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 155 Gallon Custom Acrylic aquarium.

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mpowers
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PostSubject: 155 Gallon Custom Acrylic aquarium.   Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:17 pm

First topic message reminder :

Restoration how to or how I learned to polish acrylic.

So here is the tank that we purchased from Mark a few weeks back.


Did not take a lot of pics of scratches and the tank before hand, just got down to work on the job at hand.

The instructions here are how I polished this tank. After doing so I would do this a bit differently next time to save time and I'll go over that at the end.

Lets start off with scratches or gouges in the acrylic. The first picture here that you see is where I am using 600 grit wet/dry (all paper grit types used are wet/dry) sand paper from any parts store.


The pic is of the back of the tank from the inside looking onto the painted back side. The long scratches you see are where the epoxy on the back was accidentally scrapped by yours truly. I am going to focus on the prominent scratch in the center of the pic. This pic was taken about mid way thru the process of using the 600g. I used a palm sander with water and dawn for a lubricant. You'll need to work an area of about 15" for this one 1" scratch to avoid a distortion and move around in all direction. Don't worry, as you can see there are many more around it too that will be tackled at the same time. During and after each sanding I would wipe the area clean of debris with a microfiber towel, once you used the microfiber for the sanding step don't use it for any polishing as it will trap small particles of acrylic and sand that washing will not take out. But do wash them and use them for further sanding clean up.

This pic is after the 600g and 800g. Still can see a tiny pin holes where the scratch is at this point. Again same method used as described above.


After 1000g. That little blotch/birthmark you see on the bottom left corner looked to me where someone was sloppy with weld-on, it was a raised area that help me keep track of the original scratch. Speaking of keeping track of these as you work. On the front and side panels I used a sharpie on the outside of the tank to keep track of the scratches on the inside of the tank. Once you start sanding with the water the scratches will disappear on you and this helps keep track of what you were doing. Do note, I hadn't done the outside yet at this point. So my outside sanding removed the sharpie Very Happy , my point is mark it with something or you won't be able to see it.


After 1500g. Had to lay the camera lens cap beside where the scratch was. From here I would go over it again with 1500g by a padded hand sander. You can see where the finishing sander left chatter marks. It's a cheap sander that I already had, maybe a higher end one would have done a better job. I stopped here on the back and I'll explain why in a moment.


So now we are off the area I was working on the back of the tank and looking thru the front panel, the spray bottle is placed in the photo to show clarity. I didn't just jump from 1500g to this, I wish! So here is how to end up with 99% clear tank. I say 99% because I didn't want to spend any more time on it (after 40+hrs I was happy to call it good).


From the 1500g I hand sanded 2000g with the padded hand sander, again working in all directions and for some time. Onto 3000g that was done by hand (no sand paper holder) in a Mr Miyagi style with light pressure. By now the tank should look cloudy but uniform.

Time to break out the high speed buffer and mini orbital buffer! So I have all three stages of Novus plastic polish and can say it doesn't work as well as what available to the automotive world. I'll save you a lot of cash and tell you to skip the Novus. I used Meguiar's Deep Crystal Paint Cleaner step 1 & 2 and their PlastX, I can't promise these are fish safe. But I througly washed the tank with dawn and bleach.

How to use the Meguairs paint cleaner; pretty simple, make sure to use a polishing bonnet or foam pad (I used both only to not have to wash them out between switching polish) and with light pressure work an area no larger than 4'-5'sq. Be sure that the polish is well saturated on the pad and the acrylic to avoid burning and you will have no problems. Wipe off in between each stage with a clean fresh microfiber towel (btw the best place to buy these are Sam's club, something like 20 for less than 10 bucks). These you can wash and reuse, just don't let the polish harden onto the towel and your good. After performing stage 1 & 2 it should look near clear with only very, very fine scratches that are hard to see. If your like me and find you missed a scratch here or there during the sanding process, now is the time to repeat from what ever sanding stage you think it would take to remove the scratch out. You'll use the Mequiar's PlastX the same way as the paint cleaner and this should remove all the very fine marks. If you don't have a high a high speed buffer don't worry, my little palm orbital polisher from wally world that's 10 years old worked as well as the high speed buffer, just took more time.

Take your time with each of these steps and the results will speak for themselves.

Now back to a few things I did discover and would like to share.

