Introduction: Compressed Gas Cylinder Wind Chime

Picture of Compressed Gas Cylinder Wind Chime

When I was a kid I used to travel with the carnival and always saw the kitschy stuff they sold on the independent midway. One of the things I remember was a large wind chime made from what looked like one of those big helium tanks.  I thought they were awesome! They had a deep rich tone that was almost like a buoy on the ocean.

When my Grandmother passed away for some reason my family kept her old oxygen tanks. Not those new aluminum ones the old iron ones.  When I picked it up and moved it it hit something and gonged....  I remembered my days at the fair and decided to see if I could make one.

This is the result! It turned out awesome and the clapper is heavy enough that it doesn't whip around a lot which gives you a nice gentle ring on blustery nights.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

You will need the following materials:

Cast Iron or steel gas cylinder  (I has an Oxygen tank, but, a co2 or helium tank would work also.)
5 feet of rope
Clapper  (I used a 1 pound weight, but a wooden clapper can be made to fit for a softer tone.)
Various nuts for retainers
6" x 24" x 1/8" "Hobby Board" (That's what they called it at home depot.)
Primer, paint and clear coat


Metal cut-off saw or an angle grinder with a cutting blade
Jig Saw
Drill with a 3/4" bit
Table vice
Files (Bench grinder optional!)
Metal coat hanger or a long piece of baling wire

Step 2: Drain the Tank

Picture of Drain the Tank

Empty the cylinder.  In my case it was an old oxygen tank and from conception to actually doing the project it was a couple of months. I opened the valve to let it drain then put it off in a corner and left it for a while.  Just use a pair of pliers to open the valve.  At this point I was pretty sure all of the gas had dissipated so I was not too worried about the tank becoming a missile.

Also Oxygen is not flammable BY ITSELF...  It helps things burn better.  Better safe than sorry though so open the valve and leave it alone for a while!

Step 3: Remove the Valve Stem

Picture of Remove the Valve Stem

For the first one I did I held the stem in a vice and used an oil filter wrench to turn the tank. 

Once the stem is out fill the tank with water to displace any remaining gas.

This time I just tried without the wrench and ended up breaking off the stem. DOH!  I ended up having to cut the stem off by just cutting the tank a little lower on the neck.

Step 4: Cut Off the Bottom

Picture of Cut Off the Bottom

This is fairly straight forward, except the cutting blade wasn't large enough to do it in one clean cut.  I had to turn the tank and keep it all in line to finish my cut.

Start the cut a few inches up from the bottom to clear the indentation built into the bottom of the tank.

NOTE: This can be done with an angle grinder with a cut-off blade, but, be careful to keep your cut clean and straight! Or don't if you want a different look!

Step 5: Nobody Likes Filing, But, It Must Be Done!

Picture of Nobody Likes Filing, But, It Must Be Done!

Clean up our cuts now using a file.  A metal file not a wood one! I also used a bench grinder to make short work of the big bur left when cutting off the neck and the outside of the base.

Step 6: Clean, Primer and Paint!

Picture of Clean, Primer and Paint!

So clean off your tank of all stickers and crap.  Mine had these plastic things that were held on by some new cosmic polymer.  Nothing soaking a rag or two in acetone and letting it soak into the stubborn stickers wouldn't take care of!

Next hang your tank with a piece of twine and a nut.  I had this handy dandy rack to dangle mine from!

Primer the snot out of it! Then pain the snot out of it!

Take your time here..  Light coats, try to get no drips.  If you look at the photos you'll see that the color is kind of patchy.  This was coat number two.

Step 7: Make the Wind Catcher

Picture of Make the Wind Catcher

This part was just a bunch of eye-balling.  I used to cut off portion of the tank to make the curve. I eyeballed the point for the hole. Over all the length was about a foot.

A jig saw, a 3/4" (or diameter suitable to your rope) hole drilled and some sanding to clean up the edged and I have a wind catcher!

Step 8: Clear Coat

Picture of Clear Coat

Next I strung the wind catcher and gave the whole thing several coats of clear gloss enamel.

Here is where I made a MAJOR error:  I thought that since the surface was dry the whole thing was dry.  It is not.  Leave this over night AT LEAST.  It would probably be better for a couple of days of curing.  I ended up with fingerprints and rag marks (trying to protect the finish) that required me leaving it for a day then sanding then another coat of color and another few coats of clear.

Step 9: Make the Guts

Picture of Make the Guts

This was pretty straight forward. 

I will explain it LEFT TO RIGHT left being the "top".

