putty

i ran out of putty.  i KNEW i should have gone out for more putty today, but actually ran out after 5.  so tomorrow at 9 i’m going around to the plastic guy for more putty, and going back to home depot for a few essentials.  i need straps, and have galvanized straps and don’t like the idea of using metal for this, so i’ve also found plastic straps, and will use that.

i’m starting to return pipe fittings every time i go to home depot, and this will continue, but at least nobody will be mad at me for returning all five milk crates full of parts at once.

the picture above shows where i installed a drainage pipe.  it’s quite a story.  with what’s left of the putty, about a pound, about a good handful, not quite a loaf of bread, i built up the area under the pump bases.  using a level.  and checking and rechecking, because putty is a liquid, and every time you push down on one end, the other one will balloon up.  it’s a constant battle, and then it hardens and there’s nothing you can do about it.

like how i should have gone to more trouble smoothing the work under this pump.  what’s the hole at the bottom of the wall i just built?  it’s the drainage pipe.  when i started building this wall i noticed that the waves above it drain right on down into the hollow i was fast blocking with my wall.   so i had to either flatten the entire area, or install drainage.  which i thought was neater.

so i built up both sides of the line of drainage, thinking to put the slab on top and have a gap, like a bridge.  but putty is a liquid, and didn’t like having a big unsupported gap.  that’s when i looked at the 1/4″ tubing.  it just so happened that one of the precut sections of tubing that came with my pump models, just happened to fit the width of the drainage trench, so i put that in there instead.  and continued building up the sides of the wall until the slab was completely supported by a solid connection, slab to putty to fiberglass.

then i took a little carving tool to make sure both ends of the tube were clear.

and they weren’t.  in reusing a tube cut for a different purpose, i never bothered to look thru it to make sure it wasn’t blocked.  they used hot glue, or something similar, to join their pumps and filters, and one end was completely gummed up with cured glue.

so i had to rip the pump base off the hardening putty, rip the putty off the tube, replace the tube with another one which i damn well made sure was clear, and rebuilt the fast hardening support under the base, using the level a bunch more times.

but now i have a level pump base, stuck to the putty, please god, well built, sturdy, and with adequate drainage.  and i’m going to have to go around all the pipes and make sure there’s good drainage, as well.  it won’t do to have standing water, because it’s going to get inside the protective coating and ruin my sculpture.

jim and i were discussing the problem of fixing the pipes to the fiberglass.  i’m going to go along the entire length of all the pipes with putty and build eggshell cases for any parts of the pipe that come close to touching the base.  and then i’m going to go along the pipes with plastic clamps, half-circles with screw holes in either end that will fit around the pipes and let me bolt them on to the sculpture.  and in most cases i’m going to have to build a base under the screw holes.

but i’m concerned about the pipe ends.  they’re all going to be joining a knob of the base at a right angle, and i’m going to build a flange around the junction out of putty, but that’s only going to be 1/4″ deep at best, and won’t hold the pipe by contact.  oh.

it just occurred to me, perhaps i should be building the bases and then lifting the pipes to let the bases dry, and then glue the pipes to the bases with gorilla glue.  tell you what, if i can get the pump slabs to move tomorrow after they’ve sat all night held by putty, then i’ll take that precaution with everything.

anyway, i’m concerned with the ends of the pipes.  perpendicular to the statue, held on by a basically ornamental flange, it’s just the ring of the edge touching the sculpture, and that’s a very thin bond.  i can help attach it by building a plug of putty into the end of the pipe, and anchoring it to the sculpture and the flange, so the pipe can’t be knocked sideways.  but it can still slip off the plug if pulled.

so jim came up with the solution.  not a new solution, rather a standard one, but one that hadn’t occurred to me.  he’s very helpful that way, pointing out the obvious.

not only will i plug the end of the pipe with putty, but i’ll drill a hole thru the fiberglass sculpture, put a bolt into it from the inside, stick a dollop of putty on the end of the bolt, and then fit the pipe so that the other end of the bolt goes into the plug of putty, where the threads will hold the damned thing tight forever.  maybe i should make the hole with an awl before sticking the bolt in there, because i don’t want to dislodge and push the putty further down the tube.

that’ll be not tomorrow.  tomorrow i’m building bases for my pipes.  i’ll strap it down and bolt it on after the bases are all made.

about the wrapping.  gauze, cheesecloth, is an interesting thing to wrap around pipes.  the frayed ends stick out when it’s dry, and can be snapped off, or cut off.  the whole thing’s getting primed and painted, so i’m not too worried about the kind of raggedy appearance it has at the moment.  there are several places where the wrap is coming away.  one place was the end, which had dried too much before i got it wrapped on there, and just came away.  the other place was where the gray pipe didn’t melt enough to bond to the white pipe, but melted enough so that it won’t come out.  so it’s loose, and turns, and is at a point where gravity will make it fall right over if it’s held at the right angle.  so the stuff i wrapped around that part came loose immediately even tho it was well dried, because both ends twisted and popped it loose from around the pipe.  i’ve removed the wrapping, and will put it on when i’m ready to install the pipe and am sure the thing is never going to move again.

i still have to join the 1/4″ tubing, which is a considerable amount of piping coming out of my premade filters and pumps, to the 1/2″ pipe that i’ve been working with.  but that’s also not tomorrow.

first thing tomorrow a run on the stores, and then all day sitting in front of the dolphin playing with clay.

i love playing with clay.  there’s nothing so satisfying as mud pies.  did i ever tell you that when we were kids we convinced a neighbor kid that mud pies were good, and she tasted one and then ran off because we’d played a trick on her.  we were mean kids.

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