Directions for diy acrylic lily pipes - The Planted Tank Forum

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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-24-2011, 10:34 PM Thread Starter
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Directions for diy acrylic lily pipes

Another member on this forum asked me for directions on how to make DIY lily pipes from acrylic tubing. When I got done typing the instructions, they were quite lengthy and descriptive, so I thought I would share the directions with everyone in case anyone else wants to know.



DIRECTIONS

So here are the supplies you will need:

1) Vaseline or generic plain petroleum jelly preferrably in a squeeze tube but the jar will work if you have it around- it is much messier though.

2) Rubber gloves- to keep the vaseline off your hands

3) you will need to find either at your home or a hardware store a length of round wire that has just about the same diameter as the inside of your acrylic tubing (you want it to fit inside the tube so that it slides in and out easily with vaseline but not with so much extra space that the wire could wiggle inside the tube) The length of the wire should be enough so that you could wrap one end of the wire around your hand enough to get a firm grip to pull it out of the tube after you bend it. - you may need 2 sizes of wire if your in/out are a different size. The wire will force the inside of the tube to retain it's shape while bending and prevent kinks or ripples from forming in the acrylic as you bend.

4) an oven mitt or heat glove- to wear on the hand that you will grab the heated portion of the tubing with to make the bends

5) a very fine toothed saw blade to cut your acrylic to size- I used a lennox hacksaw blade for thin metal and it worked great.

6) a heat source- I used the stovetop. I have an electric stove, but if you have gas that should work too. as long as it produces enough heat to make the acrylic flexible. Important!!!- you want to heat the acrylic, not melt or burn it. There is a technique to this. I will post a link to a video to show you how to handle the tube over the heat source.

7) Rough, medium, and fine grit sandpaper to smooth the cut ends of the pipe- BEFORE BENDING

8) a mask to wear to prevent inhaling the acrylic dust- Bad for the lungs

9) watch this video to see the technique:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSj2c0lR-wc

NOTE: THIS IS NOT MY VIDEO---JUST PAY ATTENTION TO HOW HE MANIPULATES THE TUBING. YOU WILL NOTICE HE IS NOT USING A WIRE OR VASELINE TO BEND WITH. THAT IS OK- HE HAS A LOT OF PRACTICE AND IT CAN BE DONE WITHOUT THE GREASE AND WIRE, BUT YOU ARE LIKELY TO DISTORT THE SHAPE OF THE TUBING OR CAUSE WRINKLES. THE WIRE FORCES THE TUBE TO MAINTAIN ITS SHAPE WHILE BENDING.

PROCEDURE:

1) Take your cut and sanded acrylic tube and set it down.

2) get your wire and liberally apply vaseline all over it except the portion that will hang out of the back of the tube for when you pull it out. you want the non greasy end to come out of the side of the tube that will attach to your filter.

3) if you have the squeeze bottle of vaseline squirt some into the tube too this will help you pull the wire out in the end

4) insert the greasy wire into the tube until it reaches the end of the tube, leaving the non greasy end hanging out of the back of the tube

5) you are ready to start bending

Helpful Hints

1) if you are making more than one bend in the pipe as with an outflow, you can cool the acrylic quickly by dipping in cool water to set your bend and move to the next one.

2) do not get the acrylic too hot

3) on your outflow pipe start with the bend that is at the outlet of the pipe then move backwards. use the oven mitt for the first bend. heat about 6" at the end of the pipe and bend to slightly greater than 90 degrees. then cool that bend in the water to set it. then go back to your heat source and heat the tube a few inches behind where you made your first bend and bend the opposite direction.

4) if you want to flare the outlet heat the end of the pipe and find something that is round and tapered and spin it around inside the outlet until it is flared to your liking

5) expect to have a few practice runs

6) if you try you can do it. I just finished making mine and all i did was watch that video a few weeks ago. It took me a few tries, but when I was done I ended up with pipes that look better than many of the knockoff ADA glass pipes because I was able to bend my tubes to fit my tank exactly with no suction cups by copying the style of the ADA tubes.

7) on the outlet pipe, after you make the first bend and you are happy with the shape, and cool it in the water; GENTLY PULL THE WIRE OUT OF THE TUBE JUST ENOUGH SO IT SITS RIGHT BEHIND THE BEND YOU JUST MADE. IF YOU DON'T THE OPPOSING BEND YOU MAKE WILL LOCK THE WIRE IN THE TUBE AND YOU MIGHT BREAK THE TUBE TRYING TO GET IT OUT. ASK ME HOW I KNOW.

