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Hydraulic ram

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This article is about the water pump. For the vehicle extraction tool, see Hydraulic rescue tools.
For the piston-based actuator, see hydraulic cylinder.

Figure 1: A hydraulic ram that drives a fountain at the Centre for Alternative Technology
A hydraulic ram, or hydram, is a cyclic water pump powered by hydropower. It takes in water
at one "hydraulic head" (pressure) and flow rate, and outputs water at a higher hydraulic head
and lower flow rate. The device uses the water hammer effect to develop pressure that allows a
portion of the input water that powers the pump to be lifted to a point higher than where the
water originally started. The hydraulic ram is sometimes used in remote areas, where there is
both a source of low-head hydropower and a need for pumping water to a destination higher in
elevation than the source. In this situation, the ram is often useful, since it requires no outside
source of power other than the kinetic energy of flowing water.
Contents
 1 History
 2 Construction and principle of operation
o 2.1 Sequence of operation
o 2.2 Efficiency
o 2.3 Drive and delivery pipe design
o 2.4 Starting operation
o 2.5 Common operational problems
 3 Water-powered pump
 4 See also
 5 References
 6 Further reading
 7 External links
§History[edit]

Play media
A ram pump in Vogn, Denmark
In 1772, John Whitehurst of Cheshire, United Kingdom, invented a manually controlled
precursor of the hydraulic ram called the "pulsation engine" and installed the first one at Oulton,
Cheshire to raise water to a height of 4.9 metres (16 ft).[1][2] In 1783, he installed another
in Ireland. He did not patent it, and details are obscure, but it is known to have had an air vessel.
The first self-acting ram pump was invented by the Frenchman Joseph Michel Montgolfier (best
known as a co-inventor of the hot air balloon) in 1796 for raising water in his paper
mill at Voiron.[3] His friend Matthew Boulton took out a British patent on his behalf in 1797. The
sons of Montgolfier obtained a British patent for an improved version in 1816,[4] and this was
acquired, together with Whitehurst's design, in 1820 by Josiah Easton, a Somerset-born engineer
who had just moved to London.
Easton's firm, inherited by his son James (1796–1871), grew during the nineteenth century to
become one of the more important engineering manufacturers in the United Kingdom, with a
large works at Erith,Kent. They specialised in water supply and sewerage systems world-wide, as
well as land drainage projects. Eastons had a good business supplying rams for water supply
purposes to large country house[disambiguation needed]s, farms, and village communities. Some of their
installations still survived as of 2004.
The firm closed in 1909, but the ram business was continued by James R Easton. In 1929, it was
acquired by Green & Carter[citation needed] [5] of Winchester, Hampshire, who were engaged in the
manufacturing and installation of the well-known Vulcan and Vacher Rams.
Hydraulic ram, System Lambach now at Roscheider Hof Open Air Museum
The first US patent was issued to Joseph Cerneau (or Curneau) and Stephen (Étienne) S.
Hallet (1755-1825) in 1809.[6][7] US interest in hydraulic rams picked up around 1840, as further
patents were issued and domestic companies started offering rams for sale. Toward the end of the
19th century, interest waned as electricity and electric pumps became widely available.
By the end of the twentieth century interest in hydraulic rams has revived, due to the needs
of sustainable technology in developing countries, and energy conservation in developed ones. A
good example isAID Foundation International in the Philippines, who won an Ashden Award for
their work developing ram pumps that could be easily maintained for use in remote
villages.[8] The hydraulic ram principle has been used in some proposals for exploiting wave
power, one of which was discussed as long ago as 1931 by Hanns Günther in his book In hundert
Jahren.[9]
Some later ram designs in the UK called compound rams were designed to pump treated water
using an untreated drive water source, which overcomes some of the problems of having
drinking water sourced from an open stream.[10]
§Construction and principle of operation[edit]
A hydraulic ram has only two moving parts, a spring or weight loaded "waste" valve sometimes
known as the "clack" valve and a "delivery" check valve, making it cheap to build, easy to
maintain, and very reliable. In addition, there is a drive pipe supplying water from an elevated
source, and a delivery pipe, taking a portion of the water that comes through the drive pipe to an
elevation higher than the source.
§Sequence of operation[edit]
Figure 2: Basic components of a hydraulic ram:
1. Inlet – drive pipe
2. Free flow at waste valve
3. Outlet – delivery pipe
4. Waste valve
5. Delivery check valve
6. Pressure vessel
A simplified hydraulic ram is shown in Figure 2. Initially, the waste valve [4] is open, and the
delivery valve [5] is closed. The water in the drive pipe [1] starts to flow under the force
of gravity and picks up speed and kinetic energy until the increasing drag force closes the waste
valve. The momentum of the water flow in the supply pipe against the now closed waste valve
causes a water hammer that raises the pressure in the pump, opens the delivery valve [5], and
forces some water to flow into the delivery pipe [3]. Because this water is being forced uphill
through the delivery pipe farther than it is falling downhill from the source, the flow slows; when
the flow reverses, the delivery check valve closes. Meanwhile, the water hammer from the
closing of the waste valve also produces a pressure pulse which propagates back up the supply
pipe to the source where it converts to a suction pulse that propagates back down the pipe. This
suction pulse, with the weight or spring on the valve, pulls the waste valve back open and allows
the process to begin again.
A pressure vessel [6] containing air cushions the hydraulic pressure shock when the waste valve
closes, and it also improves the pumping efficiency by allowing a more constant flow through
the delivery pipe. Although, in theory, the pump could work without it, the efficiency would
drop drastically and the pump would be subject to extraordinary stresses that could shorten its
life considerably. One problem is that the pressurized air will gradually dissolve into the water
until none remains. One solution to this problem is to have the air separated from the water by an
elastic diaphragm (similar to an expansion tank); however, this solution can be problematic in
developing countries where replacements are difficult to procure. Another solution is to have a
mechanism such as a snifting valve that automatically inserts a small bubble of air when the
suction pulse mentioned above reaches the pump.[11] Another solution is to insert an inner tube of
a car or bicycle tire into the pressure vessel with some air in it and the valve closed. This tube is
in effect the same as the diaphragm, but it is implemented with more widely available materials.
The air in the tube cushions the shock of the water the same as the air in other configurations
does.
§Efficiency[edit]
A typical energy efficiency is 60%, but up to 80% is possible. This should not be confused with
the volumetric efficiency, which relates the volume of water delivered to total water taken from
the source. The portion of water available at the delivery pipe will be reduced by the ratio of the
delivery head to the supply head. Thus if the source is 2 meters above the ram and the water is
lifted to 10 meters above the ram, only 20% of the supplied water can be available, the other
80% being spilled via the waste valve. These ratios assume 100% energy efficiency. Actual
water delivered will be further reduced by the energy efficiency factor. In the above example, if
the energy efficiency is 70%, the water delivered will be 70% of 20%, i.e. 14%. Assuming a 2 to
one supply head to delivery head ratio and 70% efficiency, the delivered water would be 70% of
50%, i.e. 35%. Very high ratios of delivery to supply head usually result in lowered energy
efficiency. Suppliers of rams often provide tables giving expected volume ratios based on actual
tests.
§Drive and delivery pipe design[edit]
Since both efficiency and reliable cycling depend on water hammer effects, the drive pipe design
is important. It should be between 3 and 7 times longer than the vertical distance between the
source and the ram. Commercial rams may have an input fitting designed to accommodate this
optimum slope.[12] The diameter of the supply pipe would normally match the diameter of the
input fitting on the ram, which in turn is based on its pumping capacity. The drive pipe should be
of constant diameter and material, and should be as straight as possible. Where bends are
necessary, they should be smooth, large diameter curves. Even a large spiral is allowed,
but elbows are to be avoided. PVC will work in some installations, but steel pipe is preferred,
although much more expensive. If valves are used they should be a free flow type such as a ball
valve or gate valve.
The delivery pipe is much less critical since the pressure vessel prevents water hammer effects
from traveling up it. Its overall design would be determined by the allowable pressure drop based
on the expected flow. Typically the pipe size will be about half that of the supply pipe, but for
very long runs a larger size may be indicated. PVC pipe and any necessary valves are not a
problem.
§Starting operation[edit]
A ram newly placed into operation or which has stopped cycling must be started as follows. If
the waste valve is in the raised (closed) position, which is most common, it must be pushed down
manually into the open position and released. If the flow is sufficient, it will then cycle at least
once. If it does not continue to cycle, it must be pushed down repeatedly until it cycles
continuously on its own, usually after three or four manual cycles. If the ram stops with the
waste valve in the down position it must be lifted manually and kept up for as long as necessary
for the supply pipe to fill with water and for any air bubbles to travel up the pipe to the source.
This may take a minute or more. Then it can be started manually by pushing it down a few times
as described above. Having a valve on the delivery pipe at the ram makes starting easier. Close
the valve until the ram starts cycling, then gradually open it to fill the delivery pipe. If opened
too quickly it will stop the cycling. Once the delivery pipe is full the valve can be left open.
§Common operational problems[edit]
Failure to deliver sufficient water may be due to improper adjustment of the waste valve, having
too little air in the pressure vessel, or simply attempting to raise the water higher than the level of
which the ram is capable.
The ram may be damaged by freezing in winter, or loss of air in the pressure vessel leading to
excess stress on the ram parts. These failures will require welding or other repair methods and
perhaps parts replacement.
It is not uncommon for an operating ram to require occasional restarts. The cycling may stop due
to poor adjustment of the waste valve, or insufficient water flow at the source. Air can enter if
the supply water level is not at least a few inches above the input end of the supply pipe. Other
problems are blockage of the valves with debris, or improper installation, such as using a supply
pipe of non uniform diameter or material, having sharp bends or a rough interior, or one that is
too long or short for the drop, or is made of an insufficiently rigid material. A PVC supply pipe
will work in some installations but is not as optimal as steel.
§Water-powered pump[edit]
An alternative to hydraulic ram is water-powered pump when the requirement is of high flow
rate at high head ratio. Water-powered pump unit is a hydraulic turbine coupled to a water pump.
The motive power needed by the pump is generated by the hydraulic turbine from the available
low head water energy.[13]
§See also[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hydraulic rams.