First, I stopped at the 1500 grit on the back of the tank and just polished it from that stage. While not as clear as the other panels, you will never no when it is filled with water.

Second, when the tank is filled with water about all but the heavy scratches disappear any way, the only way to view them was to inspect the acrylic from multiple angles as the water seems to play a visual trick on the eyes. Another words, if you missed a very fine scratch after all you hard work, you may want to fill the tank and see if you can find it with the tank lights on.

Third, I would have worked in a slightly different order. Wash the tank, polish with 1&2 steps and them attack the larger marks and then polish again. The way I did it was the whole tank from 600g on up which is very time consuming. And if a corner is fine, stay out of it with the sand paper. They can be a pia to get into with a buffer.

Fourth, if the tank is painted on the back with epoxy, don't scratch it! I had to use a 60g to remove the stuff! That took forever to bring it back to ok looking. But the neat part is once painted again with Krylon Fusion you can't see my laziness of not polishing out the back Very Happy

In the next installment I will bring some pic's of the spray bars and hopefully a running tank!





Last edited by mpowers on Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: 155 Gallon Custom Acrylic aquarium.   Wed Oct 10, 2012 10:03 am

Thanks everyone for the compliments!
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PostSubject: Re: 155 Gallon Custom Acrylic aquarium.   Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:25 pm

I've been re-reading this thread, and again- very impressive! What a great tank.

I do have a question for you, though. Do you have a crawlspace/basement under that room? I was wondering what your considerations for the weight of the tank were, and if you found it necessary to make any reinforcements under the floor. Or, is the room on a first floor, right on the base pad, so no worries?

We're planning for a 125 long in our home, and we're a bit concerned about the weight. I spoke with Liz about her 150 on this topic at the last meeting, and she mentioned that they watched closely while filling the tank, and her flooring structure did fine. I don't believe she mentioned putting in any supports.

What was your experience?

Thanks in advance for your comments!

DL
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PostSubject: Re: 155 Gallon Custom Acrylic aquarium.   Tue Jan 29, 2013 1:35 pm

We were lucky as its sitting on a slab.

Although we love the tank, I have ran out of time to enjoy the tank (and this forum/club) and it will be for sale soon along with a couple of other tanks. Just need to make the time to take pics etc...
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PostSubject: Re: 155 Gallon Custom Acrylic aquarium.   Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:00 pm

Sorry to hear you are stepping outta' the hobby mpowers.

You are knowledgeable and I always enjoyed your posts, so I hope you return soon.

When you are ready to sell that BAD BOY 155 post it up, I'm gonna help DL come pickup it up Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: 155 Gallon Custom Acrylic aquarium.   Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:17 pm

Lol, not stepping out, just reducing the amount of tanks. Keeping the 75, one 20 and a 4 that I have yet to start. So our current batch of fry will be our last too. I plan on having the time this weekend to post up all goodies.
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PostSubject: Re: 155 Gallon Custom Acrylic aquarium.   Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:44 pm

Okay well that's good, just down sizing.... that's very understandable.

Man, if you can make the time, you should come to the next meet at John's new place at KGTropicals in Mid March....By then he should have a lot more of his shop set up and plans in order...

And you can pickup a bunch of VB folks along the way. Smile

It's gonna be a lot of fun.....

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PostSubject: Re: 155 Gallon Custom Acrylic aquarium.   Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:08 am

Aw, man....you're killin' me, dude!! Wink
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PostSubject: Re: 155 Gallon Custom Acrylic aquarium.   Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:00 am

Mike, from my point of view it will be sad if you have to get out of the hobby for good, which is what I thought you meant at first. Glad to hear it's only downsizing but it sounds like in general you will have far less time for the hobby than you used to. Well, that happens. I hope you will look in here from time to time, though, and make a little time for us and CVAS. We do not want to lose you! Inactive is okay!

Gundog has a good idea, though ... the March 17 meeting at KGTropicals will be a good time and a good place for us all to meet up again. Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: 155 Gallon Custom Acrylic aquarium.   Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:23 pm

Yep, just down sizing. The tank doesn't really take that much time, it's when I add in three other tanks it turn into an rather lengthy afair. And I won't part with my 75 since I built the stand and hood myself....

Sorry to say I'll mis the meeting, b-day weekend and are hopping to get out of town!
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