I hope this helps
-Randy

Last edited by slavecorps; 03-25-2011 at 03:31 AM.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-25-2011, 12:50 AM
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This is really informative. Thanks for writing such detailed instructions!

I'm going to give this a try. It definitely beats having to pay for fragile glass ones and allows for much more customization than if you had someone else make it for you.

How much did this project cost you in total?
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-25-2011, 03:16 AM Thread Starter
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I had the basic supplies already, but the acrylic tubing costs $5 or less for 6 ft. (depending on the tubing diameter) through US Plastics. They charge about $5 for shipping. I would recommend getting 12 ft. of any size tubing you plan on using so you have a full 6 ft. to practice with. For about 20 bucks you can get 24 feet of tubing shipped. I would recommend getting a piece of solid acrylic rod that fits the inside diameter of the tubing you use for the inlet to make a nice plug at the end of your inlet pipe, or you can use a strainer from a filter that has tubing of the same size, but I prefer to make a plug and cut slits into the pipe for a strainer.

Last edited by slavecorps; 03-25-2011 at 03:27 AM. Reason: punctuation
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-26-2011, 04:37 AM
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There are a couple of things I'm still confused about.

One, do you where I could obtain that wire rod used to keep the acrylic tube from kinking while bending it over heat? If you have a video with the wires inside the tube while its being bent that would be really helpful.And once you have bent it, how do you pull the wiring out if its not flexible?

And two, could you elaborate or, even better, illustrate how to make the "flare," which I'm assuming is the lily pipe bulb on the outlet.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-26-2011, 02:50 PM
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I believe he is using a thick gauge electrical wire. It would be just ever so slightly smaller than the ID of the pipe. It is flexible, but wont compress, only bend. Once you have something like lube on the sheath it glides really well, as that's how we pull it into conduit.

Unlike sand, or rock salt, the wire would leave the bend nearly perfect with no pitting and it would be very hard to kink unless the wire is too thin and has room around it inside the pipe. I would bend up the wire a bit before starting on your pipe to break the sheath from the copper or aluminum and loosed the strands up a bit.

I would advise buying something with as many strands as you can get. Only gauges up to around 10 are usually solid but there can be stranded wire with many fine strands or a few thick strands, and obviously the finer the strands, the easier the wire will bend.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-26-2011, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
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Heartnet-
justincgdick has it exactly right. it is an electrical wire I am speaking of. when I did my pipes, my in/out were the same size and fortunately since the inner diameter of the tubing I used was 1/2", I was able to cut the power cord off of an old outlet strip that was not working and use that. You need to make sure that the sheilding / insulation around the wire you use is round also. otherwise the tubing will not hold it's shape.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2011, 06:39 PM
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Thanks for the info slavecorps and justingdick.

Slavecorps, what about the actual bulb part of the lily pipe? Or the flaring as you mentioned in your description. What would be a good item to shape the flare with?
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2011, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Heartnet-
You will not get the "bulb" shape without being able to cap the end of the pipe and blow it like glass. The "bulb" serves to spread the water flow coming out of the pipe so it does not spray like a jet. My solution was to "flute" the end of the pipe similar to the way the bell of a trumpet looks. To do this I heated the end of the pipe and I used one of those tubes of carmex (squeeze bottle with a rounded red cap) and pressed it into the heated opening of the tube while spinning it in the tube to ensure a round shape. I will see if I can post a pic of my pipes later today so you can get an idea of what the shape looks like.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2011, 09:54 PM
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Edit, you added that.

If anyone wonders, you can get a heat gun on ebay for under 20 bucks.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-29-2012, 10:48 PM
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can you please post the vid again..
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 05:45 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, I'm surprised to see this thread back at the top of the list after over a year.

Bornscorpio30- The video wasn't mine, so if it's not on youtube any longer, I can't get it back.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 05:50 AM
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2013, 06:37 AM
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OK so here is my first attempt

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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2013, 06:47 AM
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Re: Directions for diy acrylic lily pipes

Quote:
Originally Posted by GJL Creative Solutions View Post
OK so here is my first attempt

Dang, not bad at all!

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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-29-2013, 06:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoffeeLove View Post
Dang, not bad at all!

---
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thanks, my cheeks hurt. lol

Cant fit the suction cups I have for my Zoomed 501 on it. gonna have to figure another way to keep it in place
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