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Water Wheel Mill Project - DIY Build Your Own Water Wheel for Your Pond

water wheel project

In the Spring we talked about it, now we finally got around to doing it and that was our water wheel pond plans!  Boy what a project it turned out be.  It was a fun water wheel project though, and below are the basics for the Water Wheel House or Mill.  This water wheel mill for your pond is of my own design and was meant to be a fun DIY water wheel project that you can do in a few spare hours of your time.  It also doubles as a pond filter or filter tub, pond aerator, and just plain fun project on how to build a water wheel using one variation of design and construction.

The pictures below aren't meant to be a complete guide to building this house but will hopefully give you a general idea of the construction and give you ideas for your own water wheel design

The box is approximately 30" x  20" with a hinged lid for cleaning access.  The box was sized for the filter tub we wanted to use. A 10 gallon plastic container from Walmart serves as the filter tub. Cut out two 15" disks.  We used birch plywood for longevity and water exposure.
box box & tub wheel
Use your imagination for the wheel design.  We went with a simple spoke pattern. The assembled Water Wheel with 5" spokes appx 3" apart. Wheel mounted to house.  We used 1 1/4" PVC pipe for bearings (one each end of the house) and 3/4" PVC pipe for the main shaft which runs all the through to the back of the house.
finished wheel finished wheel 2 assembled filter
An inside view of the plumbing.  I used a bottom up-flow design.  Lava rock and plastic golf balls for the lower layer and filter media for upper layers. Side view with pump attachment point for the plumbing. Roof tiles on and first coat of paint.  We ended up attaching a plastic bladder to the paddle sections to get the rotation speed we wanted.  This helped keep the wheel in motion even with minimal flow from the pump.
assembled filter 2 side view front view
My wife added some art work to the house.  Here you can also see the a better view of the plastic added in the paddle spokes for rotation. Front view of Strait's Mill The Wheel House in it's new home at one end our lower pond.  You can see the black filter media that tops off the filter section.
finish touches front finished at the pond
The finished project in action! A little closer view of the house.  I found that it adds a nice aeration to to pond water as it turns as well. View up the hill over both ponds.
at the pond 2 at the pond 3 at the pond 4
  View down the hill over both ponds. 
  at the pond 5  

Just few more construction notes for the water wheel pond plans:

1 - Muffler clamps were used inside the wheel at each side to keep the wheel in place on the 3/4" PVC.  We cut the

 holes tight enough that they probably weren't needed but did so as a precaution to keep it in it's place.

2 - Once the wheel was in place, we used an end cap on the 3/4" PVC to keep the wheel from coming through the bearing tubes.  This end cap fits through the 1 1/4" tube for removal if needed as well.  We used a piece of 2x4 screwed to the the inside of the box with a half moon cut into it to support the bearing tubes and a strap over the top of the bearing tube to to keep it down on the support block.

3 - Plastic used in between the paddle slats was from an old water bed liner but any plastic liner would suffice.  This was stapled in place.  We found that by having a place for the water to collect as it turned, it added just enough weight to keep the wheel turning without needing a lot of water pressure on the wheel.  We just spray painted the plastic to match the wheel spoke color.

4 - The out flow for the water is a tube that goes through the outer box wall and the filter tub.  We used 3/4" PVC for this.  I didn't seal around the tube as I wanted to be able to remove it if needed.  The hole in the filter tub is tight enough to keep seepage down to a minimum but this could be sealed if desired to prevent any seepage all together.  There is also a small hole near the top edge to allow water to flow out and back into the pond through the bottom if the tube became plugged for some reason can't flow out that tube.  This hole is about 1/2" above the water level during normal operation.

5 - The bottom of the box is lined with three slats from 1/2" plywood to support the filter tub and allow water flow back to the pond if the tub over flowed.

This project took about 19 hours without a plan so I'm sure it could be done quicker with a head start on a design.

Jack…..  in a city just outside of San Diego,….Chula Vista, Ca, built this using this idea.  Thanks Jack for sharing your photos of your beautiful rock garden and water wheel house!

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  Written by: WM8C - May, 2002  Not for use without permission.



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