 Boost converter
 Heron's fountain
 Water rocket
§References[edit]
1. ^ Whitehurst, John (1775). "Account of a Machine for Raising Water, executed at
Oulton, in Cheshire, in 1772". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal
Society (London: Royal Society) 65: 277–279.doi:10.1098/rstl.1775.0026.
2. ^ Descriptions of Whitehurst's and Montgolfier's pumps appear in: James
Ferguson and David Brewster, Lectures on Select Subjects … , 3rd ed.
(Edinburgh, Scotland: Stirling & Slade, etc., 1823), vol. 2, pages 287-292; plates,
p. 421.
3. ^ de Montgolfier, J.M. (1803). "Note sur le bélier hydraulique, et sur la manière
d’en calculer les effets" [Note on the hydraulic ram, and on the method of
calculating its effects] (PDF). Journal des Mines, 13 (73) (in French). pp. 42–51.
4. ^ See, for example: "New Patents: Pierre François Montgolfier," The Annals of
Philosophy, 7 (41) : 405 (May 1816).
5. ^ Green and Carter – Hydraulic Ram Pump inventors and patentees.
6. ^ See:
 Executive Documents of the House of Representatives at the Second
Session of the Twenty-first Congress … , vol. 2 (Washington, D.C.: Duff
Green, 1831), pages 328 and 332.
 Letter from Stephen S. Hallet to U.S. President James Madison,
September 9, 1808. Available on-line at: U.S. National Archives.
7. ^ See also Robert Fulton's hydraulic ram pump: letter to Thomas Jefferson,
March 28, 1810. Available on-line at: U.S. National Archives.
8. ^ "AID Foundation 2007 Ashden Award". Retrieved 2008-07-09.
9. ^ Hanns Günther (Walter de Haas) (1931). In hundert Jahren. Kosmos.
10. ^ Interpretation board at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall
11. ^ Practical Answers: Hydraulic Ram Pumps
12. ^ Hydraulic Ram Pumps, John Perkin
13. ^ Nagarjuna Sagar Water Powered pump (WPP) Units
§Further reading[edit]
 Crowley, C.A. (August 1937). "Hydraulic rams furnish water supply to country
homes". Popular Mechanics: 306–311.
 Crowley, C.A. (September 1937). "Hydraulic rams furnish water supply to country
homes". Popular Mechanics: 437–477.
 Toothe v. Bryce, 25 Atlantic Reporter, pp. 182–190.
 Iversen, H.W. (June 1975). "An analysis of the hydraulic ram". Journal of Fluids
Engineering: 191–196.
 Hydraulic Ram: Fixing & Working. Spons' Workshop Receipts. vol II. London: Spon.
1921. pp. 457–465.
§External links[edit]
 High-Pressure Hydraulic ram
 Ram pump home made
 Ram pump
 How it works
 Build a hydraulic ram

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Home-made Hydraulic Ram Pump

Pump Plans Assembly Notes Performance Links

How It Works Operation Test Installation Common Problems

This information is provided as a service to those wanting to build their own hydraulic ram
pump. The data from our experiences with one of these home-made hydraulic ram pumps is
listed in Table 4 near the bottom of this document. The typical cost of fittings for an 1-1/4" pump
is currently $120.00 to $240.00 (U.S.A.) depending on source prices, regardless of whether
galvanized or PVC fittings are used.
Click here to see a picture of an assembled ram pump
Table 1. Image Key

