For my local USBG Chapter’s Halloween party, my friend wanted to make a vomiting fountain punch bowl. He found this Makezine article where someone built one out of a doll head, but I didn’t like that build. For one, it entails putting a non-food-safe pump into a bowl of cocktail. I try not to be that guy, but pumps that aren’t food safe have all sorts of stuff you probably shouldn’t be drinking coming into contact with alcohol, a powerful solvent. Also, alcohol dissolves many plastics as well. Then there’s the rather dubious nature of trying to clean a pump that wasn’t designed to be cleaned.
I wanted to make a system that would be food-safe so I went with the same SHURflo pump I have in my camper. That’s a beefy pump meant for delivering the water in an RV or camper, and it’s got the really beefy pressure I needed to get that sucker really gushing. In fact I wanted to be able to dial it down a bit if necessary, so I added an inline ball valve.
If you want to build your own, here’s the parts list.
SHURflo Pump (115v, though if you wanted to make it battery powered you could get the 12v and hook it up to a car battery)
SHURflo elbow adapters (2x) to screw onto the pump.
½” ball valve to help me dial the flow down a bit if desired. (Totally optional.)
½” ID braided tubing which will serve as your line. The pressure gets pretty high and I learned the hard way that silicone tubing will inflate like a water balloon and start leaking.
¾” worm drive clamps or if you have an oetiker/pex clamper you could use those too.
110v plug end: because the pump doesn’t have a plug attached to it.
After that it’s incredibly simple. You screw the adapters onto the pump (using Teflon pipe tape) and clamp the hoses onto them. If you’re using the ball valve, put that on the output side of the pump by cutting the hose where you want it to go and clamping it in there. If you put it on the input side the pump will be pulling at full force and create a vacuum after the valve. Attach the plug end and you’re good to go!
A couple notes. First you can only turn the pressure down a little bit with the ball valve. Those pumps are designed to stop running when they hit too much resistance, because they’re meant to supply a sink in an RV. But even taking a little of the pressure off helps because it’s just a little too powerful. If your punch bowl is very large though it should be fine.
Second, don’t let the punch bowl get too low. If the liquid runs too low, it will start sputtering and shooting out wildly. And while the vomiting effect gets very, very real then, your cocktail will go everywhere. You’d be surprised how far it can blast that stuff. I plugged mine into a cheapo surge protector just to make a switch that could be easily accessed to turn it off if that happened. It did when someone adjusted the mask causing the liquid to spray out wrong.
If there’s demand I can do a video for how to set this up, but it’s easy enough that you can probably figure it out from just the parts list alone. There’s really nothing to it, and the only tools required are a screwdriver and something to cut the hose with.
I think for my next iteration I want to make a punch bowl with a barb welded into the bottom so that it drains easily. Using a pumpkin wasn’t my idea. It looked cool but the drink quickly took on a pumpkin flavor, it pumpkin solids were getting regurgitated too.
What we did with this one was buy a foam head, cut a hole through it, and silicone the tubing into place. That let us put a mask on the foam head. While this works, it’s fragile (it’s foam after all) and the mask can slip out of place and touch the stream of liquid and then you’ve got a huge mess.
The Styrofoam head worked well. It was easy enough to silicone it to a piece of scrap wood to hold it in place. With a hot foam cutter you can easily make a perfectly-sized hole for the tubing.