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Old 02/27/2016, 08:17 PM   #101
Brian Crook
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Alright so this week my bar rail, silicone, and (drum roll)... GLASS arrived!

Miracles did an excellent job with the manufacturing and shipping of the glass. It's completely flawless (as far as I can tell). At first when I took it out of the cardboard wrap I thought to myself "wow, nice glass... But I don't really see what this Starphire thing is all about". It wasn't until I was getting ready to lift it up off the cardboard when I saw my hand through the glass and realized there was virtually no colour distortion with or without the glass. It is really impressive! Now I've "seen the light" and I'm a big Starphire fan

Anyways. The glass is 92" x 27.5" x 3/4" thick. Weighs roughly 160 lbs. I helped the delivery guy get it into my garage, and then later on a couple friends came over to help lift it down to the basement and get it ready for installation. We allowed the glass time to warm up and for the condensation to dissipate. I purchased six 10oz tubes of Momentive RTV103 (black) silicone. I ended up using five of them during the course of installation, although there was quite a bit of squishy waste.

My friends and I tilted the aquarium face-down, inserted the glass through the top (now on the side), and butted it up against the wall in preparation for setting it in the silicone. They held it up while I applied the silicone and then we lay it into place. I originally had inserted some 1/16" tile spacers around the perimeter, however they ended up being more of a hassle than anything else so I removed them shortly into the cure. The weight of the glass on its own was enough to squish the silicone down to a ~1/16" thickness all the way around. After doing what I could to clean up some excess with the tank in this position, I then applied some more silicone around all four edges of the glass (note: generous quantity of silicone). Overall, while being a messy job that still requires some clean-up, I think it went well and I *hope* it will be waterproof!










(The glass is installed here but it's pretty difficult to see...)




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Old 02/27/2016, 08:46 PM   #102
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The bar rail I mentioned in an earlier post also arrived this past week and I've been busy working on the bar ledge. I cut two left-over pieces of oak veneer plywood and joined them in the center using dowels. They will also be reinforced via fasteners and by the bar rail itself when installed. Using this as the sub-board for the bar ledge, I made a stencil and used a jigsaw to cut a quarter-circle on either end for the curved bar rail. The third photo shows a dry-fit of the curved piece after making the cut.

After getting the sub-board cut, I carefully measured out the lengths for the bar rail and my cuts. I then pre-drilled the sub-board every 6", glued the bar rail in place, and fastened it with countersunk woodscrews from underneath. This rail was easy to work with because of the way they make it at Hardwoods Incorporated. It is designed to work with a 3/4" sub-board and a 3/4" bar top. Next up I cut several pieces of pre-finished 3/4" oak to create my bar top. Since this bar ledge is over 9' long (!!!), I didn't want to go with a single piece top. I thought a "slat" design using finished hardwood would look pretty great and go well with the rest of the area.

I then taped up where the rail meets the top and began sanding. The last couple pictures show a couple of the joints after sanding. It's quite smooth now.

The plan moving forward will be to finish the rail and sub-board (underneath) with the same red oak stain and polyurethane as I used on the casing around the stone. The bar top itself will be finished with a pour of US Composites Kleer Koat bar top epoxy to give it a glass-like finish. I've got three cast iron brackets on the way in order to mount it to the three vertical pieces on the wall.
















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Old 02/27/2016, 11:10 PM   #103
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Good wood working skills

Re the glass, you could have put a piece of blue painters tape on it so people know it is there and what they are looking at Either way, I've said it many times over, you are doing very good and the work is excellent. I'm pretty sure once you decide to retire, unless you already are, you could do this on the side for travel money.


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Old 02/28/2016, 07:51 AM   #104
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Brian, wow ,... The craftsmanship is amazing quality


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Old 02/28/2016, 08:45 AM   #105
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WOW! Wish I had the skills to pull something like this off.


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Old 02/28/2016, 10:16 AM   #106
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From an amateur cabinetmaker myself, good work! So you think you had a 16th all around if silicone thickness between the glass and epoxy? How long did you have before the silicone tacked up? How long you waiting before you fill?


