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Have no electricity? Need water from a lower point to a higher point? And you just happen to have all of this PVC and varies materials laying around...well we have the solution! This is called a Hydraulic Ram Pump. A Hydraulic Ram Pump transports water from a lower point to a higher point without using electricity, just air pressure and gravity.

Above it depicts how the pump works the blue represents the water, the red represents the pressure spike, and the green represents the the lower pressure spike.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

  • 1 1/4" tee (buy two of these)
  • 1 1/4" ball valve
  • 1 1/4" union
  • 1 1/4" brass swing check valve
  • 1 1/4" spring check valve
  • 3/4" tee
  • 3/4" valve
  • 3/4" union
  • 1 1/4" x 3/4" bushing
  • 1/4" pipe cock
  • 100 psi gauge
  • 3/4" x 6" PVC
  • 1 1/4" x 2" bushing
  • 4" coupling reducer
  • 4" x 24" PVC pipe
  • 4" PVC glue cap
  • 4 foot section of 1 1/4" PVC pipe
  • Bicycle Inner tube
  • 1 1/4 pipe to thread fitting
  • 3/4" to 1/4" bushing
  • PVC primer and cement
  • Charlotte Pipe 3/4" PVC Adapter Fitting

Tools you will need

  • Sharpie/Marker
  • Ruler
  • Hack saw/ Band saw

Costs

  • 1 1/4" valve approx. $5 (x2)
  • 1 1/4" tee approx. $1
  • 1 1/4" union approx. $5
  • 1 1/4" brass swing check valve approx. $9
  • 1 1/4" spring check valve approx. $9
  • 3/4" tee approx. $5
  • 3/4" valve approx. $8
  • 3/4" union approx. $4
  • 1 1/4" x 3/4" bushing approx. $1
  • 1/4" pipe cock approx. $10
  • 100 psi gauge approx. $20
  • 3/4" x 6" PVC approx. $3
  • 4" x 1 1/4" bushing approx. $2
  • 4" coupling reducer approx. $3
  • 4" x 24" PVC pipe approx. $4
  • 4" PVC glue cap approx. $7
  • 4 foot section of 1 1/4" PVC pipe approx. $8
  • Bicycle Inner tube approx. $7
  • PVC primer and cement set approx. $6
  • 1 1/4" pipe to thread bushing approx. $6
  • 3/4" to 1/4" bushing approx. $9
  • Charlotte Pipe 3/4" PVC Adapter Fitting approx. $1

Approximated total for all materials is $138

Step 2: Preperations

  1. Cut 5, 3" pieces of the 1 1/4" PVC and 1, 6" piece of 1 1/4" PVC. You can do this with a hack saw or a band saw.
  2. Cut 4, 3" pieces of the 3/4" PVC, you can also use a hack saw or a band saw.
  3. Take the Teflon tape and carefully rap it around the threaded pieces.
    1. 1 1/4" pipe to threaded fitting.
    2. 3/4" to 1/4" threaded bushing.
    3. PSI gauge.

Approximated Time

This will take you approximately less than a week to put together and test. It takes about three days to put together; about an hour or two each day. Testing it will take about two hours to find the right environment and getting set up. In all it should be done within four days.

Step 3: Putting It Together (Part 1)

  1. Take the 1 1/4" union and a 1 1/4" x 3" PVC. Take out the PVC primer and carefully apply it the outer edge of the PVC pipe then put the cement on over it and put cement on the inside of one of the sides of the union. Insert the PVC into the union and twist.
  2. Put primer and cement on the other end of the PVC pipe and cement on the inside of one of the sides of the 1 1/4" ball valve. Put the ball valve onto the PVC and twist.
  3. Take another 1 1/4" PVC and prime and cement the outside edge. Then cement the inside of the other end of the ball valve. Put the pieces together and twist.
  4. Prime and cement the other end of the PVC and put cement on the inside of one of the side openings in the 1 1/4" tee. Connect then twist.
  5. Take out another 1 1/4" x 3" PVC and prime and cement one side of it. Then cement the inside of the top opening of the tee. Connect and twist.
  6. Prime and cement the other end of the PVC and cement the inside of the non-threaded side of the 1 1/4" pipe to thread fitting. Put together and twist.
  7. Take out the brass swing check valve and attach it to the threaded side of the 1 1/4" pipe to thread fitting, making sure to make the arrow point down (if needed use a wrench to tighten.)
  8. Take another 1 1/4" x 3" PVC and prime and cement one end. Then cement the inside of the last tee opening. Connect and twist.

