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    Building acrylic tank help

    Discussion in 'DIY Projects and Ideas' started by Jhe, Jun 20, 2017.

    1. Dieselhybrid

      Dieselhybrid MFK Members

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      Geez I can't spell reading my last posts, finally Friday, phew. Never heard of you brand. But I used Marga Cipta brand for a sump build and found that even pure methylene chloride didn't melt well and get a good bond set. No matter the pin diameter still problems. I jumped on a few 90 degree welds and they broke apart at the seams like an old capillary weld, looked like dried elmers glue. That should not happen, the panels themselves should break or greatly stress before the seams fail. So, that's why I don't like cheap material. If I hadn't asked the right people the right questions I would likely have had an exploding sump about now.

      Most of what I know is from James Steele. What I've gathered is that Arkema owns the plexiglas g trademark and makes the best acrylic for tanks other than polycast. They make a generic called PMACS, it's good. The list used to be large and people would use many brands years ago. The problem is some companies outsourced their manufacturing to asia and mexico in the early 2000's. For example Acrylite went from being made in Maine, USA to places like China. This made the quality control questionable with claims on inconsistency. In China some allege they stretch profits by diluting the resins in random batches. Some builders reported bad batches and failures with formerly trusted brands, then others said nothing was wrong. Lots of confusion, some businesses went under pointing fingers. Because of this, most pros won't touch anything other than these listed. Now Acrylite over 1" is still made in US/and Europe but anything under 1" is outsource manufactured now. So random brands and even formerly trusted ones might be good or it might be junk, depends who you ask.

      If you're not familiar with James Steele he owned Envision Acrylics and has built tanks for 30+ years in the USA. He was the first guy to do the DIY crowd a favor to leak the technique for the wire/pin/shim method over on reefcentral years ago. He has a monster thread there that ran for around a decade with him sharing all the industry secrets and answering DIY builders questions. He shared what is now referred to the pin method. Since then capillary method is largely viewed as no longer relevant, or technologically obsolete. So use wires or pins since you aren't sure you have the best quality acrylic/ solvents/ technique, etc, you should be certain to use the strongest technique to compensate for any deficiencies. If you're not familiar with the pin/shim method, chech him out, he's the Yoda.

      If you can get Plexiglas g or PMACS by Arkema, or Polycast by polyone (former spartech) in cell cast go with that. If you're stuck with random brands you should test weld some scrap 90 degree angles, let cure for a few days and give them a good ole' stomp and see how the seams hold up.

      Good luck!
       
    2. Jhe

      Jhe MFK Members

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      Finally! I did a test weld and sitting dry now from a few days back. I'm on 85kg and I stand on a 90 degree sample weld and it seems pretty much holding. I will try to do some more test weld as I'm preparing my panels.

      Does MC evaporates once you open the bottle or will the consistency of it will decrease?

      What will I do also if I found that the weld I did has a hole or not perfectly welded? Can I repeat and put some more MC?

      Do you also recommend sump for this build? As I will be left with 2 tanks which is 40inches long. Or should I use my 2 canisters?

      I'm trying to squeeze all my questions in this post to save your time.

      Thanks
       
    3. Dieselhybrid

      Dieselhybrid MFK Members

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      That's good news. A sign that the material can hold. I am going to PM you a thread that you should read. It will cover everything better than I can, and answer questions. I'm not saying this to no longer assist you, just to better assist you, as there are others who know more than I do.

      Yes the MC constantly evaporates in any container that isn't air tight. You don't need to worry about this too much as you have pure MC. If you had Weld-on or made a custom solvent blend (these are solutions, mixes) then the MC evaporation would be a concern. As the evaporation would change the ratio of the ingredients in the solvent, potentially changing it's properties. Many of the acids and additives used in blends don't evaporate nearly as quickly as MC. But since you have pure MC, it will always be 100% MC, even if you lost some to evaporation. Speaking of this, the fumes are quite nasty. They are heavier than air, so they drift to the floor. Keep this in mind and ventilate and circulate the air appropriately. After all, it is cousin to Chloroform.

      I am fond of sumps. Plus, your tank isn't going to look perfect first go around, and probably not the second either. Won't hurt to start with a sump. If the seams don't turn out nice and clear and bubbles are an issue do the Wednesday13 tip and pour method with weld-on 40 to reinforce your seams. It's a sticky at the top of the DIY forum here.
       
    4. Jhe

      Jhe MFK Members

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      I am very disappointed on the outcome of the first test weld i did. After 4 days, I tried to stepped on it and it breaks easily.

