Tag Archives: Intex Ultra Frame Pool

It’s Pool Time Again


I just checked my “Insights” on WordPress and discovered it has been three months since I’ve written anything.  Although that’s not, by any means, my world’s record, I figured I ought to come up with something this morning to write down.

Of course, immediately, I suffered from “Writer’s Block.”  Hell no I didn’t.  I never suffer from “Writer’s Block.”  There is no such devil.  The aforementioned malady is nothing more than a lack of something to write about.  That, in a phrase, is my current problem.  Nothing worthy of note has happened in the last three months.

But even that’s not true.  Life has gone on, rather unwittingly.  Another birthday has come and gone;  another Valentine’s Day, that most horrible of invented holidays;  another wedding anniversary, which also commemorates St. Patrick; a few assorted daughter’s, granddaughter’s and grandson’s birthday’s have passed; Easter came and subsequently left; and Spring never quite got here until yesterday which is why I’m setting up the pool.

If you’ve read any of my previous stories about setting up or building pools, you pretty much have an idea of what I’m in for over the next several days.  The structure went up the same as last summer.  An hour into the process, I’m cursing like a drunken sailor and promising to find and hang from the tree in my backyard, the inventor, designer, creator, of this big 12 foot by 24 foot vinyl bag dubbed the “Intex Ultra Frame” pool.  “Ultra Frame” is a trademarked name, which rather curls off my tongue when I say it with an extra adjective or two, most commonly, “Ultra Frame Piece of Shit.”

Currently, the vinyl bag is half full of water and clearly looks like it’s going to collapse on itself and20160505_100922 pour approximately 3,000 gallons of water into the unassuming gravel yard. flooding all the newly planted flowers that won’t grow, and mushroom compost that doesn’t help.   Did I mention that there are several large wrinkles in the bottom of the pool in three corners that will never work their way out and will drive me crazy all summer?  And I’ll need to buy $200 worth of chemicals and salt (I guess that’s a chemical too.) to get the water conditioned, on top of paying three times the normal amount for my monthly water bill.  They’ll probably send out the Water Police.  I mean, who uses 8,400 gallons of water in two days?  I’ll tell them I’ve had company and they shower a lot.  Yeah, they’ll buy that.

So why the hell am I doing it you ask?  (Or maybe you didn’t.)  I do it so that I can float around with a drink to cool off on a hot day.  But, when I’m asked the question, I answer that I’m doing it for my grandkids.  So they’ll come over and hang out for a while in the summer and drive me crazy forcing me to now have over a hundred or so “pool rules” which I have to verbally enforce every time they enter the water space.  Drinking in the pool does not violate any of the aforementioned pool rules, however.

One thing you learn as you merge into AARP status, is that the effects of any tiny little bit of physical exertion can be tolerated until the next day.  Sometimes the effects take less time to exhibit themselves.  You have trouble getting out of a chair, and then the legs don’t move forward smoothly.  The arms ache and the back of the neck.  You can’t sit up straight without a small moan sounding.  After shoveling and raking gravel around the pool for three days, I’m approaching a state of rigor mortis.  It’s hurts to type.

All said and done, (A cliché if ever there was one.), truth be told, for all intents and purposes, (My daughter had an “ah ha” moment with that one a while back, having thought her whole life that the word was “intense” and not “intents.”) the pool went up and filled up rather successfully.  I’ll be lifting 50 pound bags of salt, five of them, and pouring them around the perimeter today if I can lift them, and maybe by “Mother’s Day” the pool will be ready so I can start enforcing the rules.

Summer is just around the corner.  Only problem:  This weekend’s weather is not going to cooperate.  That little cloud icon with the slanted lines coming out of the bottom, and the lightning at the top, is showing up on my smart phone for Sunday.  We’re having a BBQ anyway.  I have a covered patio.  




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Satan is Now Fully Engaged

By late afternoon the pool wall was so severely bent inward I was starting to panic.  The vinyl bag now held what I estimated to be 5,000 gallons of water.  The hose had been running for four hours yesterday and about six hours today.  In the back of mind I remembered one of the hundreds of videos I had watched telling me this pool had to be perfectly level and the only way to accomplish that was with a transit level.  I also learned that the supports, or pavers, had to be level with the pool bottom.  This was critical.  Mine were clearly not.  At 2 pm I gave in to Satan and started draining the pool.

This is when I started to panic, except this is actually normal for this pool.

This is when I started to panic, except this is actually normal for this pool.

The walls are straightening out.  Sure they are.

The walls are straightening out. Sure they are.

This is when I weighed the cost of water, the imminent collapse of the pool, and fact that the pavers on this side were higher than the bottom.

