Introduction: A Solar Drying Rack

About: Was it you or I who stumbled first? It does not matter, the one of us who soonest finds the strength to rise must help the other. - Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Here in Florida, where solar energy abounds, one of the simplest ways to "go green" is to avoid using the clothes drying machine and hang out the laundry. I eschew the traditional clothesline in favor of a rack, constructed of lumber and PVC pipe, and fitted with castered legs. The dimensions of the unit are approximately 75" long (1905mm), 40" wide (1016mm), and 32" tall (914mm). Including the upper frame + high- mounted leg support rails, I have a total hanging length of about 94 linear feet (28.65m).

The PVC pipe comes in 10 foot lengths (3.048m), cut down to 39 1/2" (1003.3mm) I got 3 pieces each from the 6 lengths I purchased for a total of 18 stations. Spaced for a 3" gap (76.2mm) between, it allows for good air circulation even with bulky items like towels.

Step 1: Get a Plan

My first order of business was to do an exact layout of the holes that needed to be drilled 1/2" deep (12.7mm) to retain the pipe. My favorite (favourite) method is to do a variation on the story pole or story stick method using register tape instead of a rigid piece of timber. This has the added advantage of simply being rolled up and stored in a drawer if ever I need it again, as well as being flawless in the design stage. A simple set of dividers steps off the holes from the end rails, thus overall length of the sides is easily arrived at, including the lap joint housing the ends [X]. Now my cutlist can be figured out and construction begun.

Step 2: Build It

I used reclaimed timbers that neighbors have kicked to the curb, so the only hard cash I have laid out is $13.00 for pipe, and $1.00 for a set of 50mm socket casters from a thrift store; even the screws are reclaimed hardware. Cutting and minor joinery operations completed, I squared and assembled the frame and then backed off one side of the rail screws to allow a slip- in fit of the pipe sections, then tightened it for final entrapment. A few brass brads cross pinning in the middle pipes keeps the frame from bowing and dropout of the pipes. I arraigned a simple wedge system to clamp together the frame on my workbench whilst driving the brads, so no long clamps were needed, just the usual ones as found in most home shops. A simple stop on the opposite side completed the clamping fixture.

Step 3: Enjoy It

Legs and casters attached, it now resides on my screened West- facing porch, indifferent to our summer rains, and mobile enough to be moved and rotated so that all areas, upper and lower, are easily utilized. In milder climes, a box fan may be employed to hasten drying with little monetary penalty.