Sunday, December 18, 2011

Toy Waterworks Project

To continue the series of toys from my childhood, this was one of our summertime favorites.

The concept is quite simple; given an adapter from a standard garden hose to 3/4" slip fit PVC pipe and an assortment of pipe fittings and lengths, you build your own water park in your back yard.   PVC also comes in threaded sections and fittings, but as small children, it was much easier to assemble and disassemble sections when they were just press fit, and half the fun was trying to keep all the sections stuck together as you built higher and higher towers.  We spent hours putting together and taking apart these pipes and generally just making a wet mess of ourselves.

The only part that you need which is a little unusual is the hose-to-3/4" slip fitting, which you will rarely find as one piece.  What you can find is female slip fitting to male hose thread, and female-to-female hose thread fittings.  This set is pretty free-form, so you can grow it or shrink it as much as you and your children feel inclined.  The prices I quote are from Orchard Supply Hardware, but most hardware stores will have these parts in their plumbing section.
  • 3/4" slip to male hose thread - $1.89
  • Female-to-female hose thread - $2.89
  • 27' (3x9') of 3/4" schedule 40 PVC pipe cut into 2-4 foot lengths - $5.97
    • You can also buy pre-cut sections if you don't have a pipe cutter, but they will be more expensive and a pipe cutter is something you'll find useful.
  • 3x plastic flushhead sprinkler heads and risers - $2.94
  • Reducing tees and/or reducing ells from 3/4" to 1/2" NPT to screw sprinklers into - $2.07
  • 12-15 assorted tees, ells, caps, three-ways in 3/4" slip fitting to connect the pieces of pipe - $5
  • A hot summer day - priceless.
 In case you have never cut PVC before, it is very simple if you have the right toolVideo:

Unfortunately, I can't find any pictures of us playing with ours when we were little, and it is much too cold for me to go outside and stage a dramatic reenactment, but hopefully you get the idea.

I would suggest you buy the bulk 10' sections, but it is possible to buy pre-cut shorter pieces.



 These reducing fittings are to screw into the risers which connect to the sprinkler heads.  You can have fun with just the reducing fittings themselves as a bubbler; the pipes won't tend to stay together if you have all the ends capped in sprinklers.
 This is shown with a brass sprinkler head, but you'll find the much cheaper plastic heads in the same place.

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