Recently I have made a lot of crafts involving moving water, especially scenes I sculpt out of clay and then paint/seal. I made a mini pond to put on my table, an old country scene with a working water wheel for a competition and even a small fountain lit with laser lights.
In each of my crafts, I use acrylic aquarium tubing to transport the water where it needs to go, in and out of pumps etc. Up until now, I have simply glued each tube permanently in place, but this has got to change.
There are times when I wish I could just unscrew a valve connection and remove linking tubes, for example to disconnect a pump from an archived project and reuse it, or in more involved projects, disconnect large pieces for transportation to a showcase.
I don’t like using pre-made tube connectors for this, which can also be expensive if I need lots of them.
So I had a genius idea: bottle necks and caps are designed to be water-tight in nature. If I took a bottle, cut off the neck, glued my tube in and drilled the cap for another tube, I could make a screwable connector.
The first problem with this connector is bulk. If I choose too large a bottle cap, than liquid could remain in the junction after draining the piece. The simple solution is to use necks and caps with a similar diameter to my tubing. Airline toothpaste tubes and their caps have proven well-suited to this task.
The second problem is twisting tubes. Directly gluing my tubes to the caps will cause the tubes to twist (and possibly kink) as I screw the caps on. I solved this with some rubber bands and vegetable oil. I snipped the tube near the cap connection and put the free end of the severed tube over the end of a pair of needle-nosed pliers. I heated the end up with a low-heat heat gun and used the pliers to widen the tube neck. Now the little piece of tube still attached to the cap fits inside the end of the free tube. I glued a strip of rubber band around the outside of the cap tube and the inside of the free tube and then pushed them together. They stayed in place after adding a plastic disk to the cap tube cut from a plastic drinks cup. A swab of vegetable oil on the rubber bands makes for a water-tight, revolving jack.
My problem now is where I can find a good/cheap/free source of tiny caps and screwable necks. I am all out of airline toothpaste. I thought about using cork and bottle necks because they sell tiny bottles at the local store with cork stoppers, but when I cut the glass the bottles sometimes crack and break, and the cork leaks without vegetable oil added regularly.