1 1-1/4" valve 10 1/4" pipe cock

2 1-1/4" tee 11 100 psi gauge

3 1-1/4" union 12 1-1/4" x 6" nipple

4 1-1/4" brass swing check valve (picture) 13 4" x 1-1/4" bushing

5 1-1/4" spring check valve 14 4" coupling

6 3/4" tee 15 4" x 24" PR160 PVC pipe

7 3/4" valve 16 4" PVC glue cap

8 3/4" union 17 3/4" x 1/4" bushing

9 1-1/4" x 3/4" bushing

All connectors between the fittings are threaded pipe nipples - usually 2" in length or shorter.
This pump can be made from PVC fittings or galvanized steel. In either case, it is recommended
that the 4" diameter fittings be PVC fittings to conserve weight.
Conversion Note: 1" (1 inch) = 2.54 cm; 1 PSI (pound/square inch) = 6.895 KPa or 0.06895 bar;
1 gallon per minute = 3.78 liter per minute. PR160 PVC pipe is PVC pipe rated at 160 psi
pressure.
Click here to see an image-by-image explanation of how a hydraulic ram pump works
Click here to see a short mpeg movie of an operating ram pump
(Note - this is a 6.2 mb movie clip. On slower systems (11 mbps, etc.), it will load "piece-meal"
the first time. Allow it to finish playing in this fashion, then press the play button again to see it
in full motion with no "buffering" stops. Dial-up users may have to download the file to see it -
simply right-click on the link, then select "Save Target As..." to save it to your
computer. Downloading may take considerable time if you are on a slower dial-up system.)
Assembly Notes:
Pressure Chamber - A bicycle or "scooter tire" inner tube is placed inside the pressure chamber
(part 15) as an "air bladder" to prevent water-logging or air-logging. Inflate the tube until it is
"spongy" when squeezed, then insert it in the chamber. It should not be inflated very tightly, but
have some "give" to it. Note that water will absorb air over time, so the inner tube is used to
help prevent much of this absorption. You may find it necessary, however, to drain the ram
pump occasionally to allow more air into the chamber. (The University of Warwick design (link
below, pages 12-13) suggests the use of a "snifter" to allow air to be re-introduced to the ram
during operation. Their design, however, is substantially different from the one offered here and
provides a location (the branch of a tee) where the addition of a snifter is logical. This design
does not. Also, correctly sizing the snifter valve (or hole as the case may be) can be
problematical and may allow the addition of too much air, resulting in air in the drive pipe and
ceasing of pumping operation. For these reasons we have elected not to include one in this
design. There is a link on the bottom of the page to a video provided on YouTube by
dieseljonnyboy of the UK, showing a version of the ram pump design using a snifter.)
According to information provided by the University of Warwick (UK)
( http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/eng/research/dtu/pubs/tr/lift/rptr12/tr12.pdf , page 14), the
pressure chamber should have a minimum volume of 20 times the expected delivery flow per
"cycle" of the pump, with 50 times the expected delivery being a better selection. The chart
below provides some recommended minimum pressure chamber sizes based on 50 times the
expected delivery flow per "cycle." Note that larger pressure chambers will have not have any
negative impact on the pump performance (other than perhaps requiring a little more time to
initially start the pump). Some of the lengths indicated are quite excessive, so you may prefer to
use two or three pipes connected together in parallel to provide the required pressure chamber
volume. Well pump pressure tanks will also work well - just make sure they have at least the
minimum volume required.
Table 2. Suggested Minimum Pressure Chamber Sizes
(Based on ram pumps operating at 60 cycles per minute.)

Expected Pressure Length of Pipe Required for Pressure Chamber


Drive
Flow Chamber (for indicated pipe diameter)
Pipe
Per Volume (lengths are in inches)
Diameter
Cycle Required
(inches)
(gallons) (gallons) 2 2-1/2 3 4 6 8 10 12
inch inch inch inch inch inch inch inch

