Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rain Barrel Building 101

As most of my followers know, I work in a "home improvment store". During the spring and summer months it's not unusual to get a phone call from the plumbing dept. Almost always it's a question about building rainbarrels. Most people are looking for what's called a bulkhead fitting, because they got barrel building instructions off the internet. Our store doesn't carry bulkhead fittings, so, plumbing sends the person to me and I try to give the person instructions to build a barrel my way. This usually pisses the person off, because they got instructions off the internet and it's got to be the only right way to do it.

So I'm going to put my way on the internet, so it can be acknowledged as being a correct way too. By the way I've sold these barrels to people that don't want to build thier own. I've never had a complaint about my design.

So, lets get started.

First of all. You do not ever want a bulkhead fitting! Not Ever! Why you ask?
1) They are expensive
2) They usually leak or start leaking soon after being installed.
3) To use them you have to cut the top of the barrel open. Which is a bad idea because it causes an evaporation problem. It's also a bad idea because it turns your barrel into a mosquito farm.

Materials for this project are:
1) Food grade plastic barrel. $5-$10
2) 1/2" Hose bib $5.30
3) 2-3" of 2" pvc pipe $2.90 for 2 feet
4) 2" pvc male adapter $1.14
5) 3"x2" pvc coupling $2.98
6) 1/2" nylon male x barbed adapter $.60
7) 4" square of fiberglass window screen material free from my scrap pile
8) A length of 1/2" garden hose, again from my scrap pile.
9) A tube of Rectorseal pipe sealant. Not sure of the cost, less than three bucks and it has built at least six barrels.

Tools needed are:
1) Electric drill
2) 3/4" spade bit
3) Hammer
4) Punch or metal rod

First make sure your barrel didn't have something nasty in it. Just because it's a food grade barrel, doesn't mean it didn't have some industrial detergent of something similar in it. This barrel came from a cannery and had 10% strength white vinegar in it.
Next use your hammer and punch to remove the bungs from the barrel. One of the bungs will have a 2" pipe thread and the other will have a thread that I have only seen on barrel bungs. I should add here that you should be sure to have the bung with the special threads when you select your barrel. Throw away the bung with the 2" pipe thread on it and screw in the 2" pvc male adapter. Now place your piece of screen on the 2" side of the 2x3 coupling. Use your hammer to gently tap the short piece of 2" pvc pipe into the 2" side of the coupling. Trim the excess screen away. You can also now put the bung with the special threads back in place. I try not to overtighten the bung in case I want to get it off again.

Now place the other end of the short pvc pipe into the 2" male adapter. You've now created a funnel to place you downspout into. The screen will keep out mosquitos and also prevent debris from your roof from getting in.

Stand your barrel in front of you with the funnel farthest away. I keep the funnel side to the rear for reference. Decide which side you want your overflow on. In the case of this barrel I put it on the right side. Drill a 3/4" diameter hole about 2" from the top of the barrel. Here I am using the metal threads of the hose bib as a tap to make threads for the nylon hose adapter. Be careful on this step. Pipe threads are tapered, if you screw the hose bib in too far, you will make the threads aversize and they won't seal well. Screw it in about 1/3 of the way in.

Coat the threads of your nylon barbed adapter with rectorseal and screw it into the threaded hole you just made. Rectorseal is the only thread sealant I've found that works well. The plastic these barrels are made of will not take glue. All your seals must be mechanical in nature.

Lay your barrel on it's back and drill another 3/4" hole about 8" from the bottom. Coat the threads of your hose bib with rectorseal and thread it into this hole. The location of this hole can closer to the barrels bottom. Locating the hole here leaves about 10 gallons in the bottom of your barrel. At this height you can still get a bucket under the hose bib, when the barrel is on a 4" concrete block. Also by leaving some water in the bottom, the barrel is less likely to be knocked over when it's empty. If you locate the spigot closer to the bottom, you will have to raise the barrel up higher to get a bucket under it.

Here is your finished rain barrel. Ready to put in place under your downspout. After you have installed it, put a length of hose on the barbed adapter. Use a hose long enough to get the overflow away from your house. If you need alot of water, you can use a straight adapter and connect a second barrel.  Now you have free water for the garden. Also when the municipal water has problems, or when the power goes out and the well pump won't run, you have water. The perfect companion to the water purifier we built last week.

