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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been in the hobby for over a decade. In that time I've built dozens of tanks, experimented with many different backgrounds, false bottoms, and myriad construction strategies. I've drilled glass, plumbed tanks, and generally done a little bit of everything. That's not to say that I'm an expert in any of it, just that I'm no newbie.

HOWEVER, one thing that I have never managed to do successfully is get a Mistking bulkhead to fit in a 5g bucket without leaking. I've tried... I believe 8 times, and never once have I managed to do it. No matter how dedicated I am to following the simple instructions perfectly, they leak. Every. single. time. It's gotten to the point that I dread it more than any other aspect of building a new tank.

Today was the most recent failure.

I don't want to bury the stupid freaking thing in silicone like I've done in the past, I don't want to buy silicone grease or whatever, I just want it to work. So tell me, all you gurus, how do I make that happen? What magic must I summon in order to make a Mistking bulkhead not leak?

A couple of other pieces of information. I'm using a normal 5g bucket from Ace. The bulkhead instructions were followed to the letter EXCEPT the wrench tightening part, which I have never understood. I've always been able to hand tighten the nut past the point it 'breaks'.
 

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Your hole needs to be perfect. That tiny bulkhead can't really fit a gasket, so it uses an o-ring instead. That leaves little room for mistake. Use a perfect, sharp, bit. If you use a hole saw, drill a 1/4" pilot hole before using the hole saw. If you don't, the 1/4" pilot bit on the hole saw, graps the plastic and yanks the tool forcefully, slamming the outer cutting ring of the hole saw against the plastic. This rarely gives a clean hole. Drill slowly, so the material is cut away, not chipped away. Finally, carefully clean the edges with a brand new x.acto blade. That sucker's got to be perfect.

One more thing. Go back in time and drill a test hole in a milk jug or other scrap, pliable plastic, so you can test the fit of the o-ring, and know if your hole is going to be the perfect size.
 

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When I did mine at first it leaked but using a wrench to nip it further per the instructions stopped it.

Don’t know what to suggest to be honest. Make sure you don’t do the hole too big as that could cause a leak. If you can use the correct size drill don’t do what I did and use a smaller one and then file it bigger!


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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Your hole needs to be perfect. That tiny bulkhead can't really fit a gasket, so it uses an o-ring instead. That leaves little room for mistake. Use a perfect, sharp, bit. If you use a hole saw, drill a 1/4" pilot hole before using the hole saw. If you don't, the 1/4" pilot bit on the hole saw, graps the plastic and yanks the tool forcefully, slamming the outer cutting ring of the hole saw against the plastic. This rarely gives a clean hole. Drill slowly, so the material is cut away, not chipped away. Finally, carefully clean the edges with a brand new x.acto blade. That sucker's got to be perfect.

One more thing. Go back in time and drill a test hole in a milk jug or other scrap, pliable plastic, so you can test the fit of the o-ring, and know if your hole is going to be the perfect size.
I always use the recommended 9/16ths drill bit, exactly the type in the instructions. That bit has been used 8-9 times. If you're good at reading, you'll understand immediately exactly what it has been used for. So 8-9 holes in soft-ish plastic. I imagine it's plenty sharp.

I've tried cleaning the hole with a knife with no success.

I'm going out of my mind with it!
 

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Huh. I've done 4 buckets and never had an insurmountable problem. I mean, I may have invented a cuss word or two along the way (I freely admit it's not always easy to make these bulkheads work) but in the end it's always worked out.

How about just trying a different shape? Buy a reservoir with a flat side. A tote or a jerry can.
 

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Was the wrench really needed? All of mine can be tightened to 'breaking' by hand. A wrench is unneeded...


All I can say is I tightened hand tight and then with a wrench as per the instructions.

If you’ve struggling try as someone else has suggested a box with a flat side which should be easier.


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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yes, I've definitely considered a flat sided container. However, the stand it's going in is a corner stand, so a rectangular container wastes a lot of extra space. :-/
 

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Are you using the same buckets every time? It could have something to do with how pliable the plastic is in that particular bucket. I have only tried it one time, but I don't remember it being especially difficult. I used one of the food grade buckets and a food grade lid for it from Lowe's. It is all white, which makes it easier to fish the flies out of it with a net :) Snapping the lid down makes it really tough for me to get open so I just kind of press it down which apparently isn't enough to keep flies out... The only other thing I can think of is that my system starts with a 3/8" spine, so the bulkhead I am using is 3/8", as well. Maybe the bigger bulkhead is easier to seat? You could always try a bigger one and step down right away to 1/4" if that is what your system uses. I also have an O ring on the outside of the bucket (can't see if there is also one inside), which seems to be working for me, but I can't remember what the directions said about the O ring :)