3/4 0.0042 0.21 15 11 7 -- -- -- -- --

1 0.0125 0.63 45 32 21 -- -- -- -- --

1-1/4 0.020 1.0 72 51 33 19 -- -- -- --

1-1/2 0.030 1.5 105 74 48 27 -- -- -- --

2 0.067 3.4 -- 170 110 62 27 16 -- --

2-1/2 0.09 4.5 -- 230 148 85 37 22 14 --

3 0.15 7.5 -- -- 245 140 61 36 23 16

4 0.30 15 -- -- -- 280 122 72 45 32

6 0.80 40 -- -- -- -- 325 190 122 85

8 1.60 80 -- -- -- -- -- 380 242 170

(Note - it is quite difficult to push a partially-inflated 16 inch bicycle inner tube into a 3 inch
PVC pipe. Due to this we suggest the pressure chamber be a minimum of 3 inches in diameter.)
A 4" threaded plug and 4" female adapter were originally used instead of the 4" glue-on cap
shown in the image, This combination leaked regardless of how tightly it was tightened or how
much teflon tape sealant was used, resulting in water-logging of the pressure chamber. This in
turn dramatically increased the shock waves and could possibly have shortened pump life. If the
bicycle tube should need to be serviced when using the glue cap design, the pipe may be cut in
half then re-glued together using a coupling.
Valve Operation Descriptions - Valve #1 is the drive water inlet for the pump. Union #8 is the
exit point for the pressurized water. Swing check valve #4 is also known as the "impetus" or
"waste" valve - the extra drive water exits here during operation. The "impetus" valve is the
valve that is operated manually at the beginning (by pushing it in with a finger) to charge the ram
and start normal operation.
Valves #1 and #7 could be ball valves instead of gate valves. Ball valves may withstand the
shock waves of the pump better over a long period of time.
The swing check valve (part 4 - also known as the impetus valve) can be adjusted to vary the
length of stroke (please note that maximum flow and pressure head will be achieved with this
valve positioned vertically, with the opening facing up). Turn the valve on the threads until the
pin in the clapper hinge of the valve is in line with the pipe (instead of perpendicular to it). Then
move the tee the valve is attached to slightly away from vertical, making sure the clapper hinge
in the swing check is toward the top of the valve as you do this. The larger the angle from
vertical, the shorter the stroke period (and the less potential pressure, since the water will not
reach as high a velocity before shutting the valve). For maximum flow and pressure valve #4
should be in a vertical position (the outlet pointed straight up).
Swing check valve #4 should always be brass (or some metal) and not plastic. Experiences with
plastic or PVC swing check valves have shown that the "flapper" or "clapper" in these valves is
very light weight and therefore closes much earlier than the "flapper" of a comparable brass
swing check. This in turn would mean lower flow rates and lower pressure heads.
The pipe cock (part 10) is in place to protect the gauge after the pump is started. It is turned off
after the pump has been started and is operating normally. Turn it on if needed to check the
outlet pressure, then turn it back off to protect the gauge.
Drive Pipe - The length of the drive pipe (from water source to pump) also affects the stroke
period. A longer drive pipe provides a longer stroke period. There are maximum and minimum
lengths for the drive pipe (see the paragraph below Table 2). The drive pipe is best made from
galvanized steel (more rigid is better) but schedule 40 PVC can be used with good results. The
more rigid galvanized pipe will result in a higher pumping efficiency and allow higher pumping
heights. Rigidity of the drive pipe seems to be more important in this efficiency than
straightness of the drive pipe.
Drive pipe length and size ratios are apparently based on empirical data. Information from
University of Georgia publications (see footnote) provides an equation from Calvert (1958),
which describes the output and stability of ram pump installations based on the ratio of the drive
pipe length (L) to the drive pipe diameter (D). The best range is an L/D ratio of between 150 and
1000 (L/D = 150 to L/D = 1000). Equations to use to determine these lengths are:
Minimum inlet pipe length: L = 150 x (inlet pipe size)
Maximum inlet pipe length: L = 1000 x (inlet pipe size)
If the inlet pipe size is in inches, then the length (L) will also be presented in inches. If inlet pipe
size is in mm, then L will be presented in mm.
Drive Pipe Length Example: If the drive pipe is 1-1/4 inches (1.25 inches) in diameter, then the
minimum length should be L = 150 x 1.25 = 187.5 inches (or about 15.6 feet). The maximum
length for the same 1-1/4 inch drive pipe would be L = 1000 x 1.25 = 1250 inches (104 feet).
The drive pipe should be as rigid and as straight as possible.
Stand pipe or no stand pipe? Many hydraulic ram installations show a "stand pipe" installed
on the inlet pipe. The purpose of this pipe is to allow the water hammer shock wave to dissipate
at a given point. Stand pipes are only necessary if the inlet pipe will be longer than the
recommended maximum length (for instance, in the previous example a stand pipe may be
required if the inlet pipe were to be 150 feet in length, but the maximum inlet length was
determined to be only 104 feet). The stand pipe - if needed - is generally placed in the line the
same distance from the ram as the recommended maximum length indicated.
The stand pipe must be vertical and extend vertically at least 1 foot (0.3 meter) higher than the
elevation of the water source - no water should exit the pipe during operation (or perhaps only a
few drops during each shock wave cycle at most). Many recommendations suggest that the stand
pipe should be 3 sizes larger than the inlet pipe. The supply pipe (between the stand pipe and the
water source) should be 1 size larger than the inlet pipe.
The reason behind this is simple - if the inlet pipe is too long, the water hammer shock wave will
travel farther, slowing down the pumping pulses of the ram. Also, in many instances there may
actually be interference with the operation of the pump due to the length of travel of the shock
wave. The stand pipe simply allows an outlet to the atmosphere to allow the shock wave to
release or dissipate. Remember, the stand pipe is not necessary unless the inlet pipe will have to
be longer than the recommended maximum length.
Another option would be to pipe the water to an open tank (with the top of the tank at least 1 foot
(0.3 meter) higher than the vertical elevation of the water source), then attach the inlet pipe to the
tank. The tank will act as a dissipation chamber for the water hammer shock wave just as the
stand pipe would. This option may not be viable if the tank placement would require some sort
of tower, but if the topography allows this may be a more attractive option.
Click here to view sketches of these types of hydraulic ram pump installations
(loads in 70 seconds over 28.8 modem)
Operation:
The pump will require some back pressure to begin working. A back pressure of 10 psi or more
should be sufficient. If this is not provided by elevation-induced back pressure from pumping the
water uphill to the delivery point (water trough, etc.), use the 3/4" valve (part 7) to throttle the
flow somewhat to provide this backpressure.
As an alternative to throttling valve part 7 you may consider running the outlet pipe into the air
in a loop, and then back down to the trough to provide the necessary back pressure. A total of 23
feet of vertical elevation above the pump outlet should be sufficient to provide the necessary
back pressure. This may not be practical in all cases, but adding 8 feet of pipe after piping up a
hill of 15 feet in elevation should not be a major problem. This will allow you to open valve #7
completely, preventing stoppage of flow by trash or sediment blocking the partially-closed valve.
It is a good idea to include a tee at the outlet of the pump with a ball valve to allow periodic
"flushing" of the sediment just in case.
The pump will have to be manually started several times when first placed in operation to
remove the air from the ram pump piping. Start the pump by opening valve 1 and leaving valve 7
closed. Then, when the swing check (#4) shuts, manually push it open again. (The pump will
start with valve 7 closed completely, pumping up to some maximum pressure before stopping
operation.) After the pump begins operation, slowly open valve 7, but do not allow the discharge
pressure (shown on gauge #11) to drop below 10 psi. You may have to push valve #4 open
repeatedly to re-start the pump in the first few minutes (10 to 20 times is not abnormal) - air in
the system will stop operation until it is purged.
The unions, gate (or ball) valves, and pressure gauge assembly are not absolutely required to
make the pump run, but they sure do help in installing, removing, and starting the pump as well
as regulating the flow.
Pump Performance:
Some information suggests that typical ram pumps discharge approximately 7 gallons of water
through the waste valve for every gallon pressurized and pumped. The percentage of the drive
water delivered actually varies based on the ram construction, vertical fall to pump, and elevation
to the water outlet. The percentage of the drive water pumped to the desired point may be
approximately 22% when the vertical fall from the water source to the pump is half of the
elevation lift from the ram to the water outlet. It may be as low as 2% or less when the vertical
fall from the water source to the pump is 4% of the elevation lift from the ram to the water
outlet. Rife Hydraulic Engine Manufacturing Company literature (http://www.riferam.com/)
offers the following equation:
0.6 x Q x F/E = D
Q is the available drive flow in gallons per minute, F is the fall in feet from the water source to
the ram, E is the elevation from the ram to the water outlet, and D is the flow rate of the delivery
water in gallons per minute. 0.6 is an efficiency factor and will differ somewhat between various
ram pumps. For instance, if 12 gallons per minute is available to operate a ram pump (Q), the
pump is placed 6 feet below the water source (F), and the water will be pumped up an elevation
of 20 feet to the outlet point (E), the amount of water that may be pumped with an appropriately-
sized ram pump is
0.6 x 12 gpm x 6 ft / 20 ft = 2.16 gpm
The same pump with the same drive flow will provide less flow if the water is to be pumped up a
higher elevation. For instance, using the data in the previous example but increasing the
elevation lift to 40 feet (E):
0.6 x 12 gpm x 6 ft / 40 ft = 1.08 gpm
Table 3. Typical Hydraulic Ram specifications (Expected water output will be approximately
1/8 of the input flow, but will vary with installation fall (F) and elevation lift (E) as noted
above. This chart is based on 5 feet of lift (E) per 1 foot of fall (F).)

