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.
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:
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.
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
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