Stock Tank, Rain Chain Fountain

No backyard landscape job is complete without a water feature. This was high on my wife’s list both to provide some pleasant ambient sound and to act as a focal point.

The common DIY water feature is a flower pot fountain, but we wanted something different. Inspired by the corrugated metal on our tool wall and a stock tank we’re growing bamboo in, we came up with the stock tank rain chain fountain. Check out the video on YouTube to see it in action. Instead of going through detailed build instructions I’ll let the photos do the talking and then provide some tips.

550 GPH submersible pump. Turned out this was just the right size.

IMGP7771

PVC pipe frame to support plastic disk that was then covered in cobbles. You can also see the hose and power cord coming in for the pump.

Weather proof outlet on back of 2x6. You can also see the remote control dongle. The pump and some (temporary) lighting is plugged into it.

Weather proof outlet on back of 4×6. You can also see the remote control dongle. The pump and some (temporary) lighting is plugged into it.

IMGP7792

Tubing running up back of fountain from pump. I used 3/4″ until I got to the top, then reduced to 1/2″ for the final run to the PVC pipe manifold.

IMGP7798

End shot of the PVC manifold. You can see the hooks that the rain chains are attached too. I drilled holes into the PVC pipe above the rain chains. I actually drilled them too big and wrapped some electrical tape to reduce the size of the holes.

IMGP7793

Top shot of the 1/2″ tubing running to the PVC manifold. I had water flow into both ends of the PVC pipe. The PVC pipe is attached to a 2×4 sandwiched between the 2×6’s. Another option would have be to just run drip irrigation tube off of the 1/2″ tube to the top of the rain chains.

IMGP7773

Plastic disk in place.

IMGP7779

Stones covering plastic disk. The disk is 1/4″ thick and is sturdy enough to support a thin layer of stones. Since the disk is black you don’t have to worry too much about coverage.

All done!

Tips

  1. Key parts:
    1. 32″ diameter by 24″ high stock tank
    2. 10′ redwood 4×6
    3. Two 5′ redwood 2×6
    4. Two large galvanzied carriage bolts with nuts and washers
    5. 550 GPH pond pump
    6. Miscellaneous 3/4″ and 1/2″ tubing and fittings
    7. Two 8.5 foot rain chains  (we got ours from Monarch Rain Chains)
    8. 3 hooks for hanging rain chains
    9. A 31″ diameter (or whatever size fits inside of your tank) disk of 1/4″ black plastic
    10. Cobbles
  2. General construction:
    1. Sink 4×6 post where you want it
    2. Cut decorative ends on the 2×6’s and attach hooks to inside face of front 2×6. You can also attach the hooks later, but it’s a little tougher once the 2×6’s are bolted to the 4×6.
    3. Bolt 2×6’s to 4×6 post
    4. Cut hole in the back side of stock tank about 9″ from the bottom to run power and tubing to pump.
    5. Run tubing from inside tank, over to post, up post, across rear 2×6. Cut hole in rear 2×6 and run tubing to above the hooks. I ended up using a two foot piece of PVC pipe to act like a manifold above the hooks and drilled holes in the PVC to feed the rain chains. See photos.
    6. Install pump in tank. Connect to tubing. Fill tank with water up to hole. Hang rain chains and give it a test run.
    7. Build a PVC platform to support the plastic disk (see photos). Set platform in tank. I used 1/2″ risers as the legs of the platform.
    8. Drill a 1/2″ hole some place in the disk to help lift it when you need to remove it for maintenance. Drop disk into tank. Cover with cobbles.
  3. For power I tapped into an outdoor outlet and ran conduit to the back side of the 4×6 to a weatherproof outlet box. I then got a cheapo remote controlled dongle that is typically used with Christmas lights. Got it at Lowes. That way we can turn the fountain on and off with a remote.
  4. I purchased the pond pump from Amazon. See photo above. It had pretty good reviews and seems well made. For the flow rating (size of pump) I just took an educated guess, and it worked out nicely.
  5. I wanted to put a rubber grommet in the 2″ hole I cut in the tank for the tube and power cord, but I couldn’t find a grommet of the correct size. So I wrapped the tube and cord with some foam to protect them from the sharp edges of the tank.
  6. The rain chain was pretty easy to break apart and reassemble to turn two 8.5 foot chains to three ~5.5 foot chains.
  7. We had the plastic disk cut at a local plastic store. It was a bit of a splurge, but was worth it. I was originally going to kludge something together with plastic lattice, but the disk worked out great.

