Backyard Sprinkler Park

Most of you know that I generally fill my summer up with construction projects around the house and for hire. This summer has been no different. I apologize for being absent from the blogosphere for a while, but I’ve just been enjoying my summer too much to sit and type. So far the for hire projects have included some sheetrock repair, hanging a new exterior door, fixing some rotten entry ways, enlarging some closets, new bathroom faucets, new kitchen plumbing, and a full bathroom remodel that had the room down to the studs and included new tile, shower, and walls. Pretty much every Friday through Monday I’ve been somewhere fixing something. It’s been great as I love doing this type of work, and it’s a nice way to supplement the teacher salary. On the home front it’s been all about the backyard. I’ll write about the pergola project in the next few days, but by far the most fun project of the summer is the sprinkler park. Being a stay at home dad (Tuesday through Thursday), this summer has been a blast, but unlike the previous years I now have a baby to take care of as well as an almost 4-year old. Needless to say this puts a damper on how much time I can spend playing with Annelise. As soon as we start something, Julianna needs her diaper changed or a bottle. Adding to this is the fact that the normal outlets for stay-at-home-moms are not available to a stay at home dad. She can’t have any of her girl friends over and we can’t go to any play dates. To make her summer a little bit more fun (and because I like cool projects) I told her we would build a sprinkler park right in our own back yard. So if you like totally pointless projects, or you just like the smell of PVC glue here is how to get started…

I didn’t really start with much of a plan. I had some ideas, but I really work best by going to Lowes or Home Depot and just playing with the stuff they have and seeing what I can come up with. I was in Home Depot with an assortment of 2″ PVC fittings stuck together in a configuration that should never occur in nature trying to spark some ideas when a man in a “Jon’s Plumbing” shirt looked over and said, “I don’t know what it is but it’s the most complicated thing I’ve ever seen.” The point is that there are a lot of things that can be used for other than their intended purpose…just be creative. I settled for lots of PVC, some small and large foam noodles, a sheet of pink high density foam house wrap, and lots of spray paint (the kind that is made for plastic).

Below you can see the basic core of each sprinkler. The basic idea is that water flows in on the left and can go into the sprinkler or out the other side to the next sprinkler. The whole point is that the sprinklers are all chained together and can be used separately or all together. The only issue with the design when this picture was made is that a second sprinkler hooked up to the right hand output side won’t have water pressure unless this sprinkler is on. My final design placed a T-fitting before the valve and just capped off the output side. Now all the sprinklers have water pressure all the time regardless of which ones are actually on. The valve I choose is a brass ball valve meant for gas. It was the easiest to turn on and off for kids.

You want the water to flow up into the sprinkler not down into the support tube (and the ground) so before gluing the lower tube in place I put a 2″ knockout plug on the top of the pipe.

After gluing the lower pipe in place you can see that the knock out plug has blocked the lower leg of the assembly.

I also painted on a nice layer of silicone caulk to the top of the knock out plug.

The lower pre-assembly is the same for all the sprinklers. Below you can see a basic pre-assembly attached to the “Dueling Noodles” sprinkler body. The top small pipe is capped and does not carry water…It’s just there to support the duck (you’ll have to look at the pictures at the end)

If you are going to use a noodle to carry water it must be one of the large noodles. The smaller ones just split under pressure. To attach a noodle to the PVC core you need an 8″ length of ½” PVC. I taped off ¾” at the end to protect it and coated the other end with plumber’s goop (actual name) and just pushed it into the noodle and let it dry for a few days.

Once it’s dry you can pull off the tape and attach any fitting you need.

If water is not supposed to come out of the other side you can glue a PVC plug to the ½” pipe. I used this technique on the “Tunnel” (again…see the pictures at the end)

For the “Dueling Noodles” station, I wanted to use small diameter noodles so I had to thread a length of ½” flexible hose through the noodle to bear the pressure.

For the “Flower Shower”, I bought the cheapest shower head I could find and broke it apart to remove the shower disc.

I filed the disc down until it would fit in a 2″ PVC compression ring fitting.

Then I screwed the fitting together to make the shower head. The flared out piece in the picture below (the one with the bar code) is not actually glued on anything. The 2″ PVC pipe carrying the water is passing right through it. The piece is a 2″ to 3″ adapter with the 2″ side cut off and just slipped over the pipe before the compression fitting was glued in place.

The flower head is just a piece of pink foam house wrap cut into a flower shape.

Using the basic ideas and techniques described above, I built the following four sprinklers.

