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Hydraulic Ram Pumps  RSS feed

 
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This is a new thread about hydraulic ram pumps. These are a type of water pump that use the energy of falling water to pump a smaller amount of water to an elevation higher than the falling water's source. They were invented more than 200 years ago in Europe, and became popular in the US in the 19th century, but became fairly obscure when internal combustion and electric pumps became widely available. The wikipedia entry on these pumps can be found here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_ram

I first came across these pumps when I visited a farm in Guatemala in the 1980s. There was no electricity there, and they used a very old Rife ram pump for their household water. It was worn out and unreliable, but still functional. I repaired and modified it many times, and started making changes and improvements. Eventually I came up with my own design, and when the Internet came along, started selling them on eBay with a partner. They were reasonably popular, so we made several batches, each batch with some improvements. We are now on our third batch of 100. You can see them here:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-All-Steel-Hydraulic-Ram-Hydram-Water-Pump-600GPD-Homestead-Off-Grid-Remote-/301570011853?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4636f932cd

You should look at the eBay listing, as it has a number of links and installation tips.

The purpose of this thread is to have a place for people interested in these pumps to ask questions and share experiences. Every situation is different, so I am interested in getting feedback on results in as many installations as possible. It may happen that one user is near another and so they can help each other out with tips and questions.

Bob Borst of Borst Engineering came up with a very good online calculator which has been quite accurate in predicting the performance of these pumps in various situations. You can see it here:

http://home.comcast.net/~hlandis0/photos/Simplified%20Version%20%2815-03-19%29.html

or in the eBay listing. The calculator instructions are here:

http://home.comcast.net/~hlandis0/photos/Hydram%20Instructions.pdf

You can see his site here:

http://www.borstengineeringconstruction.com

He also has hydroelectric and hydronic heating resourses which are quite useful..

If you are interested in buying one of these rams, you can do it through eBay, or directly from Bryon Kass (enginecom@verizaon.net). We can give $15 off the eBay price for direct sales, since we avoid the eBay fees.

If you want to copy all or part of the design and make your own ram, go ahead, no problem. If you come up with any improvements, we would be interested in hearing about them. There are usually a few other sellers offering rams or plans on eBay, so it is worthwhile to look at their pumps for more information and ideas.

We are very interested in getting data on the results of various installations (fall, output flow, pump height, clack valve frequency, drive pipe length and diameter, etc) to verify and refine the calculator performance.

For technical questions you can email me directly at hlandis@hotmail.com.

Harry Landis

 
pollinator
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Bump!!! Big AL
 
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Location: Providence, United States
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I bought one of these ram pumps a while back and have yet to get a drop out of the delivery line.  I've been trying to contact Mr. Landis with no luck.  Very frustrating.  The darn thing is in my stream and just sitting there.  I can't get the ball valve glass ball to do anything.  I need some help.
 
steward
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Hey Jeffrey can you post a picture of your setup so we can get a better Idea about what you have and what might be happening?
 
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I purchased one of these about 5 years ago. Worked well so long as the inflow was not interrupted. I had to start it manually by pushing down the glass ball.

It is still installed but I converted to a submersible electric pump on a timer.

I thought the unit was well conceived and well made with good supporting information,

Druce
 
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Location: Western Upper Peninsula MI
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What is the minimum flow and drop required to make the pump really viable? I have a flow rate of 5 gpm and can create a drop likely of 2-4', will that be enough to have any success with a ram pump? I'd like to use one to move the water at least 1000' and about 50' up - likely will need to use a windpump, but curious if ram pump might work. Any help appreciated.
 
Druce Batstone
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Conrad, your flow may be just enough but you will need more head for the drive pipe. My flow was about the same as yours but I have about 5m (16ft) of head.

My childhood memories are from a location in Australia known for its windmills (as we called them). Groundwater was plentiful. They are a rare sight now. Graziers also used them for stock watering. Most of these have been replaced by solar pumps.