This is when I weighed the cost of water, the imminent collapse of the pool, and the fact that the pavers on this side were higher than the bottom.

Draining a pool this size is a relatively frightening undertaking.  At each end of the pool at the bottom is a cap that I unscrewed on one end, and hoped the pool water wouldn’t come gushing out.  It didn’t.  In fact, nothing happened.  I read the directions and found a piece that you screwed onto a hose and then inserted into the liner.  The water came gushing out.  I could barely screw the hose attachment onto the pool.  I stretched 100 feet of hose into what we call the “back forty”, an area of gravel and weeds that is approximately a ¼ acre.  I set the hose down and nothing happened.  I figured I needed a siphon so I began sucking on 100 feet of hose screaming obscenities in my head which was now getting extremely light, but I finally got a trickle of water to start coming out of the hose.

This ain't gonna work.

This ain’t gonna work.

As I waited for the pool to drain, the temperatures still in the 90s, I learned something I wish I had known a bit earlier.  When you want to siphon a body of water, simply hook the hose up to the spigot until you fill up the hose, disconnect it, and viola it will start flowing.  I let the pool drain all night.  It had taken 10 hours to fill the pool half way, and after a full 16 hours of draining with a hose, the water level had gone done about an inch.  This was not going to work.

Off to the equipment rental center.  I was going to need a pretty serious transfer pump and, yes, I was going to do it, a transit level.  I watched a video on how to use it, and figured I could pull it off.  I needed this pool “dead balls accurate.”  Two hundred  sixty and some change later, I was heading home with a transfer pump that would pump 211 gallons a minute and a laser transit level that turned out to be so easy to use, I was kicking myself for not investing in it a week ago.

This is what you use to drain a pool.  Two hundred gallons a minute.

This is what you use to drain a pool. Two hundred gallons a minute.

I hooked up the transfer pump, threw the fifty feet of discharge hose into the back forty (it just made it to the front end) and fired it up.  The pool drained down to three inches of water in 20 minutes.  The back yard flooded to within two inches of the patio and huge gouges were carved out of the ground at the end of the discharge hose.  This hose is basically a two inch fire hose.

The intake on the transfer pump.  The reason you can only drain the pool down to three inches.

The intake on the transfer pump. The reason you can only drain the pool down to three inches.

This is how it floods your yard.

This is how it floods your yard.

I set the self-leveling laser on a tripod in the back corner of the pool, and proceeded to lower every block around the perimeter in perfect level with the corner.  Simply by holding the transit stick on top of the paver and waiting for the beep on the attached monitor.  I had the blocks leveled by late afternoon.  We (my wife was helping now) walked the bottom of the pool smoothing out the wrinkles and pulled the frame as straight as we could, and threw the garden hose back in.  By now the thoughts of a water bill in excess of $400 was crossing my mind.  The temperatures were still in the 90s.

The next day I returned the laser transit, which I learned would have been a higher rental charge but they couldn’t find the transit stick for the transit level so they rented me the laser at the lower rate.  The transit level is basically a level telescope on a tripod that you look through at a stick that somebody else is holding.  You’ve all seen them on construction sites. The guy at the counter asked me if I got it done.  I told him that what little I knew about what I was doing I was pretty confident that the pool was now as level as I could get it.  An older gentleman at the other side of the counter yelled across, “Good to know you’re still learning at your age.”

“Every day,” I said back, “I learn something every day.”

I went home turned on the water and watched the sides of this monstrous pool bend inward like it would collapse on itself, the vinyl liner becoming bulbous on the sides as the pool filled.  The only thing that kept me calm was that I knew this pool was level.  I was certain of it.  I watched more videos.


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The Pool From Hell

Intex 24Ft X 12Ft X 52In Ultra Frame Pool Set $988

Intex 24Ft X 12Ft X 52In Ultra Frame Pool Set $988

Okay, it’s my own fault.  I admit it, and I’ve accepted it.  I hope I can move on.  Yep, I did it again. I put a pool in my backyard.  I didn’t dig it with a shovel and a wheelbarrow like I did 31 years ago (Wow, has it been that long?) but I fell into the same trap:  Dreaming of a hot late afternoon dip in my own pool, right in my own backyard. 

If you haven’t read the debacle about building your own in-ground backyard oasis, click here Water Seeks Its Own Level .

My wife and I had originally envisioned an above ground pool in the area of our backyard where I spent a backbreaking summer sifting out the gravel and putting it back down.  We even put in an outlet on that side of the yard for its eventual installation.  Money to buy this pool, ranging anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 was going to take nothing short of a miracle, something like a sizable win in the lottery, or a good night at the casino.  Well, just so happened, we had a good night at the casino a few weeks back, winning over a $1,000 and decided to check on getting that pool.

