More later but we are excited to have (almost) finished our (first?) kinetic fountain: Aquae Vitae! A few minor tweaks to come, of course.
Except for the screws, nuts, inserts, bolts and shaft, most parts fabricated were by us. We also repurposed an old steam valve, an old spigot and, of course, the big wine bottle, glass and barrel, and a few decorative items.
We learned a ton. Oh my. This was a wee bit more complex than we imagined when after looking at the wine bottle fountain, we said “Wouldn’t it be cool if the glass tipped and refilled?!”
Well, yes it is very cool! It looks so simple, as complex things often do. There are magnets. There are counterweights. There is friction. There are gears.
We’ve been spending a few hours every weekend working on another fountain. After making the one with the bottles that pour into each other and then into a mounted glass, we thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if the glass could tip over and then refill?” (I’ve temporarily named it The Tipsy Fountain.) Oh my! As with many ideas, it sounded so simple. Well not simple, but I don’t think either of us had a clue as to how complex it would be and how many components we would end up making.
First we built a base from scratch, rather than using a recycled chair stand. This involved me turning the largest thing I’ve ever turned, a 4×4 with some additional wood laminated onto it. It was a little scary to flip the switch on the lathe the first time but all went well. Rather than suspending the half wine barrel reservoir we built a beefy stand from a piece of a steel column that was on its way to the landfill when we spotted it, It took a few whacks cutting that down to size and bending the shoulders, then creating the cross piece that will support the barrel and cutting the slots for it to slide into the column.
Once we had the barrel in place, we mocked up the tipping glass: duct taping the wine glass to a piece of wood that rotated, using clamps as a counterweight, trying to find the perfect balance where the glass would fill, tip over and empty, then get upright again to start the process over. We laughed out loud when we got it working–but it was too slow and inconsistent so we switched out the wood for a metal mounting arm. Then it was too fast and we laughed louder. It was comical.
First up was figuring out how to slow the movement down. We built a platform for the glass and used a steel rod as the rotating piece. Marlo got the brilliant idea to use magnetic friction to slow the glass movement down, so then we had to build all those parts and play around with different sizes and strengths of magnets. There was a lot of sparks flying.
The glass fits over the round piece of walnut. We switched the counterweight from clamps to a copper ball.The copper counterweight is adjustable in the back slot, although we’re probably scrapping the copper ball.
At the same time we were also figuring out how to hang the wooden spigot we’d found at an antique show, which will fill the glass, and the antique metal valve we are using to split the water flow.
Now we are back to the counterweight and glass movement. We successfully slowed the glass movement down but we need stoppers at either part of the journey. Again with the magnets! So more are on order and we began building the piece that will hold them just above the barrel.
It’s amazing how many different components there are to this, each hand built with threads tapped and insets embedded, screws cut to length, magnets hidden about the piece, brackets built (cut, drilled, ground and mounted).
When you look at it at the end, much of our work will be invisible and you won’t see the many steps it took to get it all working.