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Old 02/28/2016, 10:26 AM   #107
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Very nice.

I would highly recommend you ad some horizontal ribs across the back length. It will want to bow out over time. couple of 1x's or better yet maybe a couple thick aluminum L-angles. Horizontal, not vertical.


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Old 02/28/2016, 11:16 AM   #108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saf1 View Post
Re the glass, you could have put a piece of blue painters tape on it so people know it is there and what they are looking at Either way, I've said it many times over, you are doing very good and the work is excellent. I'm pretty sure once you decide to retire, unless you already are, you could do this on the side for travel money.
Yes good point haha. Even while standing in the room looking into the tank it was difficult to tell the glass was there... And regarding your last comment, I'm still a long ways off from retirement but if I can find a way for this to make money (rather than take money), perhaps retirement can come a little sooner. hah

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Brian, wow ,... The craftsmanship is amazing quality
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Originally Posted by gear*guru View Post
WOW! Wish I had the skills to pull something like this off.
Thanks guys. This project has been a long list of 'firsts' for me, such as working with epoxy, using a router, working with fine quality woods, and of course building a plywood tank.

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From an amateur cabinetmaker myself, good work! So you think you had a 16th all around if silicone thickness between the glass and epoxy? How long did you have before the silicone tacked up? How long you waiting before you fill?
Yeah it's about 1/16" thick. The bead width ranges from 1" in some places (fortunately isolated to a few places at the TOP of the glass and barely under water) to a full 2" in other places including all of the bottom and sides. I then used another 15oz's or so to create a thick bead around the edge that I used my finger to squish into a fillet. I noticed that this silicone is quite a bit more finicky to work with than what I was used to with GE kitchen and bathroom silicone. This starts thickening VERY quickly and makes it difficult to create a smooth bead if you don't act fast. However in a project of this size where it all has to be done at once, it's not possible to act fast enough. I would say that it starts getting difficult to work with after about 7 or 8 minutes.

The result was a successful silicone seal, albeit a little bumpy in some areas.

It'll be a little while yet until this thing is full of salt-water. I still don't have any of the other equipment required to get the build up and running. Acrylic sump manufacturers have not been replying to my emails that I want to give them lots of money to build me tanks!! I do however have a bunch of friends lined up to perform the big lift tomorrow evening, which will finally get this massive box out of my rec-room.

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I would highly recommend you ad some horizontal ribs across the back length. It will want to bow out over time. couple of 1x's or better yet maybe a couple thick aluminum L-angles. Horizontal, not vertical.
Thanks for the recommendation rbarn, I will consider it (and have in the past when I was researching plywood tanks). I'll be keeping an eye on deflection when I fill the tank with water. Based on my own reading on plywood tank builds, I do not anticipate any more deflection than what would be expected (read: not visible and hardly measureable). That being said, I'll keep an eye on it and will make an addition of some type after the fact if need be (though begrudgingly, as it would likely detract from the simple "piano black" quality of the tank).


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Old 03/02/2016, 07:58 PM   #109
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After getting the glass installed, I went around with a variety of scraping tools and some rubbing alcohol to remove all the excess silicone. I still have a bit more work to do but it's looking pretty nice so far. I gave the tank a clean up and it was ready to be lifted into place!

A couple days ago I had 6 friends over to help me lift it into place. Having built the tank right beside where I wanted it to be made this pretty easy, and with 7 people lifting, it went very smoothly. The tank weighs over 400 lbs empty so distributing the weight between 7 people ensured there were no pulled backs. The tank fit very nicely on the stand and I think everyone took a little satisfaction from seeing this beast finally up on the stand and in the wall.

I went ahead and put a hose in and started filling it up! I filled it half-way at first, let it sit for a day, and then filled it to the top. I am very pleased to report that this tank holds water! There were no leaks, creaks, or any other worrisome signs. There was also no evident deflection but I will keep monitoring that. I am very satisfied with how it looks and how it came together, and it is very rewarding to see it full of water.

