Anyone here making your own frag plugs?

Discussion in 'DIY' started by Elite, Mar 2, 2006.

  1. Elite

    Elite Guest

  2. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    I've made aragonite/cement ones in the past, but I just use acrylic rod now.

    I'm thinking about making a new mold for aragocrete plugs that fit into eggcrate now though. My new tank is far to big to use acrylic rods, it's got a foot print of 4' x 4 1/2' :D I've made the eggcrate supports, and cut the eggcrate to size, so I guess I'm now committed to making a mold :)

  3. wakskat

    wakskat Guest

    That is a real nice tank Gresham. What are you planning on culturing in that thing?
  4. Elite

    Elite Guest

    wanna share how to make it? Some pic will help :D
    Very nice frag tank... Did you make that yourself too??
  5. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    NOTE: Some people use plastic (nylon?) bolts and plastic drywall anchors as "frag plugs!"

    Using an icecube tray and aragocrete seems popular too!

    I use polished river rock that I picked up at the dollar store for ... a dollar. It seems to work pretty well for stand alone corals, and the rock can be epoxied to your live rock. Live everything else, it'll coralline over in time. (assuming coralline grows well in your tank!) I even have a piece of river rock that was completely encrusted over by an sps!

  6. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    I started making the molds last night :D Once I have a batch done, I'll go back and document the total process.

    The ones I'm doing, are for eggcrate only really. One size is just uner 1" round and the other is around 1 1/2" round. Both have a 3/4" long "plug" to go into the eggcrate so they'll be held in place.

    BTW, the nylong bolts and dry wall anchors aren't cheap, and the drywall anchors with the screen, trap air and tend to float.
  7. Elite

    Elite Guest

    Yup that is why I don't like to use them :) ...

    Can you bring me some Gresham?? :D .. I pay for it ..
  8. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    I just started on the mold. Here's my process

    1. make clay plug
    2. make latex mold of plug
    3. mold a plug using plaster of paris
    4. refine plug to the making of the final molds.
    5. make another latex mold of the refined plug
    6. make a bunch of plaster of paris plugs out of new mold
    7. make a large mold using the plugs from the last step. I plan on doing 3 dozen per large mold.
    8. cure for a few months :(

    I'm on stage 1.5 :D
  9. Elite

    Elite Guest

    :D doesn't look like it will be ready for this weekend :D
  10. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    Wow! That's a pretty complicated system! Why not just used the fingers of a rubber glove as a mold?

    Or make a long tube and just break off pieces...

    I like the acrylic rod idea (especailly since it's pretty cheap)

  11. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    Yah, like making a long tube (which won't work for what I'm doing) or using gloves would be able to produce MASS amounts of plugs wuickly. IMO it's something you should try, but I prefer a method that is much easier in the long run. Being I have friends that make molds professionally, I think I'll use the tried and true method. Besides, I'm trying to make something semi professional looking, not some POS glob of cement or a "tube" that will fall thru the eggcrate.

    The arcylic rod method aka the Bookfish Method, is great, unless you have a single snail or something that can push them out of their holder (happens daily). Even with out critters to pull them out, flow will do it on it's own. I'm also looking for more surface area, the sagging chalice frags look horriable like that ;)
  12. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    OK, OK! Just trying to be helpful!

    I've actually thought about the following method, but never tried it.

    1) Get a few pieces of plywood and stack them to the height you want the plug's "stem".
    2) Drill holes of the desired diameter into all the plywood (nail or glue them together)
    3) If you want a wider "mushroom top" area, then take another piece of plywood and mark the centers of all the holes you drilled in the plywood stack. Drill a larger diameter hole in that plywood (or another stack, depending on the thickness you want the top)
    4) nail/glue the piece with the larger holes onto the first stack.
    5) Place a piece of plywood under the mold.

    Now you have a wooden mold that you can fill with aragocrete/cement with that will produce mushroom shaped plugs. Since the bottom piece is not attached, you can just invert the mold and push the plugs out with your fingers!

    Now, I understand that wood and wet cement probably don't go well together, but maybe using some urethane or some other type of coating would make the mold more durable... or else maybe it's so cheap, you don't really care if the mold is ruined. I haven't tried it yet so I don't know how sticky the aragocrete would be on the molds, though I do know that in building construction, plywood forms are often used for pouring concrete...though only the faces are exposed to the concrete, not the EDGE of the plywood, as it would be in that case. (but you can use non-plywood, of course. Like if you have some thick acrylic sitting around, and the ability to drill it.

    I'm talking about fairly crude mushroom or "bolt" shaped plugs of course, and I've not tried it yet so it might completely suck. If it works, it would probably be easily scalable (a drill press can go through a lot of wood fast). I'll probably try it for kicks, since I've had cement and sand sitting around for a long time...

  13. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    :D belive me, if I hadn't tried most methods, I wouldn't be so stubburn on this ;)

    I tried the wood method a few years back, they REALLY stuck to it. I never tried pre wetting the wood though, so you may want to give that a go. Urathan is an option as well.

    My friend runs a mold/production shop that does all of Giro and Bell helmuts and part. I just need to make to initial plugs, and he'll make the larger mold out of RTV (or is it RVT?). I should in theory be able to pull thousands out of each mold this way. Normal latex molds only last for a few hundred.

    I'm also going for detail here. I'm putting my initials on the plugs bases, and may be "roughing up" the top of the disc to make it look a bit more natural. I'll also be filling my aragocrete with larger bits of crush coral to allow less cement in the final plug (quicker curing).
  14. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest


    I finished my mold and was pretty unhappy with it, so asked my friend to just mill me one out of acrylic on his CNC. He did that, AND made me a REAL RTV mold. If it's what I want, we're going make the 36 count mold tomorrow :D Painless.

    This is also HUGE for BAR DIYers. We now have access to a master proto-machinest with his own machine shop and Haas CNC mill. Guess I should have mentioned he bought all this for his home shop, not work :D

    Twist lock flanges
    protein skimmer riser cones
    needle wheels

    all will be available cheaply really soon.

    I'll be donating a thousand or so of these plugs to BAR once cured.
  15. Elite

    Elite Guest

    Four thumbs up for you.... Oh wait, I have only 2 :D

    I want to build a Cal reactor. Please let us know when your friend has his stuff up and running. This is so cool :D ...
  16. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    Do you want to do a square DJ88 one?
  17. Elite

    Elite Guest

    I like the round one better but the square one would work.. :)
  18. Thales

    Thales Past President


    If you are looking for 'crete disks for frags right quick, steve have them for sale at New Alameda for an outfit out of boston. I bought a bunch of them and they nice. Hopefully, soon, gresh will be the local connection!
  19. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    I got back my sample mold and ABS piece he milled, it's sick :D Since it has a square base for the eggcrate, flow and critters can't turn the corals and make them touch anymore. IT also has enough depth, that it'll take some hardcore force to knock them out of eggcrate.

    When I get my large mold done, and first few batches cured, I'll approach BAR sponsors to stock them, like NAA, Mermaid, Atlantis, etc.

    I'll post pics after work :D
  20. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    BTW, those plugs that NAA has, are my inspiration. Those are excellent plugs, and I think it's truly great that Steve is carrying them. Kudos Steve :D

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