Note that this involves using many different tools and proper safety precautions should always be taken.
Step 1: The beginning - installing the posts
Step 2: Installing the posts continued
Step 3: Installing the posts continued
Step 4: Installing the posts continued
Step 5: Installing the posts continued
All screws used in this project were 2 1/2 inch coarse-thread exterior screws.
Step 6: Installing the posts continued
Including the posts, the front and back both measured 39 inches and the left and right sides both measured 38 inches. However, anybody attempting this should measure and place the posts in whatever configuration that is best.
Step 7: Building the barrel braces
For this, I used two pieces of 2x4 screwed together with 5 screws (3 on one side, 2 on the other). The pieces measured 39 inches.
After that, I drilled pilot holes on both sides (centered and 1 3/4 inches in). Into these pilot holes, I drove galvanized lag bolts (with washers) using a ratchet with the appropriate tip.
Driving the lag bolts in ahead of time will make it easier when attaching them to the posts.
Step 8: Building the barrel braces
This is what a finished barrel brace looked like.
All four of them measured 39 inches apiece.
Step 9: Installing the barrel braces
I drilled pilot holes into the posts where the barrel brace was to go. The pilot holes were exactly 13 inches up from the ground.
I drove the lag bolts the rest of the way with a ratchet, making sure to check with a level.
Step 10: Installing the pole braces
They went in directly under the first barrel brace and were screwed in after being checked with a level.
These offer nothing by way of support for the barrels. All they do is help to maintain structural stability on the frame.
Step 11: Installing the barrel braces
The pilot holes that I drilled to accept the lag bolts were 23 inches from the ground.
The difference in height makes the barrel tip slightly forward. The angle helps to fit more water in the barrels as they fill and allows the barrels to drain more completely.
Step 12: Installing the barrel braces
Step 13: Installing the pole braces
The top pole braces will go on the same angle as the barrels, so it is useful to measure to determine the appropriate length.
Mine were 38 1/2 inches.
Step 14: Finishing the frame
I drilled the pilot holes for the top two barrel braces exactly 25 inches up from the tops of the bottom barrel braces. I drove them in with a ratchet and checked with a level.
The ends of the last two pole braces went up exactly 26 inches from the tops of the top two barrel braces and are held in with screws.
Step 16: Finishing the frame
The bottom (and heaviest) barrel is slightly pinched in by the top barrel braces. This adds to the stability of the bottom barrel.
Step 17: Finishing the frame
I checked the supports with a level, but did not take an exact measurement of their position. They were placed where I felt that they would support the barrels best.
With the four barrel supports in, the barrels are in their final positions and can not slide backwards or forwards.
Step 18: Installing the barrels
Into the lip of each barrel, I drilled two screws down into the barrel braces. This will help to prevent the barrels from rocking and shifting during bumps or windy days.
Step 19: Installing the plumbing
The plugs that came with the barrels were already threaded to accept drains and other attachments.
The very top bung did not get a plug as this is where the drain will go later
Step 20: Installing the plumbing
My barrel plugs came already threaded to accept various attachments.
I chose these hose bibs because they were a little longer than a standard boiler drain or hose bib. However, most anything would work. To make them fit the plugs, I also needed to use a bushing to adapt them.
Wrap the threads with thread tape and snug with a wrench.
Other parts can be substituted at this point, such as two pipe elbows instead of hose bibs.
Step 21: Installing the plumbing
Note that the middle hose bib is upside-down to accept the connector hose.
Step 22: Installing the plumbing
The hose ends were in the garden department as replacement parts for mending broken hoses.
Make sure that the hose ends properly fit the hose bibs when shopping for parts, otherwise additional adapters may be needed.
Step 23: Installing the plumbing
With both hose bibs in the fully open position, water will be able to drain from the top barrel into the bottom.
Step 24: Testing the system
I did notice that the top plug was dripping, so I tightened the plug a little more and all was fine.
Step 26: Testing the system
There really is no pressure to speak of, since this system is gravity-fed, but the barrels should be installed high enough to get a constant flow of water.
Step 27: Testing the system
Step 28: Installing the drain
They help to keep debris from clogging the system by just allowing the water in and dropping debris from the roof.
Step 29: Installing the drain
You will need to know this when shopping for parts.
Mine happened to be two inches.
Step 30: Installing the drain
I used a 2 inch to 1 1/2 inch rubber reducer and various pieces of 1 1/2 inch ABS pipe.
The bungs on the barrels are 2 inches wide and the extra half-inch is to allow water to drain out when the barrels reach capacity.
Step 31: Installing the drain
The reducer was clamped on to the spout and the ABS pipe clamped in.
This is what all of the pieces will be built off of.
Step 32: Installing the drain
A person attempting this may want to experiment with what works best as not every setup will need the same parts.
Clean the pipes and fitting and apply ABS glue to cement into place (those using different types of pipe such as PVC will want to use the appropriate type of cement as well).
Step 33: Installing the drain
You will want to use piping that is less than the size of the bung, otherwise water will not be able to leak out and will back up your gutters, potentially causing flooding problems for a basement or crawlspace.
An optional thing I did was to select a 90 degree bend with an additional outlet. Into that, I cemented a thread and cap. This will act as a temporary override during a storm if the system were to become clogged with debris and cause the gutters to become backed up with water. Simply remove the cap and the excess will spill onto the ground.
Step 34: Installing the drain
Note that it is simple with the least amount of parts used and rests comfortably in the barrel.
Step 35: Finishing touches
Step 36: Finishing touches
The roof measured 45 x 45 inches of 1/2 inch plywood.
Step 37: Finishing touches
All the instructions from this point on are pretty much optional, since the decoration is up to the builder.
Step 38: Decoration
Step 39: Finishing touches
Step 40: Finishing touches
Step 41: Finishing touches
However, I would like to paint the wood with a low- or no-VOC exterior paint at some point to match the house.
Step 42: Final thoughts
A few final thoughts:
- The hose that drains from the top to the bottom barrel would benefit from being wider. Water can only pass through as fast as the smallest opening can handle. If I were to re-do it, I'd try to drill or cut a wider hole to accept wider fittings and tubing.
- There is most likely a way to pressurize the system with an air compressor for applications that need more pressure than gravity such as sprinkler systems.
- The bottom barrel would most likely benefit from a small hole drilled above the water line to let out air as it gets replaced with water. This will allow the top barrel to drain into the bottom barrel faster and at a more steady rate.