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Manual Water Pump Ideas  RSS feed

 
Kathleen Cotter
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Location: Dartmoor, Devon, UK
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Hello,

I'm looking for any advice on getting hold of a high-powered manual water pump in the UK.

We collect rain water from our roof into a battery of water butts. Unfortunately our garden is on a slope, with the house at the very bottom - and our three ducks at the top.

My current method is to lug buckets of water up to the small duck ponds several times a week. I've got hold of two large IBCs which we've put at the top of the garden, and when I've got the time I also bring up a few extra buckets and tip them in to the IBCs. One's almost full now... I use the water from the IBCs when the water butts are empty, or when I'm too rushed/sick/lazy to carry the buckets up.

In an ideal world I'd be able to pump water from the butts up to fill the IBCs.

We estimate that the IBCs are about 8m (26ft) above the water butts, and 12m (c40ft) in horizontal distance.

We do have an electric pump, but this is not able to lift the water that distance. I also would prefer not to use mains electricity to lift the water.

I would love to find a manual pump to slowly lift the water. I already spend quite a bit of time and effort in carrying buckets, and I'd be quite happy to pop out and work the pump for some time each day as needed to fill up the top reservoir. However, I can't seem to find anything that would be suitable. All of the manual water pumps I've seen seem to be either designed for wells, or for smaller distances.

Does anyone have any experience or ideas about a suitable manual pump? Some kind of step pump that could manage the distance?

Thanks a lot,

Kathy
 
John Elliott
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Welcome to Permies, Kathleen!

That's quite a bit of lift you need to give to the water; I can see why a cheapie electrical pump is not going to fit the bill. However, if you could find a peristaltic pump, it might not have that problem, as the mass of the water being put through the pump is not creating a head for the pump to work against in the same way. Those pumps are commonly used in the medical profession, and they are usually sized to deliver in the liters per hour range, so maybe if you can find one that is being surplused you can repurpose it.
 
Alder Burns
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Research treadle pumps and rower pumps. These manual-powered low lift pumps are popular in India, Bangladesh, and parts of Africa (and probably elsewhere in the Third World) for drawing water up from shallow wells.
On another angle, a techie friend and I once made a pump powered by a stationary bicycle out of an old weedeater engine. We blocked the intake and outlet ports with resin, attached a hose "Y" to the spark plug port, put one way valves, one facing in, and the other out, on this, and hooked the crankshaft to a gear and drove the thing with a bike chain from the bike. We pumped a 55 gallon barrel full in about 15-20 minutes of hard pedaling, which was 40 feet uphill and about 500 feet away from the water source. Problem was, the piston rings eventually rusted and the whole thing seized up when we didn't use it for a few days!
 
Bill Ramsey
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Location: SW Georgia, zone 8b
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I remember seeing a "gravity powered" pump on line which uses a weighted pendulum to keep the pump moving and it required less constant manual force. I don't recall it's lift ability but I imagine that could be determined by engineering tweeks.

I see there are other designed called a gravity pump as well, I meant the gravity assisted Feltenburger pump. Ive got to run to the ulcer factory right now and don't have time for a life at the moment or I'd do a little more research to see if it's suitable.
 
Kathleen Cotter
Posts: 2
Location: Dartmoor, Devon, UK
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Thanks a lot for all your replies. I'm going to look into each of these.

I've also found this: http://www.ecologics.co.nz/step-action-pump.php which seems to be just what I want, but is made by a small company in NZ and I have not found any reviews of this in actual use, or indeed any where to buy one if I wanted to!

Research will continue...

Kathy
 
Michelle Bisson
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Location: Quebec, Canada
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I would like to see if this topic can be revived.

I have a small pocket pond which I use for irrigation, but it is not suffient.  I am looking for a small lowcost (less than $100) manual pump that could pump water from from the ditch up to my pond on higher ground.

What are my options?
 
Nancy Troutman
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I can tell you what NOT to try:  https://www.lehmans.com/product/hand-powered-water-pump ; I got that and it was a waste of $$$, unless you use it for aerobic exercise.    Because of winter ice, rain gutters didn't work for me.   So my rain catchment is actually "gutters" on the ground and my storage is a series of cisterns that have to be 4' down to be below the frost line.   I needed the pump to lift the water only 8' and I was out of breath getting only 1 gallon.

