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Need Terrarium Door Design

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Posted by: magusbuckley at Sun Feb 7 22:25:24 2016  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by magusbuckley ]  
   

Hello to all.

I have a Ball Python named Cloak. He's approaching four feet long. His current tank is an extra large Exo-Terra Terrarium.

I'm currently building him a custom snake tank. It's massive - 8 feet long, 2.5 feet deep (I wanted to make sure it would fit through a door if I ever need to move it.), and 3 feet tall. It sits on a 3 foot tall stand.

I had all of this worked out on paper but, now that I'm so far into construction, I'm starting to guess my judgement on the door for this tank.

First, let me explain to you what I had in mind. Then, I'll explain to you what I'm realizing the problems could be. And finally, I'm hoping some of you will have some ideas I can use to move forward with this project.

On the front of the tank, I wanted to have two front walls. The two front walls have their centers cut out like picture frames. Now imagine them sitting one in front of the other with a large sheet of acrylic sitting between them. I have dowels and small barrings I wanted to use at the top and bottom of the two frames so the acrylic could easily slide left and right. The idea was that if I need to work on the right side of the tank, I could slide the acrylic to the left. If I needed to work on the left side of the tank, I could slide the acrylic to the right. And if I needed to get into the whole tank, I could slide the acrylic in either direction until it slid all the way out. The next catch was safety. We have children at home and the wife was worried that the kids could easily open the tank. To prevent this, my plan was to built a lid for the tank that would be separated into two halves - front and back. They would be connected on the top with hinges. When you lowered the front half of the lid, it would come down far enough on either side that the acrylic couldn't slide in either direction. To slide the acrylic, you would first have to lift the front half of the lid.

As you can see in the attached picture, I already have the first front wall up. I'm ready to bore the holes for the dowels and bearings and was going to put the 2nd front wall in front of that. The acrylic, again, would then slide between the two front walls across the bearings.

I stopped after putting the first front wall in place.

Now I'm realizing that the acrylic is going to scratch from sliding it back and forth between two sheets of plywood! Why didn't I think of this before? Goodness. I could possibly put some felt or something on the insides of the "rubbing spots", but I don't think that would help much. I'm also not a carpenter so getting the holes lined up between the two front boards, I'm afraid, will be difficult for me. Ha. And finally, I know that in the late afternoon, when it starts to get dark, the lights from inside the tank will make the acrylic "glow" on the edges where it's exposed to slide out on both sides. It would be strange to see a light streaking up each side of the tank, don't you think? Ha.

I'm trying to find a way to make this tank open and close in such a way that I get optimum viewing area and ease of use. If it were a smaller tank, this wouldn't be an issue. A tank this size though, this is really turning into a challenge.

The wife came up with a good idea - use the hinges like the ones used on toy chests for children. I could attach them to the top and then lift the lid from the bottom outward and up. The hinges then, theoretically, would hold the lid open while I work inside. The only problem with this is that the hinges only hold so much weight. Even the strongest ones I've seen can't handle the weight of the front wall with the acrylic. They could if I could put hinges in the middle, but you can't attach the hinges to the acrylic so I can only have two hinges - one on the left and one on the right. Two hinges alone can't hold that much weight. I also looked at pneumatic arms and those don't look any more promising.

Maybe I actually can use the hinges? Maybe there are some pneumatic arms that will hold this lid in place? (on a side note, I have seen both locking hinges and locking pneumatic arms for safety) Maybe I should push forward and let the acrylic slide? I don't know.

Have a look at the image and let me know what you think. Any comments, concerns, or questions are welcome.

Well, this is my first post here. Now, after typing all of this, I don't see a place to upload an image. Great.

Thanks,

Magus


   

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