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Picture of ~ World's Greenest  WATER PUMP ~
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Hydraulic Ram Pumps are very old technology that pump water using gravity and 2 valves to generate a repeating water hammer effect. The "hammer" pounds a little of the drive water into a pressure tank then up the delivery hose for your use. Why is it green? Because it's simple, reliable, pumps water without any engine, fuel or electricity or muscle power and can be made from mostly recycled materials.

The one I built has a few novelties that make it more reliable, cheaper and easier to operate than most of the plans you find on the Internet. It developed a steady 28psi pressure at the pump and delivered about 1,000 gallons per day where we wanted it.

last season, it hammered over 145,600 gallons of pond water up a steep hill to our garden over 700 feet away and over 100 feet higher than the pond! In the process, it saved us over 485 liters of diesel fuel we would have normally used to drive our diesel tractor to pump and tow the water around our farm.

The pump was built for about $50 worth of plumbing parts and a bunch of stuff that I had sitting in my scrap pile.

What's the secret? A strong gate valve - period.

Please have a look and enjoy the instructable and don't forget to rate it.


Please let me know if I can make it better or easier to follow somehow, and I will be happy to answer any questions that you have so post away!!

Step 1: Get started!

Picture of Get started!

Parts list.

You may want to print this picture to refer to later as an assembly guide.

 
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CRMcG12 days ago

Looks interesting but how's the efficiency? I've heard that the water loss through the second check-valve is around 90% thus the output is only 10%....

Cheers

eltigre (author)  CRMcG12 days ago
Depends what efficiency you are looking at.

The COST efficiency is excellent. It uses no electricity, gas, diesel, solar, wind or muscle power to lift water. It is powered by a spring fed water source or any creek that flows at a rate of 3 gal/min or more. Therefore, my cost to lift water is only the capital spent to build the pump, in this case less than $100, and since it has lifted over 5 million gallons so far, my cost efficiency is 0.002 cent per gallon operating cost INCLUDING capital and gets cheaper with every gallon it pumps. Excluding capital costs, my cost to operate this pump is 0.00 per gallon. Compare that operating cost efficiency to a gasoline powered pump.

We don't say that a water wheel is inefficient because 99.999999% of the river that turns it passes by without having any effect on the wheel.

NicuR14 days ago

Hello sir,

I have a technical question for you, if you would be kind enough to answer it.

Would it be possible with this method to pump water up the hill, having a distance of aprox. 900 feet and a level difference of about 500 feet.

Thank you,

water to the castle.jpg
eltigre (author)  NicuR13 days ago

Hi NicuR,

Let's do a little math... water column pressure in lb/sq. in. is expressed as

Feet of height x 0.433 = Psi

so if you want to lift 500 feet in one pipe you will need to generate 500*0.433= 216.5 psi. Since this pump is capable of about 50 psi, you would be able to lift about 120 feet with a 3/4 in. plastic delivery pipe. In actual operation, I was lifting about 110' high over 700' distance with no trouble but if you go much higher then the delivery rate becomes very slow. To compensate, you will need a much bigger pump or install a series of pumps feeding each other about every 100 feet. The problem with that idea is that ram pumps deliver only a fraction of their drive water so again you will have little to no delivery at the top of the hill. You need a high pressure piston pump (maybe solar operated) or a number of them to run up the hill sequentially pumping from one holding tank to the next highest one.

den23m1 month ago

how to install the bicycle inner tube inside the tank

eltigre (author)  den23m1 month ago

The tank is turned on/off via a pipe thread that originally sealed the fire extinguisher squeeze handle mechanism to the top of the tank. Before you screw the tank on to the pump, just deflate a bike inner tube all the way and you will have enough room to poke it into the tank with a finger or blunt end of a pen or a dowel or such, keeping the inflator valve for the last thing to go in. When the tube is all inside, just inflate to about 5lbs pressure and screw the tank on to the pipe.

A few years later I made an ABS tank out of a piece of 4" drain pipe and drilled a hole for the inflator valve so it was outside the tank and could be inflated once or twice a summer without shutting off the pump.

evyl001 month ago
I am ready 2 start buildg aquaponics w/grow beds & want 2 use this ram in design. I need 2 know if "waste" water has enough force 2b redirected upwards back n2 tank. Supply @ bottom of tank, waste outside tank going back 2 tank, delivery going 2 grow bed (3ft or more each 4 delivery & waste)
eltigre (author)  evyl001 month ago

If I understand you correctly, you can't blow the waste water back into the tank it came from as gravity won't let you but you can put it into a different tank slightly above the valve exhaust port as the water exits with some force. This pump design needs a continuous head of water to operate. If you drain the supply tank, the pump will stop.

evyl00 eltigre1 month ago
I actually just watched a YouTube of a guy from landhome.com who actually submerged his ram pump & it still worked! This is doable! Everyone is actually lifting water a great deal of height/length though so I may need help figuring how to reduce the amount of water flow b/c I will be going from inside the tank to about 3' or so straight up into a pvc piping ring above the grow bed.
evyl00 eltigre1 month ago
Well there is going to be a bell/siphon in the grow beds stationed above the 250 gal fish tank which will put the grow bed water back into the tank. I just need to devise a way to have the blow off or waste captured and returned instead of spilling on the ground. Using a capture bucket won't be feasible b/c I may not always be there to empty, hand pumps won't work because that kind of defeats the whole purpose. I will have to think on this. Thanks for the quick reply! If you have any other thoughts to share, any help would be greatly appreciated!
cheesewhiz142 months ago

can we buy a set of instructions for this?

something like this?

AT05.JPG.jpegAT06.JPG.jpeg
eltigre (author)  cheesewhiz142 months ago

I don't have a detailed set of plans but the info above should be enough to get you there. try it and let me know if you have problems and I will talk you through your build.

ldscaper1 month ago
Have you tried to lift water from a well? Do you know how many feet it can lift? Ever consider selling one? I like the old school technology!
eltigre (author)  ldscaper1 month ago
This design needs a head( height difference) of water to create a water hammer needed for operation. Unless you can think of how to make water flow inside the standing column of well water this design can't operate there.

I did see an old patent that claimed it had a ram pump design that worked in a well but I never investigated it.
eltigre (author) 2 years ago
You could use high pressure pvc. My experiments with plastic did not go well because the constant pressure surges caused the abs fittings to burst after a few weeks. maybe if you are using a small diameter pipe like under 2" it will work for you. There are many designs on the web that show plastic pump bodies. I never had a problem with bursting after I built the pump body out of steel fittings.

You can definitely run the outflow back to the pond surface for agitation purposes. If the outflow is directed through a smaller diameter nozzle, it will spray quite far. I got at least 20 feet out of a 0.25" nozzle. You may get even farther out of a smaller diameter nozzle.

"You could use high pressure pvc.... the abs fittings ..."

Were you mixing ABS (fittings) with PVC (pipe)?

I thought they were incompatible.

eltigre (author)  charlessenf-gm3 months ago
No, I only used abs pipe which connected to a steel "T". I suggested that you might have better luck with high pressure pvc.
JordanR64 months ago

Hey,

Do youknow if these kind of hydraulic ram pumps would be full submersible? I am wanting to build a pond with a waterfall and small stream that is self contained. My idea would be to place the intake at the far end of the pond leading to the ram pump at the other end of the pond. I am wanting it fully submerged so the water loss isn't an issue for maintaining the pond's water level.
Do you know if that would cause any sort of pressure issues?

thanks

TomP14 JordanR63 months ago

You can't put the water from the exhaust back into the same reservoir it came from. It has to flow down hill to create the energy to drive the pump.

Thank's for getting back to me so soon. I Like your site very much.I believe I may be able to salvage my old waste valve and create a new base out of material i have in my boneyard. The Pond has an old air box that was used to regulate water level. It has a 12 in pipe that drains at the base of the embankment equal to 10 ft of head. I have sealed the drain because the old stand pipe or box has rotten away at base. I have been pondering if it would be possible to create a waste valve that would connect to the 12 inch pipe that then would connect to a fabricated steel air box with a bladder a threaded delivery line at 6 inch. I will try to send a sketch. Again great site and thanks for any advice.

eltigre (author)  drew.stevenson.7147 months ago
I'm not sure how large your waste valve is, but if it's anything 4" or under, you may be faster and cheaper just to run a new feed line out of ABS drain pipe. I used 50' of 2" ABS as a feed line connected to the pump with a rubber coupling covered with a stainless clamp. like this:
www.http://tinyurl.com/Shielded-Coupling
and it worked fine for years. No fabricating & easy to take on & off. I imagine you could go up to 4" this way pretty cheaply but you might start to have trouble with the coupling leaking pressure at that diameter so you may need a threaded union joint for greater strength... like this:
www.http://tinyurl.com/q7zutea'
Post a sketch or link to tinycad drawing so we can see what you are thinking.

eltigre (author) 7 months ago

Hi Drew,

I see no reason you can't scale up my impulse valve design to whatever size you need and bolt it to whatever ram pump body you prefer. I turned down a 2" hockey puck for my 1.5" valve size but you could buy bigger chunks of rubber or polymer than a puck. Something like a boat roller guide might serve you. e.g. http://www.easternmarine.com/3-1-2-x-1-2-yates-bo...

The best advice is to make sure the valve stem runs up and down smoothly and centered. Do that by attaching at least 2 centering guides made of plastic. You could cut them out of sheets of 1/2" or thicker polyethelyene or buy some nylon casters of the correct size to act as centering guides so the valve stem must stay aligned to the valve seat.

Post a sketch if you like & I will comment on it for you. you might like the free CAD program here: https://tinkercad.com

to help you design something.

Hello. I have used a ram pump from folk ram pumps. It was an aluminum cast body which over the years has broken. I was able to make a new bell housing out of eight inch well casing i had however the aluminum cast waste valve assembly has also gone the way of the body. I am now without a pump. The pond that i am using is 4 acre ft I have 8 ft of head and have a 3inch feed pipe in place with a flow rate of 200 gal a minute i would like to manufacture my own pump and would greatly appreciate any help or advice you could offer.

ahirdstudent8 months ago
Maybe I'm just clueless, I certainly don't have any experience or skills to suggest otherwise. But couldn't you use a certain amount of the generated flow to run a watermill generator, to provide constant power along with your water flow, and avoid any issues of lack of sunlight? As long as you have a constant supply of water to draw from, and if possible to retribute to the source, then couldnt you leave it running indefinitely?

You could provide your water for gardening, livestock, drinking, washing etc, generate power....

If you could make a viable hydrogen fuel cell, you could be completely green and off grid theoretically..

Or is it not a viable system?
eltigre (author) 1 year ago

Hi Boraan,

If you feed a 2" ram pump with a 4 meter vertical drop, you should have good luck driving it with a 20 L/m solar pump. Just hook the solar 1" outflow directly into the ram pump 2 " feed pipe. You can adjust the speed of the ram pump cycle to make sure you have enough drive water in the ram pump feed pipe. If it is adjusted to just barely spill over the top of the ram pump feed pipe, you will never have your ram pump stop due to lack of feed water.

Your trouble will be that the solar pump will stop feeding at night, then you will have to start the whole system again each morning. This design of ram pump is not self starting. To start it, you will require a long, light weight rod attached to the ram pump top valve so that you can push it down several times to prime the cycle. This will be annoying to you. You may be better off with a small self priming high lift gear pump attached to a simple water wheel driven by your solar pump outflow. Alternately, you can try to get a high lift low voltage pump that is directly driven by your solar cells and eliminate the double pump setup you are envisioning.

Or just get a low voltage compressor driven from your solar cells (or use an inverter to make high voltage) and run an airline down to a bubble pump. That way all your mechanism is above ground with no moving parts in the water or well. much easier to service everything. Ram pumps are easiest to operate and service when you can keep them at ground level and they have a continuous flow of feed water.

Or build a teeter totter with a piston pump on long rods over the well. Then the kids can play all day and pump water at the same time.

Boraan 1 year ago
Thank you for the suggestions,ElTigre. I plan to do as you say and hang the ram over the floating bilge pump. But do you think I should connect directly to the Ram or install a tank to feed the ram? The bilge output is inch. The waste water I want to run through an airlift pump allowing some of it to be pushed up by the air in the waste water.
Boraan 1 year ago
Thank you for the suggestions,ElTigre. I plan to do as you say and hang the ram over the floating bilge pump. But do you think I should connect directly to the Ram or install a tank to feed the ram? The bilge output is inch. The waste water I want to run through an airlift pump allowing some of it to be pushed up by the air in the waste water.
eltigre (author) 1 year ago