I ended up using this bucket:   http://wisementrading.com/water/well_bucket.htm  ; The bucket fills from the bottom.  I fill 5-gallon buckets and bring them inside via a sturdy toy wagon that holds 6 5-gallon buckets.  I generally bring in 6 5-gallon buckets for kitchen use and 4 5-gallon buckets for bathroom use.   I am extremely conservative on water use because this method requires time on my part.  It takes me about an hour to replenish all the buckets and to bring water in for laundry.   It is not difficult and it does not require strength on my part, but it does get old after awhile.

http://flojak.com/ has some very nice manual pumps, but they have to be installed directly over the water source.   In my case, I want a horizontal run so that I can install the pump inside my trailer.  If I have to have the pump outside anyway, I will just stick to my bottom filling bucket.

 
Chris Wells
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I would put a reservoir midway. Transport runoff water from the roof to the reservoir via an enclosed pipe; that'll maintain the head you get from gathering water at the roof. This will reduce your lift requirements by about 6 feet if you have a single story house, or by 14 feet if you have a two story home. You then need only a small solar system and electric pump to lift from the primary reservoir to the garden. I'd put a second reservoir at the garden area to which you can pump the water on sunny days; this will reduce or eliminate your need for batteries.

When water is enclosed in a U-shaped pipe, it settles due to gravity, and is at the same height at both ends of the pipe. If the reservoir end of the U-shaped pipe is slightly lower than the roof, water will flow through from the roof to the reservoir. The greater the differential between the inlet and outlet height, the faster the flow. The wider the pipe, the more volume you get. This requires no electricity and there are no moving parts. It won't pump uphill, but it'll get your water closer to the garden, and it'll reduce the elevation you need to compensate for with your pump.
 
Matt Walker
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Location: North Olympic Peninsula
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It doesn't quite fit your criteria Michelle, but I recommend a small 12v pump and a solar set up that fits your budget and needs to run it.  You will have a lot more options with what to do up top if you don't have to break your back for every drop of water.
 
Michelle Bisson
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Matt,

Do you have any links "a small 12v pump and a solar set up "? Thanks!
 
Michelle Bisson
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Location: Quebec, Canada
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Thanks Kathleen & Chris!

Unfortunately, we currently do not have a house or electricty on the property yet.  We only go there on weekends so cannot have any infrastructure as we do not want to attact vandales.

I was hoping there was a simple cheap contraption that can manually pump water from the deep ditch that we can attached to a hose when we get a dry spells.

Here you see the deep ditch in front of or plantation and there is a small side ditch between our properties and the neighbour's.



Michelle Bisson wrote:


This is our small pocket garden pond.  Levi dug it out last summer in an area that had some surface water accumulation in early spring and after it rains.  It is now about 6 feet by 3 feet.  He put some moss from the forest on the side of the pond last year and it took hold.  I thought that it would of just fallen into the water, so this surprised me that the moss is still holding.  Levi placed a couple of large stones as steps so we can easily have access to the water.

We use the water to irrigate our newly planted plants when we go through dry spells.  It has filled up after each rain event so we have been fortunate, but now we see that the water table is dropping and the pond is having a harder time to keep sufficient water level.  We have two frogs living in the pond and it is a resource for the birds, wild animals and insects.  We have to use the water sparingly.

When the pond dries up we will enlarge it and dig it deeper.


See: Go Permaculture: our suburban permaculture journey
 
Matt Walker
Posts: 241
Location: North Olympic Peninsula
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Here's a pump that would work, depending on how much lift you need you might be able to use less pump.  The rest of it would just be a simple panel/controller/battery set up.   Hope that helps.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00X69RNI4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 
Michelle Bisson
Posts: 211
Location: Quebec, Canada
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Thanks Matt!

Do you have this or something like this set up?   Could we simply hook it to a charged 12v battery? If so, how many minutes of pumping could we get out of one charge?  We have about 8 vertical feet from the bottom of the ditch. 

                 What is the best way to filter the water before it gets pumped as it is pumping ditch water and there are sediments & organic material?

Ok, found a filter from same company: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000V2W0GE/ref=s9_acsd_hps_bw_c_x_1


If anyone has some experience to share this would be much appreciated.

Thank you!

 
Matt Walker
Posts: 241
Location: North Olympic Peninsula
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I use that pump to pump about 60' vertically, it works well for me.  Michelle, you have a lot of learning to do on your 12v system options.....there's no way I can write enough here.  Do some studying, you need to know how big that battery is before you ask that question, but with some reading or youtube learning, you'll get there. 

If I find time perhaps I'll make a video of my system, but don't hold your breath.  I'm buried trying to beat winter here.  Good luck!
 