The Negroni Cocktail

“I like my cocktails like I like my women — a little bit bitter”

My Negroni loving brother.

A couple years ago I was reading one of my favorite cycling websites and came across an article titled The Negroni Report. Turns out that Richard Pestes, the proprietor of Pez Cycling News, is a lover of cycling, Italy, and the Negroni. Intrigued by his description of the cocktail I bought some Campari and oranges and that weekend made me my first Negroni.

And that first sip was bliss. Pure heaven. I kid you not. I was hooked.

Excited I ran outside and held the glass to my wife. “You gotta try this!”. She took a sip. Made a face. “Tastes like cough syrup”.

The next evening our good friends Scott and Betsy were over. Betsy is a fellow Manhattan lover. I was excited to share my joy with her. Negroni in hand I offered her a drink. She took a sip. Made a face. “Wow. Bitter”.

What the hell?

Thanksgiving comes around, the whole family is at my sister’s in Arizona. My brother is there. We hit the liquor store for Campari and some decent vermouth. I mix him a Negroni. He takes a sip. He need not say anything. I see it in his face. He’s hooked.

And that’s how it goes with the Negroni. It is polarizing. Those of us that love it can’t imagine how anybody could resist it. Those that don’t….well, they don’t.

I’m just happy I’m a lover.

The Negroni is a classic aperitif. Meant to cleans your palette and sharpen your appetite it is traditionally consumed before a meal. But believe me, if you love ’em they are good any time. The Negroni is bittersweet and boozy with a citrus/herbal pop. And if you initially find it a bit too bitter don’t give up. Try again in 6 months. And then 6 months after that. For some it is an acquired taste — but once that taste is acquired you will never let it go.

Like the Manhattan the Negroni is rising in popularity as folks start to turn their backs on appletinis and embrace bolder cocktails with more character. That said, ordering one in a bar is still a bit of a crap shoot and can result in a blank stare. Fortunately it’s an easy recipe to recite to your bartender.

The Negroni

  • 1 part Campari
  • 1 part Beefeater’s GinIMGP7705
  • 1 part Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth

Orange for garnish.

Place ingredients with ice in a shaker or large glass and stir gently but briskly for 60 seconds.

Strain over the rocks and garnish with an orange wedge or twist

As with most beloved cocktails, a Negroni lover will have their favorite recipe. So it’s worth looking at the ingredients in a bit more detail.

The Campari

Yes, you must use Campari. There is no substitute. Some prefer to cut the Campari with 50% Aperol, Campari’s tepid cousin. I don’t. I like my Negroni’s bold and brash.

The Gin

I have to be honest. I am not a big gin drinker. My preference for the Negroni is a basic London dry gin. I don’t want flowery overtones messing with my Negroni! The gin is there to support the drink, not make a statement in its own right. So the simpler the better as far as I’m concerned. Beefeater’s is solid and basic. Some also like Gordon’s for similar reasons. But if you have a favorite gin, then by all means give it a try!

The Vermouth

My brother and I have tried eight different sweet vermouth’s in Negronis. We have enjoyed them all. I spec M&R here because it is my every day go to sweet vermouth. I also like Cinzano which is a bit brighter and slightly more bitter than M&R. Some folks swear by Carpano Antica, but I find the vanilla overtones that work so well in a Manhattan are distracting in a Negroni. Others like the extra bitterness of Punt e Mes, but I find the resulting drink, while tasty, not exactly a Negroni.¬† That said — please experiment! Lots to try

The Garnish

The traditional garnish in the old country is a fat wedge of orange. Here in the states an orange twist is also common — just make sure it is a nice big twist. The extra citrus really compliments the drink.

Shop at Trader Joe’s?

Me too! In our neck of woods the cheapest Campari is at TJ’s. And their Rear Admiral Gin and Ponti sweet vermouth make a darn good Negroni for a darn good price.

Nothing beats a Negroni at Christmas