Thanks to “Amazon” and “Intex,” both card carrying members, I’m sure, of a satanic cult, we found an above ground pool within our budget with nothing else to buy.  The “Intex Ultra Frame” above ground pool measuring 12’ by 24’ by 52″.  I saw two lovely ladies in a video set this monster pool up in less than 60 minutes; on the lawn in the back of their house.  A state of the art salt water filtration system, steps, maintenance tools and volleyball net were all included.  All for the affordable price of $988.  We were going to have money left over.  I hit the “Buy It Now” button with the slightest hesitation.


Day 1. Path to imaginary pool installed, gravel removal begins.

I measured out a 16’ X 30’ area in the yard and began removing the gravel.  It took three days.  The whole time the temperature was an unrelenting 97 degrees, one day going past 100.  I kept envisioning how great it would be to have that pool waiting to jump in to cool off.  Then I started watching videos of other “suckers” who bought this pool and attempted to set it up.  Some, like me, had no idea what they were doing and had catastrophic results.  This is an 8,400 gallon vinyl bag suspended by a two inch diameter metal tube held upright with 18 U-shaped supports.  All I kept hearing and reading is that the site had to be perfectly level.

A wheelbarrow was involved.

A wheelbarrow was involved. You’ll notice there is no one working. That’s because the person taking the picture was the only one doing the excavation.

The pavers are being leveled and set in guesstimate locations.

The pavers are being leveled and set in guesstimate locations.  Again there appears to be no one doing this.

This is the

This is the “we” I keep referring to in the story. My grandson Connor was pretty much my only help.

A week into the project, the pool parts had arrived by truck and were strewn all over the house and yard.  We were still trying to “perfectly” level the site.  We had hauled and placed 18 concrete patio blocks that were 18” X 24” X 2” and weighed an incredible amount.  We had no idea where to place them around the perimeter to match up with the U-shaped supports.  Intex does not supply a diagram, or make any suggestion about the site for the pool other than to pick a perfectly level site in your yard (there are none anywhere on the planet) and to use treated plywood as a support under each U-shaped bracket unless you’re putting the pool on concrete.  I decided on the ginormous concrete paver because I thought it would support the pool wall better than a ¾” piece of plywood, treated or not.  I made a logical guess on the measurements around the pool and painstakingly leveled each block around the perimeter.  We then added bag after bag of paver sand to the inside of the paver perimeter which appeared to be consuming the sand as fast as we emptied the bags.  We finally got it to a point where, although not even close to perfect, was good enough for me.  I was ready to put up this pool.

Ready for sand. I know it looks like sand is already there, but this is what is known as “dirt” in New Mexico, silty sand that won’t absorb water.

Okay, so my daughter did help.  Technically her and her son are the only other people allowed to swim in the pool.

Okay, so my daughter did help. Technically her and her son are the only other people allowed to swim in the pool.

That's me in the funky hat working hard spraying water on the sand.

That’s me in the funky hat working hard spraying water on the sand.  The hat was to protect what was left of my ear lobes.

Looks pretty good, doesn't it?  Wrong.

Looks pretty good, doesn’t it? Wrong.

We spread the included ground tarp, something slightly thicker than a paper towel, and decided we needed another one just for insurance.  Things can poke through a vinyl liner; there is even saw grass that can poke itself through a vinyl liner I guess.  We sprayed the area completely with weed killer just in case.  I have no idea what saw grass is and whether we have it in New Mexico, but I knew I didn’t want to take the chance.  We put the liner, which weighs close to a ton, in the middle of the double layer tarp, and proceeded to unfold it the wrong way so it had to be turned.  This process wrinkled up the tarp and after struggling with it for fifteen or twenty minutes, we decided, again, that it was good enough.

Next step was to insert the  A, B, B, B, C poles into the channel at the top of the liner on the two sides and the D, E, F, poles into the ends.  Then we connected the U-Shaped supports into the poles, none of which ended up in line with the pavers that were “perfectly” leveled and set around the pool perimeter.  After more hours of moving the pavers, and with the help of three people we erected the sides of the pool.  In all fairness, we weren’t just two attractive females, but we did manage to put this pool up in less than an hour.  But then, that is only the beginning.  We were now over $300 in for pavers, sand, tools and tarps.

Starting to fill the 8,401 gallon vinyl bag.  Not looking good.  As the day went on, it started to worry me a lot.

Starting to fill the 8,401 gallon vinyl bag. Not looking good. As the day went on, it started to worry me a lot.



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