Being born and raised in the former Panama Canal Zone, now returned to Panama, I grew up with TWO seasons - Rainy Season and Dry Season - the latter typically falling on a Wednesday or Thursday. During the Rainy Season it'd rain three, maybe four times a day, for seldom more than an hour per rain, then the sun would come out. And when I use the word "rain", I don't mean drizzling for days on end "rain", but rather The Sky Opens Up And Dumps Rain "rain" - wonderful WARM rain - relatively speaking. We had Play In The Rain rain. We played football in the rain, kick ball in the rain, . . . We swam in the rain, unless there was lightening nearby, and paddled cayucos (dug out canoes sort of things but more pleasant and streamlined looking) in the rain. We ran from the school bus stop to our homes in the rain (the second or third rain of the day in the Rainy Season usually started around 3 pm when school got out). Nothing will put a former Zonian or Panamanian to sleep faster than the sound of rain.

Because Panama is an isthmus - long and narrow, with oceans on two sides - the Caribbean and the Pacific - the sound of waves rolling onto a shoreline also brings back memories of Panama - of miles and miles and miles of beaches - of Friday nights at The Palo Seco Sandbar, weekends, Easter Break and summer vacation at Rio Mar (a surfer's favorite), Gorgona or Santa Clara, or times at the island of Taboga, or skin diving at Tabogia or around one of the islands in the San Blas or fishing off The Causeway

The sound of rain and waves are an integral part of growing up In The Tropics, at least in Panama. So, for my 45th High School Class Reunion, I'm making a turned Rain Stick for a reunion auction. Here's where I'm heading.

And here's what I have in mind with some internal details.

Because I'm going to put small dowels through the inside, and need to have grooves for the "rain" to cascade over, and I don't want anything but unpierced wood visible on the outside of this piece - I went with an Inner and Outer "tube". The Inner Tube will be nominally 1 1/2" Schedule 40 white PVC pipe, which is readily available, inexpensive - and easy to turn. Taking the calipers to a piece of this stuff, the O.D. is 1.90" and the I.D. is 1.60" so I don't know why it's nominally 1 1/2".

I like options. And I like the unexpected surprise. So, this piece will have several Inner Tubes. Here are some of the possibilities.

One will be just grooved, with deflecting dowels for the Rain sounds, which, if you tilt the piece quicker, sounds sort of likes small waves breaking and washing in on the beach - another familiar sound to any former Zonian, and every Panamanian since the country is very narrow - an Isthmus - with a long coastline on both the Carribean AND Pacific. You can literally go swimming in two oceans in a bit over an hour if you drive on the Trans Isthmian Highway, which is about 50 miles long.

Another will have thin strips of spring steel extending through the Inner Tube's wall and into where small ball bearings can T W A N G them. An inexpensive feeler gauge (about $3.50) provided this element for the piece. May also add some small diameter spring wire as well - if they make satisfactory sounds.

The third sound I have in mind is the sound of a bell, or bells, struck by small ball bearings. The Hotel Desk Bell sound would be nice, but I'm open to other possibilities. Copper pipe end caps, a rubber grommet and a dowel may do the trick - we'll see.

It may be possible to combine all three of these possibilities into one piece by placing things in thirds of the circumference of the innner tube. Hold the Rain Stick one way and you get "rain", another and you get TWANGS and yet another and you get bells. Since the sound generating component of the piece is inside the outer tube, I could always make separate removable inner tubes, one for each of the three sound ideas.

The turned caps on the ends of the Rain Stick might be hollowed in such a way that some of the birdshot, or ball bearings, could be "dropped" down the center of the inner tube - striking bells or twangers.

Another option I want to use with this piece is to have one end piece be removable so rice, corn small beans and seeds and different sizes of ball bearings can be used. A threaded end part would be perfect - but I haven't any tool for thread chasing. However, I have seen male and female PVC fittings used as inserts - out of sight of course. That idea is worth pursuing.

On to Turning The Outer Tube & Coupling -------->

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