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I have spent the better part of the late morning and early afternoon trying to dial in my 14 growbeds.

I have an elevated cistern, so if I keep it full, my pressure to feed my system through my lines should be constant. Did that... increased the flow from the pump until  I had some overflow through my vent;.

Let me start with a description of my drains. I'm not sure now where I found the tubing requirements, but when I ordered the fittings online I planned on 1" drains with 2" siphons with a flare on the 1" line and I 3 inch gravel guard,. Later I saw the recommendations form jim fisk to use a 3 inch siphon on that 1 inch drain and a 4 inch gravel guard.

i figured that I could adapt the flow to fit the size of my drains. When I made my flares for the drains, I used a 1" coupling, heated it and opened the end to flare. I made sure to leave a gap around that flare within the 2 inch siphon but I am not sure how critical that factor  is.

Then I went to my growbeds. I have 7 on each side. I opened the last stopcock  on both lines fully to maximize flow. I filled each bed to the point that I had overflow into my drains and the further to very slightly overflow the bell siphons without the caps.

I started at the proximal end of the run (closest to the cistern), letting it fill and overflow the bell and then put the cap on the drain in that bed. My goal to start with was simply to get the siphon started.

Now to save time I went down the line, putting the cap on the bell and adjusting the flow so the siphon would start draining. what I found twas that the caps almost got submerged before the siphon kicked in. Is this due to flow rate of the water Or some other factor?

When I came inside to get on the computer, most of the beds had drained but not refilled. I assume that this is due to too much flow, not allowing the air gap to break the spihon.

My questions are this... 1. do I start with the proximal end of the line leaving the end full open to maximize flow and then decrease flow from each valve as I go along?

Also I just went out and saw most of the beds are empty of water, This tells me my water flow into each bed is too high and siphon has not broke. Correct?

Ok it is obvious I need advice here to make the  plumbing parts work.

I tell you, it is alot easier to pump a patient and keep him alive than it is to balance this.

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Thanks Randall. I had read that explanation before.  I thought that I had the dimensions on the pipe fittings correct when I ordered them.

Part of my problem is my flare is not a 2:1 ratio to the drain..more like 1.5 to 1. I also tried to get a smaller headspace between bell and drain pipe so it would begin to drain at a lower flow.

Getting one siphon to work has not been a problem. But when i would adjust others, it would alter the flow to that working siphon.  It should not be that sensitive.

I wondering what I can do now to modify my existing plumbing. I hate to have to replace too much of it.

Hey Pat, or should I say "Patient Pumper"?

No, it shouldn't be nearly that sensitive. I actually had my first siphon failure yesterday. I made a bell with a clear cover so I could watch the magic happen and it just wouldn't start. Duh, turned out I had not sealed the cap to the 3" bell tube perfectly and that tiny bit of air getting in screwed it all up. Gluing after the fact is always a treat but I finally got it sealed and voila all went perfectly. (and fun to watch I must admit, so I'll be offering clear covers as an option)

SO, could be the slightest thing you have overlooked. Your description of "I placed the cap on the bell" bothers me. The bell should be all glued and sealed, cap to tube, for starters. I don't even use valves. I am too cheap. I balance the GB flow with 1" 90's and just rotate them to control flow and never have a problem. I gave you the Lowes #s for the funnel parts and you can order those on line if you have no Lowes in the area.

Please post a pic of your siphon broken down so I can see what you are up to. Maybe it is the good mountain air here but I have had "0" problems with mine

Here again is a pic of my siphons and some pics of the clear cover:

I just caught your mention of "head space". It should make no difference within reason as you are dealing with a fluid. That air should get sucked right out as the siphon starts. After that you are dealing with a fluid only. I leave all kinds of head space so I can add 2" pipe collars ranging from 1" high to 2" for water level adjustments. (something you can't do with your melted adapter method) The collars have never had any adverse effect what so ever. If I missed something else let me know. Call me if you need to.

Make a clear cover as a test bell perhaps. That could help, (really shows what's up), but glue it well without getting glue on the window. Lowes has an 8" x 10" sheet of acrylic for under $2 that will make 4 bells. Nice. I just used my circle saws in the drill press without the pilot bit. A bit scary so hang on tight or use clamps and go slow

I have ciphered how I could do that in my system and I just can't put up with pump starts and stops all the time and I am sure my Trout would be very pissed as they need plenty of constant flow. (not to mention the $85 or so for the indexing valve plus digital timer) My Little Giant pump goes 24/7 for 9 months now save for power outages and I'm sure it is happier that way and more efficient. Speaking of which we had a power outage yesterday and my homemade check valve worked perfectly. No repriming the woodstove loop for the first time ever. Nice.

BTW, Pat, make sure even the knobs are sealed well around the screw and I cote the screw after with silicone to protect it from the moisture. Without the knob I don't know how anyone removes the bell when required.