Bucket Dump

This sprinkler, while being the most popular with the kids, is the most complicated to build as you must design a pivot mechanism for the bucket. I welded mine out of ½” square tubing and rolled a length of1/4″ round bar into a ring that the bucket could sit in. If you don’t have a welding machine (get one)…or you could probably create something out of wood. It may be a bit bulkier but it could be made to work. You can attach your pivot mechanism to the body of the sprinkler with 2″ pipe hangers. These are heavy clamps that fit around the pipe and have bolt holes for attaching your bucket contraption. I did a ton of math (finally a use for my otherwise useless Physics degree) to find the point on the bucket where the bottom of the bucket is heavier empty but the top is heaver at the moment the water reached the top, so it will dump automatically. Turns out the kids just want to dump it themselves, so I attached a string…

Dueling Noodles

This sprinkler is the most dangerous to the dry adults in the vicinity as it is capable of spraying close to 60 feet. The top decoration is just a silly duck noodle that I found at Wal-Mart and cut shorter and stuck on the top of the sprinkler body. The two noodles on the side can be picked up and sprayed at each other or any other moving targets within the neighborhood.

Flower Shower

This is the simplest and (according to Monique) the cutest sprinkler in the collection. We’ve even let Annie bathe out here. This is the sprinkler that first gave us the idea for putting little one ring pools at the bottom to protect the yard from turning into a mud pit.

The Tunnel

I couldn’t really come up with a cool name for this one, but it’s one of my favorites. Its two large diameter noodles attached together (using a 12″ length of ½” PVC and the goop described above) and have holes poked along the length. I actually used some 1/8″ tubing in the holes to get the spray to aim better. The tubing is attached to the PVC base with a threaded connection, so you can take the noodle off for storage.

The only part I don’t have pictures of is the actual anchor into the ground. I just used a 4-foot piece of ½” galvanized iron pipe hammered 2 feet into the ground. Into the lower leg of the sprinklers, I screwed in a 1 ¾” PVC cap with a ½” hole bored into the center. This fitting slips nicely into the 2″ PVC, and a simple wood screw from the outside holds it in place. With one of these at the top and the bottom of the lower support leg, the sprinklers can be slipped over the galvanized pipe. This makes the sprinklers stable enough to be left out all summer but portable enough to be stored in the winter. Come by and let your kids play sometime…the park is always open!

July 19, 2008 at 10:01 pm 53 comments

Don’t piss off an Engineer

0.002+e= 535.4936555 and the limit of the sum of ½n as n goes to infinity is 1 so the check is made out for approximately $536.49.

April 9, 2008 at 10:34 am 2 comments

I’m really really tired…

So I havn’t forgotten my blog.  I’m just really tired.  Julianna has been a great baby but she still has to eat.  Never sleeping more than 3 hours at a time is really jacking up my head…soon I hope to have my focus back…

March 30, 2008 at 10:08 pm 1 comment

Welcome Home Julianna Theresa Nilsson

-By Monique 

If you haven’t heard the news yet, our little Julianna was born on March 12 at 12:16pm. We (and the doctors as well) were shocked at how chubby she is. Based on my pregnancy size and the latest ultrasound, it was predicted that she would be in the 6 pound range. What a surprise when she weighed in at 7lb 14oz. We love those very kissable chubby cheeks. Julianna looks a lot like her sister did at this age, only with dark hair. She is a great little baby so far, and big sis Annelise has been a dream with the disruption to her normal routine. Annelise is completely in love with her little sister, and Julianna calms down and lights up whenever Annelise sings or talks to her. Thank you for your prayers – we can’t wait for you to meet her. Here are a few pictures to enjoy:

March 15, 2008 at 9:29 pm 3 comments

Why the world laughs at us… Part 1

I think this will be a reoccurring post as I find material. For a while, I’ve been saving all those stupid “Christian” pamphlets like “Only Read the KJV…” and I’ve decided to share some of the better ones with you guys.  I thought I’d get us started with some brilliantly obnoxious, theologically obscene, and just plain goofy church signs.  I had a few written down but I found most of them here at http://crummychurchsigns.blogspot.com/ .  This guy not only posts pictures of the signs but he has great comments on all of them like

“You think it’s hot here….”
-submitted by Laua Enfinger, Arizona
This is the fourth sign I have received from Arizona comparing it to hell. I don’t think I plan on visiting there.

I spent 2 days just reading his stuff.

Well here are some of my favorites:

·         When Satan knocks at your door simply say Jesus would you get that for me?