At Minimum Inflow At Maximum Inflow

Drive Delivery Pump Inflow Expected Pump Inflow Expected


Pipe Pipe (gallons per Output (gallons per Output
Diameter Diameter minute) (gallons per minute) (gallons per
(inches) (inches) minute) minute)

3/4 1/2 3/4 1/10 2 1/4


1 1/2 1-1/2 1/5 6 3/4

1-1/4 1/2 2 1/4 10 1-1/5

1-1/2 3/4 2-1/2 3/10 15 1-3/4

2 1 3 3/8 33 4

2-1/2 1-1/4 12 1-1/2 45 5-2/5

3 1-1/2 20 2-1/2 75 9

4 2 30 3-5/8 150 18

6 3 75 9 400 48

8 4 400 48 800 96

Table 4. Test Installation Information

Drive Pipe Size 1-1/4 inch Schedule 40 PVC

Outlet Pipe Size 3/4 inch Schedule 40 PVC

Pressure Chamber size 4 inch PR160 PVC

Pressure Chamber Length 36 inches

Inlet Pipe Length 100 feet

Outlet Pipe Length 40 feet

Drive Water (Inlet) elevation above pump 4 feet

Elevation from pump outlet to delivery outlet 12 feet

Click here to see pictures of the test installation (loads in 38 seconds over 28.8 modem)
Table 5. Trial 1 Performance Data

After Installation After Clearing


Expected At Installation
(with water- Water-log
Performance (5/17/99)
log) (5/21/99) (6/20/99)

Shutoff Head 5 to 17 psi 22 psi 50 psi 22 psi


Operating Head 10 psi 10 psi 10 psi 10 psi

Operating Flow
0.50 to 1.00 gpm 0.28 gpm 1.50 gpm 0.33 gpm
Rate

Note that we used a 4" threaded plug and a 4" female adapter for our test pump (instead of the
recommended 4" glue cap (#16) shown in the figure). Two days after installation the pump air
chamber was effectively water-logged due to leakage past the threads of these two fittings, which
was shown by the pronounced impulse pumping at the outlet discharge point. If the pump were
allowed to remain waterlogged, it would shortly cease to operate - and may introduce damage to
the pipe or other components due to pronounced water hammer pressure surges.
The large range of expected values for shutoff head is due to the unknown efficiency of the
pump. Typical efficiencies for ram pumps range from 3 feet to 10 feet of lift for every 1 foot of
elevation drop from the water inlet to the pump.

Common Problems
The most common problems that prevent a ram pump from operating:
(1) The swing check valve (valve #4) must be the same size as the drive pipe and the tee (tee #2)
it is attached to.
(2) The drive pipe is too long or too short. For a 1.25 inch (3.2 cm) drive pipe that means no
shorter than 15.6 feet (4.8 meters), and no longer than 104 feet (31.8 meters). Too short of a
drive pipe may not allow the pressure wave to develop; too long of a pipe will allow successive
pressure waves to interfere with one another. Use the equation provided above to find
appropriate lengths for other pipe sizes.
(3) A garden hose is supplying the test installation. The flow velocity from the hose into the
drive pipe will create pressure on the waste valve. The best test setup is to plumb the drive pipe
into a bucket or a livestock water tank, and keep that filled with water. Sticking a hose into the
drive pipe destroys the water hammer wave.
(4) The air has not been purged from the system. Usually the waste valve flapper (valve #4) must
be manually pushed from 20 to 50 times to get the pump started. 100 times, though, is too much
– something’s wrong.
(5) The valve on the discharge side is open (valve #7). This valve should be closed while the
pump is being started – the pump will run 30+ seconds with it closed after it starts, building
pressure. After the pump starts running, slowly open that valve. Make sure, though, that at least
10 psi (0.7 bar or 69 kPa) of back pressure is maintained on the pump. It will not work with less.
(6) There is not enough elevation drop from the drive pipe inlet to the ram pump. 5 feet (1.5 m)
of elevation drop is recommended. The pump may work with only 4 feet (1.2 m) of elevation
drop. It will not work well or at all with less. (Note that if the pipe is plumbed into a pool of
water, the elevation difference is taken from the surface of the water to the ram pump, not from
the location of the drive pipe inlet.)
(7) There is an air leak in the pressure chamber. Larger PVC pipe sizes ( 2 inches or 5 cm and
larger) require the use of a PVC primer to soften and clean the PVC before the PVC cement is
used. Failure to use the primer may prevent the joint from joining properly and allow air to
escape or the joint to come apart. Primer is usually not needed on 1.5 inch (3.8 cm) and smaller
pipes.
(8) A PVC swing check valve is used for the waste valve (#4) instead of a brass swing check
valve. PVC or plastic swing check valves probably work well in normal plumbing applications,
but in the case of the ram pump the "flapper" does not weigh enough to drop promptly or quickly
when the pressure wave dissipates. You may get the ram to operate with a PVC swing check
valve, but it will be much less efficient and provide much less flow and lift.
(9) A swing check valve is used for the in-line check valve (#5) instead of a spring-loaded check
valve. This can work, but the spring-loaded check valve has a better seal and should provide a
more efficient operation.

Hydraulic Ram Web Sites


Bamford Pumps
Green and Carter
Lifewater Rams
NC State's EBAE 161-92, "Hydraulic Ram Pumps"
Rife Rams
University of Warwick (UK) Ram Pump Publications
A movie of an interesting ram design by Dieseljonnyboy of the UK
A new ram design by Gravicheck that provides a higher lift ability

Some information for this web page - and the initial information concerning construction of a
home-made hydraulic ram pump - was provided by University of Georgia Extension
publications #ENG98-002and #ENG98-003 (both Acrobat "pdf" files) by Frank Henning. Mark
Risse provided the intial design. Publication #ENG98-002 also describes the pumping volume
equations for hydraulic ram pumps.

Welcome! You are visitor

since 11/28/00
Last modified on 07/22/2014
This page created and maintained by Bryan Smith,
Clemson University Cooperative Extension, Laurens County.
The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages
regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, or disability and is an equal opportunity
employer.

