CompendiumIn HydraulicRam-PumpsSelected & Edited by John Furze 1995/96/2002Holme Bygade 12, 8400 Ebeltoft DenmarkTel/Fax/Voice: + 45 86 10 07 86E-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>University of Aarhus. Faculty of Political Science,Law & Economics
CONTENTS.06: Power Guide. Hulscher, Fraenkel UK/Netherlands 1994 1-85339-191-1.07: Real Goods Catalogue. USA 1995 0-930031-68-7.09: Home Power # 23. USA 1991.12: Other Homes & Garbage. Leckie et al. USA 1975 0-87156-141-7.15: Agricultural and Industrial Machinery Catalogue. CeCoCo Ibaraki City, Japan.20: Rainbow Power Catalogue. Nimbin NSW Australia.25: Food. Szczelkun UK/USA 1972 0-85659-006-1.26: Handbook of Homemade Power. Shuttleworth Mother Earth News USA 1974.32: Popular Mechanics Farm Manual. Chicago USA 1947.41: Producing your own Power - VITA. Stoner USA 1974 0-394-71440-7.53: Cloudburst 2. Vic Marks [ed.] Cloudburst Press Canada 1976 0-88930-010-057: Soft Technology Magazine # 38. ATA 247 Flinders Lane Melbourne Australia.60: Village Technology Handbook. VITA USA 1963/77.63: Home Power # 40, # 41. USA 1994 and # 76. USA 2000.77: SW Jutland Energy Office. Lars Rasmussen Denmark 1995.83: LInstallation dun Belier Hydraulique. Hermans ATOL Leuven, Belgium 1984.106: Hydraulic Rams. P de Jong TU Delft Netherlands.126: Hydraulic Ram-pumps. Jeffery et al. UK 1992 1-85339-172-7.270: Manual on the Hydraulic Ram. Watt UK 1975/93 0-903031-15-9.318: Hydraulic Ram Model. Burstall. E.Arnold Pub. UK 1968 SBN. 7131-3184-5322: Tables, etc.
58 Home Power #23 • June / July 1991Things that Work!et me start by saying that I am completely sold on the High Lifter pump for myapplication. My High Lifter is pumping 240 gallons per day from a 6 gallons perminute spring that is 132 feet downhill from my water tank. The High Lifter islocated 26 vertical feet below my spring.LThings that Work!Alternative Energy EngineeringsHigh Lifter PumpTest Conducted by Michael WelchShipping Container and DocumentationThe High Lifter comes well wrapped in a 6 in. x 6 in. x 28in.cardboard box. Alternative Energy Engineering usesrecycled materials for packaging their products. Theshipping weight is 10 pounds. Included with the pumpitself is an inlet filter, an inlet pressure gauge, a hose forbetween the filter and the pump, an output pressuregauge, and a ball valve with a check valve for the outlet.The Owners Manual that comes with the pump is one ofthe best written pieces of documentation that Ive everseen. It is 23 pages long and includes: an introduction,typical applications, how it works, how to install it forvarious situations, an in depth section on maintenanceand troubleshooting, performance curves, a troubleshooting flow-chart, an exploded view showing all thepump parts, and a specifications table.The Test SiteMy water system is comprised of aspring which flows into a large 480gallon settling tank. From there,the water flows at 6 gallons perminute through 3/4 inch Schedule40 PVC pipe 26 vertical feet to mypump site. The pump then pushesthe water up 158 vertical feetthrough 1" black rolled drinking water pipe(only 1/2 inch pipe is required). The 250gallon tank at the top is suspended betweentwo sturdy conifers about 20 feet above thetaps in my home to obtain sufficient indoorwater pressure.Pumping water without electricityThis pump works great without electricity,without internal combustion, and without noise.This pump will take a steady but small flow ofThings that Work!tested by Home Powerwater, and, with a short drop, pump a significant part ofthe water way up hill to the place it is needed.Oh, if only all our water supplies were located above thepoint of use. Alas, it is an imperfect world. Well, then, ifonly we could afford some of the fine solar water pumpingsystems that are available. By the time you purchase thepump, wiring and the fair number of PV panels needed,your cookie jar will look like a bottomless pit.I know two ways to use a downhill flow of water to pump aportion of the water further uphill. One is with thetime-tested ram pump. The ram pump lets a flow of waterin a pipe build up momentum until the flow causes animpetus valve in the pump to slam shut. The water, stillwanting to exert its moving energy, is channeled into achamber containing air, which is compressed by the forceof water. The compressed airbubble in the chamber thenexpands to push a small amountof water out a second pipe goingup the hill to the point where wateris needed. The pressures insidethe pump are then equalized,allowing the impetus valve toWATERSOURCEWATERTANKHIGH LIFTERTOTALLIFTNETLIFTFALL
59Home Power #23 • June / July 1991Things that Work!open again thus starting the downhill flow moving again,and the cycle repeats.The second method is with the relatively new High Lifter.The High Lifter uses head pressure instead of momentumin a downhill pipe. It uses a larger volume of low-pressurewater to pump a smaller volume of water at a higherpressure. A larger piston acts with a smaller one to gainmechanical advantage, a kind of "hydraulic lever." Acollar inside the pump controls the inlet valve. As thepistons reach the end of their stroke, they contact thiscollar, pushing it until it directs a small amount of "pilotwater" to the end of the spool in the pilot valve, therebyshifting it and changing the direction of the water flow inthe pump. The flow moves the two-way pistons in theopposite direction until they again contact the collar, whichshifts the pilot valve again, and the process repeats. Thusthe pumps innards travel back and forth as it pusheswater way up the hill.High Lifter SpecificationsThe cylinders are made of stainless steel, the valve bodyand head materials are machined from acrylic, and thepistons are made of high quality nylon. The total width isabout 4 inches, length 26 inches, and the pump itselfweighs about 5.5 pounds. The High Lifter is obtainable intwo volumetric pump ratio models, 4.5:1, and 9:1, andchangeover kits are available to switch back and forth.The higher the volumetric ratio, the greater the pumpingpressure and the lower the output