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What is a good design for a pedal powered water pump, (maybe using a bicycle)? Answered

We need to pump rain water from a holding container to a water tower, about 60 horizontal feet and 10 to 15 vertical feet.



10 years ago

In 1983, VITA (now EnterpriseWorks published "Six Simple Pumps: A Construction Guide" which includes these types:
- Spangler
- Diaphragm
- Archimedes screw
- inertia
- Animal Driven
- two different types of piston pumps
You can find EnterpriseWorks here, and their list of publications here

Another thing that might be of interest is a project by Jim Sylivant and Larry Shannon for with the goal of creating an inexpensive pump with commonly available materials. This treadle pump costs about $35-$40 in parts, and was able to pump water up a 1,00 foot driveway using distribution of weight only. The plans for this pump can be found here

For a simpler albeit somewhat less portable and more expensive version, try the one in this book It is a very detailed process, and assumes little or no experience in building.

You could also purchase a simple rotary transfer pump from a tool supplier or farm stores and then convert it to be pedal powered (a simple matter)

Please inform me of the outcome, as it is interesting and few people would take the time and effort (however little) to do this


Answer 7 years ago

Hello 652800,

Do you know anyone who has constructed pumps using the "Six Simple Pumps" manual? I tried building the diaphragm pump but wasn't able to get it to work. Wondering if someone with first-hand experience might be able to give a little advice...

Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal


Answer 10 years ago

I am sorry, I seem to have made a mistake (I know, I know, pay attention and use spelling check), I meant to say that he pumped water up his 1,000 foot driveway


10 years ago

The first steps of this instructable provide instructions on how to build a peristalsis pump, which are simple in design and very easy to repair (only moving parts are the wheel and the tube).

This instructable shows how to convert rotational movement of a bicycle wheel to linear motion which could be used to drive a standard hand pump, or you could alter the design of their diaphragm pump with some suitable valves and heavier plastic sheet.

Lastly, there are a number of charities providing water pumps to african countries which often have websites detailing the design of pump they use- these pumps are designed specifically to be low-maintenance and to run on human power.