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How to build your own Solar camp shower

Written by  Wilfred Weihe

Although the idea of staying nice and fresh whilst camping may not seem that clever, you would be surprised to learn that many of us are simply fed up of feeling grimy whilst roughing it on the road.

The good news is that there is now a very cool solution that can help you to achieve exactly that without breaking the bank. This short article looks at how even the most basic set of DIY skills will enable you to build your very own solar shower.

Tools and materials

You may be okay to substitute a few of the following but we would recommend that you follow this recommendation as closely as possible:

Tools:

  • Hacksaw
  • Drill with 1/8", 3/4" and 3/8" bits
  • Marker

Materials:

  • One 10' length of 4" Schedule 40 ABS pipe (this will depend on how much water you want the shower to hold)
  • Two 4" ABS end caps
  • One 4" T-joint ABS fitting with threaded top opening
  • 4" ABS cleanout cap for T-joint
  • One 1/2" brass locknut
  • One flat rubber O-ring
  • Two canoe foam blocks (optional: these go on your vehicle’s crossbars and keep the shower more secure and held off the bars; alternately you can just tie the shower directly to the bars)
  • One Schrader valve from an aluminum wheel; available at any tire/wheel shop
  • ABS cleaner/primer
  • ABS cement
  • Waterproof silicone sealant
  • Sandpaper
  • Tie-down straps
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Schrader bike pump
  • One 3/4" hose spigot
  • Hose with nozzle

Step by step

  1. This depends on how much water you intend to contain and use. Ideally you should aim for a 6’long shower that contains around 4 or 5 gallons of water. This will last for approximately 15 minutes if you follow this guide.
  2. Next you will need to cut your pipe into a 6” length and a 5’6” length. This will leave an extra piece for later use.
  3. Cut the foam blocks into two pieces that will need to be fitted to the end and middle of the ABS pipe.
  4. Drill a hole for the spigot for the brass locknut to be fitted into. It may take a bit of reaming for this to fit correctly. Refer to your car classifieds if you require a suitable vehicle.
  5. Installing the Schrader valve is the next step, this involves marking a dot above the spigot hole and using the 3/8” drill bit to make the hole. Push the valve through the hole so that it is sticking out of the smooth side. Use some silicone gel to hold the washer and valve in place.
  6. Install the spigot by placing a rubber O-ring over the threads and use silicone gel to fit it in place. Add more gel to the threads and screw the fastener to hand tightness onto the spigot.
  7. Rough up the edges of the pipe with sandpaper and clean the inside and outside of the pipe with ABS cleaner. Add ABS cement to the interior of an end cap and press against the outside of the pipe edge firmly. Assemble the following pieces in this order: Plain end cap, 5’ABS pipe, T-joint, 6”ABS pipe, end cap and spigot. Ensure that the T-joint opening is aligned with the top of the shower and also the end cap. Let the cement dry as per application instructions.
  8. Place the shower onto the foam blocks of your Ford Flex once they have been slid onto the car’s crossbars. Tie down with straps and ensure that the spigot is facing down.
  9. Fill the pipe with water and leave a space for the air to pressurize nicely.
  10. Attach your bike pump or air compressor to the Schrader valve using 30psi as a guide line.
  11. When you feel like getting nice and clean, simply crack open the spigot and start enjoying your ultra cool solar shower. Avoid drinking the water and never use it for cooking.

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