Songkran Water Festival in Thailand 2007:
Making a Big Squirter Stick (squirt gun)
Ok, here it is – how to make a Songkran squirter stick out of PVC plastic tubing for Thailand’s Songkran Water Festival. First you’ll have to find a store that sells this stuff. I’ve seen them around the city – they are almost always open-aired stores – the front is open to the street. These PVC pipes are visible as you drive by. Really, it’s that easy for some reason. I’ve seen 3 of these stores and stopped at one and got the materials you see here. I still need to go to one of the other stores to see if I can find the perfect rubber o-ring seal. Yep, I’ll do that today, nothing else to do!
A Songkran squirter stick is essentially a smaller plunger (inner tube) going in and out of the water reservoir (bigger tube) to suck in and push out water forcefully through a nozzle in the front. Really a simple concept that would be much better explained with a video, but the video will follow this instruction post since my squirter stick is not assembled yet.
* 2 PVC TUBES: The outer and thicker tube is one meter long. The inner tube is one meter plus about 5 or 6 inches. Yes, these are BIG tubes.
The diameter of the hole in the inner tube is EXACTLY the same size as a Thai 10 baht coin, so take one to the store with you. The outer tube’s diameter is larger than the smaller tube’s diameter by enough that the smaller diameter tube fits inside the bigger tube EASILY. It’s NOT a snug fit. It definitely shouldn’t be.
* There is an ENDCAP for the outer tube. It’s a solid cap that fits OVER the end of one side of the tube. See photo left. I’ve put a black circle on the spot that a hole will be drilled for the water to exit the Songkran tube. This cap becomes the nozzle that the water squirts out of. This outer tube endcap can be glued on the outer tube anytime.
* From the photo at the top you can see I’m using “Thai Pipe” PVC cement. This one was 30 baht and smaller than the other can they had for sale which was only 15 baht, but the woman said this 30 baht can was “dee gwah”, much better. I think “much better” is better because this thing will get some heavy duty use during the 3 days of Songkran. MORE if you’re in Chiang Mai where I heard a rumor they were starting Songkran on April 1st to combat the heat and the bad smell of smoke in the air. No joke. Don’t know if that happened or not, but, knowing how crazy they get in Chiang Mai over this Songkran Festival they will have Songkran TWICE if they make the decision to start it on April 1st! You KNOW they’ll do it again on the 13th like the rest of the nation too and probably for a week each time, not the customary 3 days!
* There is another ENDCAP for the other end of the outer tube. This end cap is open – and fits OVER the outer tube end. It fits snugly. It has an open end where the inner tube will slide back and forth. It will be a little bit more snug on the inner tube because as you’re squirting you don’t want the water to be dripping all over you, only going out the front of the tube.
* The funny cap with the screw threads is just that – a funny cap. You can use this or something else. The point is you need something that screws INTO one of the inner tube ends and can sandwich a piece of rubber or a rubber ring (o-ring) between the cap and the end of the inner tube. This rubber seal and end, once assembled should fit inside the outer tube a little bit snugly, but still be able to be moved in and out as the inner tube slides into the outer tube. It needs to be somewhat snug to push the water out the front of the tube without it squirting backwards much – at you.
* The rubber inner tube from the motorbike tire was the woman’s idea who was selling this stuff. I will go back out and try to find an o-ring seal of rubber to put between the cap and inner tube – but, this rubber might actually work. If I used the rubber shown here I would cut a circle with a hole in the middle – like a donut and put one end of the screw cap into the rubber and then push the cap INTO the smaller tube, and sandwich it all together. It might work, might not. I’m thinking a rubber o-ring would be a whole lot better though.
If you do get a rubber o-ring – make sure it’s thick and strong. Plastic might even work OK if it’s flexible a bit. The key is to create a snug plunger that will move inside the outer tube to push the water out of the small hole in the front to great distances.
STEPS to ASSEMBLY:
1. If you haven’t already, glue the big outer cap to the good end (the end not cut with a saw) of the outer tube with a lot of glue. I dont’ know how well this stuff sticks. It looks like regular rubber cement to me until it dries on my finger, then I can’t peel it off. Hopefully it bonds PVC together well!
