Picture of Hand-powered water pump

For some reason the photos are upside down here, but rightside up on my computer. Hmmm.

I needed a hand-powered water pump for a kid's toy, but the hardware store version cost $30 and was the wrong size. This one costs around $10, depending on what scrap supplies you have lying around.

The basic problem is to make two "check valves" as cheaply as possible. These are 1-way valves, in this case operated by superballs I liberated from the kids' toy basket.

Here's your parts list, most bought from Home Depot. Total cost: $10.47.
- 1 1/4" x 1/2" PVC bushing, screw type on 1/2" end (2)
- 1 1/4" PVC Tee (1)
- 1 1/4" x 1" PVC bushing, pressure fit both ends (1)
- 1 1/4" x 1/2" PVC bushing SPGXS (1)
- 1/2" x 3/4" PVC male adapter SXMPT (1)
- 1 1/4" PVC elbow (1)
- 1 1/4" x 2' PVC pipe

- superballs, small enough to fit inside 1 1/4" PVC pipe with some room to play (2)
- dowel rod or square wood rod to serve as plunger, as large as possible to fit easily inside 1 1/4" PVC pipe
- rubber or rubberized foam source to seal plunger. I cut up an old foam floor mat. An old sandal would work, too.
- screws to hold superballs and plunger seal in place (3)
- Optional: PVC primer and cement, depending on how permanent you want your pump to be

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Step 1: Layout of parts

Picture of Layout of parts
This shows the relative position of parts prior to assembly.

Step 2: Secure balls in place

Picture of Secure balls in place
Drill holes for screws to keep the balls from straying far from their bushings. You want some room to move, for water to go by in the forward direction, but not so much that it takes long for the ball to get back to sealing position.

1/2-way through the T and the elbow worked well for me.
Jollyrgr2 years ago
Turn them upside down on your computer and re-upload. Maybe that will fix the problem...
shadnlyd2 years ago
Anybody else carsick?


Just teasing, of course! Great tutorial; can't wait to try it!
rimar20002 years ago
This seems an interesting and useful instructable, but I don't understand it fully.
Where goes the plunger? Maybe a video?
Zippityboomba (author)  rimar20002 years ago
Added a video of it in use. The plunger goes into the long empty pipe (If you view what you've made as an upside-down "T", then put it in the long vertical part. You can see my son moving the plunger up and down to work the pump.
Yes, the video carify all. The photos are upside down, as you mentioned, but I didn't realize that. Well done!
carify -----> clarify
+1 on the video.
jschumaker2 years ago
Written instructions to go along with the photos in step 3 would be helpful.
Zippityboomba (author)  jschumaker2 years ago
Annotated the photos; should be clearer now. Let me know if still puzzling. Thanks.
jschumaker2 years ago
What size screws are you using?
Zippityboomba (author)  jschumaker2 years ago
It doesn't much matter, so long as the ball can't get past them. It was probably a 2" screw in the "T" and a 1" screw in the elbow, since they were the first I grabbed from the bin.