Install plastic culvert pipe.
A corrugated plastic culvert pipe that is 3 feet in diameter and 10 feet long is installed vertically about 8½ to 9 feet into the ground. Prior to installation, polyethylene plastic is welded to the bottom of the pipe to create a water basin. After burying part of the culvert, the end of the water pipeline is inserted into the corrugated pipe. This is achieved by installing a tank flange with female threads into the wall of the culvert, and a connector with male threads on the end of the water line. (Pipelines, typically measuring 1 to 3 inches in diameter, are fed by electric- or solar-powered wells, and must be buried below the frost line.)
Place track system in pipe.
A track system with a float valve that can automatically turn on or shut off water is installed within a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe. The valve, which is near the bottom of the corrugated pipe, is connected to a quick-release coupler, similar to a hydraulic quick couple but designed for water. A long string is attached to the float valve at the bottom of the pipe and a float at the top, so as water reaches a certain level in the stock tank, the string closes the valve. “This means the well doesn’t have to continually run,” says Bud Williamson who ranches in northeast Wyoming. He notes this eliminates water waste and extends the life of parts. (Note: This is a display model to show the parts of the track system and how it works.)
Attach 2nd PVC pipe to water line.
Prior to starting the next step, another PVC pipe is attached to the underground water line, and this pipe extends above-ground, just outside of the rubber tire. Inside this pipe is a curb-stop valve. “In the event the coupler should fail, you can shut the supply-line valve at the tank and not have to travel a longer distance to shut down the pipeline,” Williamson says. “This is a brass valve that has a long life; but should it ever fail, you would have access it by digging.”
Place rubber tire on gravel base.
A 10- to 13-foot-wide repurposed rubber tire is placed on a gravel base surrounding the corrugated pipe, and then concrete is poured between the tire bead and pipe to create a watertight seal. Just above the concrete, two slits are cut opposite of each other in the corrugated pipe. The slits are about 1 inch wide by 1½ feet long.
Add insulated lid to tire.
An insulated lid is then put on top of the tire. The Williamsons developed one out of fiberglass that covers the entire tire. It has four main doors, divided into quarters, meaning that all four doors can be lifted during spring, summer and fall; or one door at a time can be lifted when temperatures drop, or if a cell system is used for managed grazing.
Equip quarter panel with door.
One of the quarter panels is equipped with a small door. This allows all four main doors to be closed during bitter cold temperatures, while still accommodating up to three animals at a time.
Center removable door over culvert.
A small removable door is centered over the culvert, which allows operators to adjust the float system and make repairs.
Place fence panel on tire.
A fence panel is placed from one end of the tire to the other. This allows operators to work safely on the float system, and it also helps to ensure that livestock don’t trample across the lid system. Chains are hung from the fencing to secure one or more lid panels in an upright position. When complete, the system can be turned on and off at any time for season-long use. “Should any part fail, we just drop a pump to the bottom of the culvert, suck the water out, and, with a ladder, can make repairs with no digging required,” Williamson says.