruined. So at the moment the original drum lid is being used until I can find a better, and not too expensive alternative to the fibreglass rope.


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