Not sure this is "showing off" but I wanted to share my Summer '14 Mods: Season Two. Last year was the first for our 18-foot Intex Ultra Frame, and that was all about getting things in order and learning to maintain "clean" water all season long. Check. I even managed to put a modest 4'x20' Sungrabber solar heater on the system, which worked well for me and the kids, but the Mrs. wanted more. So this season has been all about upgrading the experience, and it has been a success so far (with some blood, sweat and cursing!).
After adding the Hayward natural-gas heater and the Confer steps, we set out to do some landscaping and maybe make use of the Sungrabbers that I insisted on getting up off the lawn. First up was about 3-3.5 cubic yards of "small round rock," which isn't really as round as I was expecting but still nice. We laid down some edging before bringing in the stone.
Then we wanted some sort of walkway from the house to the yard beyond the stone, and for this I found five oddly sized pallets (53"x26") at the local Habitat For Humanity Restore for $0.99 apiece that are just about perfect for what I wanted. After using the worst of the five to repair the "decking" of the other four, making some angle cuts and some waterproofing, they went down nicely and - voilą - our own boardwalk!
Lastly, the solar heater, which was a major undertaking. Sitting on a flat roof about nine feet above the ground below, I intended to use the original Intex 635T pump that came with the pool. It took me two attempts and some fine-tuning with a sanding wheel to adapt the pump's output to PVC, and I regret using 1-1/2" PVC instead of 1-1/4" vertically, but it is working - although not quite as planned. Plan A was to bring the heated water back down to the T-line at ground level and up and over the side of the pool under the ladder. That didn't work. The pump isn't strong enough to lift it again the final four feet. So I went with Plan B, which was to simply attach another hose to the Sungrabber output and drop it directly into the pool. It's a bit white trash but so what, right? Right out of the gate we were getting about 10 degrees of raised water temperature. It's only pushing about 200 GPH, but every little bit help!
Hopefully this will inspire someone else to get out there and make those modifications. Good luck.