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Variable length water level

Picture of Variable length water level
My daughter bought 7 chickens for her children, and proceeded to bring them to Grandpa for housing and care.  So, all of a sudden, I needed to build a chicken coop.  After a little research, I decided to build a coop that is 8' x 14'.  Proceeded to uproot and trim limbs off of 8 cedar post of varying length.  Where I live, one never knows how deep the auger will be able to dig, so I knew I would have to cut the post to the correct height after they were in the ground. 
Now I have a laser level, but the tripod isn't tall enough for 7', so I needed another method to level the top of the posts.  Inspiration, a water level.  Looked online, found water levels ranging in cost from about $30 up.  Figured I could do better and remembered seeing something years ago made from a water hose.  Jumped on my motorcycle and off to the local lumber yard for parts.  I bought one 3/4" female hose end and one 3/4" male hose end and 2' of clear 3/4" plastic hose.  Total cost was just under $5.50, not bad. 
At home, I microwaved a cup or so of water for 3 minutes, dunked one end of the clear plastic tubing into the water for 10 - 12 seconds, and pushed one of the hose ends into the softened tubing.  Cut the tubing into 2 even pieces, and repeated the process with the other hose end connector.   The tubing I bought was from close to the end of the roll, so it had major curve to it.  I dug around in my junk and found a piece of lightweight U channel just big enough for the tubing to push into.  Cut the channel slightly shorter than the clear tubing, and then shoved the tubing into the channel.  It still wanted to curve, so I took a few zip ties and tightened them around the channel, starting in the middle, then doing the ends (this removed the curve).  I did learn that it is best to place a block of some sort inside the channel prior to cutting it, in order to keep from bending it out of shape.  Now to make it variable length, just use a longer hose, or connect two hoses.  You need to make sure there are good washers in the female ends so water doesn't leak out and change reading.   Mark one line on each piece of tubing for the leveling marks.  Very simple build, took maybe 10 minutes. 
Tools required, screw driver for hose ends, knife for cutting tubing, hacksaw for cutting channel (light weight angle would work also) and wire cutters for cutting the ends off of the zip ties. 
If desired, add food coloring to water to make it show up better. 
retiredtrebor (author) 11 months ago
@three_d_dave, worked great for me. I guess that is all that really matters. I tied one end a couple of feet off of the ground, laid the other end on the ground, used a funnel on the upper end. Filled it until water ran out the other end freely, and kinda moved the hose around some to try to eliminate the air in the hose. I thought about using another female hose connecter on one end, just hook it up and turn on the faucet. Cover the end of the hose being moved with your thumb, might help.
This is a workable design, though when I tried using a similar one, I had problems with air being trapped in the hose and with water hammer when moving the hose.

You know there is air trapped because side-by-side the water wasn't the same level - sometimes a half-inch. Water hammer results in water getting shot out of the end being moved when I stopped moving.

To overcome those problems (I'm going about 100 ft ) I used thin clear vinyl tubing 1/4 or 3/16 inside. It is easy to spot and remove air bubbles and has enough drag that water hammer can't happen. I do like the channel ends and will add something like that to my water leveler. Mine is a single ended system - one end is a bucket, which means it's less sensitive to how much tubing is water-filled, but is more difficult to use in locations where a bucket of water has no easy place to sit, like on a roof slope.

The double ended one is easier for fence posts; it makes sense since that's what you were trimming.
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