Druce
 
Jeffrey Dustin
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Location: Providence, United States
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Here's my setup in the stream.

No action in the pump.  I have to prime it somehow, but I can't push the plastic ball in the waste valve down, it is frozen in place and I don't want to break it. I tried last summer and it wouldn't budget with both thumbs pushing down until it hurt.  No movement at all.

The expansion tank seems fine, the glass cage with the ball and gasket seem fine.  Where would I push down, on the plastic in the hole in the circular flanged piece that will act as the clack valve?  How hard do you push?  I might need a hammer.

The drive pipe is about 8' of steel 2 inch diameter pipe screwed onto the threaded intake hole.  It is not leaking that I can tell.  The intake is not blocked with debris or sandy mud or leaves.  The stream has a fairly good amount of moving water, but not fast and the drop is probably at least 4-5 feet from the waterfall culvert as it drains from the pond on the other side of the road.  There is no delivery hose attached because I can't start the pump.

 
Druce Batstone
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Jeffrey, the ball in the waste(clack) valve must move for the pump to work. The ball is glass in my pump. At rest, the ball sits in a frame that, from memory, has limited adjustment up and down. With flow in the drive pipe, the ball lifts and seals against thick rubber with a centre hole in the top of the chamber. The sudden stop of flow down the drive pipe causes the "clack". The ball drops, flow resumes and the cycle repeats.

Sometimes the ball would hold up against the rubber with a trickle of water coming out of the top hole. Finger pressure was enough to force the ball down to start the flow in the drive pipe and the pump cycle.

I suggest you remove the flanged plate, lift out the thick rubber and check the clearance of the ball. It sems to me that the ball supporting frame is too high.

Hope this helps.
 
Jeffrey Dustin
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Location: Providence, United States
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It will help, I think.  The issue I see is the drive pipe is only 8 feet long.  I don't have a pickup truck, only a Subaru Forester so I have limits to what I can haul from the hardware store.  I suspect that there is a malfunction with the glass ball and gasket is fine, but the waste water valve is stuck...maybe.

I don't know how to prime the bloody thing because the instructions, while excellent, don't have a "this is how you prime the thing" section.

It makes sense you would push down the waste valve over and over and the water hammer effect would build up and spew water out of the waste valve.  I think this thing will be terrific once I get it running reliably.  Probably won't need maintenance the rest of my life.

I appreciate all the help I can get!
 
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Hi there I have some of these and I wonder if you just need to stick a nail or something similar through the hole in the bolt coming out the bottom of the big cylinder which has the waste valve on top with the glass marble inside, in order to turn the bolt counter clockwise and lower the basket that the marble sits in under the rubber seat that I suspect the basket is holding the marble against. Hope that makes sense. you'll probably have to loosen the 3/4 inch nut that secures the bolt in its position and then re tighten it after adjusting. I also suggest getting your 2" drive pipe up to 100 feet that is the optimum length. at least make it as long as possible up to that length. but you should be able to adjust that bolt Im talking about and get it to work. Good luck. Id like you to get this working they are a great iteration of the hydraulic ram pump. Pick up a 100ft roll of 2" poly pipe and hook it up with that. That's what I'm using and from 4ft of head to the pump im getting a gallon a minute like 20 feet above the source. Just put a filter at the beginning of the drive line and then a ball valve and I used a camlock quick disconnet fitting to make it easier if I need to take the pump off and re prime the drive line by letting the water flow through to get air out. so when you lay out your 100ft pipe and get the valve attatched at the bottom where the pump is then dip the top end of the pipe in the water to scoop it up and then raise the pipe to send it down the line. Once you get enough water you'll be able to open the valve at the bottom and siphon enough from the top to get all the air out of the line. I've been working with these for 3 years and think Im still figuring it out. I still need to get another 80ft of 2" metal pipe to go with the one section I have already and see how much better it performs compared to the poly ive been running. there are different thicknesses or grades of poly so get the heavier one if you can.

