Lester Burnham's Blog

My Water Feature

I’ve finally got around to posting my completed water feature that I began in March 2016.  I had the pottery jugs laying around from the previous project, that ended up taking a different direction.  So they needed to be used this time, as they were $20 each!!

The hardest part was coming up with the most aesthetically pleasing mounting system for the jugs, within my arty farty capabilities!  First it was intended to be a fibreglass mountain, with a  jug sitting on top, pouring into the other jug on the lower slopes of the mountain, than turned the water wheel.  Then with a small stream winding its way around the mountain down into a river at the base.

I had the dreams, but the fibreglass method pushed it into the too hard basket.  I started to get impatient with the lack of progress and in the end, went down the PVC pipe path.  The taller tower is made from 90mm storm water pipe and the other is from 150mm sewer pipe.Water Feature

The base is just a 40 or 50 litre recycled plastic tub, that drops inside the small paling fence I made. This is then covered by some 3mm aluminium chequer plate with some aluminium angle stiffeners riveted underneath.  Each end of the aluminium is supported by the stacking steps in the tub.

The tops of the pipes were were formed by marking where to remove material and grinding it away bit by bit, then re-testing and marking again.  The hole in the jug was made with an angle grinder and stone cutting disc, by making 3 cuts on the same axis and breaking the points off gently with a hammer.  The jugs were then mounted using Liquid Nails. I thought it would be a good choice, but I think Silicone would’ve been better.  They were then sanded, painted and then mounted to the base by use of a cheap flange and some home made brackets.

End viewThe sewer pipe came in especially handy in the end, as it was easily moulded with a heat gun, which then turned the off cuts into the river.  I drew a couple of parallel freehand wiggly lines around the circumference of the pipe, with the square pool at the beginning.

I then cut the shape out with a jigsaw and used the heat gun to soften it as I unwrapped it to lay it flat. I then laid the shape on an offcut piece of timber and traced the outline. A router was then used to make a groove in the timber, slightly narrower than the outline (maybe 5mm per side).  I then heated up the plastic with the heat gun until it was pliable and used some short sections of 16mm dowel or similar, to form the river banks in the grooved out timber. Just do a section at a time and wait for it to cool.  I roughed it up with some sand paper and sprayed the sky blue base coat, then tried to control the spray of the darker blue in the bottom to create depth.

Final positioning of filler jug

The water wheel is made from an empty fishing line spool, kindly donated by my friends at Mario’s Fresh Bait.  I used a piece of clear plastic and cut it into vanes that were glued (hot glue gun) into the spool using a template drawn in AutoCAD.

I decided to use 20mm form ply for the water wheel mount, as I had it laying around, with a piece of dowel for the spindle.  This part of the construction is the most agriculteral by far, but it seems to be handling the moisture very well.  The bearing for the spindle is only a 6.5mm hole in the ply with a 6mm piece of steel tube inserted and a screw through that into the dowel spindle. I’m not proud of it, but I didn’t have access to a lathe at the time.

eBay solar pump also

The solar pump pictured on the right, is 20w and was purchased off eBay for about $140 from memory.  I went for 20w to make sure of the lift, plus to have ample flow if I went with the earlier design with the stream.  The 1/2″ copper pipe filling the upper jug goes down through a hole in the side of the storm water pipe and through a hole in the aluminium base.  It is then connected by 1/2″ clear flexible tube to the pump.

The controller box with internal battery was mounted on the fence in a form ply shelf.  The solar panel was mounted on the roof of the pergola.  The unit has various settings by pushing a mode button for 2h on demand, solar, solar & battery and 4hr I think.  The top of the aluminium base plate was then covered with the rock of choice to finish it off.