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Denver Dave 05-27-2010 08:32 PM

Using water to pump water
We have a stream and ditches with flowing water that we would like to use to pump water to a higher storage location to be used for a gravity feed irrigation system.

I've looked at

spiral pumps

ram pumps


and now I'm looking at a version of this pump hooked to a waterwheel and am wondering if there are standard commercial, small scale waterwheels available to drive the pump giving a self contained irrigation system.

= = = = = = = = ==
20 % of all the energy produced in the world is consumed by pumping water (wonder if I believe this)

tomato204 05-28-2010 09:29 AM

Welcome Dave. Whether or not you can raise water to a high level using the power of that water depends on the "head" or rise from one end of your stream to the other. Have you measured the head as well as the flow (in gallons per hour)?

Denver Dave 05-31-2010 03:52 PM

We have several different situations and some do have significant drop. However, the area that I'm researching now does not have very much drop, but does have a fair amount of water in a stream and in two ditches.

The idea is that a flow under waterwheel might turn the axle of a pump which would lift a smaller amount of water to a higher storage tank that would be used for a gravity feed irrigation system.

This is a fairly important item to get this area irrigated adequately and I have ordered to small pumps to test the concept. The dealer indicated the pumps would not be adequate for agricultural use, but other pumps are in development.

My plans are to build a 3 to 4 foot flow under water wheel and use to drive one of the pumps as a scale for what might be possible. Supposedly the pump that I've ordered will work at low rpm, although I'm sure pumping less water.

I may change my opinion when I get into this, but using a waterwheel to turn a pump seems less complicated than a ram pump or spiral pump approach. Of course, it may not turn or turn so slowly as to not pump much water.

Have any others looked into similar approaches?

I'll report back - don't have the pump yet.

keydl 05-31-2010 07:37 PM

The description as irrigation flow really leaves only an undershot wheel for power, it will erode the unprotected ditch so a liner is needed with the wheel.

There are several options for the pump, the speed change losses for a centrifugal wolud be high, a roller would not like sediment, a diaphram would tolerate small rocks but not last with a high lift.

Scale makes a difference also - 4foot wide and 2 foot deep or 14 foot wide and 10 foot deep. The amount of water to be pumped, difference in elevation.........

Most ditch riders will want to 'see' the wheel stop and not spill water which will reduce efficency. A washout will not make friends.

str8sh00ter 06-01-2010 05:49 PM

If RPMs are a major concern you could always gear the waterwheel and the pump and use a larger gear on the wheel than the pump, that would give you an increase in RPMs. Even a 2:1 gearing ratio would help.

AlchemyAcres 06-01-2010 08:25 PM

[QUOTE=Denver Dave;218629]......less complicated than a ram pump.

Have any others looked into similar approaches?

Ram pumps are actually incredible easy to build. I've built dozens of them with off-the-shelf plumbing fittings.

Here's a pic of one of my pumps......


They can be made to work where there's very little drop by use of a long feed and stand pipe.

In a river or large stream with lots of flow where drop is nearly non-existent, I'd use a sling pump.




Denver Dave 06-17-2010 03:41 AM

1st water test of water pump (water to pump water
[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]1st water test of water pump (water to pump water project)[/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2][FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]Specs with the pump:[/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]= = = = = = = = = = =[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2][FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]the directions indicated the pump would do 90 gallons per minute at 200 RPM, but optimal (whatever that means) is 150 RPM. Let's say we have a waterwheel turning at once every 6 seconds - that would be 10 RPM. If the delivery is proportional 90 gallons per minute x 10 / 200 would suggest 4.5 gallons per minute. 4.5 gallons per minute x 60 minutes x 24 hours / day = 6,480 gallons per day, which is within our target prototype goal range. 200 RPM for 90 gallons = .45 gallons per turn (theoretical).[/SIZE][/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]First test small scale protype test:[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]= = = = = =[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]Less than ideal conditions[/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]10 gallon tub of source water[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]5 inch hand crank on the pump[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]pump not bolted down, hard to hold steady with one hand and crank with the other - there is a bracket to allow bolting down the pump.[/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]50 turns with 5 inch hand crank in 40 seconds to empty 10 gallon tub - hard to turn and to hold the pump steady by hand[/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]50 turns for 10 gallons = 0.2 gallons per turn[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]40 seconds for 10 gallons = 15 gallons per minute = 21,600 per day (I could not keep up for 24 hours by hand !)[/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]A water wheel of several feet should give a lot more torque than a 5 inch hand crank.[/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]The pump did pump a lot of water, much longer to fill the tub with the garden hose than to empty the tub with the pump. Not a lot of force, but quite a bit of water coming out of the 2 inch pipe.[/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]Tried to pump up a 7 foot vertical 2 inch pipe, but could not hold the pipe vertical and attached to the pump and crank the pump at the same time. With the pipe slanted and up a foot or two and resting on a support, not much difference in the cranking from level.[/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]I was turning at 75 RPM (40 seconds for 50 turns), hard to hand crank slower by hand and overcome resistance, but a several foot diameter wheel size large enough to only give 10 RPM should give more torque.[/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]The pump is only 8 inches in diameter, but is almost 6 inches wide, which is proportionately wider than other pumps of this size that I've seen which may be why it flows quite a bit of water.[/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]= = = = = = [/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]The critical test now seems to be whether a 3 to 4 foot diameter water wheel can turn the pump at 10 RPM. We need a way to attach the 1/2 inch hexagonal pump axle to the water wheel axle. Force of the water (to overcome resistance) and speed of the turn are the factors. Also looking for a used cable spool or other item to make a temporary prototype water wheel.

