The Outdoor Shower Is Complete!!!!

It feels so good to get this project finished! IMG_20130825_122552_570

My original plans were:

Primitive Shower PlansThe outer structure consists of 4 premade cedar fence panels and 6 cedar 4×4 – 8’.


We used 4×4 posts dug 3 feet into the ground to connect the panels and create the outer structure.  There are more details here


For the floor, we used big patio stones with a 1.5” gap between each stone and then the gaps are filled in with small pea stones. There are more detail son how we did the floor here.


Next, we build two benches (using the Anna White Simple Outdoor Bench) one for the front and one for the back of the shower.


The we measured the length of the inside back wall and the inside short 3′ panel to create shelves.  For the 3′ panels, we just sued some 1x4s cut to size (and stained) and connected to the supporting 2x4s of the panel.  These shelves are just the right size for the shampoo, etc.


The back shelf was a little different, we used shelf supports and a 1×8 along the entire back end of the shower  so we can store other items in bins.



We also installed plenty of hooks to hang your towels IMG_20130825_123341_131

For the water system, I found a propane water heater + water pump + water filter that we are using with a rain barrel.  My husband did all of the work getting this set up, so in his words, here’s what was done:

First – my wife is a beautiful, brilliant, creative woman. I love her very much. I know that there are so many things I never would have done or learned to enjoy without her. Including buying an Island. That we have an island is pretty cool. That we now [on something completely off the grid] have hot showers on demand – even cooler.
In addition to the kit above [just getting started with the additions] – you’ll need a water barrel or some water source less than 5 feet away. The pump is rated for 6 feet. Couple of that footage has got to get water from the ground up to the shower. Not sure how the reviewers got it to pull from a stream or a river with this pump.  Still a great shower/pump combo.
We went with a deck box to house the business end of the system, to protect it from weather and it looks nice. Here’s what we bought from Menards. They are pretty much cheaper than anybody out there AND had it in stock.

IMG_20130818_113904_257 IMG_20130810_100304_758We lined the deck box with plywood cut to size to reenforce the floor and give us something to secure the water pump to. It’s not supposed to move around. A propane tank is pretty heavy as is a 12 volt marine battery so reinforcement – good idea.

IMG_20130810_103513_411SO you are buying some plywood to now.  And you need a saw.

We use a small gas powered Generac generator to run the electric saw, and other power tools. This generator is a one pull start every time for three years, except when I let the oil run low. And fortunately it wouldn’t start. Brought it in to a local shop – they added oil and started right up.  I love this generator.

All the hose & clamps you need for the water barrel were included with this rain barrel to connect it to the water pump. Thing is solid doesn’t leak either. And it’s got a broad top for rain collection.


Cut a 3/4″ hole in the deck box with a drill bit / battery drill to get the hose from the rain barrel into the deck box and connect to the water pump’s filter.IMG_20130818_113919_694What was tricky was the inlet adapter used a 3/4″ inlet and the outlet was 1/2″. Had to get extra braided 3/4″ hose to get this connected.  Used a box cutter to cut the hose. Went to the local Ace to get all the hose and adapters to make it work. A bit PITA but worth it when we got the first hot shower.


The water pump’s power runs off a 12v marine battery – power connecter clips purchased at Menards – [not furnished w/water pump kit]. Used needle nose pliers to crimp water pumps wires into the clips.


When the power is not needed – we clip it to the plastic handle so it doesn’t drain the charge.

They recommend a fuse in between – I ignored that. Didn’t expect a lot of unexpected surges…

BTW – the reviews say it pulls with a hose from a river/stream just fine. Not so for us. Found out later that it has a 6ft max pimp distance so river 25ft away – not gonna happen.

Drilled 2, 3/4″ holes through the back of the deck box through the shower’s wood fencing directly under the thankless water heater/shower.  One for water one for the propane.
Once you hook those two up to the shower unit it’s pretty much done.
IMG_20130810_162319_856We now are using a solar trickle charger to keep the battery charged so we don’t have to swap batteries out.

IMG_20130825_133056_024So far so good. Hot showers on the island – awesome.

So, that was Tom on his great work.  Thi shower does work awesome. On the lowest settings this is a very hot shower!


We just need to find out it the rain barrel alone can collect enough water (it does have a large screening opening on the top, or if we need a backup rain barrel or if we need to add some gutter system to the back f the shower to collect more water.  But only time will tell!

The rest of the weekend was also awesome, i have some great pictures, but the post is getting extra long, so I will hold off and try to post on that tomorrow.

Back to the island

It has been almost two weeks since I’ve I posted anything about our progress on the outdoor shower and the island!  We are almost complete!  It would have been totally done by now, but we decided to do less work and more relaxing this weekend.  It was AWESOME .  🙂


So….shower progress… My husband Tom completed all of the work to get the pump, water heater and rain barrel all set up. ( We found the pump is great if the water is nearby, but is not strong enough to pull the water form the river.)  I’ve has him to post how he did it, so hopefully that will be coming later.

The set up look like:



We also have all of the benches completed!  These benches are the Anna White Simple Outdoor Bench.  I think they came out great. I saw in all the pictures, the legs come down on two sides, but the plan only calls for one, so I followed the pictures not the plan there.  I think it is a little more sturdy that way.  I build two benches, one goes directly under the shower (so you can easily was you feet ) and one in the back.  I love the look!



The only things left to do is to add a few shelves and hooks and we are thinking of adding some type of gutter to the back side of ht e shower to help collect rain water.

