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unusual uses for 55 gal drums (plastic or metal)

Casey Halone


Joined: Feb 09, 2011
Posts: 192
    
    1
I have thought of a few but would love to hear more.

cutting the top and bottom off and one cut down the side, using as roofing for a green house, as it would allow a good deal of light but still provide shade. at least the white ones seem to.

a playslide for the kiddos.


David Biland


Joined: Jan 04, 2011
Posts: 45
Location: Southeastern USA - Zone 8
I think some of these are pretty common uses but I will give it a shot.

Using whole:

- Filling with high surface area substrate for use as a part of a fish filter or greywater system
- Filling with water and laying them on your hillside to roll down on invading barbarians
- Rain barrels, Compost Tumbler, Thermal Mass/Water Storage, Etc.
- Maybe part of a humanure system.


Cutting lengthwise and using the halves for:

- Aquaponics grow beds
- Vertical axis windmill
- Paint inside white, mount lighting and hang for a grow light
- Maybe some kind of poor man's Earthbox
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
cheap beehive: http://www.velacreations.com/bees.html


Living off grid - guides for the off grid lifestyle in the modern age
Homesteading - latest updates and projects from our off grid homestead
Mary James


Joined: Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 140
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
    
    2

Depending on what was stored in them:

Bar-B-Que, metal of course  Portable is nice.

Feed and water troughs.

Buried in the ground for small root cellar.

Trombe wall.

Burn Barrel.

Chair.

Septic system.

Storage trunk.

Light bulb powered oven.

Water barrel for construction.

Swings.

Barrel stove.

Pontoons.

Barrel racing.

Childrens drum.

Rock tumbler.

Adjustable ballast holder on the back corner of boat creating surfing waves on Flathead Lake.  Seen it.

Goat toys.

Big brother used to stuff siblings in them and roll them down the hill to watch them puke. Heheh.

Shop Vac from Sam's Club.

Kids balance toy.

"Expensive-like-a-barrel-of-oil-sink".

Jewelry.

And,    ART of all kinds.

Thanks Google.

M&J
                          


Joined: Mar 26, 2011
Posts: 1
I made a outdoor pizza oven out of a metal 55 gal drum.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_8sr49oN3nck/TN6hzM9XOvI/AAAAAAAAN-Q/RyvaR85dmx0/s1600/Photo0662.jpg


http://thegreatoutdoorfamilyexperience.blogspot.com/
Warren David


Joined: Nov 18, 2010
Posts: 186
http://www.instructables.com/id/Recycled-55-Gallon-Barrel-Chair/
Jack Shawburn


Joined: Jan 18, 2011
Posts: 230
Heat Sink
Our winters get to just about freezing in the mornings.
Very clear skies mostly.. and frost on some occasions
I will place some blue plastic drums next to small trees - filled with water
so they absorb the sun's heat during the day
and hopefully protect the saplings from
the early morning frosts.
May even try to keep heat trapped under some frost cover.
David Biland


Joined: Jan 04, 2011
Posts: 45
Location: Southeastern USA - Zone 8
Jen0454 wrote:
Heat Sink
Our winters get to just about freezing in the mornings.
Very clear skies mostly.. and frost on some occasions
I will place some blue plastic drums next to small trees - filled with water
so they absorb the sun's heat during the day
and hopefully protect the saplings from
the early morning frosts.
May even try to keep heat trapped under some frost cover.


Does anyone have any experience with using the plastic barrels outside and/or exposed to UV light?  How well do they hold up?  I have used the 5 gallon plastic pails I find in dumpsters and they start to get brittle and fall apart after a year or so if exposed to the sun 24/7.
                      


Joined: Jan 27, 2011
Posts: 70
They hold up pretty well, at least those I've messed with. They're old soap barrels from gas station car washes, now that's a lot of soap! They're white/opaque-ish, and most of them sat outside by an industrial warehouse for a while.
Warren David


Joined: Nov 18, 2010
Posts: 186
I stumbled upon this use for a 55 gallon drum while looking for homemade mulchers.
http://www.aaroncake.net/projects/mulcher.htm
                                


Joined: Mar 20, 2011
Posts: 33
compostme wrote:
- Filling with water and laying them on your hillside to roll down on invading barbarians






Och! Make sure it wasn't just your husband after a long night of drinkin
Casey Halone


Joined: Feb 09, 2011
Posts: 192
    
    1
how would these work for earthen mass, say in place of rammed earth tires? I would think it would of gas much less. cut in half they would hold 27 gallons of dirt and would be so much easier to pack. in what way is a tire better if both can be had free and otherwise bound for a landfill?
                                


