Man's best friend gets a new twist

"Aqualung, my friend, don't you start away unheated."

Remember that Jethro Tull song? (Remember Jethro Tull?) I put a little hydronic slant to the lyrics. Aqualung is my latest project in my never-ending quest for the perfect balance between form, function and heat.

Fellow Wet Head Duncan Wilson planted the seed. Duncan is a regular contributor on The Wall, at Dan Holohan's site He posted a question, wondering why one couldn't combine art and radiators.

A "big cheese" I met at the RPA show this year (a.k.a., Mike Kraft) helped me narrow my focus regarding the art form. "You can heat just about anything with radiant," he suggested. With the inspiration of these forward-thinking gents, I came up with Aqualung.

The idea hit like a ton of concrete as I drove past one of those ornamental yard manufacturers in my travels. Would it be possible, I wondered, to heat one of those concrete figures?

I paid a visit to Lawn Ornaments Inc., a local manufacturer. I chatted with the owner and he offered to give it a try. Let's see now, should I chose a burro, calf, lion, goose, sphinx? Nothing was really clicking until I spotted that doggie in the window.

About 400 pounds of concrete goes into one of these canines. Officially, he's called a setter, but his build says rotweiller. However, he ended up painted to look like a foxhound since my wife and mother-in-law were concerned with the color scheme of the bathroom. My mother-in-law did the fine paint job and sealed it with polyurethane.

The owner of the lawn ornaments company was reluctant to let me see the casting room, however, I did catch a glimpse of the rubber molds they use. I brought a selection of different tubes along to determine which could be positioned in the mold with the least difficulty. We decided on the Omega Flex CSST tubing commonly used for gas line piping.

The tubing goes up his rear leg, and winds back and forth from the head to the rear of the dog. The return is down the front leg across the base. The tube exits next to the supply. We were able to bend and install about 30 feet of tubing into this "rock head!"

His area of responsibility will be the master bathroom. He is assigned to keeping towels, socks, robes, etc. warm for his masters. I run 90 degree F supply water to him on a constant circulating loop. It's a special and comforting feeling to be in position, on the throne, in our bathroom with Aqualung warmly looking on.

I'm thinking more along the lines of an elephant for my shop radiator. Let's see, that ought to weigh about 15,000 pounds!