Last weekend, we finally got a contractor out to take a look at what it would take to get a very large deck up on the property for a yurt.  (This is one project we should probably leave to an expert).  The yurt we are looking at is 30 feet in diameter.  We also want to have our too shed up above the flood level, so we are talking about a 50 x50 foot deck that is 4-6 feet in the air.  The we want a lower deck that is about 2-3 feet up that is for the picnic table and chairs etc.  I also finally pulled out one of our old tents that was very muddy still since it was left on the island in our old shed and got hit by the severe flood this year.  I had opened it up a few weeks ago and let it sit out to dry, and then I clean it out (not a fun process).  Now that old tent is our temporary tool/toy shed 🙂

This weekend, we also reorganized our tools and had a tree expert come out and walk the property.  I found out that most of the trees I though were back walnut are actually Box Elder trees.  There are a few black walnuts trees, but not nearly as many as I expected.  So that’s a good thing!

I am hoping to post pictures of the completed shower next week!  Projects coming up:  1) Take care of the beaver problem by wrap trees in 3 feet of wire.  I don’t mind that his house is near the island or that  likes to take down Box Elder trees, but I hate tripping on the stumps he leaves. So we want to save the trees near our campsite (hopefully soon to be yurt area!)  2) Put up an outhouse…we have been stalling on this one, because we were afraid that a traditional outhouse is a bad idea on an island that floods over every spring. So we have come up with a compromise.  W can build a structure that looks like a traditional outhouse (with out the pit) and put a composting toilet in it instead.  3) I hope….get the contractor to build he deck and add the yurt!!!!!

One more island update…I found that we have some HUGE bullfrogs on the island.  I knew we had some (you can’t miss that sound) but I had no idea how big some of them were.  I found one that was bigger than my hand.  And they sit very still so you can easily get their picture!



We also have some pretty big northern leopard frogs.


Heidi thinks the frogs are the greatest thing ever.  She spends a lot of time searching the shoreline for them.  This weekend, she figured out they like to hang out near the algae…so we had a green dog this weekend!






Outdoor Shower & Island Update

The floor is complete!


This weekend, we made some more progress on the shower, despite the unusual cold (it was a high of only 62 that weekend, and I was wearing jeans, long sleeve shirt and a fleece jacket the whole weekend L ).  We lugged all of the stones to the island….that was hard.  Each stone weight 42 pounds and our boat say s it can only carry 500 pounds total. But we did manage to get them all over to the island in only tow boat trips (and one 30 min drive from the hardware store).

My original design of the shower:

Primitive Shower Plans

I love the simplicity I built into the design.  In the design there is a 5” gap around the big patio stones and a 1.5” gap between each stone and then the gaps are filled in with small pea stones..  To get this gap was very easy, the 4×4 posts are actually 3.5”x 3.5” and some scrap 2x4s are actually 1.5”x 3.5”. So to get the gaps I want, I just use the scrap 2x4s as spacers when I placed the stones.  For the first stone, use two 2x4s against the 4×4 to place the first stone.


Then for each additional stone, use the 2x4s for spacers between each stone.

IMG_20130727_175018_226 IMG_20130727_180353_927 IMG_20130727_181019_147 IMG_20130727_182427_759

I know I would have a problem with just one stone based on this design:

Primitive Shower Plans2


I was planning on using a circular saw to cut the stone, so the 4×4 fits, but we decided to try a chisel first, since the stone did have some natural breaks already to pound into.


Unfortunately, after just a few hits, it broke a big piece than we expected.  But, the pea stones will fill in the gap and I think I will still look good.


This when really quick!  Next we filled in the gaps with the pea stones and used a bromm to push them down in to the gaps.




Done for the day!


The next morning, we got started on the benches.  There was a lot of wood to cut!


We started on the sanding and staining of the pieces, but did not get too far.

Taking a nice walk through the island,


I found some great flowers and mushrooms:













Th one was so weird…..I have never seen anything like it!  But it was growing on a tree.


I also love these huge vines that are climbing up many of our trees.


Very odd, not sure how this got here since last year, but we found a tv on the island!  Must have floated during the flood!


Next weekend, we are heading out for a family get together at my cousins cabin, so there will be no island updates for a while.

Outdoor Shower Progress

We started working on the outdoor shower (you can get pretty dirty on the island).

I know there are so many other projects I should start on, like the outhouse or the yurt/cabin.  But we choose to start with the shower because I felt like it was the easier project and I just need to see that we got at least on thing complete.

I was in Menard’s for hours on Saturday trying to everything we needed ordered, loaded, driven and then boated out to the location.  And it is still not complete.  The stones were very heavy; so we left those have to pick them up next week.  But we were able to get the basic structure complete this weekend- despite the unexpected rain! Yeah!!!




The structure consists of 4 premade cedar fence panels and 6 cedar 4×4 – 8’.


Everything was of course dog approved…


We dug the first hole, added the first post,


leveled it out,


then slowly filled the dirt back in and pounded it down.


Then we brought one of the panels over to determine where the next hole should go.  With two poles up, we attached the panels using clamps and 3” deck screws.


Repeat this until 3 panels are up.


The last panel, we cut the support in the back need so the panels were now in 5’ and a 3’ pieces and attach these )split them at 6 panels on one side and 10 on the other).



I love the look and the wonderful smell of the cedar and it was super easy to put up!  Next weekend, we hope to add the flooring, the benches, the shelves, hooks and the shower equipment (I hope we can get all of that done).

 For the shower equipment, we finally decided against the sun shower.  I have ordered a propane water heater + water pump + water filter so we can just pull water from the river for the shower.  This should be awesome! I like the sun showers, but you do have to fill them, lay them out in the sun, move theto your shower (before the sun starts going down) and then use them quick.

My original plans:

Primitive Shower Plans