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    Thread: 55 Gal Drum Sand and gravel filter/DIY

    1. #1
      Kent Wallace's Avatar
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      55 Gal Drum Sand and gravel filter/DIY

      I should first say that I didn't invent or create this filter, I just tweaked it a little. That being said, this is sort of the final evolution of the old underbed gravel filtration system, it's just easily manageable and cleanable.

      This filter works great for removing fines and unlike a bead filter has lots of bio action also. It's one drawback is it has "speed limit" of about 2000 to 2500 gph before the 22 1/2 inch diameter causes the sand layer to become a fluidized bed.
      First you have to install the drain of your choice. I like two inch shower drains because the lip on top is very thin and won't let crud build up around the edge.
      I use either the straight or the 45 deg shower drain depending on the room I have below the tank. Forget the gasket and just use sealer on both sides. The surface of a 55 gal drum isn't even or uniform enough to make the gasket useful and it will just squeeze out where it's the tightest.
      Also wipe all sealer off that squeezes out. Sealant just takes up the space between what it's sealing and any excess will probably just peel loose over time anyway when submerged oin water. I like Polyurethane sealants but use the sealant of your choice.
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      Last edited by Kent Wallace; 03-06-2006 at 01:43 PM.

    2. #2
      Kent Wallace's Avatar
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      Next we build the distribution ray assembly. I use a 1 1/4 by 1 1/2 inch 5 way in the center. Cut four 7 1/4 in long sections of 1 !/4 in pipe and glue them to 1 1/4 in 90's. Then bore a one inch hole near the bottom of each 90 on the same side for rotation. It doesn't matter which side just so they're all the same.
      In a flat bottomed tank any debris will settle where there is the least movement so this will help get it near the center.
      There is no reason to close the ends of the 90s. There is also no reason to use a pipe larger than 1 1/2 inch for the input because of the "speed limit".
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    3. #3
      Kent Wallace's Avatar
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      The diffuser plate that goes on top of the distribution ray assy needs to be very strong to support the weight of all the rock, sand and gravel. 3/8 to 1/2 inch plastic sheet is expensive so I started cutting the tops off of the barrels as large as I could and using that as the plate. It's free!
      I usually just drill a pile of 7/16 holes all over it and hole saw the center to just fit over the shoulder of the 1 1/2 on the 5 way.
      There will be a about a 3/4 inch gap all the way around the edge on the inside so carefully foam it and let it sit for a day.
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    4. #4
      Kent Wallace's Avatar
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      If you don't have a 5 way fitting you can get the same result using a 1 1/2 inch tee and cross and make the rays out of 1 1/2 with 1 1/2 90s.
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    5. #5
      Kent Wallace's Avatar
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      If you need to place the barrel on a flat surface or are using it for temporary filtration you can use a side drain. Remove one of the plugs in the plate and bore it open a little for a piece of two inch. Then come in above the plate and down through the hole to within 1/4 inch of the bottom. This works fine. Sorry I don't have a better pick of this but I'll find one.
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    6. #6
      madeyna is offline Senior Member
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      I would really like to make this is there any chance this thred canbe resized to fit the screen?

    7. #7
      Kent Wallace's Avatar
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      The air cleaning manifold is the hardest piece to make. Start with a 1 1/2 in tee and two sections of pipe capped off at the ends. The individual rays are of 1/2 in pipe. In the large EZR that William sells these are made of two inch and 3/4 inch but that isn't necessary on a filter this small.
      I drill and tap the assembly with a 1/2 inch tap in the pattern shown so one side will fit around the center pipe on the distribution ray assy.
      Next glue 1/2 inch arms capped off at the ends and drill 1/8 inch holes about 1 inch apart down the bottom of each arm. I usually drill a few at various points along the 1 1/2 inch.
      If you don't want to tap the holes you could probably glue or epoxy them in place and carefully layer the first couple of inches of rock over them. Once the rock is in they aren't going to move.
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      Last edited by Kent Wallace; 03-06-2006 at 11:47 AM.