Step 4: Putting It Together (Part 2)

  1. Take out the 3/4" union and a 3/4" x 3" PVC pipe. Apply primer and cement to one end of the PVC and cement to the inside of one of the openings in the union. Connect and twist.
  2. Apply primer and cement to the other end of the PVC. Then cement the inside of one of the openings of the 3/4" ball valve. Connect and twist.
  3. Take out another 3/4" x 3" PVC, and prime and cement one end. Then cement the other opening to the ball valve. Connect and twist.
  4. Prime and cement the other end of the PVC and cement the inside of one of the side openings of the 3/4" tee. Connect and twist (again.)
  5. Take out another 3/4" x 3" PVC and prime and cement the edge of it. Then cement the inside of the top opening of the tee. Connect and twist.
  6. Prime and cement the other end of the PVC pipe, then cement the inside of the Charlotte Pipe 3/4" adapter fitting on the non-threaded side. You know what to do...
  7. Take out the 3/4" to 1/4" threaded bushing and twist it into the Charlotte pipe. Then attach the pipe cock which has the PSI gauge already attached to it.
  8. Now take out another 3/4" x 1 1/4" PVC pipe and prime and cement one end. Then cement the inside of the last opening of the tee. Connect and twist.
  9. Prime and cement the other end of the PVC and cement the inside of the 1 1/4" x 3/4" bushing (cement the inside that is 3/4") Connect and twist.
  10. Prime and cement the outside of the other end of the 1 1/4" x 3/4" bushing. Then cement the inside of the other 1 1/4" tee.
  11. Take the 1 1/4" x 6" PVC and prime and cement the one end of the PVC. Then cement the top opening of the tee. Connect and twist.
  12. Take out the last 1 1/4" x 3" PVC and prime and cement one end, then cement the inside of the last opening of the tee. Connect and twist.

Step 5: Putting It Together (Part 3)

  1. Take the side with the PSI gauge and exposed 1 1/4" x 3" PVC and prime and cement the other end of the PVC. Then cement the inside of the spring check valve on the side that has the arrow pointing left or to the 3/4" union. Connect and twist.
  2. Do the same to the other exposed PVC piece with swing check valve. Connect and twist.

Step 6: Putting It Together(Part 4)

  1. Prime and cement one side of the 4" x 24" PVC air chamber and cement the inside of the 4" PVC glue cap. Then connect it and twist.
  2. Next prime and cement the other end of the 4" x 24" PVC air chamber and cement the inside of the 4" coupling reducer. Connect and twist.
  3. Next stuff the bicycle inner tube into the opening of the 4" coupling reducer, making sure to leave the valve to the bicycle pump partially out of the coupling reducer opening.
  4. Take a bicycle pump and attach it to the bicycle valve and partially blow it up to the point where it is squishy. Then stuff the valve back into the air chamber.

Step 7: Putting It Together (Part 5)

  1. Now take the 1 1/4" x 6" PVC that is connected to the tee on the side of the PSI gauge. Prime and cement the 1 1/4" x 6" end and cement the inside of the 1 1/4" x 2" bushing on the side of the 1 1/4" opening. Connect and twist.
  2. Then prime and cement the other side of the 1 1/4" x 2" bushing on the outside and cement the inside of the 4" coupling reducer. Connect and twist.
  3. Now you have finished connecting all the pieces.