·         Smoking or Non-Smoking?

·         Rollin’ back prices on salvation!

·         Worry is the darkroom where negatives develop

·         Satan can never knock you farther than your knees

·         Warning: Exposure to the Son may prevent burning

·         For all you do His blood’s for you

·         Can’t sleep? Try counting your blessings!

·         Under the same management for 2000 years

·         We should be more concerned with the Rock of Ages than with the Age of Rocks

·         God has a big eraser.

·         What vitamins do Christians need? 2 B1 Daily.

·         Good – 0 = God

·         Can’t stand the heat? Reserve your place in heaven today!

·         Forecast for Heaven: Reign Forever!!

·         Salvation: apply within

·         Go to church or the devil will get you.

·         Road Rage: How would Jesus Drive?

·         The King’s alive and His name ain’t Elvis!

·         Loose tongues get in tight spaces.

·         3 Nails + 1 Savior = 4 giveness

·         Forbidden fruits make the worst jams

·         Abortion: Hitler would have loved it

·         Free trip to heaven: Inquire within

·         Cards over Yanks in 6!! Jesus over Death in 3!!

·         Get an afterlife

·         Try Jesus….If you don’t like Him, the devil will always take you back

·         Love is like bread; it should be made daily

·         Sign vandals are the scum of the earth.

·         Git-R-Dun Fer God

·         Stop, drop, and roll doesn’t work in hell

·         Jesus is coming back soon. Look busy!

·         Hungry? Try one of our Sundays!

·         Parking for church business only. Violators will be baptized.

·         Even Jesus was into body piercing!!

·         A free thinker is Satan’s slave

·         Need a new look? Get your faith lifted here!

·         As my apprentice, you’re never fired. – God

·         Jesus is a major part of Christmas.

·         When you run out of sick days and call in dead, who will answer?

·         Get right or get left.

·         Trespassers will be converted

·         A warm church, like warm butter, will spread.

·         Easter is a joke on the devil. Ha!

·         Without Christ life is all fun and games until you die and go to hell

·         Somebody call 911, because this church is on fire.

·         When your life needs rebooting, remember Jesus SAVES.

·         Be fishers of Men. You catch ‘em, He’ll clean ‘em

·         If you can read this sign you can still be forgiven by God

·         Heaven is sweet, hell is hot, you’re going to one, ready or not

·         I’m Jesus, and I approve this message.

·         Bring your sin to the alter And drop it like it’s hot. Drop it like it’s hot.

·         Good thing Mary didn’t have an abortion.

·         Too busy for life? We’re never to busy to attend our own funeral.

·         Be thankful for dirty dishes, because that means you have food to eat.

·         In your right hand, there are pleasures forever.

·         Come jam with the lamb.

·         God’s yard sale: rejects accepted.

·         The size of the tool doesn’t matter in the master’s hand

·         God grades on the cross not the curve

    

February 27, 2008 at 3:24 pm 2 comments

Is GMail letting more spam through?

Is it just me or did the GMail filters slip a notch.  I’ve gotten 14 spam emails in my inbox in the last 2 days which is 14 more than I received in the previous 2 years.  Don’t get me wrong, they are still far better than any other provider I’ve ever used but I hope this isn’t the start of a trend…

February 22, 2008 at 9:39 am 3 comments

Only a few weeks left!!!

I really can’t believe how quickly the time has flown by this go around. Just today I was looking at a calendar and it really started to sink in just how little time is left. I’m both excited and a little nervous at the same time. I guess that’s always true with change but I really don’t know what to expect this time around. I think the Astro’s lineup looks strong but with the soft pitching rotation I’m not sure. Either way March 31st is just around the corner. I love opening day…what did you think I was talking about? Seriously, I can’t wait for Julianna to arrive on March 12th. I know Monique is ready to have her insides back to normal and I’m ready for all the late nights taking care of the baby (with the Astros on the office Tivo of course).

Back to the Astros…Everyone has reported to spring training but our young superstar, Hunter Pence, is home recovering from lacerations on his right hand and knee. Guess how he got these injuries…He ran through a sliding glass door that he thought was open! I love it…at least the injuries aren’t serious. My favorite part of the story -

Pence jumped into the shower to wash the broken glass off of him, but when he noticed he was excessively bleeding, he called his parents. They told him to call 911, and soon after, according to Pence, “firemen, emergency people and medics came to the house.”

He called home first…what a guy.

Babies and Baseball – March is going to be AWESOME!!!

February 19, 2008 at 4:40 pm 5 comments

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