Instructables

Bowling Ball Fountain

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When I was a kid my parents dragged me to Longwood Gardens on a family vacation. The highlight for me was the topiary dinosaurs, but my Dad was really blown away by a fountain called the Eye of Water. In fact he still mentions it 20 years after we went there. So since it was Father's Day, and this year has been a rough one, I decided to make Dad his own fountain inspired by the Eye of Water.

I wanted the fountain to have a nice round shape that the water would gently roll over just like the Eye of Water did, because this is the feature Dad mentions most often when he talks about it. To achieve this I used bowling balls from the local thrift store. I did this because it was relatively inexpensive and I'm not a master craftsman who can carve a round smooth object out of rock/wood/cement/etc.
 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
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Here's what I used to make my fountain:

  • 1 fountain pump
  • 3 bowling balls
  • About 3 feet of vinyl tubing (ID 1/2", OD 3/4")
  • Metal rods of various diameters & lengths
  • Epoxy
  • Epoxy putty
  • Spray primer
  • Blue spray paint
  • Clear spray paint
  • 1 flower pot
  • Shredded paper

A note on pumps. Be sure to choose a pump that has the power to lift water as high as your fountain. Also be sure to read the instructions for vital bits of information like the minimum amount of water needed to run the pump, how to adjust flow rate, or any kind of regular maintenance that may be needed.
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msteele52 months ago

Nitpicky question here: how heavy were the balls you used? I have a feeling that might affect what support structure could be used

RadBear (author)  msteele52 months ago
I honestly don't remember the weights. I am guessing between 9 and 12 pounds as the fountain isn't that hard to move.
garypcom1 year ago
Couldn't this be done without cutting the bowling balls? How about simply drilling and stacking on a pipe of some sort?
RadBear (author)  garypcom1 year ago
That would probably work as the pipe would provide the support along with a path for water flow.
could u do a usb version with golf or ping-pong balls?
RadBear (author)  Zaphod Beeblebrox4 years ago
In theory yes. You'd have to find a pump that would run on the voltage provided by USB. (I think it is 5 volts but I'm not 100% sure on that.)
mbear RadBear2 years ago
According to Wikipedia USB does offer 5 volt power.
ntbrown4 years ago
Yay! Supplies are on hand. One bowling ball drilled - two to go :) Drilling through wasn't bad at all - of course, a mans muscles helped a lot! Would like to ask - how is the blue paint holding up??
RadBear (author)  ntbrown4 years ago
Dad set it up a couple of months ago for the summer and the paint is holding up well. I sealed it with a couple of coats of clear coat so that should help keep it in shape. However, it is on his screened in porch so it isn't exposed too much to direct sunlight or rain. If you're careful about the paint not getting scratched or chipped the water shouldn't infiltrate it and make it peel.
ntbrown4 years ago
Bowling balls can be easily found at yard sales and thrift shops for a dollar or so. I also requested some from craigslist, and got two of them for free :) Now.... just have to get hubby to help me with the cutting and drilling! So excited to have a fountain like this!!! :) Thanks for sharing!
RadBear (author)  ntbrown4 years ago
Glad you liked it! Post a picture when you get yours finished.
floryzzz4 years ago
 I tink its a little to expensive to use bowling balls
RadBear (author)  floryzzz4 years ago
I got all 3 for $10 at the local thrift store. If that isn't a viable option you might be able to scrounge some from friends or family who no longer bowl or from a garage sale. Or you might be able to substitute some other material.
joelr974 years ago
to bad i dont have bowling balls:(((

RadBear (author)  joelr974 years ago
Check your local thrift stores. I picked up all three of the balls I used from a thrift store for $10 with tax. Or call a local bowling alley and see if they have any they are going to throw away.
s stars!! faved!!
Why bowling balls???
Because golf balls are too small lol:)
Basket balls deflate
RadBear (author)  Ghost Wolf4 years ago
But I bet the texture would make neat patterns...
Fill with foam or concrete
RadBear (author)  Ghost Wolf4 years ago
You read my mind...Great Stuff.
chalky RadBear4 years ago
How about basketball players balls lol
RadBear (author)  chalky4 years ago
That would be a challenge though. :)
RadBear (author)  fairtradeguy5 years ago
They let me get the nice round shape w/o having to try and mold it out of concrete/plastic or scuplt it out of wood. Plus they are cheap and easy to find.
WVSundown5 years ago
Very nicely done! Great recycle of materials, too!
RadBear (author)  WVSundown5 years ago
Thanks
jaythedogg5 years ago
So? What did Dad think? I like the reuse of discarded bowling balls & the ingenuity, but how does Dad like it? :P
RadBear (author)  jaythedogg5 years ago
Dad loved it. They have it on their screened in porch. He turns it on for background noise when he goes out to read. He finds the sound very relaxing.
unfortunately, it is better to give it to me..haha
Mr. Rig It5 years ago
How many licks does it take to get to the center of a bowling ball?? Good Instructable!!
RadBear (author)  Mr. Rig It5 years ago
Thanks!
abqjohn5 years ago
Sorry, if I missed it, but why not cut the balls on the side where the finger holes are, rather than having to fill the holes with paper & expoxy?
RadBear (author)  abqjohn5 years ago
You didn't miss it. I didn't think of that. :)
canida5 years ago
Cool! You know, turned sideways this could make a nice Cootie-themed fountain...
RadBear (author)  canida5 years ago
Yeah...you could use pipes to make the legs and maybe even draw the water up from the resevoir.
Walikai5 years ago
awe, I thought it would be a floating ball fountain, now those are cool. this is cool too
RadBear (author)  Walikai5 years ago
Those are cool. Hmmm...
kissiltur5 years ago
This is very nice. There was a project I saw a few years ago in Family Handyman magazine for a spherical fountain on a pillar, but it was all cast from concrete. This is a simpler way to get a similar effect, and a bowling ball would be much lighter! Thanks for the ible.
... in fact someone has already done something similar to the spherical fountain I saw before:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Bowling-Ball-Garden-Water-Feature/
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