Home-made Hydraulic Ram Pump

Pump Plans Assembly Notes Performance Links

How It Works Operation Test Installation Common Problems

This information is provided as a service to those wanting to build their own hydraulic
ram pump. The data from our experiences with one of these home-made hydraulic
ram pumps is listed in Table 4 near the bottom of this document. The typical cost of
fittings for an 1-1/4" pump is currently $120.00 to $240.00 (U.S.A.) depending on
source prices, regardless of whether galvanized or PVC fittings are used.
Click here to see a picture of an assembled ram pump

Table 1. Image Key

1 1-1/4" valve 10 1/4" pipe cock

2 1-1/4" tee 11 100 psi gauge

3 1-1/4" union 12 1-1/4" x 6" nipple

4 1-1/4" brass swing check valve (picture) 13 4" x 1-1/4" bushing

5 1-1/4" spring check valve 14 4" coupling

6 3/4" tee 15 4" x 24" PR160 PVC pipe

7 3/4" valve 16 4" PVC glue cap

8 3/4" union 17 3/4" x 1/4" bushing

9 1-1/4" x 3/4" bushing

All connectors between the fittings are threaded pipe nipples - usually 2" in length or
shorter. This pump can be made from PVC fittings or galvanized steel. In either case,
it is recommended that the 4" diameter fittings be PVC fittings to conserve weight.

Conversion Note: 1" (1 inch) = 2.54 cm; 1 PSI (pound/square inch) = 6.895 KPa or
0.06895 bar; 1 gallon per minute = 3.78 liter per minute. PR160 PVC pipe is PVC
pipe rated at 160 psi pressure.
Click here to see an image-by-image explanation of how a hydraulic ram pump works

Click here to see a short mpeg movie of an operating ram pump


(Note - this is a 6.2 mb movie clip. On slower systems (11 mbps, etc.), it will load
"piece-meal" the first time. Allow it to finish playing in this fashion, then press the
play button again to see it in full motion with no "buffering" stops. Dial-up users may
have to download the file to see it - simply right-click on the link, then select "Save
Target As..." to save it to your computer. Downloading may take considerable time if
you are on a slower dial-up system.)

Assembly Notes:

Pressure Chamber - A bicycle or "scooter tire" inner tube is placed inside the
pressure chamber (part 15) as an "air bladder" to prevent water-logging or air-logging.
Inflate the tube until it is "spongy" when squeezed, then insert it in the chamber. It
should not be inflated very tightly, but have some "give" to it. Note that water will
absorb air over time, so the inner tube is used to help prevent much of this
absorption. You may find it necessary, however, to drain the ram pump occasionally
to allow more air into the chamber. (The University of Warwick design (link below,
pages 12-13) suggests the use of a "snifter" to allow air to be re-introduced to the ram
during operation. Their design, however, is substantially different from the one
offered here and provides a location (the branch of a tee) where the addition of a
snifter is logical. This design does not. Also, correctly sizing the snifter valve (or
hole as the case may be) can be problematical and may allow the addition of too
much air, resulting in air in the drive pipe and ceasing of pumping operation. For
these reasons we have elected not to include one in this design. There is a link on the
bottom of the page to a video provided on YouTube by dieseljonnyboy of the UK,
showing a version of the ram pump design using a snifter.)

According to information provided by the University of Warwick (UK)


( http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/eng/research/dtu/pubs/tr/lift/rptr12/tr12.pdf , page 14), the
pressure chamber should have a minimum volume of 20 times the expected delivery
flow per "cycle" of the pump, with 50 times the expected delivery being a better
selection. The chart below provides some recommended minimum pressure chamber
sizes based on 50 times the expected delivery flow per "cycle." Note that larger
pressure chambers will have not have any negative impact on the pump performance
(other than perhaps requiring a little more time to initially start the pump). Some of
the lengths indicated are quite excessive, so you may prefer to use two or three pipes
connected together in parallel to provide the required pressure chamber volume. Well
pump pressure tanks will also work well - just make sure they have at least the
minimum volume required.
Table 2. Suggested Minimum Pressure Chamber Sizes
(Based on ram pumps operating at 60 cycles per minute.)

Length of Pipe Required for Pressure Chamber


Pressure
Expected (for indicated pipe diameter)
Drive Chamber
Flow (lengths are in inches)
Pipe Volume
Per
Diameter Required
Cycle 2-1/2 10 12
(inches) (gallons) 2 inch 3 inch 4 inch 6 inch 8 inch
(gallons) inch inch inch

3/4 0.0042 0.21 15 11 7 -- -- -- -- --

1 0.0125 0.63 45 32 21 -- -- -- -- --

1-1/4 0.020 1.0 72 51 33 19 -- -- -- --

1-1/2 0.030 1.5 105 74 48 27 -- -- -- --

2 0.067 3.4 -- 170 110 62 27 16 -- --

2-1/2 0.09 4.5 -- 230 148 85 37 22 14 --

3 0.15 7.5 -- -- 245 140 61 36 23 16

4 0.30 15 -- -- -- 280 122 72 45 32

6 0.80 40 -- -- -- -- 325 190 122 85

8 1.60 80 -- -- -- -- -- 380 242 170

(Note - it is quite difficult to push a partially-inflated 16 inch bicycle inner tube into a
3 inch PVC pipe. Due to this we suggest the pressure chamber be a minimum of 3
inches in diameter.)

A 4" threaded plug and 4" female adapter were originally used instead of the 4" glue-
on cap shown in the image, This combination leaked regardless of how tightly it was
tightened or how much teflon tape sealant was used, resulting in water-logging of the
pressure chamber. This in turn dramatically increased the shock waves and could
possibly have shortened pump life. If the bicycle tube should need to be serviced
when using the glue cap design, the pipe may be cut in half then re-glued together
using a coupling.

Valve Operation Descriptions - Valve #1 is the drive water inlet for the pump. Union
#8 is the exit point for the pressurized water. Swing check valve #4 is also known as
the "impetus" or "waste" valve - the extra drive water exits here during operation. The
"impetus" valve is the valve that is operated manually at the beginning (by pushing it
in with a finger) to charge the ram and start normal operation.

Valves #1 and #7 could be ball valves instead of gate valves. Ball valves may
withstand the shock waves of the pump better over a long period of time.

The swing check valve (part 4 - also known as the impetus valve) can be adjusted to
vary the length of stroke (please note that maximum flow and pressure head will be
achieved with this valve positioned vertically, with the opening facing up). Turn the
valve on the threads until the pin in the clapper hinge of the valve is in line with the
pipe (instead of perpendicular to it). Then move the tee the valve is attached to
slightly away from vertical, making sure the clapper hinge in the swing check is
toward the top of the valve as you do this. The larger the angle from vertical, the
shorter the stroke period (and the less potential pressure, since the water will not reach
as high a velocity before shutting the valve). For maximum flow and pressure valve
#4 should be in a vertical position (the outlet pointed straight up).

Swing check valve #4 should always be brass (or some metal) and not
plastic. Experiences with plastic or PVC swing check valves have shown that the
"flapper" or "clapper" in these valves is very light weight and therefore closes much
earlier than the "flapper" of a comparable brass swing check. This in turn would
mean lower flow rates and lower pressure heads.

The pipe cock (part 10) is in place to protect the gauge after the pump is started. It is
turned off after the pump has been started and is operating normally. Turn it on if
needed to check the outlet pressure, then turn it back off to protect the gauge.

Drive Pipe - The length of the drive pipe (from water source to pump) also affects the
stroke period. A longer drive pipe provides a longer stroke period. There are
maximum and minimum lengths for the drive pipe (see the paragraph below Table 2).
The drive pipe is best made from galvanized steel (more rigid is better) but schedule
40 PVC can be used with good results. The more rigid galvanized pipe will result in
a higher pumping efficiency and allow higher pumping heights. Rigidity of the drive
pipe seems to be more important in this efficiency than straightness of the drive pipe.

Drive pipe length and size ratios are apparently based on empirical data. Information
from University of Georgia publications (see footnote) provides an equation from
Calvert (1958), which describes the output and stability of ram pump installations
based on the ratio of the drive pipe length (L) to the drive pipe diameter (D). The best
range is an L/D ratio of between 150 and 1000 (L/D = 150 to L/D = 1000). Equations
to use to determine these lengths are:
Minimum inlet pipe length: L = 150 x (inlet pipe size)

Maximum inlet pipe length: L = 1000 x (inlet pipe size)

If the inlet pipe size is in inches, then the length (L) will also be presented in
inches. If inlet pipe size is in mm, then L will be presented in mm.

Drive Pipe Length Example: If the drive pipe is 1-1/4 inches (1.25 inches) in
diameter, then the minimum length should be L = 150 x 1.25 = 187.5 inches (or about
15.6 feet). The maximum length for the same 1-1/4 inch drive pipe would be L = 1000
x 1.25 = 1250 inches (104 feet). The drive pipe should be as rigid and as straight as
possible.

Stand pipe or no stand pipe? Many hydraulic ram installations show a "stand pipe"
installed on the inlet pipe. The purpose of this pipe is to allow the water hammer
shock wave to dissipate at a given point. Stand pipes are only necessary if the inlet
pipe will be longer than the recommended maximum length (for instance, in the
previous example a stand pipe may be required if the inlet pipe were to be 150 feet in
length, but the maximum inlet length was determined to be only 104 feet). The stand
pipe - if needed - is generally placed in the line the same distance from the ram as the
recommended maximum length indicated.

The stand pipe must be vertical and extend vertically at least 1 foot (0.3 meter) higher
than the elevation of the water source - no water should exit the pipe during operation
(or perhaps only a few drops during each shock wave cycle at most). Many
recommendations suggest that the stand pipe should be 3 sizes larger than the inlet
pipe. The supply pipe (between the stand pipe and the water source) should be 1 size
larger than the inlet pipe.

The reason behind this is simple - if the inlet pipe is too long, the water hammer shock
wave will travel farther, slowing down the pumping pulses of the ram. Also, in many
instances there may actually be interference with the operation of the pump due to the
length of travel of the shock wave. The stand pipe simply allows an outlet to the
atmosphere to allow the shock wave to release or dissipate. Remember, the stand pipe
is not necessary unless the inlet pipe will have to be longer than the recommended
maximum length.

Another option would be to pipe the water to an open tank (with the top of the tank at
least 1 foot (0.3 meter) higher than the vertical elevation of the water source), then
attach the inlet pipe to the tank. The tank will act as a dissipation chamber for the
water hammer shock wave just as the stand pipe would. This option may not be
viable if the tank placement would require some sort of tower, but if the topography
allows this may be a more attractive option.

Click here to view sketches of these types of hydraulic ram pump installations
(loads in 70 seconds over 28.8 modem)

Operation:

The pump will require some back pressure to begin working. A back pressure of 10
psi or more should be sufficient. If this is not provided by elevation-induced back
pressure from pumping the water uphill to the delivery point (water trough, etc.), use
the 3/4" valve (part 7) to throttle the flow somewhat to provide this backpressure.

As an alternative to throttling valve part 7 you may consider running the outlet pipe
into the air in a loop, and then back down to the trough to provide the necessary back
pressure. A total of 23 feet of vertical elevation above the pump outlet should be
sufficient to provide the necessary back pressure. This may not be practical in all
cases, but adding 8 feet of pipe after piping up a hill of 15 feet in elevation should not
be a major problem. This will allow you to open valve #7 completely, preventing
stoppage of flow by trash or sediment blocking the partially-closed valve. It is a good
idea to include a tee at the outlet of the pump with a ball valve to allow periodic
"flushing" of the sediment just in case.

The pump will have to be manually started several times when first placed in
operation to remove the air from the ram pump piping. Start the pump by opening
valve 1 and leaving valve 7 closed. Then, when the swing check (#4) shuts, manually
push it open again. (The pump will start with valve 7 closed completely, pumping up
to some maximum pressure before stopping operation.) After the pump begins
operation, slowly open valve 7, but do not allow the discharge pressure (shown on
gauge #11) to drop below 10 psi. You may have to push valve #4 open repeatedly to
re-start the pump in the first few minutes (10 to 20 times is not abnormal) - air in the
system will stop operation until it is purged.

The unions, gate (or ball) valves, and pressure gauge assembly are not absolutely
required to make the pump run, but they sure do help in installing, removing, and
starting the pump as well as regulating the flow.

Pump Performance:

Some information suggests that typical ram pumps discharge approximately 7 gallons
of water through the waste valve for every gallon pressurized and pumped. The
percentage of the drive water delivered actually varies based on the ram construction,
vertical fall to pump, and elevation to the water outlet. The percentage of the drive
water pumped to the desired point may be approximately 22% when the vertical fall
from the water source to the pump is half of the elevation lift from the ram to the
water outlet. It may be as low as 2% or less when the vertical fall from the water
source to the pump is 4% of the elevation lift from the ram to the water outlet. Rife
Hydraulic Engine Manufacturing Company literature (http://www.riferam.com/) offers
the following equation:

0.6 x Q x F/E = D

Q is the available drive flow in gallons per minute, F is the fall in feet from the water
source to the ram, E is the elevation from the ram to the water outlet, and D is the
flow rate of the delivery water in gallons per minute. 0.6 is an efficiency factor and
will differ somewhat between various ram pumps. For instance, if 12 gallons per
minute is available to operate a ram pump (Q), the pump is placed 6 feet below the
water source (F), and the water will be pumped up an elevation of 20 feet to the outlet
point (E), the amount of water that may be pumped with an appropriately-sized ram
pump is

0.6 x 12 gpm x 6 ft / 20 ft = 2.16 gpm

The same pump with the same drive flow will provide less flow if the water is to be
pumped up a higher elevation. For instance, using the data in the previous example
but increasing the elevation lift to 40 feet (E):

0.6 x 12 gpm x 6 ft / 40 ft = 1.08 gpm

Table 3. Typical Hydraulic Ram specifications (Expected water output will be


approximately 1/8 of the input flow, but will vary with installation fall (F) and
elevation lift (E) as noted above. This chart is based on 5 feet of lift (E) per 1 foot of
fall (F).)

