Make a DIY Bilge Pump

Learn how to make this DIY bilge pump from Popular Science, includes step-by-step instructions for construction, a diagram and a materials list.

| May/June 1978

This chart will guide you through everything you need to know about building a DIY bilge pump.

This chart will guide you through everything you need to know about building a DIY bilge pump.

Photo by the MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff

This DIY bilge pump will make your life easier, just follow the simple instructions to build one.

Man! Do we ever love all those old shop magazines that MOTHER has in her reference library! They surely do come in handy.

For instance: When MOTHER researcher Dennis Burkholder recently got tired of wrestling with a 55-gallon drum of solvent every time he wanted to pour out a quart of the fluid, he cleverly retired to MOTHER's reference library. And, once there, a diligent search soon brought him face to face with some old Popular Science plans for the construction of a DIY bilge pump.

And so, Dennis "did it himself" . . . starting with a 38 1/2-inch length of 1 1/2-inch conduit pipe and a piece of 1-inch conduit 4 inches long. First he cut a 1-inch-diameter hole in the side of the 1 1/2-inch conduit 2 inches from one end, and then he welded the 4-inch-length of 1-inch pipe onto the opening so that it was perpendicular to the long piece of tubing. While he was at it, he cut a 1 1/2-inch hole into the center of an ordinary 55-gallon drum bung (or screw plug) . . . slipped the plug up over the long section of conduit until it was 4 inches below the "spout" he'd just welded on . . . and welded the bung in place too.

Burkholder then directed his attention to the other end of the long piece of pipe . . . where he installed a bottom stop valve. This was simply a 1 3/8-inch-diameter wooden plug cut from a piece of 1-inch-thick scrap lumber. After drilling a 1/2-inch hole through the center of the plug, Dennis used a brad or two to fasten a 1 1/4-inch circle of leather (cut from scrap lying around the shop) to the plug's "top." This created a flap stop valve that — when installed in the bottom end of the conduit as shown — would allow liquid to flow only one way: up.

That homemade valve, by the way, was secured in the end of the tubing by [1] pushing it into position, [2] drilling four holes, each 1/64-inch smaller than the brads that would go into them, through the wall of the conduit and into the wooden plug, and [3] driving in the four brass brads. This served two purposes: First, the predrilled holes kept the brads from splitting the hardwood plug. And, second, it still left enough gripping power in the four holes to keep the brads from ever loosening and falling out.

8/29/2013 9:09:48 AM

Your article says "This chart will guide you through everything you need to know about building a 55-gallon barrel pump". I say "No it won't, because it's too blurry to read, because you uploaded a thumbnail of the image". Please replace the file "Barrel Pump_chart_ForWeb.jpg" with a higher resolution image so that we might glean some benefit from the diagram. Thank you.

panda bear
4/7/2013 5:09:44 PM

It would be really nice to have the detailed image of the pump and it's parts be large enough to be able to make out the different parts! Hard to reproduce correctly if you can't read the image!

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