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Thread: DIY solar cover reel?

  1. #1
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    DIY solar cover reel?

    Anyone ever make a solar cover reel?

    I'm looking for ideas on constructing a solar cover reel. I currently have a Horizon HV-10 (cheep!) and have already replaced the plastic bearings once. It was never easy to operate in the first place, and its even worse now. So i already have the aluminum tube, just need to come up with some durable end pieces...thoughts?
    Using BBB successfully for over 5 years!

    16x32 vinyl grecian, Hayward EC65, 1hp super pump, Clear solar cover, Loop-lok winter cover, "The Pool Cleaner" 2 wheel suction cleaner

  2. #2
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    Not sure what the end pieces look like, but delrin makes for great bushings. It can be shaped with any wood cutting type tool. So if you can make it from wood, you could make it from delrin.

    (delrin is a slick feeling plastic that has very good machining properties)
    15,500 gal, inground gunite pool with 7 ft spa, 2 speed pump 2hp/.33hp, 3/4 hp booster pump, Intermatic P1353 timer, AutoPilot SC-48, Sand filter with ZeoBest, Heater, that I never use . . .

  3. #3
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    this is a typ end piece...the alum tube fits into a plastic roller bearing (they're junk even when they are new)...I'm leaning more towards making a whole new end piece/handle and just reusing the tube.

    I do have access to delrin (we use it at work all the time) and a machine shop, so that's a thought.

    Using BBB successfully for over 5 years!

    16x32 vinyl grecian, Hayward EC65, 1hp super pump, Clear solar cover, Loop-lok winter cover, "The Pool Cleaner" 2 wheel suction cleaner

  4. #4
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    So, you can make the end pieces and we buy our own tube?

    I'd be interested in getting one! We're going to do a solar cover this fall and will have to get a reel then. I'm sure I can get a connection (middle) piece from Lowes at my own custom size then if you offered us the roller/end pieces that would be awesome!

    Group buy? How many would it take to make it worth your time?

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  5. #5
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    errrr...

    Let me see if I can get something to work, is CHEAP, and the parts are readily available...

    I'll be happy to share the plans.


    Just trying to see if anyone has tackled this before or has any brainy ideas.
    Using BBB successfully for over 5 years!

    16x32 vinyl grecian, Hayward EC65, 1hp super pump, Clear solar cover, Loop-lok winter cover, "The Pool Cleaner" 2 wheel suction cleaner

  6. #6
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    Have same problem - will look forward to see what you do.
    20x40 IG vinyl, heatpump and solar and 3 siberian huskies, 10kw PV solar electric system. New owner of Nikon dSLR D300

  7. #7
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    You said you have replaced the bearings once, if that is the primary issue, how about just turning replacement bearings out of the delrin. Maybe there is no real need to replace the entire end piece.
    15,500 gal, inground gunite pool with 7 ft spa, 2 speed pump 2hp/.33hp, 3/4 hp booster pump, Intermatic P1353 timer, AutoPilot SC-48, Sand filter with ZeoBest, Heater, that I never use . . .

  8. #8
    Senior Member NWMNMom's Avatar
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    Check out Matt's (Matt 4x4) reel. He had his made, we copied the design and it works awesome. It could be modified to fit any pool IG or AG. It was incredibly cheap to make and is holding up wonderful. The tube is 2" conduit, extremely lightweight and it is very durable, no sagging. It only takes one person to roll it up or pull it out.
    18x33x52 Buttressfree Seaspray (Wilbar) AGP - 1.5hp Pentair Maxim w/22" Pentair Meteor Sand Filter, Aqua Rite SWG System, Biltmore Walk In Steps - 2/4x20 Solar Panel Setup - Pool Rover Jr - finally hard plumbed the whole darned thing -
    Beats Driving to the Lake!

  9. #9
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    there were a few posts on the other site regarding homemade reels, but no one ever had photos of what they had done...
    Using BBB successfully for over 5 years!

    16x32 vinyl grecian, Hayward EC65, 1hp super pump, Clear solar cover, Loop-lok winter cover, "The Pool Cleaner" 2 wheel suction cleaner

  10. #10
    Senior Member Riles_J's Avatar
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    OK, I have been looking for this design that Matt 4x4 used that is being referred to here and can not find it.

    Matt? Are you going to share?
    16x32 IG vinyl, 19,000 gal, 1.0 hp pump, sand filter, 2 returns, 1 skimmer, diving board, slide

  11. #11
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    solar reel.

    Here's mine - originally like this:
    4: irrigation tube (aluminum) with steel endcaps - you can pretty much see how it's all put together - just welded drilled, bearings and nipples installed through steel plate....
    Maybe I'll remember to get some close ups tonite!


    Then I changed it to 4x4 posts as uprights because it looked cleaner and sits sturdier - it's 31 feet end to end.

  12. #12
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    A closeup or two of the ends would be superb!

    here's what i'm thinking at the moment...

    Using BBB successfully for over 5 years!

    16x32 vinyl grecian, Hayward EC65, 1hp super pump, Clear solar cover, Loop-lok winter cover, "The Pool Cleaner" 2 wheel suction cleaner

  13. #13
    Senior Member NWMNMom's Avatar
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    Here is a shot of ours - it has bearings welded into larger washers, then onto the black iron. That last part can be modified to fit any size or type of pool.