Joined: Mar 20, 2011
Posts: 33
I think the sheer size, while easier to fill? Tires would be much much easier to move once filled with earth. And tires are small enough to be able to use basically as building blocks. I would hate to have a wall made of 1/2 55 gallon drums come crashing down.
The Drums also would be more of a |_| shape and the tires are still a (_) shape which also I think would make them better for building.
But if you have both, I am certain there are some good things to do with them.  Alot of the things I might come up with probably have already been said, but I'll think on it and sketch around a bit just so you can have more ideas to draw from!

David Biland


Joined: Jan 04, 2011
Posts: 45
Location: Southeastern USA - Zone 8
Casey Halone wrote:
how would these work for earthen mass, say in place of rammed earth tires? I would think it would of gas much less. cut in half they would hold 27 gallons of dirt and would be so much easier to pack. in what way is a tire better if both can be had free and otherwise bound for a landfill?



I would think they would split under the heavy pressure.  I have not pounded tires myself but from what I have seen they are pounded with so much dirt that the tires stretch.  I don't think the drums would have enough elasticity.
Scott Howard


Joined: Dec 05, 2010
Posts: 59
JohnnyBeLovely wrote:



Cool, I really dig that.

Well, I was thinking why not cut off the bottoms, cut them in half, and use the pieces as giant roofing shingles.  The clear and opaque options in the plastic version would make for interesting roofs.



Need more info?

www.earthenhand.com

Earthen Hand Natural Building

"If everyone makes a difference, the world will be different."
                  


Joined: Apr 19, 2011
Posts: 114
Location: South Carolina Zone 8
Plastic ones have all sorts of uses most of which involve turning them into a container for things however many forget when sealed up they also float and make great dock floats. Metal ones are fireproof and you can make grills, heaters, stump removers in case you don't want to wait for nature to remove it for you (cut top and bottom leaving the edge rings for strength, place over stump and fill with wood which concentrates the heat burning longer than a pile). And let's not forget the wooden ones like for whiskey and wine making. These make great planters but also are useful in a smoker as they are oak and pre-flavored with whiskey or wine. Given time and a variety of barrel sizes and materials I could think up thousands of things to do with them. I have never met a barrel/drum I did not like.
Casey Halone


Joined: Feb 09, 2011
Posts: 192
    
    1
ooh yes, i had thought of a raft, just a design that hasnt been sketched out or anything, just brain storming.

I was thinking 4 total barrels, spaced out a bit, with a platform in the middle. what would be an appropriate way to secure them? and ensure the bung holes have no way to leak and fill with water? there must be some type of a bung wrench no?
                  


Joined: Apr 19, 2011
Posts: 114
Location: South Carolina Zone 8
Personally I would do 2 pontoons and a platform between them. It might require more barrels but I think it would be more stable. I think in a tool catalog I saw something designed to loosen bungs so I would figure same tool tightens them. OMG I can't believe I just said that.  If you do plan to make something that floats with plastic drums make sure you have the rubber seals for the caps (I like that word better less 3rd grade humor) and you can also add sealant. As far as securing them together what my BIL did was make a wooden frame and screw through it into the barrels. He used sealant where he ran the screws into the barrels to insure a waterproof seal. He did his pontoon style for stability and made a cone for the nose simply so he could call it a boat and get a homemade boat registration. You see he could not get a dock permit but he could tie his "boat" up where his property met the water. It was a funny sight to see him bring the battery and trolling motor and move his "boat every couple weeks just to keep it legally a boat and not a dock. When he moved to another house on the water (but out of a neighborhood and less populated) he had the same problem with a permit but had left the old "boat" behind for the new owners so instead of building the same thing again in comes a 30' pontoon boat tied up out back with ramp from yard to boat. But then at that point in his life he had a lot of money put away and wanted to stop the projects and enjoy his retirement.
marty reed


Joined: Dec 09, 2010
Posts: 119
I have made fire pits out of steel drums before just cut down the middle and weld 4 angle iron legs on you can cook plenty of food on one

The cheap guy
Casey Halone


Joined: Feb 09, 2011
Posts: 192
    
    1
my latest discovered use, was actually as failed attempt at making a slide. fortunately, for my kids, we found a real slide free on CL.