    8. #8
      Kent Wallace's Avatar
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      Place it on top of the plate and stub up a couple of pieces 1 1/2 inch and temporarily cap or cover them with tape so you don't get any sand or gravel in them.
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    9. #9
      Kent Wallace's Avatar
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      Mark lines at 5 and 15 inches up from the plate on the sides of the down pipes. Then fill the first 5 inches with 3/4 to one inch rock or river pebble. Actually any hard rock will do. Don't place any type opf soft rock in this filter and I wouldn't recomend lava rock because it will just trap crap in all the pores and is hard to clean.
      You don't have to preclean your rock much because this filter is designed to clean rock.
      Use water to level the layer and drain it.
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      Last edited by Kent Wallace; 03-06-2006 at 11:59 AM.

    10. #10
      Kent Wallace's Avatar
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      Next is the 3/8 layer. I used to use a nice large 3/8 pea gravel but because of all the construction around here getting it is almost impossible anymore. Now I use a 3/8 river pebble which works great at 4 times the cost but with the small amount necessary it's not an issue.
      Use water to level the 10 inch layer and drain it.
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    11. #11
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      kinda got lost after the grate part.... but pickedback up on the later part when you added the gravel
      Last edited by lilhelper; 03-06-2006 at 12:08 PM. Reason: typo

    12. #12
      Kent Wallace's Avatar
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      The final layer is the #12 sand. this is the layer that does all the "polishing" and trapping of the fine stuff. A 5 inch layer is one 100lb bag.
      Place the upper drain about 2 inches on center above the sand layer with a 2 inch bulkhead.
      If you can't find #12 sand you might contact a pool company and get some of the material used for the "Pebble Tech" coating for plastering a pool. It's about the same size and works well.
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    13. #13
      Kent Wallace's Avatar
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      Attach and appropriately valve the upper drain. I frequently use a "toe" fitting on bulkheads instead of a threaded male adaptor because I never have enough space.
      This shows both upper and lower drains.
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    14. #14
      Mr.Bill is offline Senior Member
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      Is this output valve always necessary ? I was thinking of adding this directly out to falls.
      Thanks big time for this tutorial

    15. #15
      Kent Wallace's Avatar
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      Now that the barrel has some weight in it this is a good time to cut the face if you're going to hide it in a waterfall.
      Cut the notch about three inches down, seal the liner to it and make a face clamp out of a piece of scrap barrell. Use #10 by 3/4 inch stainless screws. Predrill the face clamp but let the screws drill their own holes through the barrel and don't over tighten them. They will strip easily and if that happens just use a larger screw.
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    16. #16
      Kent Wallace's Avatar
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      This outlet is for cleaning and must be below the spill or outlet to the falls or all the crud will just go back into the pond. This is why you need a space above the sand layer and below the outlet to the pond for cleaning. If you are going to let the water back to a waterfall with a pipe just bulkhead it up as high as you can in the barrell or come in lower a and 90 up to within a couple of inches of the top of the barrell.

    17. #17
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      I havent even read this yet, but am tickled you posted about your filters, Kent. I remember a couple of us trying to figure out where all those pipes went last year.

    18. #18
      Kent Wallace's Avatar
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      Attach the inlet to the center pipe with a 1 1/2 inch bulkhead throught the side. The control valve can be inside the tank or outside whichever meets your needs.
      The air cleaning tube also gets connected and many times to save space I use male and female threaded fittings through the barrel. This line also gets a ball valve that can be inside or outside the barrel depending on your needs. Never use a knife valve on the air line. You will need complete closure and knife valves will bleed over time when there is a very small constant pressure against them.
      Over time, as the filter gets restricted and needs cleaning, the path of least resistance will be the air tubes coming up from the bottom. Without a ball valve the air pump can get filled with water and short. Even a check valve isn't enough. Open the valve for the air pump only when cleaning and keep it closed at all other times. The air blower is the single most expensive piece of this filter.
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      Last edited by Kent Wallace; 03-06-2006 at 12:56 PM.

    19. #19
      CarolinaGirl is offline Inactivated
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      What size air pump is used, and is air running all the time or just for cleaning? How often is it cleaned? I love this DIY filter!

    20. #20
      kdmatrix is offline Senior Member
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      This is a great DIY barrels Kent... Thanks...

      I like the paint color you painted the barrels... how do you make the color looks like sand? matched perfect with the sand and rocks... do they sell that color in the can?

      I assume there is a SC before this filter? or the pump pumped directly from the pond into this filter?

      Thanks,
      Kevin D.

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