DIY All Glass Tank, ADA style rimless, frameless, and finished!!! - 56K Warning
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Old 01-24-2005, 01:58 AM   #1
scolley
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DIY All Glass Tank, ADA style rimless, frameless, and finished!!! - 56K Warning


Notice to the reader:
This thread has grown far beyond what I ever expected, along with the amount of work it describes. The work is complete, so I've taken what I've learned, as documented in this thread, and posted it here in a much abbreviated form.

To make this monster thread a bit more usable, I've tried to create a click-able Table of Contents below.
Table of Contents
Background
Clamp/Jig/Construction Challenges
Marc's Amano tanks
Silicone/Glass Thickness/Frame issues
Silicone gap thickness
Stand interior plans
Glass finally arrives
Stand and plumbing pics
Aborted start pics
Assembly begins pics
Untested "finished" tank pics
Deflection discussed
Early victory declared
Victory defeated
Deflection pics
2nd try
3rd try
4th try
Clamping/assembly discussions
Replacing the back panel
5th try
Stand leveling
Front panel fails
Challenging assumptions / silicone research
Front panel replaced
Offering to the Gods of Glass
6th try
Victory!

This may improve readability and ease of navigation. The thread keeps falling back to 4 stars or less. So I assume length, too much discussion and not enough results (no pics of successful stuff!) may be frustrating some people. My apologies. I hope this helps a little.

Thanks for your help, moral support, and perseverance - Steve


========================== original post #1 begins below =====================

Background
I'm calling it "the Big Clear Kahuna". This will be the documentation of my attempt to build a large tank, entirely of glass and silicone. If this turns our well, it'll be very exciting. And if it doesn't, this will serve as a warning to anyone considering the same!

I'm starting this tread with a real debt to people on this forum. Upon coveting a new, larger tank I started this thread to try to understand what tank size would be best for a planted tank, assuming the primary objective was having a great looking tank. My thanks to everyone that helped with that question.

With the insights gained there, I began to explore my next tank size. Though my ultimate decision was not completely consistent with things learned in the aforementioned thread, I found I had to work around two very real constraints: total system cost and weight. That lead me to a decision for something in the 75g to 90g size, or 48x18 footprint.

With size somewhat settled, I began looking for a tank that satisfied a few personal requirements:
  • All glass - no rims, no frames, like ADA tanks
  • Low iron glass - clear, no green tint, great optics
  • No tempered bottom - ready for bulkhead drilling if required
This proved to be either very expensive to have built and shipped to the east coast, or relying on questionable production quality, or dealing with vendors in my area that just did not want to be bothered with custom orders for tanks of that size (not big enough). I was SOL.

But with the help of everyone in this thread I decided to build my own. Thank you! And special thanks to John P. who had the insane idea in the first place.

Now
So I've ordered the glass from a local glass shop, having first prototyped some concepts in the most previously mentioned thread above. I'm getting a deal on the ultra clear glass because I'm willing to wait a long time to get the glass, or even mix and match various types of ultra clear, low iron glass. It helps the glass shop because I cover their cost in filling orders for this expensive stuff that otherwise would not have used a full sheet. It's a win-win scenario. Only question is, how long will it take to get all the glass I need?

So now I wait for the glass.

But in the interim, below are some diagrams of the glass I've ordered.






More after I get the glass, could be a while. But I hope to fully photo document this adventure. For as I indicated above, it could be helpful to someone else. Or it could serve as a warning to someone equally foolish!
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Last edited by scolley; 03-08-2006 at 12:54 AM.. Reason: needs 56k warning
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Old 01-24-2005, 03:55 AM   #2
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"Sounds" easy! I know this will be a challenge, but I'm confident the results will be worth it.

Thanks for documenting the process. I may follow your lead & do this to replace my acrylic 26-G with something less scratch prone.
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Old 01-24-2005, 09:23 PM   #3
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I hope you have a bunch of good right-angle clamps, you're going to need them! Best of luck, this sounds like a really exciting project.
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Old 01-26-2005, 03:43 AM   #4
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Thanks folks. Am off on a biz trip at the moment, so expect no news for a week or so but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Troy McClure
I hope you have a bunch of good right-angle clamps, you're going to need them!
Funny, I keep hearing that, but for the life of me I don't know why. The test tank came out dead square, and I think this is why:

1) I ensured the place I assembled it was flat, very flat.
2) That same place was confirmed as level, at least as far as could be ascertained by a bubble level.
3) The two end pieces were cut at excellent right angles. See diagrams posted earlier for understanding of why these two pieces are so critical.
4) Spacers, of exact identical widths, were used at each seam.
5) During assembly the side and front/back pieces were taped at 90 degree angles to each other, assisted by a capenters square.
6) When the front and back pieces were bound tightly to the side pieces, which were cut at 90 degree angles (3 above), and were 90 degrees relative to each other (5 above), without variance due to inconsistent seam widths (4 above), and bound tightly by duct tape, all of it was placed on a suitable surface (1 and 2 above).

All together, that made a pretty dang square tank. If someone knows why this ain't so, I'd appreciate a comment, before I mess up a few hundred bucks worth of glass!

Thanks.
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Old 01-26-2005, 02:13 PM   #5
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It will be harder with bigger, heavier, pieces of glass. If you don't have someone helping you, seriously consider using a jig of some kind and right angle clamps.

