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It should work. Be aware that part of the assumption of working with shells is that an small change in geometry doesn't affect the structural response significantly. Given that, it shouldn't matter if you use the external, midplane or internal surface of the barrel to create the shell, the differences are negligible. If they aren't (for example a really thick barrel), shells is not the way to go.
Yes, it did work.
Only thing I had to change was to move the contacting bodies up to contact the midsurface of the shell.
With large deformations I got about 5-10% difference from my solid model analysis. I think I'll stick to using shells in non-contact areas for now.