I'm proud to report that the sump is 110% done as of tonight. What a beep ton of work!!! I'm actually worried I have started another cycle even though I had all the media in a bucket for 5 days with a heater and air pump. I hope everything is cool but I'm testing in the morning and prepared for a water change.
So this is a 100% redesign and so, so, so much better. One huge difference is that I have some hind sight and I installed the ball valves BEFORE the unions this time so I can shut off the water and unscrew things later. Another obviously is having 5 more gallons of space for overflow and extra water. With the power off, the water doesn't even come close to the top. It probably has another 5" of space.
The next is the gate valve. Before it would take me messing with the ball valves on and off the better part of 1/2 a day to get them balanced. With the gate valve I dialed it in right away... took 3 or 4 minutes and it was spot on.
The last main difference is that the overflow exits UNDER water and now the ONLY thing you can hear is the air pump in the refugium. It's amazing... my wife couldn't believe how quiet it was. I mean night and day! Before it was like a shower was on all day.
You can see that the return is in the front portion and the media is in back. That simply because I needed the depth of the stand for the elbows and valve. The water sheers off a 2" piece of plexi and makes zero drip noise. For maintenance, I shut the ball valve off (leaving the gate dialed in!!!) and unscrew the pipe at the front elbow. I can then pull out the sliders like before a full foot.
I got in another row of media taking out the shelves I had before. Last, you'll see I have 1 less bubble chamber. Not understanding it before, now the water enters into the return chamber at the top keeping bubbles up there. I have no air bubbles at all now.
I didn't bother painting it this time. It was a waste of money and time. I had to get it running asap. The only downside is not knowing what to do for storage. I lost the room for the shelf.