    18x33x52 Buttressfree Seaspray (Wilbar) AGP - 1.5hp Pentair Maxim w/22" Pentair Meteor Sand Filter, Aqua Rite SWG System, Biltmore Walk In Steps - 2/4x20 Solar Panel Setup - Pool Rover Jr - finally hard plumbed the whole darned thing -
    Beats Driving to the Lake!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Riles_J's Avatar
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    Some more close-ups pics or details of how this DIY reel comes together would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Riles
    16x32 IG vinyl, 19,000 gal, 1.0 hp pump, sand filter, 2 returns, 1 skimmer, diving board, slide

  15. #15
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    Ditto Riles. Can anyone post a supplies list for what you'd need to build this, and maybe some more pictures. I've never even used a solar reel, so I'm having difficulty even figuring out how a bought one works on a round pool.
    Sue

    18' round Sharkline Matrix AGP / 8600 Gal. / sand filter / Aqua Trol SWG
    Pool owner since 2001. Thanks to TFP for helping me convert off Baquacil after six years!

  16. #16
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    What size type/conduit

    So, I'm ready to build one of these reels but I have some questions. I wanted to go the route that Matt4x4 did and use 4" AL irrigation tube, but have been looking since last summer and haven't been able to source any. I guess the next route would be to use conduit. I like the idea of using rigid conduit, but most of the larger sizes (2") are galvinized, not AL. I'm not sure how that will hold up to the chlorine. I can get 2" thinwall conduit, but since I need to span 30', I'm not sure if it will sag. The cover I have is quite heavy. I believe it's a 12 mil. In retrospect, I wish I would have gone with a smaller pool (28') and a lighter cover 8 mil, but I guess you live and learn.

    Thanks for any advice.

    Bob
    30' AG Round, Sand filter, Sta-Rite Aquatools 2HP pump, 4G LQ

  17. #17
    Senior Member NWMNMom's Avatar
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    The heavier the reel, the more chance of sag unless there is some other way to build with supports. We know this because our first model was not the conduit and sagged. Keep it lightweight if you can.

    The supports are black iron pipe painted with Rustoleum or whatever thats called, concrete into the ground - the handle crank is also painted iron (handle is rubber) - two bearings welded onto washers, which are welded onto the pipe supports. Not a LOT or work, just some spot welding, painting. We connected the straps to the reel with screws and the straps to the solar blanket with rivets/gorrilla glue. Never a tear or disconnect on the blanket. Make sure you line the straps up to evenly roll up onto the reel and back onto the pool - obviously the lengths will be different. We have 5 straps. (nylon strap/webbing you can buy at Home Depot or Lowes or Surplus store)
    18x33x52 Buttressfree Seaspray (Wilbar) AGP - 1.5hp Pentair Maxim w/22" Pentair Meteor Sand Filter, Aqua Rite SWG System, Biltmore Walk In Steps - 2/4x20 Solar Panel Setup - Pool Rover Jr - finally hard plumbed the whole darned thing -
    Beats Driving to the Lake!

  18. #18
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    I have agonized over the solar cover reel. I have purchased 1inch rigid conduit. (2 ten ft pieces and coupled in the middle). After I coupled the 2 pieces together, I noticed that is was evident that once the cover was on, it would bow in the middle due to the weight of the cover. (its a 12 mil for an 18x33 pool). So inside of the 1inch conduit, I inserted a ten ft 3/4 inch conduit to strenthen the center of the 1inch. It helped a little.

    Currently, when I want to remove my cover, it takes two people because I dont have a reel system... just the 1inch rigid conduit that I sit up on the sides of the pool and manually turn to roll the cover up and onto. Then once it is rolled, we lift it up by the conduit and sit it on the ground. Its a pain to have to deal with.

    This is my weekend plan and I would greatly appreciate any feedback or thoughts of my plan:
    I am going to plant 2 treated 4x4 posts in the ground. Then drill 1 1/4 holes into the 4x4's. Insert the conduit across the 4x4's and then attach the solar cover to the conduit with straps and see if it will roll up. (kind of like the above pictures) No bearings, no welding. Fairly simple plan and I dont know if it will work... has anyone ever tried this?
    18x33 agp. 1 1/2 hp pump with sand filter.
    AKA pool noob.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by NWMNMom
    The heavier the reel, the more chance of sag unless there is some other way to build with supports. We know this because our first model was not the conduit and sagged. Keep it lightweight if you can.

    The supports are black iron pipe painted with Rustoleum or whatever thats called, concrete into the ground - the handle crank is also painted iron (handle is rubber) - two bearings welded onto washers, which are welded onto the pipe supports. Not a LOT or work, just some spot welding, painting. We connected the straps to the reel with screws and the straps to the solar blanket with rivets/gorrilla glue. Never a tear or disconnect on the blanket. Make sure you line the straps up to evenly roll up onto the reel and back onto the pool - obviously the lengths will be different. We have 5 straps. (nylon strap/webbing you can buy at Home Depot or Lowes or Surplus store)
    NMWMNMom,

    What size & type of conduit did you use for the actual "reel" part. Thinwall or rigid conduit? Aluminum, galvanized, or steel? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Axl,

    I think your going to have trouble with your idea. I suspect that with that much weight, and the amount of contact that the reel will place on that point, I would guess that it will be difficult turn. If you get flexing, it might also bind in the hole. Is there a reason you don't want to use a "real" bearing? That said, I guess its low risk to try it.

    Bob
    30' AG Round, Sand filter, Sta-Rite Aquatools 2HP pump, 4G LQ

  20. #20
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    Thanks for the thoughts Bob! I would rather use a bearing of some sort ... I just dont have access to a welder etc. The binding issue will probably hinder me... you are most likely right on the money there. I just wish I knew of some way to make this with 4x4's and the rigid conduit that I already have. If I could find something like pillow block bearings that could be attached to the top of the 4x4's, I think Id be in business.
    18x33 agp. 1 1/2 hp pump with sand filter.
    AKA pool noob.

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