Actually, now that I think about it, since I pump clear water to my fish and the fish water flows to my GBs by gravity, I would have to redesign the entire system to use indexing valves. Not always an easy option.
Randall Wimbish said:

There are lots of folks here that do not use bell siphon. there is another way that I have not tried yet but it uses the indexing valve and a timer. The indexing valve will switch growbeds with a break in the flow by way of the timer. The grow bed has a stand pipe to prevent overflow but has small holes at the base of them to drain the grow bed after the flood cycle.  The old school reason for the timer was to make the pumps last longer but pumps are better and made to last longer now.

Jim, after reading your post I went out and starting checking the bell tops. Two of the first three moved when I turned it to tighten them... so I know I have at least minor air leaks. I stopped there and came back inside. gonna go through them all and glue the suckers down.

Randall, yes it did for the most part.  My problem is I am filling alot of water into my beds slowly. The problem there is i miss when they fill and empty. I know they are doing it, but the timing escapes me. Some are so long that the rock in the suspended pots will completely dry before the next fill cycle. At least that is what I noticed during the hot part of the day yesterday.

Hey Pat,

I don't know if you ever noticed in my pictures but I place a scrap piece of tubing from 1 1/2" to 3" in the front left corner of my GBs which acts as a site tube so I can tell where the water level is in the bed. This allows me to know when one is about to go into drain mode as well as how well it empties so I can watch. This could reduce your frustration by a large degrees:-) I must say I have never seen anyone else mention this simple obvious (at least to me) little trick. Pic below.

Also, stop worrying if the siphon takes a few extra burps. Even your toilet does that on occasion so who cares. If people want to be that annal they should go straight to indexing valves and get over it. For over 9 mos. now I have not had a single "hang" in any of 5 full time running siphons without traps and without "snorkels" and each has a very different flow coming into the bed. I have never even really tried to balance the flow to each.

I still have never seen a picture of your siphons. I have posted pics of mine at least 2 dozen times now. Try copying one exactly and try it in a 5 gal pail with only one 90 deg elbow. In practice I add another elbow and that ensures even better performance as to start up and is necessary in order to attach to the 1 1/2" drain anyway. I was totally confident in my siphons BEFORE I ever buried them in gravel.

I thoroughly tested mine in a 5 gal bucket (1 " hole in the bottom as seen in my video 9 mos. ago) with a garden hose and they worked perfectly every time. Vary the flow and get an idea of the width of the range of flow that will work properly so you have some idea what your flow needs to be. Stop guessing. Make absolutely sure there are no air leaks in that bell. That is VITAL! I am so confused by your description that I really need a few pics to see what you are doing wrong. KISS but know what you're doing. I have been making things like this for 45 years now and that accumulated knowledge goes into everything I or we do be it AP, high rate composting, wood stove design, house design, machinery design, etc. Now that I think about it I started designing and building Go-Karts when I was 9. That's 57 years ago now. I hope I have learned something along the way. What is simple and easy for me may sound like rocket science to others, I get that. So take advantage of me. Let me help. Please remember: "The devil's in the details"

Here is a pic of my site tubes. (red arrows) I guarantee you will use them all the time. I do. Lets get you up and running and happy

Keep in mind that I run at temps up to 112F on a sunny day in the GH and I have NO drying out problems. BUT, I add extensions to the siphon funnel when I am starting plants or seeds, etc. to raise the water level in order to reach the little roots or seeds. My design allows for that. I wish you were closer by. We could have you purring in no time.

BTW, I would guess I am running at 15 min fill and 2 min. drain on average (I have yet to time it officially) and it might burp up to 5 times during cut off and up to 1 min during start up. With the site tubes you will get a much better idea what's happening. I have been taking them for granted but I wouldn't run without them. Heck, now that I think about it I am up to 105 pages now in my system plans pdf and I haven't even mentioned the site tubes yet. I may never finish

This is what I meant by confused on my part. I have nothing to screw down on my bells. What are you doing differently?

Pat James said:

Jim, after reading your post I went out and starting checking the bell tops. Two of the first three moved when I turned it to tighten them... so I know I have at least minor air leaks. I stopped there and came back inside. gonna go through them all and glue the suckers down.

Not sure if I have covered VENTS with you before but unless you provide enough vents in your common drain line that entire drain line is actually part of your siphon and WILL screw you up royally. You must isolate your siphons from that line (and each other) with vents or you will never get consistent results. If you don't know what I mean then you must go buy a cheap book on plumbing 101 and learn what vents are all about in your house. Not a single sink or toilet, etc. would work properly without proper vents. AP is no different. A simple T in the common drain line ahead of each siphon tap is a must. I use 1 1/2" Tees that have a 1" tap and vent it up to the top level of the gravel media surface height with 1" pipe and a couple of 90's. Even 1/2" pipe would do fine. If you need more on this let me know and I will post a pic or 2. I posted on this elsewhere.

What I meant was my bells were not as tight as I had thought they were . i would have bet they were air tight , but after pushing them, I realized that was NOT the case. Now they are, at least pressed down hard ...when i can get to the store they will be solidly glued.

 Pat Jims vent posting was on my page under buried plumbing. Also dont glue the cap on for good , just press it down real good and silicone a bead in it .so if you need to adjust the bell height you can get it off and save a few$ 

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