The Starphire display is absolutely stunning too! Standing directly in front of this tank is like an IMAX experience. Because of the depth it appears to bend and wrap around your field of vision - a very cool visual phenomenon that I'm looking forward to enjoying when the tank is full of livestock. Over the next few weeks I'll keep the tank full of water and continue checking for any problems, while I take a little break and begin to plan Phase II of this build.

Also, my cast iron brackets arrived and I finished my bar rail, so I plan on fastening it all together and getting it installed over the next couple of days.
















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Old 03/02/2016, 08:11 PM   #110
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You've done an amazing job so far! Looking forward to seeing this filled with salt water!


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Old 03/02/2016, 08:22 PM   #111
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Came out great. Do u have an equipment list and a stoke list in mind yet?


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Old 03/02/2016, 08:42 PM   #112
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Looks great. You did a great job. I am past that "what if I come home and..." Stage. Mine has been up and running for 5 months now and I'm so happy I did it myself. So many people come over and say " wait, you built this?" Once I finish the facing of the cabinetry it'll look great.


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Old 03/02/2016, 09:47 PM   #113
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What was the total cost of water proofing if you don't mind sharing?


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Old 03/03/2016, 01:06 AM   #114
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What's the big round thing behind the stove? Curious minds need to know.

Dave.M


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Old 03/03/2016, 02:05 AM   #115
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I think that holds firewood.


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Old 03/03/2016, 02:23 PM   #116
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What's the big round thing behind the stove? Curious minds need to know.

Dave.M
Yup, it's a firewood hoop. I might get something a little smaller or move its location depending on how much room I want around the bar ledge.


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Old 03/03/2016, 02:29 PM   #117
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Came out great. Do u have an equipment list and a stoke list in mind yet?
Afraid not.. haha.. I have a few things in mind but nothing too specific yet:

1. I was thinking a large acrylic sump
2. Shallow frag tank
3. Separate refugium that overflows into the sump
4. I've been very happy with my AquaMaxx protein skimmer (CO-3 I think it is) on my current system, and I see they go all the way up to the CO-6 now, so I will probably go with the largest one they have. Great skimmers.
5. Leaning towards Kessil lighting (currently have 3x a360WE's), but still undecided.
6. I'll be re-using my 2x 50gal plastic tanks, but this time they will both be for auto top off (valved together to create 100g). I will purchase another plastic tank of undetermined size for water change purposes.
7. Re-using all my Apex gear and also buying more! I'd like to get a battery backup for my Apex and internet connection as well so I can be alerted during power outages. Down the road when I hope the livestock becomes "world class", I'll consider adding a backup generator for this system.

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What was the total cost of water proofing if you don't mind sharing?
I'd rather not share cost specifics on the forum, but all waterproofing materials were purchased from US Composites and their prices are listed there. Figure out how much epoxy you'd need / prefer and you can price it out online.


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Old 03/14/2016, 10:41 AM   #118
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Any update? Did you get the bar top started using the kleer cote epoxy?


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Old 03/14/2016, 03:10 PM   #119
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wow i agree with everyone's comments about your quality of work and vision over all. I only wish you lived close to me haha!! But for sure keeping an eye on this build for sure..


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Old 03/14/2016, 03:37 PM   #120
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wow i agree with everyone's comments about your quality of work and vision over all. I only wish you lived close to me haha!! But for sure keeping an eye on this build for sure..
Thanks! I wish I lived closer to a few more saltwater aquarium enthusiasts too haha...

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Any update? Did you get the bar top started using the kleer cote epoxy?
It's been a little slow-going lately. I've been contacting acrylic aquarium companies to try and find a suitable designer / manufacturer for my sump, refugium, and frag tank. I have come across a custom aquarium designer out of the Toronto area that seems enthusiastic to undertake this project and I have provided them with some preliminary specifications of what I'm looking for. They should be getting back to me in the next few days. I was really hoping to keep this part within Canada to save some money and also to support a local small business, so I hope this company comes through.

In the mean time, I reluctantly decided to listen to the feedback of others ( Dave.M) and have yet again undertaken a bit of demo / construction. I knocked out a section of the wall (.. sigh..) above the aquarium and have been busy building three cabinet openings in order to provide a large front access area.

