4x4 - Home

Capping a Cistern with the Tucson BLM

cistern n.    A receptacle for holding water or other liquid, especially a tank for catching and storing rainwater.

You are probably wondering just what the heck I am talking about here....so let me provide a little background and see if I can help clear things up a bit. 

Several weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Linda Marianito, an employee with the Tucson, Arizona Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  In Linda's e-mail, she asked if I might be able to assist with a project at Martinez Cabin, which is in the Florence Junction area that many local 4 wheelers frequent.  The cabins sit along a small spring fed creek that makes for a nice riparian area in the middle of the desert.  A nice loop trail that starts at the cabins makes for some challenging 4 wheeling when you pick the more challenging lines.  OK...back to the BLM project.

Linda explained that there is a cistern at the cabin site that people had been using as a dumpster.  The cistern is about an 8' square masonary tank that is set into the ground and provided those first inhabitants with drinking water.  Since the cistern sits at the water table level, the BLM didn't want any hazardous material to end up in the cistern and then cause ground water pollution.  Last fall, they hired a hazmat contractor to clean out the tank and now was the time to put a cap over the cistern to prevent any more gargabe from being dumped. 

Through a series of e-mails, Linda passed on the details about the project and what was needed from the OHV folks.  Could I get a welder out to the cabin?  Yes....and ScottK immediate came to mind with his ReadyWelder II.  Actually, Scott had just sold his Jeep and the welder to another local Jeeper (Bob) so Scott checked with Bob to make sure we could still use it for this project.  Bob agreed and things started falling into place.  I sent a note to JoeyK and asked if he had some free time to assist....no problem.  Mark, a friend of ScottK, came along for the trip and we tapped him for some on-board-air (OBA) since JoeyK's OBA was waiting for a new electric clutch.

A couple of days before we were to meet at the cabins, Francisco Mendoza, another Tucson BLM employee, gave me a call.  We worked out the remaining details and agreed to meet at the cabins on Saturday morning.  Francisco would bring the metal and i-beams for the cistern cap and we would provide the grunt work and welding duties.  If all went according to plan, we would be done before lunch and headed back home.


We arrived at the cabins about 30 minutes later than planned.  I swear, they moved those cabins farther and farther away from the air down spot every time I go out there!  We helped Francisco unload the i-beams and pre-cut metal plates from this truck.  With the i-beams in place and acting as the support for the metal plates, we moved one of them into position.  With a chisel and hammer, Bob removed a small bit of the tank corner out so the plate would lie flat on the i-beams.


While the second plate was being put into position, JoeyK and I removed our Optima Yellow Top deep cycle batteries from the Jeeps.  ScottK's ReadyWelder II is a portable MIG  welder that runs off of either 24 or 36 volts DC.  When cabled up to a pair of Optima Yellow Top batteries running in series, ScottK has better than 250 amps of welding current.  For this project, it  would be more than enough to get the job done.


To get good strong weld, you need a clean metal surface.  Here is Bob, with an air operated die grinder in hand, cleaning up the areas that ScottK will be welding.  Mark's Jeep provided Bob with an ample air to shine up the metal plate and i-beams.


With the batteries at the ready, ScottK plugged in the welder and went to work.  He welded the plates to the i-beams.  It turned out very nice....the welds looked good.  Prepping the metal really makes a difference.  With the Optimas providing the current, you could hear the sizzle of the welder as ScottK moved from one spot to the next.  About 5 minutes later, the job was done.

More Cistern

Return to main page