Step 8: Test the Pump

The video above shows the pump in action, follow the directions, the ones listed below are a summary of what to do, but more detailed descriptions are in the video.Take a hose that doesn't use a thread and attach it to the pump on the 3/4" union side using a hose clamp. If possible get the hose diameter to be as close to 3/4" as possible to provide a snug fit.

  1. Place pump into a moving stream if one is near by if not, you can use a hose as long as it is big enough to provide a snug fit as well and not leak.
  2. Before you start it turn the smaller ball valve off and leave the bigger one all the way open.
  3. When water enters the pump it will go up to the swing check valve or the "waste valve" and start to spurt out. If it is working properly it will be coming out at a high level.
  4. After a while it the pressure will be enough to push the latch up and block water from coming up anymore. But because there is still air pressure in there you will need to hold it open with a stick until it starts to come out of the waste valve in intervals like a pump.
  5. When this happens you will now it is working properly. You can also check on the PSI meter to see how much pressure has built up.
  6. Now you can open the smaller ball valve, but just a little.
  7. You can now go to your output and see the water that has traveled uphill because of your pump!

Step 9: In Conclusion

If we could make any improvements or changes, we would put threaded unions on the ends to make it easier to attach to a hose/tube. We would also use a swing check valve instead of a spring check valve just for the purposes of seeing if the water would pass through easier.