Part of the reason I decided against doing this originally was because I really didn't expect my bar rail and support brackets to be so strong.. After completing the bar top and mounting the brackets however, I can tell you that I could easily jump up and down on top of the bar and it wouldn't even budge. So given that, it seemed like a good idea now to have front access. I can use a small step-stool to get up to the bar top, and then lift up the panels for a full front access if necessary. The hinges also un-clip if the panels need to be removed. I'll be installing some support arms to keep the panels elevated ~105 deg while I'm using them. It's not done yet but I do have a couple pictures to share so far.

Finally regarding the bar itself, I brushed on a layer of Kleer Kote as per the directions in order to fill in any crevices and help prevent air bubbles during the flood coat. I then poured on a flood coat which looked absolutely gorgeous, however after a couple of days a small section of it hadn't cured perfectly (perhaps the size of a loonie). Thus I sanded the whole surface and poured a second cote, this time err-ing on the side of too much hardener. This one cured perfectly and turned out great. I am very happy with the bar top, especially as this is my first time ever building something like this. The end result is about a 3/16" layer of solid epoxy which is super clear and hard as glass. In a photo below, you can see the second coat overflowing the back of the bar. This technique is recommended by the manufacturer in order to create a perfect seam at the back, and just requires a little clean-up during the curing process.










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Old 03/14/2016, 03:57 PM   #121
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Very interesting build to watch. Thank you for sharing it with us.

I'm sorry if I missed it, but why did you choose to use an acrylic sump instead of use your process again and build one from plywood?


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Old 03/14/2016, 05:40 PM   #122
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Sweet jesus that bar top looks like it's glassy smooth.


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Old 03/15/2016, 07:52 AM   #123
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Regarding the sump... given your obvious ability to build some incredible things, why not just build your own sump as well? It's really not hard and you'll be able to get all the pieces you need, cut to order. All you'd have to do is smooth the edges and then weld them all in place. I assume you've got clamps so all you'd need is some small spacers and the weld-on to seal it all together. You can make the sump EXACTLY how you want and it would end up being much cheaper as well. Since it's a sump you wouldn't need it to look super professional but based on what else I've seen from you, it would look pretty amazing. Anyway, give that a thought. You'd have fun with it.


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Old 03/15/2016, 11:35 AM   #124
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If you can build in plywood you can build in acrylic. There's lots of how-to vids on YT from the manufacturers, and you obviously have the necessary tools and skills.

Maybe it's time for you to take the next step.

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Old 03/15/2016, 03:24 PM   #125
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Very interesting build to watch. Thank you for sharing it with us.

I'm sorry if I missed it, but why did you choose to use an acrylic sump instead of use your process again and build one from plywood?
I really like the professional look of acrylic sumps, plus I only purchased enough epoxy to build the display tank anyways so it would be very costly to obtain more. Although I think the display tank turned out to be pretty nice looking, I think it would be difficult to make a "nice looking" sump/fuge/frag tank out of plywood especially when compared to acrylic.

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Regarding the sump... given your obvious ability to build some incredible things, why not just build your own sump as well? It's really not hard and you'll be able to get all the pieces you need, cut to order. All you'd have to do is smooth the edges and then weld them all in place. I assume you've got clamps so all you'd need is some small spacers and the weld-on to seal it all together. You can make the sump EXACTLY how you want and it would end up being much cheaper as well. Since it's a sump you wouldn't need it to look super professional but based on what else I've seen from you, it would look pretty amazing. Anyway, give that a thought. You'd have fun with it.
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If you can build in plywood you can build in acrylic. There's lots of how-to vids on YT from the manufacturers, and you obviously have the necessary tools and skills.

Maybe it's time for you to take the next step.

Dave.M
I'm sensing a theme here. You guys are probably right, and to be honest I hadn't given it much thought and assumed working with acrylic was very difficult. I do however know exactly what I want and you're right in saying that it probably isn't harder than building a tank out of plywood haha...

I'll investigate this idea and see if the acrylic itself can be purchased with relative ease and at a good price compared to having another company perform this work. So... No promises, but I'll consider the idea.



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