Will report back. If others are doing similar, please let me know.


Denver Dave 05-04-2011 12:36 AM

Results of summer 2010 water wheel test
Spring of 2011 is here again and I'm finally getting back to report the results of last summer's test of water to pump water.

With 3 - 2 inch by 4 ft wood lathes, we created two "stars" then combining the stars, we made an six point circle that was surprisingly strong. The lathes were tied together with plastic ties.

Then we repeated the above to make a second star.

A 2 foot by 2 foot thin plywood section was tied to the middle of each star and a hole drilled in the middle of the plywood to allow an axle to be inserted.

A plastic 8 foot by approx 3 foot corrugated roof sheet was cut into 6 pieces to make the fins to connect the stars. Fastening the sheet pieces to the lathes with plastic ties.

The resulting waterwheel which could easily be transported on the floor of a van disassembled to the test location.

Rickety as you might expect, but actually not to bad when tied together.

We mounted the axle of the wheel to the bump and had several people hold the wheel, axle and pump.

The pump would turn, but this configuration, with people power could not turn the wheel fast enough to pump water. The pump was a low RPM pump and worked when cranked by hand, but not with our wheel. Better wheel and perhaps some gearing would be required.

Because the approach failed our people power test, we did not try in the stream.

I still think a stream has tremendous power to be utilized and should be able to compete with a solar approach. Other water to pump water approaches work, but seem to take a huge amount of water flow for the water actually pumped.

The pump approach has promise, but I did not get it to work in a water wheel test. Going back to the manufacturer to see if they have made any progress on the agricultural pumps they said they were developing a year ago.

Any others making progress you care to share?


Denver Dave 05-17-2011 03:47 PM

Water to Pump Water - Water Pumps
Here are two interesting water pump / wheels that seem to pump at least some significant amount of water. I'd love to hook up the water wheel to a dbest pump described previously:

If you know how to track more information down on these wheels, please let me know:

Spiral Water Pump that actually pumps some water:

Lightweight water wheel pump
Would have liked more water pumped, but thought the shallow water design could perhaps be scaled or duplicated. Would like the plans for this one.

Here is another:
Interesting spiral pump variation - portable

I wonder how the above compares to the solar pump rife pump:

Denver Dave 09-08-2011 05:08 PM

Progress in 2011 ??
Amazing that I'm sitting here, almost fall of 2011 and have not made much progress. Doesn't someone make commercial versions of waterwheels and ways to pump water off the grid for large gardens. Someplace between Hoover Dam and small test hobby applications.

Did notice the Zelda II, from WindTrans - will look into it:
First impression - similar to what I'm looking for, but seems like a rather small axle.

Learn anything new?

- - - - - added later - - - - -
Here is a Youtube video about a larger low RPM pump that can hopefully be powered by a waterwheel or water turbine: [url][/url]

Denver Dave 10-17-2011 06:55 PM

High Volume - Low RPM pumps
New Videos of high volume - low RPM pumps on the Windtrans site:

Talked to Andrew today from Windtrans and they are in the process of testing the pumps. I hope they have them available before the next agricultural season.


Denver Dave 05-04-2012 06:02 PM

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]My interest is more "micro" hydro than "small" ("small" is more huge in my mind), using water to pump water - for example a stream to lift water to a ditch or gravity feed irrigation tank. I'm currently working on a 1/4 scale prototype using a bicycle wheel and cake icing tubs. Will provide video - when and if operational - here is an in-process picture - hope it comes through:[/SIZE][/FONT]


[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]One challenging issue is controlling the water discharge from the buckets above. This 2nd version has cutouts on the side and bevels inside to hopefully help direct the water to the side facing us - I haven't had the side cutout version in the water yet. Somehow, I have a feeling that others over literally thousands of years have already solved this water wheel design issue.[/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]With my first trial, similar to the above without cutoffs, the wheel would turn, even without paddles installed splattering water in all directions. The wheel was either full turning or not, because if the wheel only caught part of the water force, the tubs would fill and then sometimes stall and actually turn the wheel backwards. When turning, even with a moderate flow, the wheel would turn fast enough so I had trouble telling which bucket was doing what - plan to mark certain buckets with stripes for identification. The bicycle wheel has very little turning friction. Not sure how close the buckets (and possibly paddles) should be. I'm going to have to figure out some kind of testing stand to hold the wheel in the water.[/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]Also hoping that [URL=""][/URL] (and others) may make available operational data and commercially built versions that may drive one of their low RPM pumps. We've had two of Windtrans' manual low RPM emergency pumps for a couple of years and they have which exceeded our expectations for water delivered, but haven't wanted to consider investing in the much more expensive continuous use pumps without a water wheel means to drive the pump. [URL][/URL][/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]We are having some debate whether a wheel that lifts water with buckets would be more efficient than a pump driven by the wheel to raise water 5 feet from a stream to a ditch. To go higher to a holding tank would require a pump. Also looking at ram and spiral pumps - while they will pump up quite a ways, they don't seem to pump very much water from an irrigation perspective.[/SIZE][/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]If anyone has a similar interest - please let me know.


grumble 05-04-2012 06:14 PM

The most efficient way to lift water to an irrigation path is the way the ancient Egyptians did it. Slave labor.

You'll have to check Craig's List for prices.

Seriously though, I'd think the spiral lift idea powered by your water wheel would be about the best and lowest tech method. Depending on the flow of the powering stream, you could open or close the inlet to the water screw to keep it going.

TickFarmer 07-18-2012 03:37 PM

[SIZE=3][FONT=Calibri]If you are willing to consider something completely different… or perhaps it will give someone else an idea?[/FONT][/SIZE]
[SIZE=3][FONT=Calibri]In my younger years I spent a bit of time working in mines and did some development work for mining claims. A person much smarter than I made a water powered stamp mill to crush ore before running it through a sluice (long tom). You didn’t mention how much water you needed to move, but I think the concept could be modified to pump water up a grade with a minimum of fuss.[/FONT][/SIZE]
[SIZE=3][FONT=Calibri]If you have enough fall to hook up a lever you can use the water flow to fill a bucket (think large scoop shovel or tractor bucket), counterweighted at the other end of the lever to drive a plunger for a large diameter displacement pump mounted securely within the stream. You would need to size the components to the water pressure and flow you are hoping for, but that shouldn’t be much of an effort. The scoop will need to hold more water weight than the weight of the counterweight, which should be the force needed to drive the pump rod through a compression stroke.[/FONT][/SIZE]
[SIZE=3][FONT=Calibri]I don’t have a working scanner or I would make a sketch. Perhaps I can describe what I am talking about?[/FONT][/SIZE]
[SIZE=3][FONT=Calibri]You will need a way to divert the water to the bucket; a couple gutter sections or wood box sluice. The water would flow into the bucket/scoop, filling it up. When the weight of the water overcame the weight of the counterweight on the other end of the lever the plunger rod attached to the bottom of the lever would rise. As the bucket dropped it would dump its water, reducing the weight at that end of the teeter totter, and allowing the counterweight to drive the pump plunger down. That action would raise the bucket into the ‘fill’ position and the cycle begins again.[/FONT][/SIZE]
[SIZE=3][FONT=Calibri]Good luck with your project![/FONT][/SIZE]

KFlippen 01-09-2014 05:50 PM

[QUOTE=AlchemyAcres;218855]Ram pumps are actually incredible easy to build. I've built dozens of them with off-the-shelf plumbing fittings.

Here's a pic of one of my pumps......


They can be made to work where there's very little drop by use of a long feed and stand pipe.

In a river or large stream with lots of flow where drop is nearly non-existent, I'd use a sling pump.




I noticed there's not a pressure chamber on your ram pump. Will it work as is or do you have to add one the reason i ask is that i want to pump water from a creek for garden irrigation and have been looking at this style of pump I found this thread searching the internet any help or tips would be appreciated


DavidOH 01-10-2014 01:32 AM

I hope Martin comes back to answer your question.

As I understand it, the Air Chamber is not necessary. The pump will still function. The air chamber acts as a buffer to prevent hammering.
There was a lot of details on his build. I'd like to find that again.

KFlippen 01-10-2014 09:36 AM

Thanks what is hammering? Will it perform better with the pressure chamber?


klamath 01-10-2014 12:16 PM

[QUOTE=KFlippen;376322]Thanks what is hammering? Will it perform better with the pressure chamber?

A ram pump works on the pricipal of suddenly stopping a flow of water. The physics of suddenly stopping flowing water in a pipe causes a huge spike in pressure, above the actual head pressure in the pipe. It is this surge that pumps the water to higher elevations but it is pulsing surges of water. The air chamber causes the flow to be a steady stream instead of a hammering pulsing stream. Rams are known by their telltale clanking of the valves rhymic cycling.
I went a different route. [URL][/URL]
Your site determines which system to use.

KFlippen 01-11-2014 08:26 AM

Thanks for the replies I'm wanting to use this to water the garden during dry times when there's not enough rain to keep up my well can't even begin to during dry weather. I'm wanting about a 1000-1500gal storage does this pump need to operate continuous or can I put a cut off valve at the storage?


Txanne 01-11-2014 10:49 AM

[QUOTE=DavidOH;376320]I hope Martin comes back to answer your question.

As I understand it, the Air Chamber is not necessary. The pump will still function. The air chamber acts as a buffer to prevent hammering.
There was a lot of details on his build. I'd like to find that again.[/QUOTE]

A walking book---He knows and I miss him terribly.

Great idea.
Water,life saving must have.
Looking forward to your post.

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