2. Put the smaller end cap on the bad end (the irregular end cut with a saw at the store) of the inner tube with a lot of glue. This is the end you’ll be pushing against with the palm of your hand to shoot the water.
3. Configure the inner tube with the open end with some configuration that acts as a plunger to push the water out of the squirting end of the outer tube. This may require some jerry-rigging (hocus pokus) but you’ll come up with something. Work your farang magic and come up with something. The Songkran tube I used last year had this nice cap that fit on the end of the inner tube – that sandwiched a round rubber o-ring seal between it and the inner tube. It made the diameter of the inner tube bigger and fit well within the outer tube – a nice fit that gave a lot of power as I was pushing it hard and shooting the water over 30 feet with the wind.
Whatever you do, don’t put the final cap on the end of the outer tube that blocks water from coming back out until you are sure your plunger works very well and will work for many times squirting it. The last cap acts more as a piece that keeps the whole thing together and you don’t need to worry about pulling the inner tube out of the outer tube. It’s optional though I guess. It does help to align the tubes for when you’re sucking in or squirting out water – so I think it helps a bit. Up to you I think.
4. Drill a small hole – about the size of a pencil diameter into the big cap – the squirting end of the long stick – as shown in the photo with the black dot. You’ll want to get your Songkran squirter together and try it out. If your stick is thick like mine (not bragging, just stating the facts) your hole might need to be a bit bigger to make it easier to push out the water and easier to hold in your hand. Women, you might want a smaller diameter stick, easier to push out the water. My arms and shoulders were pretty tired after a few days of this activity, but I never stopped – I just popped some Paracet (tylenol) and kept going!
Dip your Songkran stick into a tub or wastebasket (or sink) full of water and get squirting to see if it’s going to work for that all important Songkran 1st day. You need to be sure you’ve got something that’ll work all day for 3 days. You could make a back up or make some smaller stealthy ones if you were so inclined… Mine is a bit hard to hide. last year mine was a peach color. I don’t know WHERE my student found that color, it didn’t appear to be painted.
That’s pretty much it. I’ll have some video of me demonstrating the whole setup when I get mine together.
Songkran Water Festival starts on April 13 and goes for 3 days through April 15th. If you’re lucky enough to live in Chiang Mai where they get the craziest over this holiday you’ll be enjoying it for a week long at a minimum. They are off the hook in CM for Songkran usually. If you prefer an all out ORGY of water throwing madness – point yourself up there for the holiday. You’ll find out how nuts it can get.
In other parts of the country – especially the Northeast it starts out slowly and gets going good each of the Songkran festival days at about 1pm or so. By 4pm all the young guys are drunk and things appear to be CHAOS, even in small towns like Ubon Ratchathani especially in the small main streets – if that makes sense. Some streets are just naturally more packed with nutty folks. The highway between towns is also lined with some crazies throwing water at motorbike riders (like me during Songkran last year). One idiot steps out into the street and throws a bowl of water that hit me hard and it felt like being hit by a brick. I was going about 80 km per hour since I was able to slow down some before he got me – but, yes, I understand how people die during this water festival with a lot of people drunk and some doing stupid things.
You’ll have to come and experience it though – JUST for the experience. You’ll see some really nice people that sprinkle water on others (my girlfriend). You’ll see Thai guys that are drunk and patting other men – especially farang (westerners/foreigners) with cooling powder in the face, neck, chest and eyeballs and kissing us, hugging us, taking photos with us, making us drink their Lao Kow (Thai whiskey) and more…
You’ll probably see some idiot farang that think it’s time to take their personal grudges against the Thai people by throwing dishes of water VERY hard into the faces of people riding the streets in the back of pickup trucks. Farangs seem to be really bad at this as a whole. Most of us just don’t “get it”.
Anyway, so it’s supposed to be a fun festival – and for me, it’s been the greatest time. This will be my third, and from the looks of things my final. I’m going to “play Songkran” as the Thais’ say it, in Pattaya this year!
Songkran Water Festival in Thailand, 2007 – GO!