BTW, you won't mess up your glass. You will just have to take a razor blade to the seams and start over if you get something wrong.
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Old 01-26-2005, 04:22 PM   #6
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Scolley,
You've got me interested in this. I like your idea of using the syringe. I don't know how you are doing things, but its seems like the best way would be to use right angle clamps and a jig to get things in place, with the spacers installed in between the glass. Then you would mask the glass, taping the outside of the glass completely, and on the inside just where the silicone shouldn't go. Then just fill in the gap with the syringe. In this picture, your side panes don't look flush with the edge,



What order are you assembling the panes? I guess its like a puzzle, there has to be a correct order to get things to come out straight. Are you filling the silicone in from the inside or outside?



This is how I would assemble the tank, using angle brackets,



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Old 01-27-2005, 06:18 AM   #7
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IUnknown! I'm so happy to see your post, because you are asking ALL the right questions!

Yes indeed the edges have problems with being flush in the test tank. Good call!

I posted those "uncomplementary" pics specifically because I wanted to be COMPLETELY honest with the issues here. In that case, the problems with being flush have every thing to do with the tolerance of the spec to which the glass provider will deliver. In the case of the pic below, the problem is due to the bottom pane was not as wide as the width of the two side panes plus the width of the spacers plus the width of the side pane. The difference you see is approx. 1/16 of an inch. This should be a significant disucssion between you and anyone providing the glass. In my case, I've made it clear in writing, any deviance beyond 1/32nd of an inch, and no deal - no money. They seem pretty clear on that point now.

As for the "order of things", it's a great question. But I'lll have to beg your indulgence. I'm off on a business trip now, and cannot refer to my documentaton of the assumed order of assembly. But I have given this much thought, and will post it is as soon as I return home.

But I think you are right about some things, and wrong on others IMHO. Jigs should not be required if your glass is square, and your surface is level. But the order of assembly appears to be ciritcal, which I will elaborate on, as soon as my travels are concluded (gimme a week or so... )

Regards -
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Old 01-27-2005, 01:51 PM   #8
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The suggestion for jigs is to help you maintain control of the glass. I don't doubt that you can hold a square piece of glass against a square piece of glass and get a right angle. I just think the finish product will be better if you aren't trying to make the right angle at the same time you are glueing or taping. A jig can be worth the 7 or 8 hands you might need when you realize you only have 2 and the glass is getting heavy.
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Aquascape? I'm a crypt farmer.

It's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.

That IS an aquascape, it's titled "The Vacant Lot".
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Old 01-27-2005, 09:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCMurphy
I just think the finish product will be better if you aren't trying to make the right angle at the same time you are glueing or taping.
You're making a good point Sean. And I am not stuck on doing this the hard way, if there is a better way. Foolish but not stupid, if you know what I mean.

What kind of jig are you referring to?
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Old 01-28-2005, 12:10 AM   #10
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Hi ya Scolly!! Man what an awsome task.. I could never picture myself doing anything like this...I would just fork over the cash...Good luck with this!! Cant wait to see it finished...

Hey If it all works out, I can fork over some cash yer way!!
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Old 01-28-2005, 01:41 AM   #11
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Scolly

Great task !

As a fellow CT resident please let me know if you need help.

I will be more than happy to lend a hand.

Nick
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Old 01-28-2005, 12:16 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scolley
What kind of jig are you referring to?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackfrost
As a fellow CT resident please let me know if you need help. I will be more than happy to lend a hand.

Nick
Nick would be a good start?

Seriously though, I make jigs up as I go when I'm woodworking, that's the nature of a jig. Watch the New Yankee Workshop sometime, ignore the vastly overpowered tools and look at the construction methods Norm uses. (I like Norm, he's a UMass grad too.)

Coming up with a framework that is square and allows you to space the glass, then glue it, and holds it all straight while you tape it, is what I envision. Something as simple as square corner clamps which I use when building my canopies to an actual four sided frame work to hold all but the last piece of glass. I don't know what your work space is like but if you want a solid end product sometimes spending an equal amount of time on a jig is worth it.
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Aquascape? I'm a crypt farmer.

It's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.

That IS an aquascape, it's titled "The Vacant Lot".
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Old 01-31-2005, 12:48 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bastalker
Hey If it all works out, I can fork over some cash yer way!!
Thanks Mark! But I'm not doing this for money. Pure foolishness is driving this effort!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackfrost
...please let me know if you need help.
Hope you meant that Nick. I just might take you up on that!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SCMurphy
I don't know what your work space is like but if you want a solid end product sometimes spending an equal amount of time on a jig is worth it.
Sean - I'm sure your advice is solid. But I've got four problems in going that route. My workspace is almost none existant - very small - and even worse, it's my living room. So a major construction project just isn't going to happen there. Second, I'm not a good, or knowledgable, wood worker. Third, time is my most precious commodity. And building something in wood, to the level of precision neede for it to work, would take a lot of time for a wood klutz like me. And finally, I'm kind of hoping I can blaze a trail that is easily available to everyone.

But I would consider a simple jig, that is if you are talking about something like this picture.

Even then though, I'm not sure if that would make a significant difference. That would fix the angles of the sides, in relation to the other sides. But that shouldn't be that critical - if you can't see it by eyeballing it, it shouldn't hurt how the tank performs.

But the angle of the sides to the bottom - THAT's a different matter. I think getting that wrong would invite all sorts of problems.
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Old 01-31-2005, 12:49 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scolley
Sean - I'm sure your advice is solid. But,...
It's my pleasure to try to help, I hope you are successful. I'm just interested in you finding the easiest route to that end. As long as you are saying "But" you are thinking of ways to get there.

Keep us posted!
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Aquascape? I'm a crypt farmer.

It's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.

That IS an aquascape, it's titled "The Vacant Lot".
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Old 01-31-2005, 02:39 PM   #15
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These are what I used for my hood. I figured you could just put some rubber stoppers and use them with the glass.

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