At Minimum Inflow At Maximum Inflow

Drive Delivery Pump Inflow Expected Output Pump Inflow Expected Output
Pipe Pipe (gallons per (gallons per (gallons per (gallons per
Diameter Diameter minute) minute) minute) minute)
(inches) (inches)
3/4 1/2 3/4 1/10 2 1/4

1 1/2 1-1/2 1/5 6 3/4


1-1/4 1/2 2 1/4 10 1-1/5

1-1/2 3/4 2-1/2 3/10 15 1-3/4

2 1 3 3/8 33 4

2-1/2 1-1/4 12 1-1/2 45 5-2/5

3 1-1/2 20 2-1/2 75 9

4 2 30 3-5/8 150 18

6 3 75 9 400 48

8 4 400 48 800 96

Table 4. Test Installation Information

Drive Pipe Size 1-1/4 inch Schedule 40 PVC

Outlet Pipe Size 3/4 inch Schedule 40 PVC

Pressure Chamber size 4 inch PR160 PVC

Pressure Chamber Length 36 inches

Inlet Pipe Length 100 feet

Outlet Pipe Length 40 feet

Drive Water (Inlet) elevation above pump 4 feet

Elevation from pump outlet to delivery outlet 12 feet

Click here to see pictures of the test installation (loads in 38 seconds over 28.8 modem)

Table 5. Trial 1 Performance Data

After Installation After Clearing


Expected At Installation
(with water- Water-log
Performance (5/17/99)
log) (5/21/99) (6/20/99)
Shutoff Head 5 to 17 psi 22 psi 50 psi 22 psi

Operating Head 10 psi 10 psi 10 psi 10 psi

Operating Flow
0.50 to 1.00 gpm 0.28 gpm 1.50 gpm 0.33 gpm
Rate

Note that we used a 4" threaded plug and a 4" female adapter for our test pump
(instead of the recommended 4" glue cap (#16) shown in the figure). Two days after
installation the pump air chamber was effectively water-logged due to leakage past the
threads of these two fittings, which was shown by the pronounced impulse pumping at
the outlet discharge point. If the pump were allowed to remain waterlogged, it would
shortly cease to operate - and may introduce damage to the pipe or other components
due to pronounced water hammer pressure surges.

The large range of expected values for shutoff head is due to the unknown efficiency
of the pump. Typical efficiencies for ram pumps range from 3 feet to 10 feet of lift
for every 1 foot of elevation drop from the water inlet to the pump.

Common Problems

The most common problems that prevent a ram pump from operating:

(1) The swing check valve (valve #4) must be the same size as the drive pipe and the
tee (tee #2) it is attached to.

(2) The drive pipe is too long or too short. For a 1.25 inch (3.2 cm) drive pipe that
means no shorter than 15.6 feet (4.8 meters), and no longer than 104 feet (31.8
meters). Too short of a drive pipe may not allow the pressure wave to develop; too
long of a pipe will allow successive pressure waves to interfere with one another. Use
the equation provided above to find appropriate lengths for other pipe sizes.

(3) A garden hose is supplying the test installation. The flow velocity from the hose
into the drive pipe will create pressure on the waste valve. The best test setup is to
plumb the drive pipe into a bucket or a livestock water tank, and keep that filled with
water. Sticking a hose into the drive pipe destroys the water hammer wave.

(4) The air has not been purged from the system. Usually the waste valve flapper
(valve #4) must be manually pushed from 20 to 50 times to get the pump started. 100
times, though, is too much – something’s wrong.
(5) The valve on the discharge side is open (valve #7). This valve should be closed
while the pump is being started – the pump will run 30+ seconds with it closed after it
starts, building pressure. After the pump starts running, slowly open that valve. Make
sure, though, that at least 10 psi (0.7 bar or 69 kPa) of back pressure is maintained on
the pump. It will not work with less.

(6) There is not enough elevation drop from the drive pipe inlet to the ram pump. 5
feet (1.5 m) of elevation drop is recommended. The pump may work with only 4 feet
(1.2 m) of elevation drop. It will not work well or at all with less. (Note that if the pipe
is plumbed into a pool of water, the elevation difference is taken from the surface of
the water to the ram pump, not from the location of the drive pipe inlet.)

(7) There is an air leak in the pressure chamber. Larger PVC pipe sizes ( 2 inches or 5
cm and larger) require the use of a PVC primer to soften and clean the PVC before the
PVC cement is used. Failure to use the primer may prevent the joint from joining
properly and allow air to escape or the joint to come apart. Primer is usually not
needed on 1.5 inch (3.8 cm) and smaller pipes.

(8) A PVC swing check valve is used for the waste valve (#4) instead of a brass swing
check valve. PVC or plastic swing check valves probably work well in normal
plumbing applications, but in the case of the ram pump the "flapper" does not weigh
enough to drop promptly or quickly when the pressure wave dissipates. You may get
the ram to operate with a PVC swing check valve, but it will be much less efficient
and provide much less flow and lift.

(9) A swing check valve is used for the in-line check valve (#5) instead of a spring-
loaded check valve. This can work, but the spring-loaded check valve has a better seal
and should provide a more efficient operation.

Hydraulic Ram Web Sites

Bamford Pumps
Green and Carter
Lifewater Rams
NC State's EBAE 161-92, "Hydraulic Ram Pumps"
Rife Rams
University of Warwick (UK) Ram Pump Publications
A movie of an interesting ram design by Dieseljonnyboy of the UK
A new ram design by Gravicheck that provides a higher lift ability
Some information for this web page - and the initial information concerning
construction of a home-made hydraulic ram pump - was provided by University of
Georgia Extension publications #ENG98-002and #ENG98-003 (both Acrobat "pdf" files)
by Frank Henning. Mark Risse provided the intial design. Publication #ENG98-002
also describes the pumping volume equations for hydraulic ram pumps.

Welcome! You are visitor

since 11/28/00

Last modified on 07/22/2014


This page created and maintained by Bryan Smith,
Clemson University Cooperative Extension, Laurens County.

The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages regardless of race,
color, sex, religion, national origin, or disability and is an equal opportunity employer.