Five Reasons To Have A Reserve Water Tank ~ Part 1

We’ve been thinking about building a reserve water tank, and here are some reasons why:

Reason 1. A few weeks ago, a neighbor set a small fire of yard debris, then left for his house in the city. (I know, I know, I will refrain from comment…) A few hours later, Cynthia looked out our kitchen window and yelled, “FIRE!” I knew that that house didn’t have any water as a new well was being drilled. So I ran to the neighbor of the property on fire and roused the sleeping caretaker.

He and I stretched a hose to the neighboring property and fought the fire for more than an hour. We didn’t have enough water pressure so it was slow going. While the other man used the hose, I used a now-destroyed plastic leaf rake to move the fire away from the unburned pine needles. Had we not acted, lots of pine and palm trees would have burned, plus all our properties were in danger. The whole time, I wished we had more water. Here’s a photo:

Neighbor's fire 01 - Copy

Reason 2. Sometimes, the power goes off. And with no power to the water pump, there is no water at our house. Not a real problem, unless the power is off for more than a few hours. Or if there is a fire! Of course we could get a 220-volt generator to power the pump, but that is another thing that needs maintenance and fuel and fussing with.

Reason 3. This was a tough dry season. We never ran out of water, but I suppose it could happen.

Reason 4. Sometimes we want to use two hoses at a time. But our pump is rated for seven-gallons-per-minute. Exceed this and the pump protection system shuts the pump down for a half-hour to allow it to cool off. By having a reserve tank, we can use two-or-three hoses or sprinklers at once.

Reason 5. Building stuff is FUN!

So armed with these reasons and a couple thousand dollars, we went to work. Armando and I scouted a location where the tank would be high in the air to deliver good pressure, and would be mostly out of sight. We settled on the area where we were going to build the hydroponic greenhouse (before we decided to sell). There was already a good foundation and a few rows of blocks. We went up from there.

Day one, Alex, who had worked for us before, joined Armando. We cleaned the area and started laying blocks:


At the end of day one, we were up this high:


Day two showed this much progress:


We inserted a couple ventilation blocks because some day this area could be an employee’s casita.

It is common practice here to lay blocks, but don’t connect them at the corners. Reinforced concrete columns are poured here. At the end of day 3 we had the rest of the blocks up and corners formed and poured:


Where’s Fred?

Day four was a long day. We stripped the corner forms and made forms for a beam that went around all four sides of the structure. We formed a welded rebar armature that fit in the form work and made a good strong base for the tank. Here I am welding the rebar armature:


All four corners are connected so the beams won’t be able to pull apart under pressure of the heavy tank above.

We put the armature in the form work:


There will be more blocks above this beam, so before we poured the beam, we cut and welded a LOT of rebar in place to support the blocks above from the massive pressure of the water:


That’s a lot of rebar!

Next, we poured the concrete beam. It was still early in the day, so we cut a lot more rebar and welded it in place to make reinforcement for the floor of the water tank:


While I was welding the rebar, the guys went into the jungle and cut 15 strong saplings that we would use to hold the floor form work in place. After we made the form work for the floor, we tied the rebar together with wire:




At this point it was almost quitting time for the day, but the guys said they wanted to pour the floor, too, so that we would be ready to lay blocks tomorrow. I told them that I would pay extra if they wanted to keep going. The guys mixed the concrete, and we set up a relay to get the concrete to the roof. This was tough going for the old guy in the middle!




The next day I stayed in the hammock while the guys laid more block. The blocks took two- or three-more days.


Next, we formed another beam that went around the top of the entire tank, the rebar all connected as in the other beam. We also welded in place more rebar that we will bend at a 90-degree angle to make reinforcement for the concrete roof and will tie the roof to the walls:


We were anxious to get the roof poured, but first to make our work much easier, we had to apply the plastering to the inside of the tank. Here is some of the first plaster:


Armando applies the mortar while Alex paints a bonding agent on the smooth concrete beam and corners.

At the end of today, day ten of the project, we have all four walls plastered. In this photo, Armando finishes tooling an angled strip of mortar at the floor line to prevent water from leaking through the wall/floor joint:P1030704-001

We’ll continue next week when the guys return Monday or Tuesday. Left yet to do is to form and pour the roof and then plaster the walls outside of the tank.

In other news, when Cynthia was a teenager, she was in the Masonic order Job’s Daughters, and was crowned DeMolay Sweetheart. The Masonic youth organizations are planning a reunion for later this year. For the event, Cyn is making ten crowns for the former Sweethearts (they passed the crown on to the next Sweetheart so they never got to keep their crowns). This is a surprise gift from Cynthia for the Sweethearts who are attending the reunion. One of the Sweethearts has passed away so in accordance with tradition, Cyn has made a white crown in her honor for the memorial.

This has been a lot of work, but the results are handmade pieces of art that will be a reminder of memories from years ago. Here are some photos:


Two 12″ x 12″ pieces of glass, a clear piece and an amber-colored iridescent piece, cut into 3/8″ squares, were glued together then fused together. Then each of those rounded pre-fired pieces were glue tacked onto a plain piece of glass, then fired in the kiln to fuse the pieces together.




After she fused the crowns but before she curved them in another firing in the kiln, I drilled holes at each end for attaching wires that can be bobby-pinned to each woman’s hair:


I drilled the holes with a diamond bit in a pan of water to keep the bit cool.


My grandfather’s 65-year-old drill press is still going strong, but after the nerve-wracking stress of drilling a couple dozen holes, I was a bit dazed and confused…

Here are a couple of the crowns after Cyn curved the glass and applied some crystal beads.



And remember the climbing vine at the front of the carport? Well finally, finally after a year, the plant is lush and in full bloom:

P1030685-001 P1030681-001

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.

12 thoughts on “Five Reasons To Have A Reserve Water Tank ~ Part 1

  1. The photo of you in the chair, is a mirror image of me at the end of a laborious day. I’m still smiling.
    The crowns are lovely.

  2. hi Fred , still looking in on the blog , a thank you for the time you have put into it over the years , its been enjoyable , regards to the girl and good luck in the future

  3. Hello again Fred,
    Wow, this blog is bigger than Ben Hur! I have just finished reading it from beginning to end, including all comments and replies, in just under five days,and used approximately 1GB of data. On the weekend I will go back and watch all the videos and mp4 clips (when my telco gives me 2gb of bonus data).
    It has been un-put-down-able. Just like a good novel, but better. I feel a lot more knowledgeable about building and concreting than I did last week. You have demonstrated that virtually any job is within our ability to accomplish, provided that you think it through carefully and have sufficient time.
    Congratulations to you and your wife for a job well done and for taking the time to document your progress.
    Now a bit of advice. Stop and smell the roses along the way, while you still can. That last photo of you in the chair is a wake up call. You look buggered mate. (Australian vernacular for bone weary tired)
    All the best for your future.
    Andrew ~Adelaide, South Australia.

    • Hi Andrew! My, my, you are a glutton for punishment for suffering through every column inch of my blog. I know that it was a lot to write it, but I spread it out over five-years. But you read it all in five-days? You are the one who deserves an award! Thanks very much for all the kind words. I’ve received a lot of truly wonderful comments, but yours moves to the top of the pile. Thanks again Andrew. Now I am going to take a rest. A very long rest. Fred

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *