Folks who attempt to set up a wind powered water pump on a shoestring
budget–as I did–may find that, after buying a
gearbox, tower, cylinder, and well pipe, there’s not much
cash left over for a standard “sucker rod.” That’s what
happened to me , anyway, and I had to make do with
a substitute. So, after scrounging around, I bought a
supply of inexpensive, used one-inch galvanized pipe.
Unfortunately, when I’d completed the system, I found that
I wasn’t getting anywhere near the rated capacity
of the cylinder even in very high winds. I started
asking around and, sure enough, discovered that using
anything but a genuine sucker rod would add excess
weight, thereby overloading the mill and decreasing its output.
Simply stated, my galvanized pipe was too heavy.
At first It seemed there was no choice except to buy the
“right” rod. However, used wind pumps are scarce and new
parts are expensive, so I decided to hold off a bit.
Then, on a trip to Oklahoma, I talked to an old farmer who
suggested that I mount a spring to help lift the pumping
rod in lighter breezes. He claimed that such a booster can
make a real difference in the amount of water a pump
supplies. I decided that it was worth a try.
To begin, I chose the biggest spring I could find: an old
garage door coil. Using an eyebolt, I connected one end of
the spring close to the top of the tower the
other end to my sucker rod substitute by means of an old
tailpipe clamp and a turnbuckle. The turnbuckle is
optional, since the spring tension can easily be adjusted
by moving the clamp up or down on the rod.
The spring should be stretched out far enough to support
the weight of the sucker pipe, allowing the
energy your mill captures to lift only water. So,
in order to balance the spring’s load, I disconnected my
makeshift rod from the gearbox by unbolting the jackshaft
from the sucker rod. Common sense told me that when the rod
dropped down the spring was too loose, and when the
pipe rose the tension was too great. Once no
motion occurred, I figured I was all set.
Remember that if your pump has the normal eight-inch
stroke, you’ll want a spring that–at rest–is at
least double that length so it’ll exert a more even force
through the stroke. (Garage door springs are usually
ideal.) Folks with exceptionally deep wells might want to
use more than one spring. If you do, be sure to space them equally
around the tower to keep the rod centered.
Before I Installed a booster, my pump was producing
approximately three gallons per minute in a stiff breeze. With the added spring power attachment my
system’s per-minute flow has increased to four gallons!
It was an easy modification that certainly paid off for me,
and I’m sure other people with “make do” sucker rods on
their wind powered water pumpers will find this project to
be well worth the effort, too.