A Garden Swing Powered Water Pump




Pump water using a regular garden swing.

This is a first proof of concept and it's a scale model; there's lots of room for improvement... pumping around 3 liters a minute at the moment.

For details of how to build this and to see more videos, see this Instructable... the link is to a construction diary, step 10 - build a swing from bamboo - the earlier steps describe how to build the pump.

Download the videos

Would you like a shower?

Kids playing... 1

Kids playing... 2

Rob Rushworth
Aziza's Place


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    16 Discussions


    2 years ago

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    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very very cool, This would be awesome in so many places. I have also heard about a Playground style merry-go-round pump for 3rd world countries.

    I went to India and saw tons of pumps on the streets and of course I had to try it out, They are quite labor intensive, and I was probably double the size of most of the kids there pumping, but if kids could have fun, or people could relax while doing it that would be great .

    we need these kinds of awesome inventions more.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, crashaire.

    We're trying to keep away from associating with the merry-go-round pump idea, and are not going to be placing this in school playgrounds, nor expecting kids to do the work.
    Their project failed for various reasons... areas we will be keeping well away from or watching very carefully - lessons learned!

    If kids want to use the swing for a bit of fun, then maybe we can fit an intermittent shower/fountain for them to play with on the hotter days, but this pump is primarily aimed at making mom and dad's life a good deal easier in fetching water home from a communal pond (and possibly a dug well).


    7 years ago on Introduction

    this is awesome! I saw something similar at Maker Faire in Detroit. It was the perfect this on a warm day!

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Morning, zazenergy. Thanks!

    Since I started this, I've found 2 swingsets that are used to do work.

    One is the guy from Maker Faire, he generates electricity with his swingset. It's much more heavily engineered than ours, and I'm not sure it would be possible to build it in rural locations here.

    Another is a guy in Africa. His swingset pumps water, but does it in a different way. Again, it's fairly heavy engineering that's shipped in to rural communities.

    Ours was made with simplicity of build and availability of materials in mind such that a rural community could build one, with anyone basically mechanically minded that has access to a small parts market being able to put it together in a week or two.
    Our total cost so far is a lot less than $100, and would have been cheaper without the inevitable development of the idea.
    I'll be putting together a costing and parts list when we make the full Instructable for the swing, which will be after a little more research and development.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    ...and here's another one mentioned in The Times of India in 2009 - no details or pictures of the pump, though...


    *edit, found some pictures - same idea, but not the same pump - hopefully ours will look as good when it's all finished!





    There's no water shortage here at the moment, gonzalezchica - in fact an awful lot of the region is flooded.
    There are 2 seasons here, the wet and the dry.
    In the 4 or 5 month wet season an incredible amount of rain falls here, but for the rest of the year there's almost no rain at all. Water captured and stored during the wet season in ponds and lakes is used for the rest of the year by rural communities... this pump is designed to make small scale management and transportation of that water resource much easier.
    This pump is a scale model, but I've heard rumour that coil and spiral pumps can pump water up to a mile away from source - if we can get a full sized version up and running, we'd like to test that rumour out, ala "Mythbusters".


    I don't know, I haven't the need for such a device yet. I'll be looking to your designs when I do, however.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very creative!

    Can you do it double-acting? That is, so the coil can turn when the hammock goes and when moving back.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction


    I'm not 100% sure, but with a larger water storage tank, we could have a larger diameter on just the first inlet coil, which would then pick up enough water that the main body of the pump could be suspended from the pivot bar just above the water - eliminating a large, current loss of energy due to drag. The pump isn't very heavy even containing water in its coils, and the scaffold pipe could easily be extended - so that's feasible. If that worked, then yes, we could power the pump from both the forward and backward swings. We really need a little larger testing facilities to try that out.

    To move one step further, and only if the above worked very well...
    There's also the possibility of putting 2 pumps on one swing by having one pump on "each end".


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very well done
    Looks like a "fun" project.

    Make sure to read coil pump and coil pump 2, in the "related" instructables.

    I think, though, it may need one of these

    If you can get a hold of an old treadle sewing machine?
       double your pumping efficiency by using both forward and back strokes of the swing. could turn this into a very practical device.
    Unlike the merri-go-round water pump that completely failed.After a very short time, kids got sick of turning the thing fast, in the heat of africa, and went off to play at something else.

    With your design, you could add a shade/roof, convert the bamboo bar swing to a proper bench seat, and everyone could enjoy a quiet, cool, leisurely swing, while filling their water containers.
    If built large enough for multiple people to swing(2-3 adults, or an adult, and 2-3 kids?) then larger hose can be used. this should allow for faster pumping AND greater head height.(maybe not so useful as a demonstration tool at the school, but "real world" applications increase as volume increases)

    And i know it may sound funky, but have you looked into Gear-driven Rotor sprinkler heads for your rotary joint?  Even bought, shipped, and adapted, it may still be less than having a local shop manufacture a grease-less rotary fitting for you.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Many thanks, ironsmiter.
    Yes, it has been a fun project, and the kids had a great time splashing around this afternoon.

    The reciprocal to rotary motion converter is a good idea, but we currently need the back-swing to regain momentum as the water acts as a dampening brake on the forward, driving swing.
    With exactly the same model built in a larger tank, though, it could work well - as the only part of the pump that need be in the water then would be a larger diameter inlet coil, which wouldn't disperse so much energy into the water provided its support to the main pump body was streamlined.

    Agreed that this is wide open to improvements and efficiency upgrades. This is a hybrid of a coil pump and a spiral pump, both of which can quite easily be tailored to suit water needs, and if needs be, I don't see why a multiple operator swing set under a canopy wouldn't work. There are lots of operational variables that can be adjusted in many combinations, and I'm quite sure that we don't know all of them yet, but designing for the end user has to be a primary concern.

    The swivel joint we have is perfect for this particular pump, but I don't think it would suit a much bigger device - that's an area that we definitely need to look further into as I was lucky to find suitable parts in a local market here. Unfortunately, overseas shipping isn't really an option as we're trying hard to keep this a low-cost "local build".

    Thanks for such a positive comment - encouraging to read!