Upgrading the Plumbing and Hardware on an SR Smith Slide
Posted by Russell Wright on August 8, 2015
Yes, we have a slide…and a diving board…on our pool. OMG! Now that we’ve established that and the fact that we are not going to remove them, here’s my latest upgrade.
The slide is about 15 years old and empties into our salt water pool. The original plumbing on it is in the form of 1/4" tubing attached to recirculating water coming from the pool pump. However, it’s never worked very well because of the pressure drop from the 3/4" PVC to the 1/4" flexible tubing with which the slide is plumbed. In fact, at one time, I added a spigot from our irrigation system which worked pretty well, but the primary problem remained.
The primary problem is the 1/4" tubing never seems to last more than one season. We’re in Texas and it’s hot! Between the heat and the (somewhat) cold (yes, it does freeze at times), the tubing becomes fragile and breaks, necessitating its replacement every season. So, when the kids are over and it’s broken, a hose gets dragged to the slide and tied to and draped over a handle. Not cool. Plus, whether it’s the hose or the spigot, it’s up to me to turn off the fresh water supply, since no one ever seems to be able to do that when they are done.
My goal was to reduce the pressure loss by using a larger main line up and down most of the length of the slide. You can see my attachment of 1/2" PVC to the 3/4" PVC main line. After the reduction fitting, I used a removable PVC union fitting so the entire extension can be easily detached and removed, if necessary.
Under the slide I provided a cutoff valve so it can be easily turned on and off at the slide. There is also a master Jandy valve located at the pool equipment.
I was originally going to plumb it with 1/2" flexible PVC, but it seemed to be a bit difficult to get 11 feet of it without purchasing a 50 foot role. Home Depot and Lowes don’t stock the small stuff. So I finally decided to use rigid 1/2" PVC. In order to make it contour to the slide, I used my heat gun and patiently heated it up until it was flexible enough to form into the correct arcs.
Probably the neatest thing I did was take a PVC cap and drill and tap a hole that would accept one of those quick connect 1/4" tubing bulkhead connectors. I used plenty of Teflon tape on the threads and screwed it into the end of the modified PVC cap. This provides me with a quick way to make a short 1/4" tubing connection from the 1/2" PVC to the 1/4" slide fitting.
I did this at both the bottom and top, leaving enough room so the 1/4" tubing has room to flex and bend. On the bottom, I replaced the bulkhead connection on the slide (since it broke) with another 1/4" tubing quick connect, so replacing this short piece of tubing literally takes about 30 seconds. The lower slide nozzle correctly screws on the end of this quick connect bulkhead fitting.
Here’s the top. The tubing is a bit longer, but still quick and easy to replace.
An underside look at the top.
Next, I replaced all the hardware with stainless steel hardware. I ended up having to cut some of the bolts because the salt had corroded them so badly. My hardware was ordered from Albany County Fasteners on the web. Love these guys and their stainless hardware. Shipping is free with a $25 order! Or you can purchase stuff from them on eBay. Here you can see the carriage bolts replaced with stainless.
This is essentially a stainless lag screw replacement. I had to go a bit bigger because the aluminum rail was stripped, probably during the initial installation.
I had an issue with the aluminum handles being loose. Problem was the aluminum attachment block in the handle appears to be held in place with epoxy of some kind that had lost its grip. I re-engineered it with a through hole and stainless hardware.
I also had to drill and tap out the broken screw that comes up from the bottom of the slide. When I attempted to remove these screws that hold the handles in place, they promptly broke. In fact one was broken already which was the cause of one of the handles being loose (very unsafe). Not surprising, they were completely rusted. These screws fit into the bottom of the aluminum block that extends from the handles. They are not going anywhere now!
The complete project was probably around $50 in hardware and supplies and the results were great. There is now plenty of water that recirculates through the pool and on to the slide with significantly less pressure drop. It used to dribble…now it sprays!