I tied a knot about a foot and a half from the left end of the rope then slid a nut on to the left of the knot.  I used an old lug nut since the taper would center itself in the neck and give it a better hang.

I took it outside and held it up to the tank making another knot about 4 inches from the bottom of the tank.  If you go too high the rope will not have enough throw to allow the clapper to touch the sides before the rope contacts the lip of the chime.

From the right I slid on the clapper, a large retaining nut (the lug nut was too small by itself for the hole in the clapper) and then finally the lug nut.  Just a simple knot to hold everything in place.



Step 10: String the Chime

Picture of String the Chime

At this point I used a piece of baling wire to create a small hook and fish the clapper rope through the chime.

Just a simple loop in the top to hang it, then I tied the wind catcher to the bottom.  Trim the excess rope and use a lighter to melt and clean the ends of the rope.

Step 11: Hang It!

Picture of Hang It!

All that is left is to find a nice spot in the garden and enjoy it!

Thanks for taking a look guys! Let me know how yours turns out!


muddinjeeps made it! (author)2017-01-30

I made it for my dad for father's day. Used fishnet stockings to paint a fishing lure...turned out great, sounds better. The steel tank gives it a warm tone,
Thank you!

JosephM7 (author)2014-12-07

Tanks wanted 4014198984

bettina-sisr (author)2014-03-29

Pure O2 and a match or spark and you'll see fire! Getting it on your clothes for instance and then adding a spark, but doing what you did is good. Also there should be a small regular head screw along the side of the post valve that is the relief valve and you should also unscrew that and take it off. Thanks for the instructable!

carnyboy (author)bettina-sisr2014-07-27

Once you get the valve out you can fill the tank with water which displaced any remaining pure oxygen, but, honestly oxygen isn't explosive (like propane) so if you leave it for a couple of hours with the valve off all you have its normal atmosphere in the tank. If you're using propane or acetylene tanks DEFINITELY fillip the tank with water to displace the explosive gases left behind as a precaution. Drain the water out before cutting the tank.

Snake Eater 5th (author)2014-07-27

Those chimes are awesome. I have a tank already cut but was wondering if the clapper needed to be a specific size. I have a chain to hang mine with and had not thought about using rope to hang the clapper. I think it would be easier. Does the wind catcher need to be a specific size? Sorry for all the questions.

carnyboy (author)Snake Eater 5th2014-07-27

I just used the rope through and through. The wind catcher and clapper can vary as well. I used a large wind catcher due to the weight of the metal clapper. if you're using a hockey puck or razor scooter wheel you won't need as much wind to push it around. If it's too small or large you can always make a new one.

bettina-sisr (author)2014-03-29

Smart! I see some cool future uses outta those ends!

bettina-sisr (author)2014-03-29

Brillant with the oil filter wrench! Those valves are a b*tch to get off!

Jenhaas (author)2010-12-08

Does anyone have an idea where I can find some of these tanks. I really would love to make one of these.

doo da do (author)Jenhaas2011-09-15

You can find a steel recycle phon number in the yellow pages. If not your town maybe one close to you. Or you could goole it.

neeterxxi (author)2011-04-12

I discovered a GREAT source of old tanks. If you live in a big city there will probably be one or more recycling yards where they take in steel, iron, aluminum and stainless among other things. In one particulary large yard where I live (Dallas), they take old compressed cylinders and cut them in half with an oxyfuel torch when they reach the end of their usefulness and recycle them along with the other scrap steel. If you bring the yard enough scrap to recycle (they weigh you when you go in and when you leave), after you unload, pick up a few tanks, it's possible to get your tanks for free!

K0JSY (author)2010-05-19

 Instead of using a metal clapper, you could use a hockey puck.  It's hard enough to give a good ring, but soft enough to make it more of a gong sound than a clang sound.

I'm planning on making a "temple bell" from an old CO2 bottle from a keg-a-rator. (It's ok, I have another tank).  I'll use a hockey puck as the clapper and a knot at the end as a handle.

Great instructable!  I'm sure I'll use it as my main source when I build mine.

carnyboy (author)K0JSY2010-05-19

I was just looking at a CO2 tank for a soda system.. I think that would be wonderful! The Hockey Puck clapper idea is top notch, but, watch for the throw of the clapper rope.  If you are hand ringing this should not be a problem, however you do not want a lot of throw in a wind powered apparatus. Cheers and PLEASE post some pics when you are done or at least make your own instructable!

daphnek (author)2010-06-20

Your project is brilliant! I can't wait to make one. Just gotta find an oxygen tank and we're in business!

rhaubejoi (author)2010-05-30

I love this!  I can't wait to see if I can find some old tanks to make a few!  I think you did a great job on this instructable and thanks for also mentioning your mistakes so we could avoid them. 

rhaubejoi (author)rhaubejoi2010-05-30

ooh, also what about an old razor scooter wheel for the clapper...just a thought

punkhead58 (author)2010-05-15

Nobody likes filing?

