Introduction: Build a Water Mortar II : Design Alternatives

About: My name is Carl, I'm an engineer. I like to build things and solve problems. I like learning how other people build things and solve problems. I like to laugh, and look for the humor in any situation. I u…

This is a followup to my Build a water mortar instructable. It shows some design alternatives tried this weekend.

Step 1: Piston Cap Alternative

I had some great feedback on the original instructable and wanted try out a suggestion by thinkahead for a different way to construct the piston. The suggestion was to get rid of the wooden plug at the upper end of the inner pipe, substituting a cap at the lower end instead. I also wanted to try filling the inner pipe with expandable foam. Here are the ingredients.

Step 2: Trying the End Cap

First thing I did was remove the wooden cap and put the end cap on the lower portion of the inner pipe. This worked pretty good. You do have to do a "priming" step initially where you suck water up, point the mortar at the sky, and push the air out, but then you're in good shape and things function pretty much the same as before. I like this better than the wooden plug overall.

Step 3: Trying the Foam

I added the expanding foam to the inner pipe and let it set for a couple hours, then sanded the excess off flush. I set it aside for a while more but couldn't stand waiting the whole 8 hours you're supposed to for a full cure! :)

This type of foam starts curing when exposed to the moisture in the air, so the outer layer hardens quickly, but the parts that are buried take a lot longer. When I tried it out I got a couple good shots, then water was able to make it down past the cured foam to the part that was still uncured. The uncured foam worked its way out and fouled up everything resulting in a total loss. Sigh...

This clearly didn't work out like I expected. The idea still has merit, but I'd use a two-part expanding foam if I did it again, so that the cure is not dependent on exposure to air. On the other hand it works okay without the foam, so try it that way first.

Step 4: New Inner Pipe Design

Here's a different inner pipe idea. Experimentation in the PVC aisle revealed that the end cap for 1 and 1/4" pipe would fit fairly well into the 2" outer pipe. I decided to try cutting an o-ring groove into the end cap.

First picture shows the end cap and the tool I fashioned to hold it. The tool is made from a couple of discs cut from 3/4" with a hole saw. The discs are threaded onto a 1/4" x 20 bolt, and a nut is used to tighten them down. Next step was to wrap the discs with masking tape until the end cap fit snugly.

Second picture shows the end cap and tool assembled.

Third picture shows tool mounted on drill press, ready to turn the groove. Doing the groove this way was a little easier than the original approach, not sure if you could pull it off with a hand drill though.

Fourth picture shows the fit test with the finished groove. The pointy tool in the foreground is a dental pick from a surplus store. It works great for picking o-rings out of grooves.

Fifth picture shows modified end cap glued onto pipe. Note that with this approach we've done away with the wooden plug (though we still had to use them to make the tool).

Sixth picture shows the fit test of the new inner pipe. Looks good!

Step 5: New Mortar Design

Since I was trying out a new inner pipe design, I thought I'd try a couple new outer pipe ideas as well. I made the outer pipe longer, to hold more water, and I added handles at the base, to help apply more pressure. Here's the new design compared with the original.

The handle is a 2" PVC cross, with a couple short 2" pieces. The cross is attached to the base of the outer pipe. The inner pipe runs through the cross and into the outer pipe.

Step 6: Trying It!

Mixed reviews on this design iteration...

It's impressive looking.

It's unwieldy for little guys, the original design is more practical for them.

The handles help, but getting maximum pressure on them while staying on target is a challenge.

I'm going to try shortening the outer pipe to bring the handles up higher and see if that makes it easier for an adult to control, maybe an under-the-arm thing...