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Old 05-09-10, 12:59 PM   #1
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Default Rain Barrels

A month or so ago I picked up some steel food grade barrels and am just now getting around to setting them up as rail barrels behind my garage roof, my end goal is to have 12 of them lined up to supply water to the garden, most people gasp at the idea of 12 rain barrels but with my 20x25 foot garage roof they will be filled with around two inches of rain and my soil is mostly sand so it can soak up alot of water.

My goal was to have them all fill and empty at once while staying within a reasonable budget, I also wanted to have decent water flow out of the garden hose so that means large enough pipe, full flow valves and the barrels up high enough to get slight water pressure and on a slope to be sure that my valve to the hose was at the lowest point, of course I also wanted to make sure that I made the most out of what I have so I didn't want one barrel to over flow while others still had space, all of this provided a nice challenge for the day.
First thing was finding a full flow valve, I tried a normal garden hose spigot and it failed, it had enough changes in direction inside that the water with gravity feed would dribble out, but a valve that is normal used for natural gas supply piping was around $5 and was a full open quarter turn ball valve, perfect!

The next thing was how to fill it without getting grit in to it, being able to clean the grit off the screen without taking things appart, not having water spill all over the place and still allowing the water to over flow in a controlled manner, after all I went to the work of putting up gutters so why have the water spill on to the ground right next to the garage where it will soak in and cause problems.

In the photo I don't have the over flow pipe hooked up to the "T" but you can see how it would work once the barrels are full to the opening in the "T", of course I needed to keep the air venting out so they would fill but not allow the water to spill out of the top vent hole once they are full to the top so I have a foot high vent pipe on each barrel, both the 3/4" hole and the 2" hole in the barrels use standard pipe thread or plastic adapters work well as would iron threaded pipe.
so far it has been working well, I only have 3 of the hooked up due to it getting dark but it rained shortly after and quickly filled all 3, a little more time working on it and another trip to the hardware store and I'll be done, 660 gallons of rain water should help keep the garden green in mid summer.


Last edited by Ryland; 05-09-10 at 01:05 PM..
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Old 05-10-10, 09:38 AM   #2
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Nice setup Ryland! I have questions though.

Is that a bulkhead fitting, or just a NPT tapped flange that is siliconed/screwed on?

Did you try using a normal ball valve? I'd think that would work as good as a gas valve.

You mention the grit problem, but not how you are avoiding it?
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Old 05-10-10, 12:44 PM   #3
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Nice job!

If I am seeing correctly, the barrel rack is made sloped up slightly as you go away from the spigot. That makes perfect sense to me. In the middle pic, the valve is flanged onto the "top" of a barrel, but I don't see a horizontal barrel. I'd love to see how that transition was made, too.

I plan to add a water collection system to catch my garage roof runoff when the garage is completed and I come up with enough money, so I plan to sincerely flatter someone and steal, er - imitate their design.
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Old 05-10-10, 02:11 PM   #4
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Very nice Ryland. That's craziness and it's craziness that I like.

So are you doing anything about the toxic residue from the shingles? Or is that not really a factor that you're worried about. I always wondered how long it would take for all the toxicity to get leeched off of asphalt shingles, if it ever does.
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Old 05-10-10, 07:41 PM   #5
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My current roof looks to be 20 years old or so, so it's pretty dry of oil, also oil tends to float on water so it would stay on the top and evaporate out over time if it's that light, I also have a stainless steel screen in the "T" at a 45 degree angle so grit can fall out the open side of the "T" and water falls down in to the barrel, any tiny grit in the barrel settles to the bottom, with oils and other roof run off I figure plants can brake down toxins in the soil as long as they are not heavy metals, at least according to a friend who has an environmental clean up business, he side the main issue is keeping it out of the ground water and lakes, so I'm not to worried, the next roof is going to be steel so new shingles are not going to be an issue.
I looked in to normal ball valves, $12 each compared to $5 or so .for the gas valves, gas valves also have shorter handles and larger openings in the ball so they created less restriction, I'm also making a few of these for other people so if I can keep costs down then it's more in everyone's pocket.
The 2nd photo is of a barrel that is standing upright, the spigot is on the rounded side of the barrel, not an end, I though about taping water off the bottom but I wanted grit to settle to the bottom and stay there, to make up for the roundness and unevenness of the barrels when putting a floor flange (yep just a common NPT floor flange, 3/4" pipe thread for everything threaded) on the barrel I used Polyurethane roof caulk, it's a thick rubber caulk that is sticky and gooey, it works well as a glue so in theory I could glue the flanges to the barrels but I did use two self tapping sheet metal screws to hold it all in place, I also tried butyl rubber tape from a window shop, that worked really well, I tried guerrilla glue... did not work, tried silicone caulk and had it leak as well, the poly caulk is on some that I have that are a few years old and still as tight as ever.
As for "steeling my idea" I've seen enough poorly done rain barrels that I figured if I could get suggestions on how to make mine better and help others to get good information then everyone will be better off, rain barrels that don't work or don't get used are a waste, same with ones that require to much input in putting them together and getting the water out.
The only worry I have is for winter, but with how I have the rack I can tip them slightly to drain most of the water out, anything that is left in them can freeze without damage, last winter I had my single rain barrel full all winter, 55 gallons of solid ice, I suspect the barrel stretched a little, not something I plan to repeat but it worked once.
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Old 05-11-10, 07:35 AM   #6
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Thanks for the update. I really appreciate the what did and did not work in building this setup part.
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Old 05-11-10, 04:04 PM   #7
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Ryland,

Nice work. I've looked over your setup and I don't have any suggestions for improvement (not yet anyway).

I am curious as to where you found the food grade barrels? I need to add rain barrel capacity and I'm always looking for more ideas. Most folks around here would think that 660 gallons of water catchment is a good start.

Thanks,
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Old 05-12-10, 08:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimJFowler View Post
I am curious as to where you found the food grade barrels? I need to add rain barrel capacity and I'm always looking for more ideas.
My brother works at a cookie factory, so these had molasses in them, some of them still had a few gallons of molasses, good for eating and good for the plants, the vanilla barrels that they sell were plastic and I didn't want plastic, they also sold the plastic ones for $10 each, compared to $2 each for the steel if I bought 50 of them, then sold the extras for $5 and I had enough calls for them in the first 12 hours that they were gone, paid for my barrels and gas to pick them up (2000 pounds of barrels in a single trip) so it's not a free project but the cost offset is there.
You might also check at feed mills as any supplements that they put in their feed are going to be food grade, check craigslist as well.
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Old 11-02-10, 09:09 AM   #9
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Hey Ryland nice job similar to mine. I used the plastic as I was worried about rust. I joined mine with two outlets and flex hose between two barrels, had a problem with my outlet tap leaking and now you have given me the idea of getting my wifes finger in the old outlet while just screwing a new tap on the outside, instead of the internal thread.

gasstingy I don't think the tanks are on a rise as you would loose water in the upper tanks, water levels. Look at the gutter distance to the barrels
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Old 11-03-10, 12:52 AM   #10
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Default Change of mind

Well Ryland after seeing the way you had the common manifold for all your tanks, youv'e changed my mind on the way I did mine. Youre way means to add another tank is easy even when they are full. Might see if I can add a tap at the bottom of each one. Thats a lot of free water.

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