Best of luck,

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Are you using the same buckets every time? It could have something to do with how pliable the plastic is in that particular bucket. I have only tried it one time, but I don't remember it being especially difficult. I used one of the food grade buckets and a food grade lid for it from Lowe's. It is all white, which makes it easier to fish the flies out of it with a net :) Snapping the lid down makes it really tough for me to get open so I just kind of press it down which apparently isn't enough to keep flies out... The only other thing I can think of is that my system starts with a 3/8" spine, so the bulkhead I am using is 3/8", as well. Maybe the bigger bulkhead is easier to seat? You could always try a bigger one and step down right away to 1/4" if that is what your system uses. I also have an O ring on the outside of the bucket (can't see if there is also one inside), which seems to be working for me, but I can't remember what the directions said about the O ring :)

Best of luck,

Mark
I'm not 100% sure. Maybe I'll buy a different style of bucket and try again. I'd love to believe that I'm not an imbecilie and that the fault rests in an inanimate object...

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If a decade of marriage has taught me anything, it's that I'm usually at fault.
I think your marriage is gonna last. (I'm almost 19 years in myself. Lotta work, lotta fun! Showing modesty - whether true or false - is a key survival mechanism.)

However, the stand it's going in is a corner stand, so a rectangular container wastes a lot of extra space. :-/
This might be a ridiculous idea. But you could just custom-build a reservoir to the dimensions of your stand. If you're handy you could build something out of fairly thin plywood, some fiberglass cloth, and epoxy resin (less fumes than polyester, by far) pretty easily. Or make if from acrylic, or from glass. Or have it made. This "custom sump" would always be there for that stand...

Just a thought. Perhaps ridiculous. Sounds like something I'd do.
 

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Uniseals are great cheaper and seal on even fairly messy holes and even in round buckets and so on. I don't buy bulkheads anymore.

Alternatively you can find kitty litter buckets for free on the side of the street, I think that the problem with sealing largely has to do with the bucket being round and the bulkhead meant to seal a flat surface. Kitty litter buckets are rectangular so you can drill into a flat surface.
 

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I have a thought. Those bulkheads are made to go on flat surfaces. When used on a bucket, the two "sandwich" faces of the bulkhead have to bend the plastic of the bucket flat, or it won't seal.
If, in an effort to be able to use as much of the bucket as possible, you have drilled down really low on the bucket, it could be a problem. The bottom, flat surface of the bucket will prevent any bending down at the bottom. The top will likely still look like it is flattening properly. Get a new bucket and drill it an inch higher, so the sidewall can flatten.
 

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Uniseals are great cheaper and seal on even fairly messy holes and even in round buckets and so on. I don't buy bulkheads anymore.

Alternatively you can find kitty litter buckets for free on the side of the street, I think that the problem with sealing largely has to do with the bucket being round and the bulkhead meant to seal a flat surface. Kitty litter buckets are rectangular so you can drill into a flat surface.
Uniseals used to seam hokey to me, but I've come to love them. They are quite cheap, too, or at least used to be.
 

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Ya because they don't have a positive clamping mechanism they seem like they wouldn't work well, like they are a cheap hack, but they do work well. I originally got into them because I wanted to put drains in tanks that were already built. Uniseals were the only way I could do that without a full tear down. After they proved themselves their usage expanded.

Another advantage is that they are pretty tight so they hold push connect fittings and lines in place better than push connect bulkheads. This can matter when you have misters that seem to slowly move out of alignment.
 

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Buy a 1/4" John Guests bulkhead from Marine Depot, Bulk Reef Supply, or AquaCave. They are PVC and the nut tightens on them without the threads breaking loose. I love my MistKing and it looks to be built like a tank. However, those bulkhead fittings they use suck really bad. Cheapest, crappiest I have ever seen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Another try, another fail. Today I bought a new container, this time one with a straight panel rather than a bucket. I made sure my hole was perfectly sized, including measuring the physical drill bit to the bulkhead itself. After drilling, I carefully cleaned the hole of any burrs. And... it leaked anyway.

I slathered the bleeping thing with silicone and walked away.
 

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The only thing I can think of is maybe the O rings that come with the bulkheads are old or no longer supple enough to get the job done? Maybe try slathering in vaseline or some other rubber compound to make sure the O ring is not too rigid. Sorry you are having so much trouble :-(

Mark
 
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