4 July 2017

Yes, I’m still here, just busy (still) working on the the pond project, which is past the most laborious portion, which is a good thing because it’s getting into the hot part of the year. I do continue to be a regular visitor on the Midlana Builders’ Forum as there’s a growing group of active builders. It’s looking promising that there’ll soon be several more Midlana’s on the road, which is good news all around. It gives readers more input on the car than just from myself, and also helps spread the word that there’s life outside Locosts!

So the pond – it’s basically done, though it’s a bit like having a car project “90% finished” – meaning there’s still all sorts of odds and ends to complete. Since the last update:

  • We gave away half of our koi (15)
  • The remainder were transferred to the new pond
  • The old pond was filled in
  • The new filtration system has consumed vast quantities of time.

The new filter’s way more effective than the old system, which was completely passive but didn’t work very well. However, as my wife pointed out, “the new setup works better but doesn’t seem as reliable.” Yup, more moving parts means more stuff to break. The rotating drum filter has the main problem, or rather, my inability to design a dead-reliable unit the first time. This one’s been very much a prototype, with many changes being made even after it was “done.” (Just this morning I filled in about 8 unused holes in the housing just because.)

Drive motor #1 didn’t last due to the needed torque (when the drum is full of dirty water it’s several hundred pounds; even on rollers it’s very difficult to turn). About the time the chain broke, both were upgraded.

Drive motor #2 was, frankly, intimidating, producing so much torque that it could literally rip the filter housing apart – which nearly happened when the heavier-duty chain came off, which happened all too frequently. More and more modifications were made to try and contain the chain, which kept wanting to come off the sprockets. No matter how well aligned it was, I’d frequently come home from work and find once again it had jumped off. This stops the drum from rotating, it loads up with waste, and becomes extremely heavy. While the water finds its way around, the weight eventually broke one of the drum’s rollers, and that’s when I finally got fed up with a chain-drive setup.

What I originally wanted was direct-drive, where a motor and integral gearbox drive the drum on its axis with no chain or sprockets; the catch being that they’re very expensive. The sad irony is that I spent more on other approaches than just doing it the right way the first time. Even so, drive motor #3 was a compromise, a motor and gearbox designed for – no kidding- hog roasting. Running on 12V, it produces 60 ft-lbs torque and its unloaded speed is 5 rpm, or one rotation every 12 seconds. That’s a bit too fast but it came with a speed controller so it was backed off to 3 rpm, or half a rotation every 10 seconds. (Only half the drum is submerged so only half of it has to be cleaned each time.)

In the pictures below is the entire filter setup. The white and black pipes in the foreground are the drains and returns. The drum filter is the tan container, and the black container under the brown cover is the moving-bed bio section. On the output of that is a homebuilt UV light. The two brown barrels are sand and gravel filters, which filter what the skimmer catches and produces near swimming-pool-clear water. The black container next to the pond is waiting to go into its spot; it’s the “header tank” for the filteration system that every overflow and drain will lead to. It’ll hold a sump pump that can be directed to feed the future vegetable garden or the front or rear bank. Since we already have the water, may as well use it on the plants instead of wasting it.

So yeah, there’s still a lot to do, but as of this morning – finally – the direct drive is installed and working, so I can hopefully now work on the pond when I want to, rather than having to constantly babysit the situation during this transitional phase.

Working in the yard everyday means seeing various yard guests. This dragonfly was attracted by the pond so I took the chance he’d hang around long enough to get the camera. This 200 mm macro lens is pretty amazing, though being effectively manual-focus makes a tripod almost a requirement. I didn’t want to take the time though and just took a lot of photos and picked the best one. He was pretty skittish but I was able to get about two feet from him, which fills the frame with this lens. The fine detail in his wings and face is really something, but I’ve always thought macro photography of plants and bugs was pretty cool.