There are no local providers of food grade 55 gallon drums for sale in the Effingham, IL / Mattoon, IL / Shelbyville, IL area. I wound up having to haul loads of drums home (7 at a time) from Saint Louis to make my smokers. I have food grade 55 gallon, steel, open head drums with hand locking rings for $25. That is the best deal this side of Saint Louis unfortunately. The sides may have some dings to bang out, but the top and bottom rings are undamaged.
I have two designs for my charcoal basket that are rock solid and my first 4 baskets are over 2 years old and still looking good. My original ash pans on those baskets were pizza pans and they were not heat resistant enough, I now use 16ga steel.
There are ways to build cheaper charcoal baskets in your basement that will work, but I am sticking with the heavy duty design I trust. That is why the smokers will have a price with and without baskets. The baskets are built to my specs by a local welding shop and are listed at cost with no markup.
Every UDS smoker will produce the same results in the end. A smoker with a store bought lid will hold a little more food and look better but will cook the same food with the same results. You have air coming in the bottom and venting out the top. It's just a matter of how fancy and how many bells and whistles you want after that.
My "smokers" are also configured to be grills also. It will smoke "low and slow for 12 hours while cooking pork butts, brisket and ribs and it will cook steaks and chicken as a grill. Grilling on a smoker allows you to get that smoke flavor into the food more than an average grill, even if your cooking with cast iron. The advantage to using a UDS as a grill is you have total control of how far from the coals you choose to cook. (the top end temp is around 450-500F, so cooking pizza at 700F requires a special build)
I will list the locally bought small parts needed to complete your smoker. I hate to bump the smoker prices up by filling them with easily available parts you can pick up in town.
I am still designing a 12ga plate into a grilling pan to duplicate the cooking method of an "Old Smokey" grill. The Old Smokey is the best way to cook cut up chicken. It is very user friendly and easy to learn on. The draw back is that the thin stamped tin it's made out of will rust out in about 2 years if you store it out of the weather. It is (in my opinion) a better grill than a Weber, but Weber lovers will point out that a Weber will still be cooking 25 years later. It's stable predictable temps make it a great first grill for newbies. I want to recreate that stability for grilling purposes.