flow.Typical applicationsAccording to the Owners Manual, the High Lifter candeliver up to 750 or 1500 gallons per day, depending onthe model. It can be used with flows as little as one quartper minute. It can achieve net lifts of up to 1,100 feet,depending upon the circumstances. In situations of lowfall and high lift, two High Lifters can be used in series.High Lifter PerformanceWhen I took delivery of my High Lifter, I had nothing butproblems. I thought I would be unable to recommend thepump in "Things that Work" because my test siteseemed to put to much of a strain on the pump, causingit to stall out with regularity. After trying "everything in thebook", and some things that werent in the book, I tookthe pump back to Dave Katzs pump experts atAlternative Energy Engineering. (I like going thereanyway because they have so much neat renewableenergy stuff to look at.) There we discovered that someof the earlier pumps had been assembled with too muchsilicone glue between the barrel and the valve body. Theexcess silicone had slopped over to partially plug thepilot valve holes. They gave me a recently rebuilt pumpsince they didnt have a new one ready to give me.I installed the newly rebuilt pump, and 30 hours later Ichecked my previously empty tank. I was totally amazedto discover that the 250 gallon tank was completely full!At that point I began keeping track of the flow: it was anremarkable 240 gallons per day. Two weeks later the
60 Home Power #23 • June / July 1991Things that Work!flow had decreased to 218 gallons per day so I cleanedthe inlet filter. Now that the pump was broken in and thefilter cleaned, my flow increased to 294 gallons per day! Itseems to have settled in at between 220 and 300 gallonsper day, depending on how clean the input filter is.High Lifter AdvantagesThe advantages of the High Lifter over the ram pump arenumerous. The pump is more efficient in that it uses lesswater to pump a given amount uphill. Additionally, it is afar piece quieter than the constant and very noisyKA-CHUNK of the ram, and it is quite a bit lighter andeasier to move around than the ram. Last, but not least,the High Lifter will operate with relatively thin wall pipe inthe input, whereas a ram, because of the intense andconstant hydraulic hammering caused by the suddenclosing of the impetus valve, requires solid mounting andsteel pipe to keep from breaking apart joints.The High Lifter is not without its disadvantages, though. Ithas a complex array of pilot valves and check valves, andrelies heavily on close tolerance seals. Unlike the rampump, water must be completely free of sand and grit lestthe barrels and seals become scored allowing leakage.The High Lifter comes with a filter which takes out muchof the harmful sized particles which may flow from yourwater supply. The filter must be cleaned regularly to avoidloss of inlet pressure. If a lot of foreign matter flows withyour water, then the High Lifter may not be for you.The Owners Manual states that there is a danger that ahard knock to the valve body could cause a misalignment,but personal experience proved that it takes 2 large,strong people to successfully dislodge the glued andstrapped valve body from the barrel.ConclusionsThe High Lifter has far exceeded my expectations, anddefinitely lives up to its promises. It is worth the $750.price tag, which includes access to the manufacturer whois willing to go the extra distance to help their customers.AccessAuthor: Michael Welch, C/O Redwood Alliance, POB 293,Arcata, CA 95521 • 707-822-7884.Manufacturer: Alternative Energy Engineering, POB 339,Redway, CA 95560 • 800-777-6609.CarlsonCommunications
TRUE CONFESSIONS:“I made a hydraulic ram pump- and I can’t even weld!”by Chris HarkinDelivery Head Typical InstallationIadmit it. I have not yet done theA.T.A. Home Welding Skillscourse. So I can’t weld. Iwanted to make a ram pump, so Iwent to the Friends Of The Earthbookshop in Fitzroy and got a bookby Volunteers in Technological As-sistance on how to make one. ThenI modified the plan so it didn’t re-quire welding. No doubt theoriginal would work better, but thisone works fine.What is it? 80% Waste WaterA hydraulic ram pump is a pump thatuses the power of falling water to pumpa small proportion of that water up thehill. There is no external source of fuelor electricity, just water pumpingDiagram showing the typical installation for a hydraulic ram pumpwater. They have been around for morethan a hundred years, so they are hardly new technology. So why aren’t theymore common? Well, they do havetheir limitations.The original non-welded Ram Pump?You need a suitable site, where thewater source is higher than the pumpsite. (NB: The vertical distance fromthe water source to the pump is calledthe Supply Head). Unfortunately, inmany places the water is at the BOT-TOM of the hill, so you can’t dropwater down to the pump. Secondly thevertical distance from the pump to thedestination of the pumped water(Delivery Head) can’t be more thanabout twenty times the supply head.Finally the water has to be abundantenough to afford to waste about 80% toget the other 20% up the hill.Soft Technology Number 38 Page 21
Fortunately at Lot 5, Great OceanRoad, Lavers Hill this is not a problem,with two metres average annual rain-fall. (See “Typical installation”diagram, previous page.)How does it work?Water comes barrelling down thedrive pipe and goes to waste throughthe clack valve. As the water passesthrough the valve, it pushes up on therubber washer, as the water has to‘squeeze’ past the washer. The spring ispushing down on the valve, holding itopen. As the water increases speedthrough the valve, the upward pressureon the washer increases until the valvesuddenly slams shut. The water’s paththrough the valve has been cut off, butClack Valve Assemblyit doesn’t want to stop (inertia). This isjust like the pounding in a pipe when atap is suddenly turned off. The movingRam PumpExploded Diagramwater has only one other path - throughthe non-return valve (flap valve). Thecolumn of water shoots through the flapvalve into the metre of two inch pipe.The pipe was already full of air, whichgets compressed against the end cap.The moving column of water quicklyruns out of momentum. The com-pressed air pushes back down on thewater. But the water can’t go back-wards - the flap valve snaps shut. Sothe compressed air dutifully pushes thewater up the delivery pipe and into yourtank. Now let’s go back a step. Whenthe flow of water ran out of momentum,the force of water up on the washerdropped off to less than that of thespring, so the spring opens the valveagain. Water rushes out of the valveand the whole cycle starts over again,about one beat per second. (See “RamPump - Exploded Diagram”, this page.)FlowThe flow of water into the tank isnothing spectacular - mine pumpsabout 1.8 litres/minute. But as it is notgobbling up petrol or electricity, it canbe left on constantly. Flows will varywith each installation, depending onsupply and delivery heads, and thediameter of pipes used. A strainerSoft Technology Number 38 Page 22
Clack SpringMade from 2 mm SteelFold Clack SpringAt about 450 mm from small endDrill 4 HolesIn the Tips of the Nut Flats as shown- 1/8" DiameterThe holes must be right in the cornerso that the bolts will be on the outsideof the pipe.should be used on the inlet from thecreek or dam, and a tap installed, so youcan turn it off. The tap must have alarge opening when “on”. Some tapshave a large casing but a weeny open-ing inside. I think the correct type iscalled a gate valve.How to make it,I believe the diagrams are pretty wellself explanatory, bearing in mind thefollowing:1. The drive pipe must be steel, 1” or1 1/2”. It takes a real pounding soplastic isn’t up to the job.2. The body of the pump is of 2” galwater pipe. Use teflon tape on alljoints.3. The non return valve is a 2” brassflap valve (or disc-type non returnvalve.)4. The elbow has a 2mm hole with a1.6mm split pin just below the flapvalve. This is called the ‘sniffer’, andit allows a wee bit of air into the pipewith each pulse. This is important asthe air in the metre of pipe (air chamberslowly dissolves in the water. It needsto be replaced, as otherwise the cushionof air would be lost and the pumpwould pound itself to bits. Really. Atiny squirt of water is lost through thishole with each stroke. The split pin isjust to keep it clear in case any rubbishgets in.5. The rubber washer is a 1 1/2” dia.toilet cistern washer. Try to get one thatis fairly thick and rubbery. It has amudguard washer behind it for support.6. Polypipe is fine for the deliverypipe, as it doesn’t take the same pound-ing. I used 3/4” poly.7. Adjustments. There are three ad-justments on it. The length of the boltholding the rubber washer can be ad-justed for length. The stroke bolt ad-justs how far the washer moves - shouldbe AROUND 3-5mm. The tension boltadjusts how hard the spring pushesdown on the washer.Basically, you muck around with theadjustments to get the maximum waterpumped for the minimum waterwasted, so you need to measure both.About sixty to eighty beats per minuteshould be right. Try to keep the strokefairly short, as a long stroke poundsharder, so wears rubber and springfaster. The diagram shows componentswith a longer stroke - this is just forclarity.8. Do your wallet and the world afavour - use secondhand components.I spent about $80 for the lot includingthe drive pipe. Everything wassecondhand or scrap. That’s why mypump has a funny bend in the air cham-ber. The only bit they had long enoughhad a bend in it. If I bought all new itwould have cost close to a new, com-mercial ram pump (around $300). Itwouldn’t be hard to do it for much lessagain. I bought everything on one dayand didn’t shop around much.9. Buy the VITA book from FOE. Ithas a lot of other info about sites andvariations. Cost in 1990 was $15.10. Good Luck and happy pumping.Soft Technology Number 38 Page 23
45Home Power #40 • April / May 1994Things that Work!His largest pump, however, is too heavy to ship byUPS, so it comes in two pieces easily bolted together.This pump is heavy-duty. Its body is thickly cast andmachined from high-grade aluminum alloy, and theinner components and the bolts make use of stainlesssteel. The internal “valves” are made of thick, bondedrubber seals.A feature of the Folk ram not found in most ram pumpsis a strong rubber diaphragm which separates thedelivery water from the pressurized air chamber. Thisdiaphragm keeps the air from mixing and exiting withthe delivery water, thus eliminating the need for a“snifter valve” to replenish the air chamber.Other features of the Folk ram pump include larger-than-usual impetus and check valves for faster reactiontime and a large air dome to minimize delivery waterpressure pulsations and thus decrease friction loss.The impetus valve stroke length is easily adjustable tochange the frequency of pump cycles, which changesthe amount of water the pump uses and delivers.InstallationThe Folk ram arrived with adequate instructions onhow to install, maintain and run it, but there is someroom for improvement. Jim Folk told me that he wantedto do a better and more detailed manual for the pump.360Caras Water Delivery System45Settling TankStorage Tank(Underground)Delivery PipeConduit (under road)Ram PumpDrive PipePumpHeadDeliveryHead(300 gal.)(120 ft.)(1300 ft.)(500 gal.)(20 ft.)Settling Tank to Storage Tank(not to scale)Supply linefrom creekweirOne great thing about Jim Folk is that it is as importantto him that the pump works well as it is to sell the pumpin the first place. If you have problems with yourinstallation or operation, he will work with you in detail.It’s just how he is, and most people can reallyappreciate it. For example, there was a problem withthe bonded rubber the pumps used in their valves.When Jim discovered the defect, he automatically sentevery pump owner a new set of valves, using improvedmaterials, and he did it free of charge.Long distance water pumping systems have so manyvariables that every installation is different. In our case,the terrain was very steep and somewhat rugged. Inorder to get adequate vertical drop to run the pump, wehad to snake the supply pipe 420 horizontal feet fromthe source to a settling tank, and then go steeply downthe hillside to the pump site with the drive pipe. Thecost of having to run such a long horizontal distancewas a reduced supply available to the pump. WhileCara’s creek flows at about 72,000 gallons per day, our420 feet long, two inch diameter supply pipe with fivefeet of head between the creek inlet and the settlingtank would make 5,400 gallons per day available to thepump.Most installations will be more straightforward thanours, and less expensive as a result. The price of the
46 Home Power #40 • April / May 1994Things that Work!pump remains a fixed cost for everyone, but theinstallation costs can vary widely. Because of the longsupply line and the uncommonly high deliveryelevation, Cara’s installation costs were about doublethe average installation. I estimate the average to beabout $1,000 for system components including the Folkram pump which runs about $695. Labor is notincluded in these approximations.A typical installation includes a 1.5 inch steel drive pipefrom the source to the ram pump, a poured concretefoundation to secure the pump, a one inch poly deliverypipe to the household supply tank, and valves andunions to control flow and allow access to the variouscomponents of the system.Pump PerformanceBecause the Folk ram’s capabilities could easilyoutstrip our supply, we choked it back so it wouldn’t runout of water. When a ram pump stops cycling, it needsto be restarted by hand. Once we had the pumpproperly set, it just kept running on and on for monthswithout the need for further attention. This reminds meof a ram pump story I heard:Friends were hiking near the New River in the TrinityMountains of Northern California. This river ispeppered with old gold mining claims. Far away fromany other form of civilization, the hikers were surprisedto come to an otherwise pristine spot where they hearda muffled “ka-chunk ka-chunk ka-chunk....” Taken bysurprise, they were unable to discover the source ofthe mechanical noise until they dug down severalinches through the forest humus finding a rotten boardcovering a hollow box. The box contained an old rampump that had been operating on its own, unattendedfor as long as it took the box cover to become buriedunder many layers of duff.Commercial ram pumps are known to provide years oftrouble-free service. We expect that the Folk ram willfurnish Cara with water for decades to come.Even with the pump choked back for the decreasedsupply, we obtained delivery rates of 600 gallons perday. This is a far cry from the 2,400 gallons per daythat this pump could achieve under the same drive anddelivery heads with unlimited access to the creek’ssupply. However, it was more than adequate for Cara’sneeds which max out at 475 gallons per day. Jim Folkstates that, under ideal supply, drive, and deliveryconditions, this particular model of his pump willproduce up to 5,000 gallons per day. He has a secondmodel that will produce up to 25,000 gallons per day.For you folks with super low flow situations, this pumpmay still work for you. For several months, I had thisHow a Ram Pump WorksAll ram pumps work on the principle of momentumwhich is controlled by a cycle set up by the interactionof two valves in the pump.When the impetus valve is opened (this must initiallybe done by hand to start the pump cycling), waterbegins to flow down the drive pipe and through theimpetus valve as in Figure 1. When the drive waterreaches a certain velocity, water friction slams shut theimpetus valve as in Figure 2. The momentum of thewater carries past the closed impetus valve, forcingopen the flapper valve and pushing water past it topressurize the air chamber above the water level. InFigure 3, the water pressure above the flapper valveovercomes the spent momentum below it, forcing theflapper closed again. The water that made it past theflapper in Figure 2 is then forced by the extra airpressure up the delivery pipe. Since the momentum ofthe water coming down the drive pipe was stopped, theimpetus valve falls open, allowing the water to flowdown the drive pipe again as in Figure 4 (just likeFigure 1), starting the cycle over again.This process occurs over and over again untilsomething happens to stop the cycle. Ram pumps cancycle anywhere from 25 to 300 times per minute. Thefrequency of the cycle is adjustable by changing thelength of the stroke of the impetus valve. A longerstroke produces a lower frequency. This means moreof the supply flows to and through the pump and moreis pumped up the delivery pipe.The stroke is adjusted to restrict the amount of waterused to the amount available, or if supply is unlimited,to regulate the amount delivered to match the amountneeded.drivepipeimpulsevalvedeliverypipewaterair1 23 4pressurevalvewaterair
47Home Power #40 • April / May 1994Things that Work!pump installed on my own springwhich was flowing at about 1,500gallons per day, with 26 feet ofdrive head, and 158 feet of deliveryheight. This is really running thepump on the low end of itscapabilities, yet it still was able toprovide my home with about 190gallons of water per day.ConclusionFolk ram pumps are well-made,dependable, and work aspromised. While there are otherram pumps available, the Folk hasfeatures that are unique andproven. At $695 for a pump thatwill likely outlast its owner, it is anexcellent buy. A larger model isavailable that lists for $995. Thesepumps are handmade in Conyers,Georgia.AccessAuthor: Michael Welch, c/oRedwood Alliance, POB 293,Arcata, CA 95521 • voice 707-822-7884 • BBS 707-822-8640Ram Pump Maker: Folk WaterPowered Ram Pumps, 2770 WhiteCourt N.E., Conyers, GA 30207 •404-922-4918Trace Engineeringcamera ready4.68 inches wide4.85 inches highN E O +2™Exclusively from AMERICAN INDEPENDENT POWER1-800-DCSOLARSpring Wind Blow-out! $850 (STD)UP TO 1000W @ 30 MPH+2 Does more! Regulates all your charging sources!Switches to aux load at full charge. Choice of VoltageNEO+2 w/compl wired board $975NEO Star (w/wired board & 1500 PowerStar $1775)Call for other Spring Blow-outs!!!Energy independent, established since 1974American Independent Power60 Firehouse Road, Plymouth, MA 02360 • 508-759-6706SolarDesignedEnergySystems&ServicesWe Specialize• Kyocera, Solarex, and Siemens Modules• Trace Inverters and Ananda Power Centers• Wir’sbo Radiant Floor Tubing• Whisper 600 (World Power Tech) Wind Machine15%OffTheseProductsThru SpringSDESSP.O. Box 36, Crosby, MN 56441218-546-5369*Seminar Dates in Mpls & St. Paul — CallHome & CabinSolar Electric & Heating Systems— 18 years of Cold Climate Applications —— Design /Build or Licensed Installs —
