Water Inner Tube: A Cure for Bucket Arm

The author explains how to make a water inner tube you can wear around your shoulders when watering your garden, sparing you from developing a sore arm.

| May/June 1980

  • 063 bucket arm - using the inner tube bucket
    TOP: A gardener using the water inner tube bucket. BOTTOM: The hose and inner tube assembly.
  • 063 bucket arm - diagram
    Top diagram depicts the method of coupling a hose to an inner tube. Bottom diagram depicts method of assembling a squeeze valve from nuts, bolts, and washers.

  • 063 bucket arm - using the inner tube bucket
  • 063 bucket arm - diagram

Most gardeners are all too familiar with the symptoms of "bucket arm:" soreness in the shoulder area, stiffness of the back, and an unusual lengthening of the biceps and triceps. And—since the hot dry weather that brings on epidemics of this malady is almost upon us—I'm glad to be able to suggest a little "preventive medicine" to help all of MOTHER EARTH NEWS' readers who are faced with the factors (a shortness of watering hose and cash, coupled with a long distance from faucet to garden) that usually induce this dreaded illness.

My prescription is to make a water inner tube. You'll need an old (but still sound) 15"-diameter truck inner tube, a hose coupler, two lengths (one 1 1/2" long, another 6" long) of garden hose, and some silicone sealant. To begin, cut a 3/8" slit in the lowest part of the tube (you can determine this spot by simply folding the "hoop" in half), directly below the air valve stem.

Then clean and roughen all the to-be-glued surfaces... cover the exterior of the 1 1/2" length of hose with silicone... put one of its ends into the coupler and the other through the cut in the tube... and "pucker up" the edges of the slit so the coupler's fingers can clamp down around the gap's "lips" and the tubing. With that done, attach a 6" length of hose, with a female connector on its far end, to the free side of the coupler.

Let the assembly dry for at least 24 hours, then fasten an in-line valve (either buy one or make your own) in place, and you're done!

Your completed water hauler—which rides your shoulders instead of stretching your arm—will make an easy job of giving plants their hot-weather drinks. (One caution, though: Don't sip water from the tube yourself, as the inside of the rubber doughnut may contain particles of talc, etc., that could be harmful to your health.) And you can always fill the tube up and leave it in the sun for a supply of solar-heated water, too!

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