<p>Great job! Wouldn't have expected anything less!</p>
<p>Great job, girls. I couldn't be more proud. Featured already!</p>
<p>You did an awesome job explaining the design and build. I really liked the video as well! </p>
<p>Hi,</p><p>Can I use it in pond without moving stream</p>
<p>I don't think you can. You need to have a force of water coming into the tub when it goes to the pump.</p>
<p>As long as it is downhill from the water source, I think a siphon would do the trick, right?</p>
<p>This is a very well explained project. It always makes me sad to see principles demonstrated so well yet APhigh school physics classes can't be bothered. To me this is what neighborhood maker-spaces could be. You'd be a good teacher.</p>
<p>This is what we need to conserve electrical energy, thank you Sir. Very well explained. </p>
<p>How much pressure is required to push the cycle inner tube?? Can u help me out...</p>
<p>Let's see. 100 PSI over a couple years (pulsing) into a PVC pipe in a tire shop with grease, oil, solvents, etc and being subjected to the sharp compression pulses of Bead breaker and setting machines as well as impact wrenches.... It is rather easy to see why the plastic would soften or crack and &quot;explode&quot;... by the way, ANY sudden release of air pressure through a line of half inch or better at 100PSI is going to sound like a rifle shot... and a whole lot more. Does not mean that the whole thing is going to blow apart into shrapnel... that is what the term &quot;explode&quot; means. It is most likely to crack or split and rupture.</p><p>I seriously doubt that the ram will get up to even 50 PSI most of the time and it is also not holding at a constant 100PSI +/- 10 and pulsing higher than that from the equipment.</p><p>Good to know the limitations of your materials and the forces involved, bad to spread fear tactics without providing all the facts involved. BTW, an extremely shook up 2 liter of soda can &quot;explode' with over 150PSI of force... wouldn't want you to get hurt.... &lt;G&gt;</p>
<p>I have made a few of these. Hydro-rams. They have been in use since the late 1700's and were the subject of a number of patent infringement fights until about 1830. My grandfather had a cast iron unit made by Gould around 1920. I'll see if I can find a photo of one like it.</p><p>They did a great job with this Instructable.</p><p> I am working to design a hydro-ram that will be self starting from a holding tank. This will be used where the water flow from a spring is too low to operate the pump, but you need the water at a higher elevation. Run the spring water into the tank. When the water level is high enough, the water will flow from the tank with enough force to start and power the ram pump, sending some of the flow uphill. Water from the waste valve could be collected to fill another holding tank and power still another hydro-ram. This ram pump flow could be sent back to the spring and recycled through the pump, be used to help fill the first holding tank, or sent to another location as needed. </p><p>Or you could use a specially designed hydro-ram to use (isolated) polluted river/stream water to provide the force to move clean spring water where it is needed, without cross contamination. Lots of possiblities.</p><p>It's all gravity powered. And just when was the last time you remember a gravity outage?</p>
<p>I built one of these when I was a teenager but due to not having enough depth coming in I couldn't get enough pressure to pump more than 7 feet up. I needed 10 up to water the garden so it was a &quot;failure&quot; for what I needed it to so. It was fun to build.</p>
<p>Nice to see someone making these! We used to have an ancient one near our village (actually Dad remembers there were a lots around many years ago). The only thing you didn't mention anywhere in the article, is efficiency. I hope no-one is waiting for these pumps to be as efficient as an electric pump, they'll be disappointed!</p><p>Have a look here for more details: </p><p>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_ram#Efficiency</p>
<p>Thank you, and yeah we thought it would be a nice idea to build one.</p>
<p>Ooops, meant SCHEDULE 40</p>
<p>&quot;pulsing PVC pipe over a long period of time will make it EXPLODE!!!&quot;</p><p>My personal experience using a PVC SHED40 pipe system with our air compressor did not include any 'explosions.'</p><p>What is far more likely to occur with pvc is linear breaks when the pipe is frozen. Unless the piping is buried below the frost line (varies with location), it is likely to burst wen temperatures fall below freezing for some time.</p><p>In theory, a constant flow through the relevant pipes will prevent such a failure. </p><p>Most of the 'factory' systems use steel pipe and a larger (and lengthy) inlet than outlet. </p>
<p>fwiw:<br><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/vQym6x0PiCg" width="500"></iframe></p><p>cheers!</p>
<p>How high a penstock can you use with this system and how high can it pump?</p><p>Remember, pulsing PVC pipe over a long period of time will make it EXPLODE!!! Yes, I owned a hardware store for 30 years (and worked in it for my Dad for years before that) and had 2 different customers tell me about their PVC compressed air system blowing up. We heard the one at the tire shop across the street - sounded like a large caliber pistol going off! I know, I know. It says right on schedule 40 PVC that it is rated to 400 psi at 73&deg;F but it will break when it it pulsed by a compressor and, I assume, by a hydraulic ram. Both our customers whose PVC systems blew up told me they were only running about 100 psi on their compressor control.</p><p>These blowups of PVC systems happened so often that Washington state Department of Labor &amp; Industries sent us a sign to post in our plumbing department warning our customers to NOT use PVC pipe with compressors!</p>
<p>We haven't had the opportunity to extensively test it, but we plan to in the following days. We can then get back to you and answer your questions then. Thank you for taking an interest in our project. </p>
Great work.<br><br>If you are planning to change the check valve I would recommend Hansen check valves from New Zealand. They are diaphragm valves with a quick action and really impressive flows. They are used in Bamford ram pumps. I'm sure Google will help you find some. If not I can help..
<p>http://www.hansenproducts.co.nz/products/valve/CV-size.htm</p>
<p>Thank you very much! You may have said it somewhere - what is the minimum vertical drop from the source water to the pump that is required? My spring is very low and the house is about 100 feet up.</p>
<p>According Seth Johnson (the guy in the video), 1 foot of head equals 7 feet of lift.</p>
<p>Thank you, Michael013!</p>
<p>That is cool. How much fall from the head of the penstock to the pump do you need to make the pump operate reliably?</p>
<p>Sorry I meant to say 1 gallon per minute. In the video that's how fast the water is moving, if you are using a hose you don't need to use that much as long as the water comes out of the waste valve. </p>
<p>This is great! A lot of folks use these pumps in the Ozarks. I intend to print this out and start accumulating parts even though I don't need one at this time ( my spring is uphill from my house). I just want to build it because it's cool!</p>
<p>Very nice write up! This also works to dampen sudden changes in water pressure. Much like a &quot;water hammer&quot;. </p>
<p>This is a KEEP FOR ALL TIMES type of ible... thank you! I can see me using this someday in 3rd world countries. (and hopefully my back 40). </p>
<p>Congratulations. Very well done and explained.</p>
My dads grandfather had something like this but it was called a butt and ram I think

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