OK so, picture them cut to use as a slide, i then take those parts and set them atop my compost pile upside down. they dont blow off like a tarp and shed the water perfectly. I reached into the pile, having lots of coffee grounds and grass clippings, ITS HOT IN THERE! I could start a Jean Pain compost pile and have it heat some raise bed's soil? I am planing on doing some raised beds with reclaimed refrigerators. I am thinking I could get my soil temps up much earlier than the weather might otherwise allow, and greatly extend the season, maybe without a heated green house OR in addition to it?


how about as row covers? would these let enough light in? even cutting in half, with the ends still on, i suppose it would depend on each one, but what i have in my head says they would get enough light.

Troy Rhodes


Joined: Feb 17, 2011
Posts: 164
    
    1
With a cheap water pump from harbor freight and a little plumbing, they make excellent biodiesel reactors.

I'm about to graduate to 100 gal propane tanks, converted to a bigger reactor.  But my drums worked flawlessly for 6 or 7 years so far.

HTH,

troy
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Don't know if this has been posted yet - a complete manual for building a tiny aquaponics system from 3 plastic 55 gallon barrels:

www.aces.edu/dept/fisheries/education/documents/​barrel-ponics.pdf


Idle dreamer

R. Peacock


Joined: May 24, 2011
Posts: 35
Location: eastern part of West Tennessee
I live in rentals and a large part of my gyspy garden that moves when I do is plastic barrels that are cut in half.    I have one with the top removed under the eve of our house as a rain barrel.    A good source of food grade plastic barrels are food and beverage processors.  Just be careful of barrels that contained solvents, oils, or cleaners.


There are too many new and different mistakes out there waiting to be made to be wasteing your time repeating the same old mistakes.
Jeanine Gurley
steward

Joined: May 23, 2011
Posts: 1391
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
    
    9
Plastic drums:

Cut in half - great livestock feeders.  When I used to have horses and goats they were constantly playing with or turning over thier feeders - and forget about attaching a feeder to the fence; just something else to tear up.  They rarely turned over the half barrels and that kept the feed out of the sand and therefore out of thier bellies.

With the top cut off:  Fill up early in the morning to be left out in the sun.  Great for making children get into at the end of a long dirty day when we didn't have all of our plumbing hooked up yet.


1. my projects
                                          


Joined: Jun 05, 2011
Posts: 19
Did I miss Dog Box? Sorry if already suggested. Just prop bricks along each side so it doesnt roll and cut entry hole size as needed. fill with straw or hay. makes duck house or nest box too.
                                        


Joined: Jun 24, 2011
Posts: 1
i found 4 free ones on craig's list.

i plan to use one for composting, one for rain barrel, one for basil garden and the extra one to go over niagra falls.

wish me luck.

evilkbarrel.
John Skaggs


Joined: Sep 21, 2010
Posts: 4
Location: Boondock, KY
Hi everyone,

New to the forum and late to the topic, but wanted to add something I'd discovered about the plastic drums.

My employer has lots of surplus drums that I've found various uses for.  They're the kind with two bungs in the top and no removable lid.  Being that I've often found myself in need of lidded barrels that could hold stuff outdoors and not get the contents wet...

I found that you can evenly saw the top off of a plastic drum about half a cm from the top of the narrow neck, flip the lid over and have a perfect fitted lid that will shed water flawlessly.  They key is to leave enough of the neck for the groove in the top of the lid to fit into.  And to saw it evenly of course. 

Not sure how well I expressed that.  Thinking of making a video to illustrate better. 
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2092
Location: FL
    
  49
Drylandfish
You would do well to gather them from your employer.  Lots of uses for the drums, put them up on craigslist, you can easily pick up 20 bucks each.

