Is sprinkler plumbing normally this complicated (see pictures attached)

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Completely normal. I see this set up frequently and as noted in Rainbird link it is designed to breakage from either lawn equipment or people stepping on sprinkler heads. Much better that either flex-pipe or (God forbid) rigid piper risers.
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I've been using rigid pipe risers for years and have never lost a head or had a pipe crack due to physical damage from a mower driving over them or someone stepping on them. I think the fact that around here we use poly pipe for the runs, which has give, as opposed to rigid PVC, could be a factor. I don't know why anyone would use PVC as poly is so much easier to work with.
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On Thu, 08 Mar 2012 23:47:55 -0800, Tim wrote:

Thanks. It looks like this is very normal for some, and weird for others.
For me, it was a learning experience.
When I do it again, I'll change the three-elbowed riser to a four-elbowed one for additional benefits.
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On 3/5/2012 11:55 PM, alpha male wrote:

the gray part with the swiveling black ends is call a swing arm assembly. It's commonly used in this application . It's supposed to absorb any impact it may receive in any direction up, down, or sidways to prevent breakage. If you'll visit your local irrigation specialist he'll explain it all to you.
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Steve Barker
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On Tue, 06 Mar 2012 21:14:18 -0600, Steve Barker wrote:

I stopped by the landscape wholesaler to get a sixty pound bag of Fescue and a gallon of roundup concentrate and asked him about it.
He said it was a very professional setup but he wasn't sure what exactly the advantages were. He said it costs a few dollars more per sprinkler to do it the way mine was, and most installers just skip it.
I'm glad, now that I know about it, that whoever installed mine, took the time and effort and money to do it right!
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