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The next tank to be drilled is my 46 Gallon Bowfront. I waited to do this last since it was the most expensive tank to replace if we broke it. Even though neither of us was sure if the back glass was tempered or not, today we successfully drilled the tank for ¾” bulkheads.

I will be building a manifold to handle all the equipment using the lessons learned from my 55 gallon http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/diy/30908-drilling-my-55-a.html and 37 gallon http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/diy/34439-pvc-heater-reactor-manifold.html drilled tank projects.

I have received several PMs from different forums asking how to drill a tank. I believe there are several methods but I pretty much watched RMC drill all of mine, he is the maestro. This time I made a video of him drilling the two holes for the intake and return so others can watch his technique. Two things I noticed that were keys to success were:
1. Go slow; operate the drill at a very slow speed.
2. Keep the bit lubricated; hot parts are a recipe for disaster.

Hopefully, RMC will chime in and offer additonal pointers.

In the first part of the video the return hole is being drilled, then the intake. We had to switch drills towards the end because the battery drained on the first drill. Keep in mind it took longer to drill these holes than the video represents.

http://media.putfile.com/Drilling-a-46-Gallon-Bowfront

I will continue this thread while I build the manifold and put the tank together…….DC
 

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You got lucky. Normally when you are drilling glass stopping the drill can cause huge problems.
Really, we stopped several times on every tank we drilled to add more lubricant/coolant. What do you think would be the problem? I know RMC has drilled dozens of tanks this way so he must be good. The glass not being tempered got a big WooHoo out of me when it didn't shatter......DC
 

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About the only thing I would add is that the hole quality is better for sealing if the drilling is done from the inside out. When the bit exits on the opposite side it tends to chip slightly around the edges which can hinder the sealing capability of the rubber washer that comes with the bulkhead fitting. Drilling from the inside isn't really necessary but if you have room for the drill I think it's worth doing.

There really is no luck involved in drilling tanks and stopping frequently shouldn't be a problem but, being nervous the first few times is understandable. In my opinion, drilling the larger tanks is easier because the glass is thicker and won't flex as much. For smaller tanks with thin glass I simply clamp wood on both sides of where I'm drilling. I've drilled a lot of tanks and the only ones I've broken were made of tempered glass which I didn't know about until it was too late.

Rex, if you're having trouble drilling your tanks just give me a call and I'll tell you what you're doing wrong. My guess is too much pressure from being impatient. :icon_wink
 

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Cool music, DC! Is the wood there just to help direct the bit? And did you just hand hold the wood deal, or ever clamp it?
 

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Cool music, DC! Is the wood there just to help direct the bit? And did you just hand hold the wood deal, or ever clamp it?
I placed music in there because I forgot to mute the camera, and honestly, did not think our comments would help in any way. The board that you see with the holes is backed up on the other side of the glass with another board. I believe the board does keep the hole repeatable and assist in keeping the lubricant/coolant in the cut, the board on the other side keeps the glass from cracking and/or the hole from "poking" through prematurely. The other boards you see being used were just my idea for spacers to locate the holes. I did learn from drilling my 110, when using a deep substrate bed to make sure the bulkhead is located at least 4 inches from the bottom. I wanted the return as close to the top as possible so the diffuser can be pointed to the surface aiding surface turbulence. Since this tank will have Discus in it I need as much gas exchange that can be mustered to keep the O2 levels up. I found on my 55 that having a closed filtration system coupled with the sliding glass tops was not conducive to a good gas exchange. I believe mounting the return closer to the surface will help, hopefully. I believe RMC does use clamps, but only on smaller tanks. We did not use any clamps on my 37, 55, or 46.......DC
 

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Even though neither of us was sure if the back glass was tempered or not,
I'm not sure if this is industry standard, but what I have found is this:

If the tank is labeled as in the pic below--it only has a tempered bottom.



If it only has the Built By Date and Initials (white label) its not Tempered at all.

If it has an Orange built by Date and Initials label and says Tempered glass on that label--its all tempered. Don't drill it.

If the tank is not Tempered (white label) then the label is often times up "under" the top rim. If the tank is all tempered its up under the top rim, orange and says tempered glass with the date and initials.

Again, I don't know if this is industry standard, but I am starting to see a method to the madness.....:hihi:

HTH
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm not sure if this is industry standard, but what I have found is this:

If the tank is labeled as in the pic below--it only has a tempered bottom.



If it only has the Built By Date and Initials (white label) its not Tempered at all.

If it has an Orange built by Date and Initials label and says Tempered glass on that label--its all tempered. Don't drill it.

If the tank is not Tempered (white label) then the label is often times up "under" the top rim. If the tank is all tempered its up under the top rim, orange and says tempered glass with the date and initials.

Again, I don't know if this is industry standard, but I am starting to see a method to the madness.....:hihi:

HTH
These stickers are on the tank we drilled......DC
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I have the tank almost put back together, just have some tidying up to do. Here are some preliminary pictures:



Hardscape is done, most of the plants are in the tank. The piece of manzanita will darken up.



Reactor/heater manifold



Fluval 204 is temporarily connected to flow water, the 404 that goes here is awaiting impeller parts.



Other side of tank

Next week will put some critters in, a couple of geos, several adolphoi, several BNs and/or some whiptails, looking for some Discus. Will provide more detailed pictures and text when time permits....DC
 

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can you by chance tell me what the diameter the sms probe is so I can order the water tight cord grip for it? I plant to make a reactor that houses my heater and my probe using the cord grips. thanks
 

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can you by chance tell me what the diameter the sms probe is so I can order the water tight cord grip for it? I plant to make a reactor that houses my heater and my probe using the cord grips. thanks
Try 1/2", you really need to leak check any manifold you make outside or in your garage. Please do not just assume that if you make something that looks like mine, it will function like mine. The fittings I use have a triple seal and must be tightened a certain way......DC
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I received the impeller parts for the 404 and put her back together. It is amazing the importance of the little piece of rubber I inadvertently lost during the last cleaning. I took some more pictures inside the stand with the 404 installed. Still need to route the stand light wiring, PH probe wiring, and CO2 tubing. Trying to decide if I want to paint the inside part of the stand I built white or just leave it.

Right side of stand









Left side of the stand.



I used these computer desk thingies and routed the wiring out and back into the stand.







Here is my favorite piece of driftwood, it looks like a carving.



Front of tank



Left side of tank



Right side of tank



The tank is currently stocked with 2 juvie Geophagus Steindachneri, 6 adult Corydoras Adolphoi, and a few small BNs. I will be transferring a wild green Discus pair from my 110 to this tank soon. The TDS is still a little higher than I want but a few more water changes should get it below 100. The PH is hovering around 6 which is lowered using RO and CO2. Temperature is a rock solid 85 degrees, these Hydor ETH 300s work very well......DC
 
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