2005 - Volume #29, Issue #2, Page #11[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Ram Pump Moves Water For Free
"A local rancher told me he had used one for more than 40 years, so I asked my extension agent about them," says Thompson, of Deer Lodge, Mont. "He found a couple designs on the Clemson University website."
After using a ram pump for three years, Thompson is sold on them. "The plastic one was really simple," he says. "It didn't need any machine work, just glue plastic fittings together."
Clemson University extension specialists recommend gluing plastic components to get a tight fit. Metal components can also be used.
Although different designs are available, Thompson used one with a swing check valve. On the inlet end, velocity builds up to an amount needed to close a valve. As it closes, water is forced into an air chamber. When the pressure equalizes, another valve opens and the water is pushed out and into the outlet pipe. As this action is repeated, the water is moved up the outlet pipe.
Thompson's first ram pump was made from 1 1/4-in. diameter schedule 40 PVC pipe and connections. It delivers 3/4 gpm. His second pump is smaller, using 3/4-in. galvanized steel pipe and delivers about 1/4 gpm. He notes that pumps raising water more than 50 ft. need to be made from metal to withstand the pressure.
While Thompson's pumps move water slowly, they run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, providing enough to keep stock tanks full. The volume of water moved per minute depends on the drop in elevation between the water source and the pump. The greater the drop, the greater the capacity of the pump. One well-known hydraulic ram pump built back in the 1800's could pump 50,000 gal. per day to an elevation of 200 ft.
"The only thing you have to remember is that you have to pump water to a higher elevation than its source," says Thompson. "You have to have the back pressure to make it work."
Both pumps use water flow from springs to transport the water to dry parts of his 240-acre pasture.
"There are quite a few commercial ones available, but I would guess this one didn't cost more than $90 to build," says Thompson. "I probably spent another $150 to $200 for pipe to run the water up to the tank. Without water, my cows wouldn't go up on my hillsides."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jack Thompson, 805 4th St., Deer Lodge, Mont. 59722 (ph 406 846-2656).
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