Make Your Own Simple Windmill Water Pump

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The Arusha Windmill could make water access much easier for you on  your homestead.

So. You’ve finally moved out onto your own piece of land . . . “gettin’ there” by the honest sweat of your brow. The only trouble is you’ve got a source of water anywhere from 50 to 250 feet beneath your boots but no easy or affordable way to get that life-giving fluid up to the surface, where you and your livestock and your crops can use it.

Son of a gun. If you just had a windmill water pump! Not a complicated big-bucks machine that only Rube Goldberg could understand and Rockefeller could afford. No, what you really need is a simple windmill that you — with, maybe, a bit of metalworking skill and a little help from your friends — can put together for, perhaps, a couple of hundred dollars (less, if you’ll do some scrounging, and what homesteader doesn’t?!).

Well, children, that’s exactly the kind of water-pumping windmill that a fellow named Dick Stanley has been building recently in the Arusha region of Tanzania, Africa.

Now, if you didn’t already know, the Arusha region of the third world nation of Tanzania ain’t exactly what you’d call the garden spot of the world when it comes to developing something like a windmill. Folks in the area don’t have a whole lot of money to plow into experimental work on such things (or to spend on finished machines even after the expensive experimental work is done) . . . the wind can be extremely variable up Arusha way . . . wells are sometimes 250 feet deep . . . there are, in general, only the most rudimentary tools and materials and skills to work with . . . and, even after you have your basic machine up and running, there are darned few (like, maybe, none at all) servicemen around to come out and repair the blighter when a windstorm puts a crimp in its tail.

Add all those facts together, and you’ve got quite a challenge on your hands. A challenge, amazingly enough, that Dick Stanley has more than met by designing a water-pumping windmill that is:


At $250 or so (in 1978), the Arusha windmill costs only a fraction of a commercially manufactured, imported machine’s $2,000 to $6,000 price tag.

Highly Adaptable

With its large tail and lightweight blades, Stanley’s wind-powered water pumper can respond to shifting breezes far more rapidly than conventional windmills.

Able to “Reach Way Down” 

Thanks to its unique “eccentric wheel,” the Arusha windmill can raise water from as deep as 250 feet in the ground. This is a far greater pumping capacity than any other low-cost machine can offer, and in fact, matches the lifting ability of very expensive, commercially made units.

Constructed From Local Materials

Dick Stanley’s design is fabricated entirely from ordinary standard sizes of water pipe and other materials that are found in almost every small town in every part of the world.

Put Together With Local Tools

The Arusha windmill is easily constructed with the most basic welding, cutting, etc., equipment . . . the kind that is commonly available today in even the most primitive third world settlement.

Fabricated With Local Skills

Only the simplest metalworking shop techniques — which, again, are readily found nowadays in even the most backward villages of almost the entire world — are needed to construct the Arusha windmill.

Easy to Maintain and Repair

Dick Stanley’s water pumper — unlike so many machines currently designed and manufactured in the “advanced” nations — is extremely easy to repair right out in the field with only the most rudimentary tools, skills, and materials.

To put it another way, Dick Stanley’s Arusha windmill has — just flat out — been conceived and refined specifically for low-cost, trouble-free operation under the most primitive conditions. Which, of course, makes it an ideal water pumper for Tanzania and other third world nations. And which — perhaps not quite so obviously — also makes it a nearly ideal wind-driven water pumper for many back-to-the-landers right here in North America too! 

And if you think that sounds good, you ain’t even heard the best part yet: The good folks at VITA (Volunteers in Technical Assistance) and VIA (Volunteers in Asia) have persuaded Dick Stanley — with a little help from Ken Darrow — to put all his Arusha windmill knowledge, expertise and experience into a really nifty little 58-page handbook — The Arusha Windmill: A Construction Manual — available at Amazon.

Even if you aren’t thinking of putting up a windmill at this time — even if you don’t have a place to erect a windmill! — get this book. It’s a gem of clear, concise and rational design work beautifully presented in words and pictures that anyone who can read should be able to understand. At the least, the mini-manual will give you a delightful and easily digested crash course in basic mechanics. At the most, it just might guarantee you a source of “free as the wind” water someday, in some place, when you really need it.