75Home Power #41 • June / July 1994HomebrewCheck Valve AssemblyFigure 3 illustrates the check valve assembly. Areducer bushing is used as the valve seat. Drill a 1/16inch hole in the bushing flange and thread the hole witha #8 tap. From tough rubber, such as a tire, cut a diskapproximately 1/8 inch thick so that it fits loosely insidethe bushing. Secure the disk with a screw. Cutadditional disks to be used as spacers and supportbetween the two bushings. Use Teflon tape on thenipple threads to prevent leakage.Thick leather makes excellent check valve material, aswell. Putting a heavy washer acting as a weight on topof the valve material may also increase the sealingfire extinguisherw/ 1" female nipple1/2" gate valve1/2" nipple1" x 1/2" reducer bushing1" nipple2" x 1" reducer bushing1" nipple1" tee2" tee2" x 1/2" reducer bushing2" x 1" reducer bushing1/2" x 4" nipple1" x 4" nippleCheck valveassembly(see Figure 3)Waste ValveAssembly(see Figure 2)2" 90° elbow2" X 4" nipple2" teeWaste outDelivery outSupply inTank drainPressure tanksnifter holeFigure 1AssemblyDetailability of the valve. This washer should be centeredover and cover the width of the seat, and can besecured with a short bolt and locknut, with a smallwasher on the underside.Pump AssemblyValves, fittings, and pipes are assembled together asshown in Figure 1, using two pipe wrenches. In thesame fashion as the check valve, all threaded pipeshould be Teflon taped and tightly secured.A very small snifter hole may be drilled in the tee belowthe check valve. This will allow air to be sucked into thepressure tank to replace the air that inadvertently mixeswith water and exits through the delivery pipe. Manyhomemade pumps just leave this hole open, butefficiency can be lessened as water squirts out duringthe ram. Without a snifter, the pressure tank willeventually fill with water and need to be emptiedregularly.One marginal remedy is to put a nail through the holewith the head on the inside, bending the shank on theoutside to prevent the nail from being sucked into thepump. Shoot for a loose back and forth fit so that aircan be sucked in, yet the head of the nail can close offthe inside of the hole during the ram.Installation, Operation and MaintenanceBoth the drive and delivery pipes should have a shut-off valve and union on the pump end of the pipe. Theonly mounting apparatus needed is a stable pad for thepump to rest (i.e., a board). The pump should be heldupright and installed so that the waste valve unit isclear of water and obstruction.tractor tirespacing disks2" x 3/4"reducer bushing3/4" close nipple1/8" rubber orleather#8 X 1/4"machine screw2" x 3/4"reducer bushingFigure 3Check valve detailTwo 5/16" nuts(adjustment nuts)5/16" all threadrubber washer1 1/4" male plug1 1/4" tee1 1/4" closenipplehalf of a1 1/4"union5/16" lock nut5/16" lock nutflat washer(3/4" ID, 1 7/8" OD)1 7/8" diam. x 3/8"thick shoe heelflat washer(5/16"ID, 1"OD)flat washer(5/16"ID, 5/8"OD)Figure 2Waste Valve Detail
76 Home Power #41 • June / July 1994HomebrewTo start the pump, set the stroke length between oneand two centimeters and open the inflow valve,keeping the outflow valve closed. Manually open andclose the waste valve until it will operate on its own.Wait approximately one minute and then crack openthe outflow valve a little at a time. If the pump fails tocontinue operating, repeat the process, lengthening thelag time prior to opening the outflow valve.The stroke length can then be experimentally varied tooptimize pump output. Shorter stroke lengths workbetter at lower flows and longer stroke lengths arebetter for higher flows. A longer stroke length providesa greater velocity in the drive pipe, thus increasing thepotential energy in the falling water at the pump.However, more water is “wasted” which may result inpossible source depletion.If the pump is operated continuously without a sniftervalve, it should be drained, via the tank drain, beforethe pressure tank becomes fullof water. One should expect todrain the tank approximatelyonce a month, unless youhave a working snifter valve.The rubber used in the valvesshould withstand continuoususe for several years. Periodicinspections will help determinewhen replacement isnecessary.This homemade ram pump isa “folk project”, withimprovements by each personwho built it. If you find newsolutions for keeping thewaste valve in betteralignment, or a good snifterdesign, please share them.Ram Pump PerformanceGallons per minuteHead(feet)1502002503003504000 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4Stroke length = 2 cmStroke length = 1 cmAccessLouise Finger & Kurt Janke developed this pumpthrough Humboldt State University’s InternationalDevelopment Program (see page 78). For information,call 707-826-3619.Contact authors through Michael Welch, c/o RedwoodAlliance, PO Box 293, Arcata, CA 95521 • 707-822-7884 (voice) • 707-822-8640 (Computer BBS)ADVANCED ELECTRONICS8525 Elk Grove Blvd Ste 106Elk Grove, CA 95624(916) 687-7666Equipment shownby appointmentUNFRAMED CARRIZO’SCopper Quad Lams 87 Watts $199Bronze Quad Lams 95 Watts $279Super Gold Quad Lams $469FRAMED & J BOXED CARRIZO’SBronze Quads (polycarbonate) $350Bronze Quads (aluminum) $379Gold Quads 105 Watts (aluminum) $449AMORPHOUS LAMINATES $39 each (MIN. ORDER 3 LAMS)10 Watt 12"x36" FRAMELESS VOC-22.5, VPP-14.50plus shipping and handlingCall for best pricing on inverters, chargecontrollers, and batteries.Things that Work!tested by Home PowerTHE RUTLAND WINDCHARGERIdeal for stand-alone or combined wind/solar systems, theRutland gives 1 Amp at 10 mph and 6 Amps at 22 mph.The Rutland Windcharger’s fine profile aerodynamicallyefficient blades and unique low friction generatorensure maximum performance from its 910mm (36”)diameter turbine.Manufactured in the U.K. and available in N. America from:Trillium Windmills Inc.Campbell Road, RR #3Orillia, Ontario, Canada, L3V 6H3Tel: 705 326 6513 Fax: 705 326 2778Dealer Enquiries WelcomePlease contact Marlec for details of your country’s distributor if outside North America.One of the worldsleading wind poweredbattery chargers provenby over 15,000customers worldwideRutland House, Trevithick Road, Corby,Northants, NN17 1XY England
43Home Power #76 • April / May 2000HomebrewThe first version of my ram was built entirely out ofgalvanized steel pipe and fittings. The waste (orimpetus) valve proved to be the hardest to construct.The first version’s valve was constructed from a 1 1/2by 1 inch bushing. While this valve worked after afashion, it was very leaky. I figured that the ram wouldperform better if this valve would seal tightly. My secondversion had a valve that was constructed from a 1 1/2inch pipe plug. The plug was bored with a 1 inch hole,and had the inside surface of the plug machinedsmooth. This resulted in better ram performance.I never used the first two versions in workingapplications, though I did test them. Shortly after thesecond one was operational, an article appeared in TheMother Earth News (May/June 1979, #57, page 120)with instructions on how to build a ram mainly out ofPVC pipe fittings. Using this design as a guide, Ideveloped a third version. This version was also builtfrom galvanized steel pipe fittings, with the exception ofthe air chamber, which was constructed from PVC pipeand fittings. This version still requiredmachining of a sort—cutting threads on theoutside of a 1 1/2 inch hose barb, so that itwould thread into a 2 by 1 inch bushing.Although this was a workable system forconstructing the waste valve, it still was notas simple as I wanted. For a time, this ramwas used to pump water to my garden. Thewater was also used to provide showers, withthe use of 200 feet (60 m) of 3/4 inch blackpoly pipe for a solar water heater. This pumpwas installed with a 4 foot (1.2 m) fall (head)to the ram, developed over the distance of100 feet (30 m). It had a delivery lift of 30 feet(9 m) to a 3 by 12 foot (0.9 x 3.7 m) pool usedas a storage tank. The point of use was 15feet (4.5 m) lower than this storage pool.StandpipeWhen the ram was first put into service, itoperated very slowly—about 15 to 20 cyclesper minute. Everything that I’d read stated thatrams of this size should operate at about 45 to60 cycles per minute. I fabricated a standpipeand inserted it in the drive line about 30 feet (9m) from the ram. This is within therecommended 5–10 times ratio of head to drivepipe length. This allowed the ram to operate inthe 45 to 60 cycles per minute range. The flowof water delivered to the tank increased from0.25 to 0.75 gallons (0.9 to 2.8 l) per minute.Ideally, the length of the drive pipe should be inthe range of 5 to 10 times the head. So for ahead of 3 feet (0.9 m), the length of the drivepipe should be in the range of 15 to 30 feet(4.5–9 m).If the drive pipe is too long, the cycle frequencythat the ram can operate at will be limited tosome low value. The standpipe provides acloser location for the ram pump’s supply. Thismeans that there is less resistance in the drivepipe, and the flow can reach full velocity moreRam Pump Parts ListQty Item1 2 inch foot valve (brass)1 2 inch check valve (brass)2 2 inch tees (galvanized)6 2 inch close nipples (galvanized)1 2 inch street elbow (galvanized)1 2 by 1 inch bushing (galvanized)1 1 inch close nipple (galvanized)1 3 inch pipe cap (PVC)1 3 inch pipe, 18 inches long (PVC)1 3 by 2 inch reducer (PVC)1 2 inch PVC to IPT adapter (PVC)1 1/4 inch threaded rod (stainless)6 1/4 inch nuts (stainless)2 1/4 inch washers (stainless)1 Faucet washer1 14 gauge copper wire, 2 inchesWater supplySupplyheadWaterdeliveryRampumpStandpipe(optional)SupplypipeDeliverypipeDeliveryheadDrivepipe
44 Home Power #76 • April / May 2000Homebrewquickly than without the standpipe. Basically, astandpipe allows the ram to operate as if it had ashorter drive pipe.The diagram on page 43 shows a standpipe insertedbetween the supply pipe and the drive pipe. The criticaldistance is now only the distance between thestandpipe and the ram, not the total distance to thesource of supply.A standpipe can easily be constructed out of PVC pipeand fittings. The pipe needs to be long enough so that itis a few inches higher, in its installed location, than theelevation of the water source. Consider screening thetop of the standpipe to keep out birds, insects, anddetritus if you are pumping potable water.The standpipe is usually inserted at a distance from theram that is 5 to 10 times the supply head. This will varyfrom installation to installation. Since my installation had3 feet (0.9 m) of supply head, I inserted the standpipe30 feet (9 m) from the ram. This allows the ram to cycleproperly, which results in more water pumped.It’s also important to consider the diameter of pipe onlong drive runs, to minimize flow loss due to pipefriction. When in doubt, go up in size. It’s recommendedthat the standpipe be at least two full pipe sizes largerthan the drive pipe. I’ve used 4 inch standpipes with 2inch rams, and 2 inch standpipes with 1 inch rams. It’salso recommended that the pipe from the supply to thestandpipe be one full pipe size larger than the drivepipe. This will insure that the flow to the standpipe willbe able to keep up with the ram pump’s usage.Drive PipeThis configuration operated for about six months, afterwhich it was dismantled for the winter. It was laterinstalled at a new location with 3 feet (0.9 m) of headand 12 feet (3.7 m) of lift. Most of the time it suppliedgarden soaker hoses, with an old 52 gallon (200 l) hotwater tank being used for a small storage volume,operated as a pressure tank.One day, we were