A water tank from an old pipe

Perrie Botha’s farm boasts neat fences around his camps and he’s been converting old fuel tanks into water troughs for many years, but it’s the cylindrical water tank on the back of his pick-up truck that attracts the most attention.

The cylindrical water tank, with a capacity of 18 litres, is made from a piece of scrap pipe and is durable enough to withstand the knocks which most farm pick-up trucks receive.

It was while visiting friends who specialise in game capture that Perrie Botha (41) of the farm Allemanspoort near Jamestown in the Eastern Cape of South Africa noticed how useful rectangular water tanks can be on the back of a pick-up truck.

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A small hole is made in the inlet fitting to control the water pressure when the tank is filled with water

Back on the farm, he approached Wayne West, an engineer, to design one for him. However, due to the vibration caused by driving, the tank didn’t last long and split at the joins. To resolve the problem, Wayne suggested that Perrie try and get a cylindrical stainless steel pipe measuring 110mm or 150mm in diameter. After a lengthy search, he found one in Johannesburg.

“Unfortunately, the pipes were only available in lengths of 6m and cost more than R1 800 (ZMW 1300) each. Luckily, my brother had a friend who worked at a factory who supplied him with a 1m-long piece of scrap pipe.”

water tank
Polypropylene piping is wrapped around the bars of the pick-up truck to prevent them rubbing against the tank.

The friend also offered to convert it into a tank by welding stainless steel plates onto each open end. At the top and bottom of the tank, two screw fittings were attached. The tank is filled with water via the one fitting while the lower fitting is for the water outlet – this is fitted with a valve tap and 12mm garden hose.

“All it cost me was a little springbok biltong and a packet of dried sausage,” jokes Perrie.

He attached the tank, which holds about 18 litres of water, to the bars of the pick-up truck with binding wire. He intends to later replace the wire with neat clamps. To prevent friction, he has attached black 50mm polypropylene piping which he cut in half and wrapped around the bars where they come into contact with the tank.

Perrie says that wherever he goes, people are curious about the shiny contraption on his truck. “When we had a bushfire here recently, firefighters were very grateful for the drinking water.

water tank
Perrie Botha, drinking water from the self-made water tank on the back of his truck.

“I also use the water to wash my hands when we need to work on the windmills. I always keep a bottle of liquid hand soap handy, which makes my wife Rentia very happy because I no longer wipe oil and grease on my overalls.”

He estimates the cost of making a similar tank to be about R1 000 (ZMW730).

Water tank
Perrie Botha, with his parrot Elvis.


Another clever idea used on Allemanspoort is old 200-litre fuel drums which Perrie has converted into portable water troughs. He purchased a batch of steel drums, that were no longer being manufactured, at an auction 15 years ago.

To make a water trough, he removes the bottom of the drum and cuts it in half lengthwise. The two halves of the drum are then welded together at the open ends to make a long trough. For the canopy under which the float is placed, he cuts another drum into quarters. Old iron poles are used as legs.

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The portable water trough made from old 200-litre petrol drums.


Perrie has also devised an ingenious plan for his farm fences. The horizontal wires of the fence run through notches in the wooden droppers before being tightly secured with another piece of wire. This prevents the horizontal wires from moving if someone climbs through the fence, which can often lead to cattle crawling through the wire.

Water tank
A neat fence on Allemanspoort – Perrie
s frm.

To make his notched wooden droppers, Perrie uses a device specially made for this purpose – a 1350mm-long piece of angle iron supported on legs. The angle iron has seven grooves filed along its length, spaced 100mm, 245mm, 400mm, 550mm, 730mm, 970mm and 1029mm apart.

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The notches cut into the wooden droppers, like this one, ensure a neat, uniform fence.

Each wooden pole is then placed one at a time on the angle iron device, which is the exact same length as the droppers. He uses a bow saw to make the notches in the wooden droppers in the same spot where the grooves are in the angle iron template.

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Notches are cut into the wooden poles using a device specially made for the purpose

ENQUIRIES: Perrie Botha, email: botha.rentia@gmail.com.

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