Roy Hinkley
Posts: 264
Location: S. Ontario Canada
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I have a pump like this. For a few years I pumped water from the well up to a couple of barrels on the roof of the cabin. At least 25 feet up, maybe 30.
This is a Flowjet Quiet Quad Mod. 4406 143 type IV.  I set it up on the board for easy transport with 25 feet of 12 ga wire to a pair of battery clamps. It would go right to the car and I think I always had the car running. The pump draws 2A to 7A depending on load so a car battery would last a while.
I added a toggle switch rated for 12v and an inline fuse at the pump.
What you can't see is the outlet side of the pump has a stand-off to hose clamp the outlet pipe firmly in place. There's a lot of vibration and I don't think the plastic fitting on the pump itself would last long without breaking.
I also had another filter at the pickup itself - a large "sock" made of galvanized window screen, just rolled into a tube and hose clamped on. For the health of the pump make everything on the inlet (suction) side as big as you can.
One cold night outside and the transparent housing for the filter froze and cracked - my bad.

Worst case, this will draw 7A. Check your battery rating. "In theory" a 7A/hr battery would pump an hour but not really, more like half that or less. That should at least get you in the ballpark.
This is also a in intermittent type pump. It won't pump for an hour straight. I used to let the spring fill a 25 gal container, then pump it up to the tanks. Then I would have to wait for 15 minutes or so for the spring to fill the bucket for another round.
Maybe look for a pump that is thermally protected - if it gets too hot it will shut off before it fries.
 
 
Michelle Bisson
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Location: Quebec, Canada
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Thank you Matt and Roy!

I am listening so many videos to learn what I can.
 
Abbey Battle
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Brilliant post and excellent idea. I do a very similar thing, lugging buckets of water up from my ponds and streams to wear I need the water.
A pump would be fantastic. I had looked at some kind of syphon but hadn't got further than that. It's a pain when I need to water my 25 newly planted apple trees. (not to mention the numerous other trees planted around my orchard). At least it has not been a long hot summer and the water table has only dropped by about a foot here. Soil still quite damp.
 
Michelle Bisson
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Abbey,

Do you have access to electricty or will need to consider a 12v pump?  If your pond is higher in the land, syphoning could possibly work.

As you research possible solutions, please share.


The best is a pump that will shut down when the source runs dry otherwise, very quickly you have a useless tool.

 
João Carneiro
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my personal favourite reference:

http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/ah810e/AH810E06.htm
 
Abbey Battle
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Michelle, hi.

My ponds are below my growing land. 2 are in pits that were created when the sandstone was quarried from the land, so they are way down.

No electricity, am thinking of solar or wind power but that's not a current project.

I want to be able to extract water from one of the ponds. It has a very (about a foot) thick layer of leaf litter which is 'floating' in the water. Under that is a very soggy clay layer before you get to the clay bottom.

It's spring fed, ie the water rises from underneath.

I was thinking of installing a large drum or barrel into the pond and allowing the water to filter into that. Then use a hand pump to draw the water off into another barrel that I can transport.
I would just need to drill holes into the drum to allow water to filter in. I'd need some kind of mesh or screen at the bottom so as the water rises all the debris is filtered out. It would probably need cleaning out each year but I have a massive need for organic matter so that's fine. Any silt can be used elsewhere.
I don't have a massive or daily need for water. Only when we have a week or so without rain.

It rained today so there is little need or emergency to do this. I just want to be able to water my newly planted trees with ease. I'm not in a position where I need to use water for anything other that watering plants. In fact, I am lucky enough that I have dug a shallow hole by my veg plot that immediately filled with water.

There is a lot of water on my land and when I checked my walnut trees last week, the soil was still damp.

I think there is a bore hole on the land, I need to dig it out and find out. If it is, then I shall make sure I have a constant supply of water. (it's right by my barn).
 
Chris Wells
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Given the additional information you've provided, I suggest looking into clay pot irrigation. It'll dramatically reduce the amount of water you need to irrigate your new trees, while still ensuring hydration over extended periods. Reduced water consumption eases your workload and reduces the size of any pumping system you choose to implement. There are some profound effects as well; if your olla pots are of suitable size, weekend watering would result in week-long hydration... that means faster growth, less stress, and improved survival rates for your trees.

The most comprehensive single source of information on clay pot irrigation I know of is http://permaculturenews.org/2010/09/16/ollas-unglazed-clay-pots-for-garden-irrigation/. There's a lot of information on it here on Permies.com as well.

