The popularity of pirates right now cannot be overestimated. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has made being a pirate cooler than a slushie on a hot summer day. If your children are fortunate enough to have a wooden play system in the backyard, here is an easy DIY project to turn it into their own pirate ship or defensive fort.
Treasures to be "acquired" for the project:
1 piece of 1/2" PVC pipe; 1 piece 3/4" PVC pipe; 1 piece 1" PVC pipe; 1- 3/4" floor flange PVC; 1- 3/4" male adapter PVC; 2- 3/4" caps PVC; 1- 3/4" tee PVC; 1- 3/4"x1/2" coupling PVC; 1- 3/4"x1" coupling PVC; 1"x2" coupling PVC; primer for PVC glue; PVC glue; plastic spray paint (C'mon, who wants a white telescope?); 1- 1/4"x1" hex bolt galvanized or stainless steel; 3- 1/4" washers galvanized or stainless steel; 1- 1/4" nylon lock nut galvanized or stainless steel
First step is to assemble the joint so the telescope will be able to rotate. This is key to make sure your kids are not stuck with a stationary unit that is pointing at the wall or worse, the 105 year old neighbor lady's master bathroom! Drill 1/4" holes in the center of each of the 2- 3/4" PVC caps. Next insert the hex bolt with a washer through the 1st cap from the inside. Put a washer over the bolt and on top of the cap. Place the 2nd cap over the bolt. Place the last washer over the bolt and secure with the nylon lock nut. Only tighten enough to give it a little friction with out binding. It should look like you just bolted the two caps together end to end with a washer in between them. You can use a little dry lube here to make sure it will operate smoothly and with out squeaking.
Next build the telescope body. Assembly of all of these pieces will require gluing; so make sure you DRY fit them all 1st to make sure you have built a telescope to the size you desire. Failure to do this may result in pre mature balding and global warming... or maybe it will just result in a LOT of frustration for you. Also make sure you use primer before putting each glued joint together to make sure that you have the strongest welds possible. There is NO right size so feel free to play around with lengths. Start on the big end with the 2"x1" coupling. Use a very short piece of 1" PVC pipe to connect that coupling to the 1"x3/4" coupling. A longer piece of 3/4" PVC pipe will connect this assembly to the 3/4" tee. Use a very short piece of 3/4" PVC pipe to connect the tee to the 3/4"x1/2" coupling. Finish with a piece of 1/2" PVC pipe to complete the telescope. Later you will use a length of 3/4" PVC pipe in the bottom of the tee for its support leg. Like I said you will have to play around with DRY fits and lengths to get the look you want. An overall length of about 24" usually looks right, but go with what makes you happy. Make sure you sand the cut end of the telescope to make sure that no one gets any strange scratches around their eyes that will require you to explain things to your spouse. "Chicks dig scars" will not get you off the hook for not sanding!
3rd step is to build the base to attach the telescope to the rail. Screw the floor flange to the wooden rail. Thread the male adapter into the flange very tightly. Glue a short piece of 3/4" PVC pipe into the male adapter. Glue one side of your rotating assembly onto that 3/4" PVC pic sticking out of the male adapter.
The 4th step is to attach the telescope assembly to the base assembly. Here you will benefit from the help of you child or children. Use their height as a guide to decide how long of a piece of 3/4" PVC to use to connect the bottom of the tee from the telescope to the rotating assembly. When you have the length decided on, cut the 3/4" PVC pipe to size and again DRY fit it together to make sure you got the size right before you assemble it. As the kids grow you can cut and glue more pipe to lengthen the support leg to accommodate changing heights.
The last step is to pick a color of spray paint (get the kind designed for use on plastic) and then paint you new telescope a nice piratey color. After it dries it is time to sit back, accept the accolades of the kids and watch as their little dreams of becoming pirates and sailing the ocean blue in search of treasure and adventure! (And maybe some ice cream and candy)
p.s. Don't be surprised when the other fathers in the neighborhood hit you up to help them do the same for their kids!