Now, now, let's not speak for everyone. I, for one, love filing. As a matter of fact, I consider my steel files to be among my most used and favorite tools.

carnyboy (author)punkhead582010-05-15

 I used to work in a medical office..... Filing allllll flippin' day! *ugh*

punkhead58 (author)carnyboy2010-05-15

Ah, that kind of filing. Excuse my lack of humor.

Being that I'm an engineer, I don't have to touch much paperwork outside of my bills.

ph1lt3ch (author)2010-05-04

 Paintball CO2 tanks would probably be really good for this, I think I have a few old messed up ones... :D

Paintball tanks are usually aluminum, so they might not ring very well. Worth a shot, though.

glorybe (author)RavingMadStudios2010-05-11

        Some aluminum rings like the best of bells. Ask any skilled drummer about the aluminum bells that look like cymbals.

Rainh2o (author)2010-05-06

 I wonder about using one or more of the throw away camping propane tanks...nic instructibles

dchall8 (author)2010-05-05

This is a great use for old tanks.  Tanks!

I think I can get the clank out of it for you and get you into a nice ring.  I once made a xylophone for my daughters out of metal conduit and did a lot of research.  It turns out that most solid objects will ring when you hit them.  That ring sound is a series of waves that are fixed by physics.  The wave forms a low amplitude spot at a point 22.5% of the length from either end.  You can demonstrate this with any piece of wood or metal that is all the same size and density.  Hold it at the top and hammer it to feel the vibrations in your hand. You will also notice that the object does not ring very long when you hold it at the end.  That is because your fingers dampen the amplitude of the vibration.  Work your way down holding it lower and lower hammering and feeling.  When you get to about 1/4 the way down, you can hammer it and it will continue to ring for a long time even though you are holding it.  You will also notice that you can barely feel the vibrations in your fingers at that point.  This is a sweet spot you can use to your advantage.  But your bell is not uniform at both ends to take advantage of this physical concept. 

What I suggest is you cut the top off to make it a tube with both ends open.  Measure the length to find the 22.5% mark.  Hold it and ring it a few times to demonstrate to yourself that you have the right spot.  Then drill a hole all the way through the tube at the 22.5% mark.  Run a bolt (or something) through and hang the tube from that bolt.  You can also hang your clapper from that bolt. 

Another problem with your pipe is the welded seam.  Any unwelded material will have a nicer ring to it. 

Kiteman (author)2010-05-04

I imagine that a row of these, of different lengths, might sound like a hank drum...?

Kiteman (author)Kiteman2010-05-04

Oh, I've thought of a way to make the chime more sonorous (you know, bongy instead of clangy) - put a layer of felt or thin rubber around the clapper-weight.  It's what they use on the end of the hammer in a hand-bell.

carnyboy (author)Kiteman2010-05-04

Fixed the "CLANK" with a little electrical tape wrapped around the clapper!!

Kiteman (author)carnyboy2010-05-05


tshallow74 (author)2010-05-04

 Do you think you could do this with an old propane tank from a grill?

carnyboy (author)tshallow742010-05-04

I suppose you could, but, it would probably sound kind of tinny since the metal is so thin.

mdeblasi1 (author)2010-05-04

You can't start a post "When I was a kid I used to travel with the carnival"  and just leave it there!!!  What's the rest of the story?  Where's your blog?  I'm dieing here--from the need to know  : o

carnyboy (author)mdeblasi12010-05-04

The rest of the story is I am a third generation Carny.  Basically my Grandfather got into the business after WWII and Korea and my Father got into it after Vietnam.  I was born and raised in the carnival industry primarily traveling in Northern California and Oregon. I still do it to this day.  ~fin~

lemonie (author)2010-05-04

I saw something like this on a golf-course...
Very nice.


ndinitz (author)lemonie2010-05-04

 what did it sound like when a golf ball hit it?

lemonie (author)ndinitz2010-05-04

None of us hit it, but basically the same steel-bell, they make a good sound. (dog-leg hole "please ring bell when green is clear")


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