P.S. To get it to start to function you will need a valve to shut off the flow coming out of the tee off of the pressure tank above the secondary check valve and the delivery pipe will help alot to have it keep running but once the pressuer is built up from the valve being shut and the pump running you can open it a little and get a stream coming out and as long as less is coming out than the pump is pressurizing each cycle it will keep running even without the pipe but thats not very useful heh.
 
Jeffrey Dustin
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Location: Providence, United States
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Yes, thank you Jesse! I think we are getting much closer to a functional pump.  Good! I am excited to turn this wasted endeavor into a water source for my crops and animals and bee flowers.

I am going to the hardware store to get my driveline up to 100'.  I'm going with steel for 2 reasons.  While much more $, it is better camoflauged to avoid neighbor attention AND the steel I think won't leach into my water supply like PVC.  It is also very sturdy.

I need some kind of on/off to go on the upright delivery tee.  I will measure the OD of my delivery tee outlet with a micrometer or caliper.  Then with all my gear, I will go down to the water and get muddy!

Stay tuned! If I get this running I will post some fun pics.
 
Jesse Baker
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The tee between the pressure tank and pump is 3/4 inch so likely the end of the tee toward your supply line is also 3/4 inch. A half inch line will still allow the water to get where its going at the same rate as any larger diameter and any air will be pushed along inside the line and flushed out easier with the smaller pipe. Air pockets in the delivery line will constrict the waters flow like a pinched pipe.
 
Jeffrey Dustin
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Location: Providence, United States
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Ok, so I have a ball valve with on/off lever attached to the upright delivery outlet.  It is set to the off position.  So far, so good.  I have gotten an order of 100' of PVC schedule 40 pipe in 10' lengths, connectors, 45 degree connectors, 90 degree elbows, straight pipe-to-pipe fittings, etc.  The steel was way overpriced at $40 - 45 per 10 foot length.  All I could afford was PoisonVC (PVC).  The water in the stream is the highest it has been in a long time with the snowmelt contributing a large and rapid flow.   There is already a 10 foot galvanized steel drive pipe attached.  It is too short to provide the proper water hammer effect as far as I can tell.
 
Jesse Baker
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So I would still recommend a continuous length of black Poly pipe for your 2"x100' piece. I think you may encounter the pvc connections, especially with the elbows you mentioned, becoming weak or breaking during the extreme shock of the water hammer effect in the pipe every time it cycles and obviously it will do this continuously so during just a day it will cycle thousands of times. it needs to be as durable as possible. use threaded and barbed connections to join the poly to the metal. Just wanted to help im happy to see what happens with your current assembly. I might learn something. I had a glued fitting that was in line before the pump and it did not hold up.

Also your ten foot section in the picture does not appear to have a difference in head from one end to the other. It looks like its sitting in a level area of water all the way accross. You will need at least a foot of difference in head for it to do anything at all.

Did you adjust the glass ball basket height with a wrench and a thin rod to twist the bolt on the bottom with?

I'd like to fabricate some pumps like this. I wonder how expensive it would be to make them entirely stainless?

I'm sad that Harry Landis died in a plane crash on a trip to Guatemala where he originally came up with this design. I actually had email correspondence with him while he was on that trip maybe just a few days prior.
I had lost the small screw and ball bearing out of the snifter valve so don't unscrew that small hex machine screw out of the brass air inlet valve. I did a little to try and get more air in and it was loose and came out while I was absent. The screw has a special plastic cylinder at the tip that stops the bb from going all the way toward the screw allowing the air to pass. so its a hard part to replace unless you start fabricating specialized tiny pieces.

I'm going to try to find a picture of my assembly on my phone and post it.
 
Jeffrey Dustin
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Location: Providence, United States
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i’d like to give the hydram to you, Jesse so you can take it apart and bring this appropriate tech to more people.  If you ever up in Maine and can help me load it, i will give it to you for free.
 
