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I started working on a design for my leaping arches. I built a prototype but am looking for feedback from some seasoned veterans :)

From a 8' piece of 1/2" schedule 40 PVC, I created a 5 channel arch. I wanted the arch to be self formed and not require staking to hold its shape, so I used a 1/2" piece of conduit to form a base of approx 4' - 6" long. There are two PVC T fittings on both ends of the conduit, both screwed in place. The 8' PVC is fitted into the top of the T fittings and secured with screws to prevent it from popping out due to pressure. Two legs were added to the middle of the conduit to make the arch stand by itself.

I wanted to use the arch sleeve concept, mainly for the ease of replacing a section should one go out. I originally used 15" long 1" PVC but it seemed too stiff and put a lot of pressure on the arch. Plus it looked like a half pentagon and not a smooth arch. I had some 3/4" foam pipe insulation tubing in my garage and decided to give it a try. It seemed to work quite well and really conforms to the arches shape.

Obviously it hasn't been put to the test with the elements yet... What do you guys think? Will it survive a winter in Chicago with temperatures ranging from 30 degrees to 0 degrees and sometimes wind, snow, rain or freezing rain?

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I have had good luck using PVC for arches.  One thing to consider:   "Forcing" a bend in PVC may look good today but give it a bit of time in storage and that nice dome shape will start to turn into a high arch as the 'legs' start to straighten out.  What I did to "lock in" the bend was to first draw out the arch on a sheet of plywood and outlined the pencel line with screws(outside edge- every 6") 

I then plugged one end of the PVC and poured HOT WATER in the open end.  (let it sit a minute, drain, and REPEAT couple times)  The PVC was then loose enough to be forced against the screw pattern and be held by a second set of screws on the inner side.  A heat gun was then used to soften the PVC further and remove any memory of being straight.  Let the PVC cool (or douse it w/cold water)   Suggest you make your arch template a bit smaller than needed.  The PVC does tend to 'spring" open a bit.


The form insulation for 'sections' sounds like it will work well.  Suggest you glue the long edge slit closed before wrapping to lessen collapsing (they usually come with a glue edge and pull-off tape)


Usual disclaimer of HOT WATER and HOT PVC does BURN so use appriate precautions.


Enjoy the project!

Edited by Jim H
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