Progress, page 48
We built the scuppers in two sizes. The shorter is for those places where water moves from one
roof area to another and the longer is for where the water leaves the house. The picture below
shows one of each type. The lower section of each scupper is a continuous "U" section, while
the top piece has a small lip that is used to rivet the two pieces together. We used copper
roofing nails to make the rivets and put a bead of silcone rubber inside each joint. The rivets
required lots of hammering and the noise that created was deafening.
We need 31 scuppers to channel rain runoff from the roof through the parapets. Often made
from ceramic drain tile or galvanized sheet metal, we wanted instead to use copper for
appearance and durability. Commercial copper scuppers cost around $300 each, though, so we
decided to make our own. We bought several 3' by 4' sheets of 16 gauge (about 1/16 inch thick)
copper from a metal salvage yard in Phoenix, which sold it to us by the pound (275 pounds of it,
actually). We cut the pieces with a small reciprocating saw and formed them with this homemade
bending break that we welded together from 2" angle iron and heavy hinges just for this project.
Surprisingly it worked quite well.
Here is what 31 scuppers look like when finished. They took about a week for us to build, but
our material cost was less than $21 each so it was time well spent. The retail value of what you
see in the picture is over $9,000 (not counting the bucket, plastic love seat, can of soda, and old
Lastly, we tried various methods of getting an aged green patina on the copper. The air is too
dry and generally clean down here to do the job naturally ... within my remaining lifetime,
anyway. Copper just turns dark brown and stays that way. I can tell you lots of things that
didn't work, but the one that did was to make a chlorine fume chamber out of a large plastic
garbage can with a heavy mixture of water and pool shock at the bottom. Hanging a scupper
over that caustic brew for a day or two put a nice corrosion on them as you can see here.