operating the ram with the dischargevalve shut, and we noticed that the 2 inch black polydrive pipe was actually expanding visibly with eachclosing of the waste valve. We concluded that a portionof the energy was being wasted expanding the drivepipe, rather than pumping water. We also noticed thatthe max discharge pressure was 21 psi.So I replaced the 30 feet (9 m) of black poly pipebetween the standpipe and the ram with schedule 40PVC pipe. With this pipe in place, I noted that themaximum discharge pressure was now 57 psi. Thismeant an almost threefold increase in the amount ofwater delivered. With a 12 foot (3.7 m) lift, weHow a Ram Pump WorksThe energy required to make a ram lift water to a higherelevation comes from water falling downhill due togravity, as in all other water-powered devices. But unlikea water wheel or turbine, the ram uses the inertia ofmoving water rather than water pressure, and operatesin a cycle.1. When the waste valve is opened, water flows from thesource, through the water inlet (drive) pipe, and out thewaste valve.2. After a short time, the velocity of the flow is highenough to force the waste valve closed. The water, dueto its inertia, wants to continue moving past the valve.The pressure inside the ram will rapidly increase enoughto force the check valve open. This forces some waterinto the air chamber, compressing the chamber’s airbubble. The pressurized bubble forces that waterthrough the delivery pipe to the point of use.For a ram pumping one gallon (3.8 l) per minute, andcycling 60 times per minute, each cycle pumps one-sixtieth of a gallon—about two ounces (60 ml). Thecompressed air in the air chamber helps smooth out theflow on the delivery side of the ram, so the flow tends tobe more continuous, rather than a small spurt duringeach cycle of the ram.3. Soon after the check valve has opened, the pressuresurge (generated by the waste valve closing) is spent.Flow will try to start backwards, but the check valve willclose, preventing this from happening.4. At about this time, the pressure in the drive pipe willbe low enough so that the waste valve can open,allowing water to start flowing from the source to theram, beginning a new cycle.The cycle that the ram goes through can occur 30 to120 times per minute, depending upon conditions suchas head, flow, and the size of the ram.1 23 4
45Home Power #76 • April / May 2000Homebrewmeasured the flow at 2 gpm afterthe installation of the PVC drivepipe.Based on these observations, Isuggest that you don’t use blackpoly pipe or other flexible pipe forthe drive pipe. If you are using astandpipe, the pipe from thestandpipe to the ram is the onlysection that needs to be rigid. Thesupply pipe from the source to thestandpipe can be flexible. If yourdrive head is higher than a few feet,steel drive pipe is recommended,since high pressures can blow outplastic pipe joints.Versions Four & FiveAlthough this ram was successful, itstill was not completely satisfactory.The waste valve needed a lot ofmaintenance, and also required apipe threading machine to make it.In light of these shortcomings, a fourth version was builtusing a standard plumbing check valve for the basis ofthe waste valve. This worked well, but required a lot ofwork to cut discharge ports into the check valve.In a matter of days after version four was put inoperation, it was discovered that a foot valve wouldserve the purpose as well as a check valve, with verylittle work required to convert. This valve was built andput into operation successfully and performed well. Thefifth version is still in use. I think that it was first used in1980 or ‘81. This ram continues to provide irrigation fora garden, and water for keeping a compost pile moistenough for proper decomposition.It should be noted that this is not a year-roundinstallation. Before winter weather starts, the ram andstandpipe are removed from the stream to preventfreezing. They are reinstalled the following spring. Thishas worked well, since there is no demand for the waterduring the winter.I built and installed another ram of this size for aneighbor, to supply water from a spring to two houses.This ram was a slightly improved version. The maindifferences were that I used a larger check valve andfoot valve, which improved the performance slightly.This ram was supplied by 4 feet (1.2 m) of head andlifted the water 30 feet (9 m) to a 1,500 gallon (5,700 l)storage tank about 1,400 feet (425 m) away.At the storage tank, separate centrifugal pumps andpressure tanks were used to supply water to bothhouses. The ram delivers almost 1 gpm to the storagetank, which has proved to be plenty of water for allnormal household uses. This ram installation is freeze-proof, with the delivery line buried and the ram in anenclosure. The ram has proved to be superior totrekking to the spring and running a gasoline engine-driven pump every two to three days to fill the storagetank.How to Build The RamAll of the parts for the ram were obtained from a localhardware store’s plumbing section. The foot and checkvalves were Simmons brand, but any other good qualityvalves should work as long as they are of the samegeneral configuration.Begin the fabrication of the waste valve by removingthe screen that is supplied as part of the foot valve.Then use wrenches to remove the valve disc from thefoot valve, and cut off the supplied stem from the valve.Now take the disc and drill a 1/4 inch (6 mm) hole in thecenter of it.Use extreme care in drilling this hole to make sure thatit is straight and centered. Use a drill press if you can. Itis possible to get this right by hand if you are careful.Now cut a 6 inch (15 cm) piece of 1/4 inch (6 mm)threaded stainless steel rod for the new valve stem.Thread on one of the 1/4 inch nuts, far enough to allowthe valve disc to be placed on the threaded rod withroom for another 1/4 inch nut. Lock the disc to thethreaded rod by tightening both nuts against the disc.The foot valve on its way to becoming the waste valve—the stem is cut off thevalve disc and the lower crosspiece has been cut away from the casting.
