Friday, February 17, 2012

Hydroponics system "dry run"

This e-mail that I just received is far too good to waste just sitting in my read folder on yahoo. So I've copied it and will paste it here for you to also enjoy. But first just a bit of background: Last post I mentioned that my home church is sending a work team and they are going to building a hydroponics system (and feel free to google this but contrary to practically every site you find we will be doing nothing with marijuana).  They are coming in few weeks and were doing a dry run of the system in the church basement. So here Don Hendriksen's e-mail to me:

Below are a few more questions but 1st I'd like to tell you of our experience with the flushing/flapper system last evening:
After gaining much needed insight from our water, gravity, siphon and flapper consultant, Steve Kragt, we decided to give the system a go.  Like school kids, Jim and I said, "lets fill it up and see if it works."  Mind you, we did not think ahead to what we were going to do with gallons and gallons of water afterward.  He also were not bothered by the fact that nothing was glued together and that cadet and maintenance equipment was surrounding us with no clear path to the exits.  A phrase, we can no longer use on this project is "it's a dry run".
So we found a garden hose and hooked it up to a sink in the back of the cadet room.  We started filling the flood tank while scratching our heads wondering how this whole siphon/water bottle/see-saw mechanism would work.  Our consultant had left for another engagement so we were left with only 2 inexperience, bright eyed young men (51 and 72 years old); curious to see how the thing would work.
As perhaps 25 or more gallons of water filled the upper tank, we could not imagine how the siphon would draw water into itself and out to the waiting water bottle.  The entire system was connected with scotch tape and florist wire.  Sure enough, when the water increased to a correct level, just where Steve Kragt had told us it would, it began to siphon out to the receiving water bottle. The bottle began to fill and drop along the siphon tube.  There was joy in the cadet room until we realized that when the bottle filled completely, it would trigger the toilet flapper, inside the flood tank, to open and water would start pouring through the PVC pipes; PVC pipes that we had not glued together.  So Jim climbed up on a chair and held the drain pipes in place.
At about that same time, the water bottle filled up and the see-saw tilted to open the flapper.  However, the force on the see-saw was much greater then imagined and all of the florist wire snapped off, causing the washers, other sundry of weights, and the water bottle to go flying.  This now left the siphon tube open to pour out water while at the same time the flapper opened, flushing water out of the flood tank.  At this point Jim, up on a chair, has one hand keeping the flush pipes from breaking apart under the force of the open flapper, and the index finger from his other hand in the siphon tube, like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke (a 72 year old Dutch boy).  Meanwhile, I'm laughing hard, and the water from the sink is still running hard through the garden hose, so the "flush" process has no way to stop.  I'm still marveling at the distance the weights and bottle traveled and the strange contortion my friend is holding, trying to hold everything together and stop the water flow, when Jim yells, "shut the water off".
After the water is finally shut off and the siphon is safely directed into the lower barrels, we decide to let the water work it's way down to the fish barrel.  Now, this is where we should have been smart a said, "perhaps we should figure out a way to empty the fish barrel before we try this again."  But of course, we did not.  Instead we found the flown washers and weights, cut and re-rigged more florist wire, and proceeded to fill the flood tank again.  This time we tightened the wires and weights securely and watched in amazement as the system worked surprisingly well.
So now we have 50+ gallons of water in the fish tank and, of course, the lower PVC pipes for the pump system, are beginning to leak more water onto the cadet room floor.  This makes sense because we never glued or tightened any of these fittings.  The next question is, how do we remove the heavy fish barrel with all this water while it is leaking?  We find a cart and we "lift" the leaking barrel with 50+ gallons of water onto it, right?  I think it was like when old ladies pick up a Volkswagen when a baby is stuck under it.  Somehow, these two strapping young men (Jim and I) lifted that tank onto the cart and began looking for a way out.  The problem was, there was cadet stuff, a lawn tractor and club cadet blocking the garage door.  So instead, while holding the leaking pipes tightly,  we proceeded to move the full barrel into the church and out the back doors.  Thankfully, only a trickle of water leaked on the way out, and we are hoping the carpet was dry by this morning:)
After moping up the cadet room and putting everything back in place, Jim and I just stood there and marveled at the ingenious system presented before us.  I'm so glad we decided to make one of these 1st in the church basement!

No comments: