Introduction: Water Trough / Animal Drinker

Hello everyone, I've been an Instructables user for sometime now and after benefiting a lot from numerous other peoples posts I thought it was about time I gave something back.  My Fiance and I are currently renovating a run down (very run down) small holding in Cornwall, England; so not a day goes by without me having to make, repair, construct something.  Anyway we recently decided to rent out some of our fields for grazing but the field shelter didn't have a drinker for the animals to use.  Cue A-Team music and a search of the barns.

Step 1:

Right so after rooting through the barns I found three suitable candidates for modifying into a pony water trough.  They are empty 30 litre oil drums but they have been used to make organic cosmetic products, so most of them have had food grade type stuff in them.  I still gave them a good old rinse out with the pressure washer though, filling them up til they overflowed help get most of the oil residues out.

Step 2:

The next step was to calculate (guesstimate) some dimensions then mark them out.  The sizes and angles will vary depending upon the type of animal you're making the trough for so I won't detail them here.  After this it was a case of cutting them out and smoothing the cut edges.  I found a jigsaw with a "clean" blade worked best but the cuts did still require some sanding afterwards.

Step 3:

Some more searching yielded these little brass connectors, they are commonly used for interconnecting electrical socket boxes or cabinets however being brass I'm pretty sure they will work fine in this role.  I placed the drums next to each other and checked the sides to make sure there were no mould lines, flares or ridges which may stop the faces compressing together.  Then I used a marker pen to trace around the inside of one fitting.  I picked a drill bit just wider than the opening but narrower than the outer edge of the locking nut then drilled through one side of one drum.  After this offer up the drum without a hole and trace through the inside of the hole you just drilled. This should ensure that both holes are perfectly aligned when done.  Repeat this for the other side and then push the fittings through the holes and tighten them up.  I did consider fitting a rubber washer or some silicone sealant but with the drums being plastic they were soft enough to form a tight seal under compression.

Step 4:

As everyone who keeps animals will know there main aim in life is to destroy everything you ever put out for them.  With this is mind I decided to put a backboard across all three drums then screw them all to it.  This will also allow the whole assembly to be screwed into the wall of the field shelter later on and provide a lot more strength.

Step 5:

We were quite fortunate that some previous residents of the field shelter had kicked some blocks out of the wall.  This allowed me to leave a space for this drinker to fit in when I repaired it.

Step 6:

Then I fitted the float valve.  This was just a standard valve out of a toilet cistern and the only bit of the project that I had to buy.  If you are going to do this yourself make sure the valve is fitted through the wooden backboard.  If not there is enough flex in the sides of the drums that the valve will twist the sides and never actually shut off, but at least your animals won't go thirsty.

Step 7:

If you leave the float valve exposed I guarantee that the animals will either keep pressing the valve down with there heads or just rip it to pieces.  To stop this I fitted a wooden board across the top of the main tank.  I left a gap at either side so that I can look in quickly to see if the mechanism is still working ok and also it allows you to pick out debris that the ponies somehow manage to get in there.  

Now once the trough is connected to the water supply the centre section will fill up with water.  When it reaches the brass connectors it will overflow and top up the two external tanks.  The level will equalize between all three tanks and finally the float valve will operate and shut off the supply.  You may have to do some tweaking of the float valve to get a good level but if you can get this far then I shouldn't really need to explain how to adjust the float vale.

Thats it all done, if you do decide to have a go at making one of these then good luck and don't forget to think it through as I'm sure your set up will need modifying to suit your specific installation.  The only additional thing I amended was that I drilled a frame fixing through the backboard and screwed it into the block wall.  This provides a lot of extra support and keeps the tanks level, assuming you level it before drilling the holes that is.