      I'm loosing my luck now and trying some more test weld ans see how it goes.

      Otherwise my only option is to gamble to buy weld on 4 in online store that is not so trustworthy. It is pretty much expensive but I want to try it.

      Cross fingers and hope all will work well.

      Thanks for the assistance and I've received your PM and give that time to read.
       
    5. Dieselhybrid

      Dieselhybrid MFK Members

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      If you truly have pure MC. Weld-on 4 will not be any better IMO. Pure MC is the original solvent used in the hobby. It's the backbone for every solvent mix (or a very similar analog). I mix with (glacial acetic) acid only to give me a longer set time. It's hard to soak a whole 8x4' bottom panel seam, while working around 20-30 pins, then race around back to pin #1 and pull all of the pins/wires within 30-45 seconds. The acid gives me an extra 30-45 seconds which is necessary doing long seams on big tanks. Having a partner is necessary on bigger tanks unless you really know what you're doing and can fly around the tank pouring solvent perfectly with no bubbles. It can be difficult, as acrylic is not forgiving.

      I believe the problem is the quality of acrylic and not the solvent. Unless your MC isn't pure? pic? Seams set in 4-8 hours. Okay to move the panels after that. 72 hours minimum before water testing (always do outside :) )

      Max strength cure times per James Steele: 1/2" material 2 week cure time. 3/4" material 3 week cure time. 1" material 1 month cure time.

      Are you using capillary welds? If you are using capillary welds that could be a factor. Or are you using wires or pins to make a gap between the two pieces of acrylic? This gap is imperative, it melts both surfaces of the acrylic for 30 seconds or so making a liquid acrylic "gel" between the panels. Pull the pins and the panels fuse with liquid melted acrylic. The solvent evaporates out over the next few hours leaving a molecular fusion of two panels. They literally become 1 piece if that makes sense? The key is having no bubbles. 28 gauge wires is what James Steele recommends for thinner materials. I suck with 28 gauge. 24 gauge the gap was too big for me, too much solvent. The solvent pushed out of the seams when wires were pulled and puddled on the panes, leaving discoloration. Seam was strong, tank will hold but blemished the face of the panel. Oh well I need growouts not show tanks at this point. 26 gauge is best for me. No bubbles and a perfect acrylic "fillet" or bead pushes out of the seam, sealing it and keeping air out. This makes a sealing bead on the interior seams, like silicone is used to seal glass tanks. 26 gauge is hard to find, I had to order online.

      This is an ambitious project. You can do it, but you'll have to study and practice and have the right tools.
       
      #15 Dieselhybrid, Jun 28, 2017
      Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
      tarheel96 and krabbo008 like this.
    6. Jhe

      Jhe MFK Members

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      Hi,

      How are you? It's been a while..

      Finally I've made the tank. But I'm afraid that this will not hold or not that strong because of the bubbles on the weld. Here are some photos. What can you recommend to reinforce it?



      20170811_051406.jpg

      20170811_051329.jpg

      20170811_123707.jpg

      Thanks,
       
    7. Dieselhybrid

      Dieselhybrid MFK Members

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      Were you able to use a router to prepare the edges that have been welded? Or were they welding with saw marks on the edges of the acrylic?

      Can you post some pictures of the seams through the attaching panel? Peel back the paper a little bit and take a photo of the seams in question from below. I think that will help us see correctly and advise better.

      I'm thinking and tip and pour with weld-on #40. Let's see what the buddy @wednesday13@wednesday13 thinks next time he's around.

      @Jhe@Jhe can you get us more pictures?
       
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    8. Jhe

      Jhe MFK Members

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      The edges that are welded are all smooth. Prepared with acrylic scraper and sand paper. There is no saw marks on them. Only the bottom part has bubbles but the sides are almost perfect.

      Weld on product is not available here. I used MC instead. Does silicone will work to reinforce?


      20170811_213831.jpg

      20170811_213812.jpg

      20170811_213754.jpg

      20170811_213647.jpg

      20170811_213629.jpg
       
    9. Dieselhybrid

      Dieselhybrid MFK Members

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      MC is a great solvent. The main ingredient in most weldon products.

      Sounds usual. The vertical seams are much easier than the top and bottom. Silicone will not offer an structure support. I suggest trying to find weld-on#40 and do a tip and pour reinforcement for the interior seams
       
    10. Jhe

      Jhe MFK Members

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      But do you think it is strong without reinforcement?

      Can I use chips from acrylic and melt it with MC and put it on?
       

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