Hopper Lid Redesign

My hopper lid is kaput. If you recall some time ago, I had to replace the paper thin filler lid, and I was able to use the old hay filter lid as a direct fit. Video at the time:

Now the rest of the lid is following suit. The top portion of the barrel that the filler lid sits on has rusted away, until the rolled edge has actually come all the way off… it smokes a lot, and finally wouldn’t shut down at all.

I happened to have another lid I got from Wayne, which I’m using temporarily. It has the old hinge bar latch, and works well enough. Not a great seal but way better than it was!

I plan to redesign the lid to hopefully solve these issues. My criteria:

  1. Must be thicker than barrel steel. Eg custom fab lid and hardware. Warp resistant shape (dome or cone)
  2. Must not hold water. Current design holds about 6 quarts after a good rain, and I’m sure that contributed to rusting.
  3. Must work with the existing drum lip of the hopper. Same diameter, same type of seal.
  4. Not too heavy to lift, but still a large opening. This probably means a two piece lid, or some clever counterweights/springs.

I like the looks of Vesa Mikkonen’s lid (the shape not the material). A very slight dome, with even a drip pocket. He shows it off here:

Other input on a new lid?

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I like how Vesa’s dressed ready for a round of golf at anytime.
Well, I’m kind of partial to the top on mine. I would however secure the lid differently. You would just need to find someone that has a slip roller.
First question I have is if the lid is that thin, do you think the hopper is also thinning? How many miles does it take for a lid to wear this thin?

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Chris I used a split car rim for the neck of the filler and the bottom of a water heater for the lid. The glass on the inside of the water heater protects the lid amd the molly steel of the rim is more resistant to acid than the drums.


“First question I have is if the lid is that thin, do you think the hopper is also thinning?”

I’d say it is also thinning but it started out much thicker. The barrel the filler lid came from was a smaller diameter and thinner material. I’ve measured Wayne’s 55 gal barrels at about 16 gauge. I expect to have to replace the hopper eventually… I still want to stick with the interchangeable nature of the 55 gal shape and seals. The hopper seals will be made similar to Bills, using round bar stock instead of the rolled edge. I’m hoping this is a ways off still… we’ll see.

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Dave, I saved the bottom of my 18" water heater for exactly that reason. Not sure if I’ll end up using it or not.

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Morning Chris ,

Sorry about the lids. Glad I don’t have anymore of those drums .

They kept the truck and gasifier weight down but paper thin and doesn’t stand the test of time .

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Chris, Might it make sense to send a lid out and have it galvanized? Wouldn’t that extend the life a bit? It shouldn’t be too expensive to do that and would only take a week or so turnaround. It would not add too much weight and could always be painted black on the outside to keep appearances good.

Al D

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No fault of yours Wayne! The metal lasted for about three years of solid usage. I was going to redesign it anyways to eliminate the standing water… the rust has forced my hand, so I’ll try to deal with this sooner than later.

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Well since you are into redesigning your lid . . . .
On VesaM’s youtube look at his lid flex showing it is made of very thin material for weight savings. He can get away with this because it is a press formed stainless steel. No more corrosion perforations and thinning. And the light domed shape it and it’s outer edge give it all the closed strength that it needs.
Shown also but not highlighted out is that he underside insulates his lids. He is trying to reduced condnesate forming and dripping down off of the lid. Encouraging them a outer downward donut flow to his larger diameter outer hopper condensing skin.
A metals pounder could make you this lid out of SS sheet. Check out old car restorers in you area for a metals pounder guy.

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This would work nice.


Wow Dave, that’s pretty cool!
I was so intrigued by that I had to call someone in my area. It appears they make these for bulk heads. Makes sense. Rough price on a 24" lid from 14ga steel, I was ball parked at around $100. That’s leaving a lip for the clamp to secure to the 55 gal drum. One could then use the bottom of a propane tank for the opening like Arvid.

Hi Chris
Have a look at your local catering supply store for stainless steel food preparation bowls. They come in all sizes and as they get bigger they are usall ticker gauge.
Just a thought.
Thanks patrick

Replace the whole barrow 2.5 rears , cost 10 or 20.00 bucks not too bad, just maintainance. I am thinking on making mine from two water heaters opened up , straped too barrow or little bigger wider too shorton the hights some what, weld car rim fab for rope seal, and car rim edge for lid allso hinge and spring, or back preasure release in midle of lid fab. KR

Hey Chris what about this? Now I understand it doesn’t have to be new, I’m sure it can be found at a tractor salvage yard.

Wow, I forgot about this thread. Well, I went and built it finally.

So,the original plan was:

Here’s the new lid I built that solves these issues.

More build details to come.


Chris, it is hard to see on that last picture but that spring at the back hinge, is that a helper spring for the cover weight? Can’t see what it is resting on. Is it long enough to do any good?

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Hi Don,

That spring helps center the lid while closing. it doesn’t even touch the lid while closed.

Without it the lid would hang too low and the lip would misalign. This way I can close the lid in one smooth motion without manually adjusting the position.

Thanks to Max for this design tip! :grinning:

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Here’s the lid welded without paint:

You can see the barrel lid I used for a seal. I left some of it inside for a water gutter, so while the lid is raised it won’t drip condensates.


The first one I built didn’t work out… but I did take detailed video of the process.

This is a long one, so skip around if you like.

For the second attempt, I just did the time lapse and a final walkaround. Same process as the first though.

So why two attempts?

Well, on the first go round I made a couple mistakes.

  • cone outer diameter was too small
  • cone edge was not flat enough
  • re-used old barrel lip that didnt seal perfectly
  • tried several ways to hinge the lid

All this meant I couldn’t get it to hold pressure. I tested the hopper, it’s flat enough. But this photo reveals the lid’s true shape. (I stacked a fresh lid underneath):

Once I knew the lid was warped a bit, I tried to straighten it. But a cone shape is very strong - once it’s welded, the edge is “locked in” and can’t be tweaked or adjusted.

I decided to try again and be much more careful with the fit up.

  • Increased the outer diameter to 23"
  • Used a “real” slip roll instead of the old bump roller
  • Checked the fitment against a virgin lid dozens of times
  • Tweaked for a neutral no-pressure perfect fit
  • Welded it in small steps watching for warpage

This time it came out flat. Even still, it requires a lot of pressure to seal. I’ll have to change it to something with a higher clamping force than the setup I’ve got now. Temporarily, I’m using zip ties to adjust the tension, which works fine and shows me the lid is OK.


As I said the other night it really looks good. Just a thought— the harder you pull down on the lid the less possibility of it working as a “Puff” lid.TomC