Uses from my experience
-Greenhouse heat storage, explained in depth in the greenhouse thread
-Burn barrel.  I would advise you not to do this.
-Mixing concrete, grout, drywall mud with a paddle mixer.  This is a handy use for a half barrel.  Easy cleanup too.
-Beer and ice.  The other half of the barrel.

I've had one in the sun for going on 8 years, its holding up just fine.

If I had 1 or more available right now, what I would do with them:
-Raise catfish
-Compost.  Even though I have a couple of heap and a windrow, its handy having a container close to the house for kitchen scraps.  When full, use a hand truck to move it to the heap.
-Humanure.  I keep it segregated from the regular compost using a trash can.  Could use more volume.
-Rainwater catchment.  Several in a series sure would be handy.
-Livestock water tub.  Smooth out the cut edge.  I have 2 galvanized tubs now.  The bull can be kinda hard on them.
-Replacement part for the wheelbarrel-cut in half the long way, a bit on a diagonal
-store feed for the hens

I could use 50 of these things real easy.

Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
http://farmwhisperer.com
ronie dee


Joined: Mar 04, 2009
Posts: 586
Location: Cosby MO
    
    2
drylandfish wrote:
Hi everyone,

New to the forum and late to the topic, but wanted to add something I'd discovered about the plastic drums.

My employer has lots of surplus drums that I've found various uses for.  They're the kind with two bungs in the top and no removable lid.  Being that I've often found myself in need of lidded barrels that could hold stuff outdoors and not get the contents wet...

I found that you can evenly saw the top off of a plastic drum about half a cm from the top of the narrow neck, flip the lid over and have a perfect fitted lid that will shed water flawlessly.  They key is to leave enough of the neck for the groove in the top of the lid to fit into.  And to saw it evenly of course. 

Not sure how well I expressed that.  Thinking of making a video to illustrate better.   



Yeah, if you get time, post the pics. I might be able to figure it out, not sure. I d have a use for barrels with the lids cut that will shed water.


Sometimes the answer is not to cross an old bridge, nor to burn it, but to build a better bridge.
Doug Gillespie


Joined: May 04, 2010
Posts: 77
I cut the tops off of two, and also cut them down the sides into halves, drilled holes along the cuts, and laced them back together with bulk shoelace (shoelace in bulk 144 yard rolls is cheap, strong, and just amazingly useful, by the way).  These were used as potato planters for the method that involves adding successive layers of dirt to growin potato plants.  The idea was that I could unlace one side and open it up clam-shell style to dump the contents and harvest.  It worked OK, but in retrospect, a simple wire bin would have been better and easier. 

Doug
Eric Thomas


Joined: Mar 19, 2011
Posts: 54
Location: Northeast Oklahoma, Zone 6b,
Two scrap drums, a 10' piece of 2 1/2-inch EMT, $4 worth of latch hardware and some scrap 16 ga. scrap.  Hour of easy sheet metal work and a couple of spot welds. Some 2x4 leftovers, and wa-la, compost in style. Some hammertone canned spray paint left over from one of my wife's artiste projects, really very stylish.  I drilled hole through the EMT at one end and stuck a piece of #6 rebar (scrap) through it and I give it a whirl every night when I go out to secure the chickens.  Onerous chore turned into light exercise. 

Only thing I would do differently is get another free scrap drum (I have a friend with a business that produces a fair number of otherwise scrap drums) and cut out a side to make a larger opening that matches the rib pattern.  I drilled a mess of 5/16th in. holes in the ends for ventilation. 


[Thumbnail for DSCF1928.JPG]



Learn to live, and live to learn,
Ignorance like a fire doth burn,
Little tasks make large return.
-- Bayard Taylor
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 3619
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  49
If they were filled with something non-toxic and they are made of that clear-ish white plastic you could use them as thermal mass in a greenhouse or sunroom and raise tilapia fish which are filter feeders. They would gobble up all of the algae which would grow profusely. The fish and algae tend to produce water which is quite dark and therefore a good thermal absorption medium.


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John Skaggs


Joined: Sep 21, 2010
Posts: 4
Location: Boondock, KY
Better late than never on that drum lid video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oJRRyqjkDs&feature=youtube_gdata_player


 
 
subject: unusual uses for 55 gal drums (plastic or metal)
 
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