Jesse Baker
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Jeffrey, do you not have enough drop in elevation of the creek in your property to make the hydram work?
That's a very generous offer of the pump although I would much rather see you get it working because it really is worth the work to get it going.,
Honestly though, I have no idea when I would make it out there just to pick that up.
I know a family that is on a steep creek and they would really benifit from one of these and i think that they are not even for sale anymore.
Could you not ship the pump without the pipe attatched and without the pressure tank, the way that you received it originally?
If you really cannot put it into use I would be happy to compensate you for the shipping and whatever you thought was fair.
I'm in Oregon.
Thanks, I hope you get it working.
-Jesse
 
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Location: 54 North BC Canada
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Here is some info on ram pumps:

http://www.pssurvival.com/PS/Ram_Pumps/index.htm
 
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There are some great videos on YouTube showing practical use of ram pumps including setup and priming. Search for "wranglestar ram pump"

Wranglestar is a homesteader that has been on YouTube since early days and has great videos on many subjects.
 
pollinator
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There is also a pump called the Glockemann pump, which is a bit like a ram pump in that it is self=powered from water head, but it works with lower head and flow than a ram.  I used one of these on a homestead from 1999 to 2006 and left it with the place when I left.  The main moving part is a rubber diaphragm which needed replacing every year or two, but old tractor inner-tube worked just fine.
 
pollinator
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These thigns are the coolest invention humans have ever come up with, I am just so inspired by the ingenuity of it.  And no combustion!  There are posts on othe thread about them,  I think, but there is a company that sells a $2000 or so ram in England, I think it was Green something, and I've read a testimonial that one is still functioning since 1913.  From a farmer. 

They're expensive, and with the thin monetary margins many family farms have, it's a challenge--but if the public financed one for a farmer and then got repaid by the electricity saved (one famer said it paid for itself in one year), then the further savings could be paid forward to fund one for the next farmer, and so on. 

Does anyone know of a farmer who could use one of these? does anyone know how to set up a gofundme campaign that would work this way? is it legal to have the money repaid to people?
 
Shannon Simmons
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Dont need to spend anywhere near $2000 for a ram pump.

There are prefab ones sold for a fraction of that or can build one yourself with a very limited amount of plumbing parts from local hardware store.
 
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Here's the link for all the info from Clemson University that you need to build your own ram pump.  Clemson Ram Pump
 
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Location: Rogue River, OR
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Jeffrey Dustin wrote:I bought one of these ram pumps a while back and have yet to get a drop out of the delivery line.  I've been trying to contact Mr. Landis with no luck.  Very frustrating.  The darn thing is in my stream and just sitting there.  I can't get the ball valve glass ball to do anything.  I need some help.



We worked with Harry Landis for many years on the design of the Landis Hydram. Harry died about two years ago. We are happy to answer any questions that you may have regarding the Landis Hydram or about specific site installation issues.  We are now manufacturing and selling the Landis Hydram directly from our Rogue River Oregon shop. We can be contacted directly by using the Contact tab on our website:

http://www.borstengineeringconstruction.com/Contact-Us.html

Here is more information regarding Harry Landis:

http://www.borstengineeringconstruction.com/Harry_Landis.pdf

Here is our hydram performance calculator with considerable information about hydrams in the associated instructions:

http://www.borstengineeringconstruction.com/Hydraulic_Ram_Pump_Perfomance_Calculator.html

Jeffery, it sounds like you either didn't receive or you didn't read the hydram installation instructions.  Jesse's response to you sounds correct...thanks Jesse.  You first need to adjust the glass ball cage height before starting the hydram.  You also need to have back-pressure in the delivery line to keep the pump operating.  Hydrams are very simple devices, but the physics that allows them to operate is extremely complex.  So you do have to satisfy all the hydram operating constraints (primarily Fall, Lift, drive line diameter/length, delivery line diameter/length and operating frequency) to achieve effective and reliable hydram operation.  We have many Landis Hydrams that have been in continuous operation for over 25 years without any maintenance at all.
 
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