I think you would be best off investing in a portable electric pump, a suitable sized solar panel, and a constant current controller. The combination need only supply a trickle of water all day. You'll be surprised how little flow it takes to add up to a few dozen gallons of water over hours. It's not a lot of work for a solar system... it's just a lot of work for human hands. The reason is obvious when you think about it. Your pump need only move the water, while you need to move yourself and the weight of the water. If we assume you need to move 20 gallons (8.4lbs per gallon), that you can move two gallons per trip, and that you weigh 150lbs... well then you have to move 165lbs up the hill ten times, while the pump need only move 168lbs up the hill one time.

You might be thinking the same logic applies to a manual pump. It doesn't. A manual pump is going to strain select muscle groups. Think sore back, sore arms, or sore legs. Whatever does the pumping is going to bear the strain. With that level of rise, no manual pump will beat the ease of a small solar config. Save your muscle power for the tasks that aren't easily automated.
 
Abbey Battle
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Chris - the apple trees all have ceramic drain water pipes for watering. (I found these laid as a pipe exiting the pond when I started clearing it out. It's something that is common practice around here).

There's usually enough rainfall not to need watering trees but July and Aug were, up until yesterday, unseasonably dry. Rained now though so watering the trees isn't an issue.
It's the veg patch that I would like to keep hydrated - needs to be done more frequently. Different location and different pond. I don't want to invest to much as in reality, it would get very little use due to our normal high rainfall. (may be two - four weeks a year on average use).

PS - I weigh closer to 100lbs :-O. Oh and I'm damned fit. I have a 30 mile round trip to my field that I cycle, a little pumping with a foot pump on the odd occasion isn't going to hurt. I'd make sure it was set so that I don't hurt my back. First rule of manual handling. (well the first rule is don't do it, the second is get some one else to do it).

As I don't have anything else to do, it's not a problem. The cost effectiveness of an automated system just isn't there.
 
Michelle Bisson
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Location: Quebec, Canada
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Michelle Bisson wrote:


Not having a well on our property and only a small pocket garden pond, I decided to create a couple of small dams in the ditch dividing our property with the neighbour's.  Then I dug out a basins behind the dams so that more water would collect in the ditch and I could harvest this water with a pail.  I am researching ways to pump the water either manually or with a 12v pump. Unfortunately the pumps that interest me are much more expensive in Canada than the US.


Tyler Ludens wrote:Unless you plan to have a future much larger volume of water, I'd avoid spending money on a pump.  We bought a 12V pump years ago to pump water from our seasonal creek and we never ended up using it, it was just never convenient to set it up and the water isn't available during the time of year we really need it.


Since a ditch is only a ditch, I can only harvest water after it rains.  Last weekend there was still water accumulating 3 days after it rained so although our basin behind our small dam is small, there is still a lot of water running down the ditch even when it appears that it is only a regular trickle. 

This is the challenge.  if we buy a pump, will we use it enough to justify the cost or the effort to set it up after a rain and move it around to all our other little water harvesting catchment basins. 

We are trying to harvest water naturally around our young fruit trees and plants by heavy mulching.  I wanted to pump extra moisture into our mulch to have extra trapped moisture to ride out the dry periods. 


see: Go Permaculture Food Forest - our suburban permaculture journey


We also have a lower ditch in front of our property that we could pump water out of and also we have a couple of "natural" swales that accumulate water after the rains that we could harvest water from.  We also have a temprary basin where we dug out dirt to use when we planted our sea bucktorn (seaberry) plants.

With all of our water catching basins, last weekend we estimated that we harvested 350 gallons of water with 5 gallon buckets and then hauled the pails to our plantings.   We could harvest much more if we had a pump and a hose.

Twice in the spring time we had to pump water from our neighbour's well during a dry spell to water our new plantings with three 50 foot hoses so we do not want to have to ask again  We have planted over 100 plants this spring / summer which was a major undertaking.

It could be a few years before we get a well on the property.  Even when we do have a well, we will still likely want to continue to harvest rain water in swales and catchment basins & our ditches.
 
Hans Quistorff
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I have an old fire bucket pump which is double action, that is it pumps both on the down and up stroke.  It is the height to fit in a 5 gallon bucket so it could be mounted in the lid of a bucket with holes drilled in the sides so that it could be placed in the pond or ditch and with a foot on top of the bucket water could be pumped to the planting hole.  They were quite common in the 1940's. they were mounted in a galvanized bucket with an oval lid beside the pump. The pumps were brass  and very durable but the buckets would eventually rust away. My father salvaged ours from a Navey building demolition intending to use it as a bilge pump  You may want to search for a manual bilge pump as an alternative to mount the same way.
 
Michelle Bisson
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Thank you Hans! I will see if this still exists. It does look very interesting if I can find one. 

 
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