The other week I decided to start a Christmas present project to keep my brain working, as I’ve had the last 3 months off 🙂
The hardest part was trying to evolve a design from household items that didn’t look tacky or cheap when combined. Originally the idea was, to use 3 jugs as pictured, with each one pouring into the other from a height, so you can at least hear the water.
The further I proceeded down this track, the more hurdles I encountered. The first being the height I need to lift the water up to (head), using the solar powered 5W pump that I had already purchased and it wasn’t good enough. I went with this size pump, because I already had a 3W version on my own water feature, plus I didn’t want to spend too much, otherwise I may as well go and by the whole fountain complete. There is a 10W & 20W version, but solar panels are starting to take up too much space or you need 2 of them.
The next design issue was trying to create a structure to mount the jugs around, stepping upward each time. I’m not the best at creative art, like making fake rocks, so this idea quickly got the flick. I wanted to use at least one jug, so with the western looking barrel, I thought I’d go a western gold mining type theme.
For the base of the water feature, I used some 2mm Aluminium chequer plate, supported in the centre by a flower pot turned upside down. The chequer plate was bolted in 4 places through the side of the barrel. An access hatch was cut also, for maintenance.
So going with the gold mining theme, I needed to design some movement into the much smaller space I had to work with. On the way out to the shed one morning, I walked past an old three wheeled tricycle that was about to go in the bin! I removed the wheels from it and experimented with making water wheels from them. The first experiment which is pretty “out there”, as can be seen below.
Because of it’s “out there” look, I decided to use 8 hacksaw cuts around the perimeter of the wheel on a 30deg angle. I drew up a template in CAD to make the cuts accurate on the wheel and keep things in balance. I decided to use the two smaller back wheels next to each other so it looked like there was more going on, plus they had an easier to work with 10mm bore. I cut down the old axle and bent up a stand out of 25×6 aluminium flat bar and screwed it to the deck.
I glued the vanes, that I cut out from an old plastic chopping board, into the first wheel and tested it out with the jug propped up above it on anything I could find as a proof of concept. It worked fine.
Now I had to design the water path from the deck height up, just in case I ran out of room working the other way. So, the next thing was to create the jug stand, with more than enough height to let me insert a directional water path to feed both wheels.
In the mean time, I went off on another tangent, where I needed to fix something to be able to make some parts a lot easier. The sub project was converting an old Triton router table into a bench saw as well. This consumed 2 more days and another trip to Mitre 10.
The jug stand was created from some 70mm Mirbau decking. I used the saw to rip the decking length ways into 4 pieces at 300mm long. I then just tried to create something that looked like an old fashioned tank stand, minus the bracing. The router was then used to hollow out some of the decking to create a trough. I added a simple triangular piece as a flow divider to supply each wheel.
I had always intended using the multi coloured river rocks to cover the aluminium, but I wanted to add a river below the water wheels, that stayed half full to add to the water sound and the story. I could have beaten some thin aluminium into the shape or cut up an old blue oil container, but I was at the stage I just wanted it finished now 🙂
So, the last step was to bend up some copper tube for the water feed into the jug. If I was doing this again, I would probably drill a hole in the side of the jug and feed the water from the top instead, for that extra water sound and a nice easy “U” shape bend would look good.
Trial videos below.