Hi Boraan, Actually I think you could use your low lift solar pump to feed a ram pump that would move water much higher. You could suspend the ram pump above the water line of the well and fill its feed pipe with the solar pump output. The ram pump exhaust would go right back into the well and the ram pump output could be delivered to a much higher level than the solar by itself. You could fill barrels at the top of the well overnight or run a gravity feed system of pipes from the well to where the water is needed. You might be able to run 2 ram pumps from that much feed water. worth a try. Another maybe easier idea is to use your solar pump to turn a small water wheel that directly drives a piston or gear pump that will pump water above the ground level. You can also use the solar cells to make compressed air which in turn runs a bubble pump. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95LVVe7OpRM or use a windmill pump

paul.bobby2 years ago
we are missionaries in Nicaragua. We want to install one of these water pumps on a small island. The island is surrounded by a huge lake.
The question that we have is; can install the pump underwater and use the water pressure to power the pump?
We need to go 100' up and 300' inland.
Has anyone done this? Do you have any plans for this? Can you help us?

thanks

Bobby
eltigre (author)  paul.bobby2 years ago
If part of the island is lower than the surface of the lake you might be able to make it work. These pumps need a head of water to operate. If you do not have the height of water it won't pump. All it takes is a small stream flowing from the island to the lake and you could make it work. Otherwise, you are better off with a wind or solar powered pump. If there is a steady current in the lake you could also try a sling pump.
I know zilch about pumps. But as a volunteer in Cambodia, I have been trying to learn. Poor farmers need water in the dry season. Where we are there are no streams to work with. But I have installes solar driven 12V bilge pumps to deliver water up 5 Meters with a flow of 20 liters/minute. Can this be used to drive a ram pump ina 30 Meter dug well? If it can many people will benefit from the water. Any thoughts?
Place the pump in the bottom of the water, deepest accessible part. Get a ring float and tie the feeder pipe (with an inlet filter) just enough below the float to keep it submerged at all times. let the vertical pressure of the feeder pipe run the pump. Incidentally, you will probably need a relief/exhaust pipe as well. Use a larger diameter feeder pipe than the relief pipe so that the pump can generate pressure.

Also, FYI, I have seen these as closed loops, which do not emit water at the pump but capture both sides of the pressure to enhance the pump capabilities. I don't remember where I saw it but some googling should get you going in the right direction. Same premiss however, floating feeder pipe.
eltigre (author) 2 years ago
You could use high pressure pvc. My experiments with plastic did not go well because the constant pressure surges caused the abs fittings to burst after a few weeks. maybe if you are using a small diameter pipe like under 2" it will work for you. There are many designs on the web that show plastic pump bodies. I never had a problem with bursting after I built the pump body out of steel fittings.

You can definitely run the outflow back to the pond surface for agitation purposes. If the outflow is directed through a smaller diameter nozzle, it will spray quite far. I got at least 20 feet out of a 0.25" nozzle. You may get even farther out of a smaller diameter nozzle.
fr0ggy2 years ago
hello, i have a question about the feeding pipe.
the 2'' is a constant, or depends of the ... debit of water ?
like if i have a like slow river, is ok to use 2'' pipe ?
eltigre (author)  fr0ggy2 years ago
You can use whatever feeding pipe you like, as long as you have enough water flow to keep it full. I used a 2" pipe because my pump body was 2" so it was easy to connect them together. If you have too little feed water flow or too small a feeding pipe, the pump will cycle very slowly or not at all. The pump may also cycle very quickly but not build up any outflow pressure.
fr0ggy eltigre2 years ago
so, as long the river (water) level is above the feeding pipe (and i keep the 5:1 ratio), is ok ? pipe will always be full of water.
eltigre (author)  fr0ggy2 years ago
Yes, as long as you can keep a full feed pipe you should be fine. If any air gets into the feed pipe it may stop your pump. You may like a 5.5:1 length to height ratio better. My pump works ok with 5:1 but all the Info I have seen says 5.5:1 is optimum.
fr0ggy2 years ago
so, as long the river (water) level is above the feeding pipe (and i keep the 5:1 ratio), is ok ? pipe will always be full of water.
Diddi Ingi2 years ago
One question... with the pressure that the hammer builds up, how far upstream can you pump the water, using a regular garden hose? How far above the level of the original pond f.x.?
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