Be Prepared

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Water filter update

So far so good! It works,

Water coming out has zero taste. Which is good, because my cities water has a strong chemical odor/taste.

Coffee made with this water has no bitterness. That's another issue with our cities water.

With only one filter candle it is slow however. About 1 liter an hour, When it gets down below 2 liters in the upper bucket it nearly stops dripping. If this became an issue, I would build a second unit rather than add a second filter candle.

For an upcoming project I will show you how I build a rain barrel for under $15.00.
Afterall, who wants to scoop water from puddles.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Water for all occassions

Pelenaka:  Know what we need? She says to me.
Me:  What do we need baby?
Her: A water filter. One of those countertop ones. Like in the Lehmans catalog.
Me:  Are you sure? They are pretty expensive.
Her:  Well what if the cities water was bad like in Rochester a few years ago.
Me: We could just boil water like everyone else.
Her: Well what if things happened and we needed water from any source.
Me:  Like a bugout situation?
Her: You know exactly what I mean.
Me: well a counter top unit wouldn't be very practical then, would it?
Her: We need to get prepared, it would be a big deal not to have water!

So, woodsrunner then did what he does best. Research and procrastinate.
I looked at just about every model of water purification made.
I read every product review I could find.
I looked at prices of the units.
I looked at the prices of the replacement parts needed to keep them going.
Then I searched the web for people making thier own units.
I found one home made one.

Then I decided the way to go was to make my own. And here's how I did it.

First what you'll need.
Two 8 liter food grade buckets, with lids that are snug, yet easy to remove.
I got mine from a local restaraunt supply for $6.00 each
A Doulton Super Sterasyl filter.
Mine came off ebay new for under $30.00 shipped to my door.
You will notice there is no spigot.
Remember I said I read all the reviews. Guess what breaks most.
Yup, that silly $3.00 spigot will leave you with a $200 counter decoration.

Tools are pretty simple.
A drill
A set of spade bits
An Exacto knife
A half inch bit was closest the the threads on the filter. I drilled a half inch filter in the bottom of one bucket.
I then used my exacto knife to trim the edge of the hole.

The filter was then installed, gasket on the inside under the filter, wing nut on the outside.
Careful not to over tighten. But be sure to get a good seal.

Then I used my largest bit to drill a hole in one of the lids.
As you can see the lid cracked when the drill broke through.
This could have been prevented by backing the lid with a piece of wood while drilling.
Again I trimmed the hole edges with the exacto knife.

Here it is stacked up ready to use.
After taking the reciept out of the bottom bucket that is.

Here it is nested together for storage when not being used.
Or if we had to bugout.
I'm sure Pelenaka will be more than happy to make a carry bag for it.

Why did I choose the components I did?
Without a spigot any larger bucket would be too heavy to pour into other containers.
I don't anticipate putting more than 6 liters of water through it.
Lifting 12 lbs of water sure beats lifting 40 lbs that 5 gallons would weigh
I don't trust the plastic that 5 gallon buckets are made from.
Leaving the spigot off also made it possible to nest the buckets when not in use.
I wanted to be able to see just how much we had. So clear or almost so was a must.
The filter was an easy choice.
 You could pour water from almost any source through the Doulton and it would come out drinkable.
It's the best you can buy.

Best part of all.
It cost under $50.00 to build it!

Be Prepared!

Monday, June 6, 2011

She said it followed her home!

Friday Pelenaka and friend stop at a barn sale out in the country. They found this. She says it just followed her home! I wonder where she learned that?

It looks to be in nice shape. There is more there than I've had in the past. The bad news. The leg on the left that is missing the foot is completely dry rotted.

The good news. Lots ther for a pattern. If you look close the factory pinstriping is still intact.

Look close and you can see the factory stenciling. This leg is dry cracked, but, not rotted. A couple holes with dowels glued in should save this side. The other side will require complete replacement. Things won't match. I will save as much old as possible anyways. After this one I have two waiting in the wings to be done. Including an exact same set of metal parts that I had no patterns for wood. Now I have a pattern in this press.

Some others I've done in the past.