46 Home Power #76 • April / May 2000HomebrewNow take the valve body and enlarge the threaded holein the top crosspiece to 1/4 inch with a drill. Again, usecare to get this hole straight. Using a hacksaw, removethe lower crosspiece.After these modifications have been made, take themodified valve disc and insert it up through the valvebody. After you have inserted it, put on a 1/4 inchwasher, a faucet washer with its hole enlarged to 1/4inch, and another 1/4 inch washer. The faucet washerprovides some cushion to help quiet the waste valvewhen it falls open. Then thread on two 1/4 inch nuts,adjusting them so that they allow about 1/2 inch (13mm) of movement of the valve disc and stem within thebody. This is a good starting point—further adjustmentscan be made later, after the ram is operating. Yourassembled valve should look like the diagram at right.Air SnifferThe next step is to modify the 2 inch check valve byadding an air sniffer hole. This hole will allow a little airto be taken in on each stroke of the ram, replacing air inthe air chamber that has dissolved in the water andgone up the delivery pipe. Loss of all the air in the airchamber can result in something breaking. I once sawthe bonnet of a 2 inch PVC valve blow off. This valvewas used to isolate the ram from the drive pipe. If youchoose not to use an air sniffer, you must shut down theram every few days and drain some water from the airchamber.Begin the construction of the air sniffer by stripping theinsulation from a piece of #14 (2 mm2) copper wire.Select a drill bit that is just slightly larger than this wire.Use this bit to drill a hole in the check valve as shown inthe next sketch.Make sure that you drill this hole on the correct side ofthe valve seat, as shown on page 47. After you havedrilled this hole, twist a small loop in one end of the wireyou have stripped. Insert the straight end of this wireinto the hole, and twist another small loop in the wire onthe inside of the check valve. If you are building the ramfor a low-head installation, you may want to remove thespring from the check valve at this time. Otherwise itcan be left in place.Air ChamberThe air chamber is the last piece you will need toassemble before the ram can be completely finished. A4 inch diameter air chamber should be okay for up to 10feet (3 m), while a 6 inch chamber should work forabout 15 feet (4.5 m). When in doubt, it’s probablybetter to err on the large side. The air chambers areusually about 18 inches (46 cm) plus the length of thefittings, but could be made longer if necessary.The valve discis reassembledwith a 6 inchlong piece of0.25 inchstainless steelthreaded rod,and locked inplace with nutstop and bottom.Stainless steelthreaded rod1/4 inch by 6 inchesStainless steel nuts1/4 inchFoot valve casingLowercrosspieceremoved1/2 inchtravelCasing drilled toaccept rodValve disc drilledto accept rodWashersAssembled Waste Valve Detail
47Home Power #76 • April / May 2000HomebrewTo assemble the air chamber, glue a cap to one end ofthe 3 inch PVC pipe. Then glue the 3 by 2 inch reducerto the other end of the pipe. After these are complete,glue in the PVC to IPT adapter. The air chamber shouldnow be complete, and the final assembly of the ram canproceed.AssemblyScrew a 2 inch close nipple into one of the endbranches, and another into the side branch, of a 2 inchtee. Teflon tape should be used on all of the threadedconnections. This will aid in any disassembly that maybe required in the future. Screw your waste valve ontothe nipple on the tee’s side branch.Screw the street bend onto the nipple on the endbranch. Screw the check valve onto the end of thestreet bend. The flow directional arrow should pointaway from the street bend. Screw a 2 inch close nippleinto the check valve. Screw an end branch of the other2 inch tee onto the close nipple.Screw another close nipple into the other end branch ofthe 2 inch tee. Screw your air chamber onto this nipple.Screw the 2 by 1 inch bushing into the side branch ofthe tee. Screw the 1 inch close nipple into this bushing.Go back to the first 2 inch tee and screw in the last 2inch close nipple.Your completed ram should look approximately like thephoto on page 42. The 3 inch air chamber size on thisram should be adequate for supply heads of up to 5feet (1.5 m). If the head is greater than this, the airchamber should be larger.InstallationThis completes the ram pump construction, but youmay find that this is the easiest part of the job. As muchor more depends on a good installation. I recommendthat you use a union on either end of the ram. A gatevalve on both the drive and discharge lines will alsofacilitate any maintenance that is required on the ramitself. The diagram on page 43 is a typical raminstallation, showing head, lift, supply, delivery, and thelength of the drive pipe.To calculate how much a ram will deliver, divide thehead by the lift, multiply by the flow, and finally multiplyby 0.6. It takes at least 5 gpm to run this ram, with atleast 2 feet (0.6 m) of head. In general it is easier topump more water with more head, so run more drivepipe to get the head you need.The modified foot valve ready to assemble onto the ram.The check valve with the wire poking outof the air sniffer hole.
48 Home Power #76 • April / May 2000Homebrewpump in a remote location, with no other energyrequired besides the falling water. Don’t be discouragedabout the small flow of water delivered by a ram, sincethey can pump 24 hours a day. Remember that onegallon per minute times 1,440 minutes per day will be1,440 gallons per day delivered to wherever it isneeded. It can also be used year-round if the ram andpiping are protected from freezing.The most important step in deciding if a ram is for youis a site survey. This will ensure that you have the flowand head required to operate a ram. Once this hasbeen determined, build a ram to supply the water.Rams are inexpensive, easy to construct, anddependable, so there’s no reason not to use one, if youhave a location that meets the requirements.AccessScott Lee, 708 White Rock Gap Rd., Covington, VA24426 • 540-862-4377 • email@example.comOther Home Power articles on ram pumps:Hydraulic Ram Pump, by Kurt Janke & Louise Finger,HP41, page 74.Things that Work! on the Folk Ram Pump, by MichaelWelch, HP40, page 44.Drill smallair sniifer holeFlow directionCheck valve flapper14 gauge wirethrough holeCheck valvecasingCheck Valve CutawayUsing this equation, a site with 3 feet (0.9 m) of head,20 feet (6 m) of lift, and a supply flow of 10 gpm woulddeliver 0.9 gpm. The same flow and lift, with 4 feet (1.2m) of head, would result in 1.2 gpm delivered to thepoint of use. Or the same delivery could beaccomplished with less supply flow. The delivered flowof 0.9 gpm could be achieved with 7.5 gpm of supplyflow, using 4 feet (1.2 m) of head.Maintenance on this ram is not very demanding. I’vehad to replace the faucet washer a couple of times peryear. Otherwise the ram is noisy, and tends to wear themetal parts more. The O-rings on the valves will have tobe replaced about every five years. The wire in the airsniffer will last two to four years.Consider a RamHydraulic rams can be very useful in providing a supplyof water from a lower to a higher elevation. They canCharge batteries faster & with half the fuelwith GennyDeeCeethe 12, 24, or now 48 volt D.C. generatorinformation:Feather River Solar Electric5575 Genesee Rd.Taylorsville, CA 95983Toll Free 888-840-0788web: www.gennydeecee.comemail: firstname.lastname@example.orgANNOUNCING:Product UpgradeAutomatic electronic chargecontroller. Select one of fivehigh limit voltages. A digitaltimer then holds this voltagefor up to 2.5 hours.When thisabsorbtion time is completed,GennyDeeCee automaticallyshuts down.• Options: LPG (propane),electric start, remote muffleradapter, 3.4 Gal. gas tank,pulley/belt guard• Heavy duty construction andpowder coated for durabilityPowered byE N G I N E SAuthorized O.E.Msee TtW!:HP68, pg78Think outside the box!DEALER INQUIRIESINVITED