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Totally OT: Has anyone here ever built a water ram pump? I'm having problems with mine.


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I know that this is a long ways from being CAS related, but I also know that there are folks here who have a lot of different interests. One of mine is off grid stuff. I built a water ram pump to use for watering my 'maters and stuff. I used 100 feet of 1 1/4" black poly pipe (because that's what I had) laying in the creek that runs alongside of my yard for an intake and 1 1/4" valves going to a 3" by 3' pvc pressure tank for the pump. I've got approximately 6 feet, maybe 8 feet, of drop over the course of the 100 feet. The problem I have is keeping the pump going. It will run for anywhere from 2 minutes to several hours then just suddenly stop working. It's driving me nuts trying to figure out what the problem is. Any suggestions?

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1st thought, you are getting air in the system.

 

But I'll be back, this is the first time I have heard of a water ram pump and it looks interesting (quick google). I do know of someone else who injected air into a water column to "lift" it. When I ran the math, I figured out the "lift" came from the density change with the air injection; he traded volume for "lift" with density.

 

The water ram is different.

 

Give me a couple days to grab an hour and get up to speed on the principles. I might need some drawings from you showing your system.

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Air is the usual suspect. Any chance that the intake is sucking in air? Grab your favorite libation and sit and watch the intake. Look for any signs of a whirlpool or turbulence in the water causing air bubbles.

 

Any chance the head pipe is collapsing? Again observation is your best tool

 

Any sand or organic matter making its way into the system? You need good screens on the intake.

 

Is your clacker valve allowing too much flow.

 

 

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For the curious, here’s a good discussion of hydro rams:  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_ram

 

Is the clacker valve failing open or closed when the pump stops?

 

My first thought is that air or sediment is getting into the pipe. I like Dave’s suggestion of a libation, a lawn chair, and observations until it fails again to see what’s happening.

 

Have you tried adjusting your weights/ springs on the clacker valve?

 

I’m curious to see where this leads you.

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Thanks for your replies, folks. The water intake is well-submerged and well-screened. The clacker was sticking in the closed position when it stopped working. After I posted this thread I did some more research and found a paper from some university or other outlining drive pipe slope, etc. and went out and re-examined my setup. At that point it dawned on me that the pump itself was actually higher than the lower end of the black poly drive pipe; the ten feet of galvanized pipe attaching the pump to the poly pipe sloped up from the poly instead of continuing the slope of the poly. I moved the pump down the creek bank into the edge of the water and except for one stoppage with the clacker open, which I have rarely seen, has been running continuously for seventeen hours. That's a new world record! If it continues to chug along through the rest of today I will consider that the problem is solved.

 

Thanks again!

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Okay, yesterday's test was a fail. I was gone all day so I don't know when it quit but it definitely didn't run all day. On the other hand, it's running longer now than it did before, so that's at least a partial win. I will continue to research...

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How long is your inlet pipe, and what diameter is it? How much lift are you trying to get from the system. How much higher is the inlet compared to the pump.

 

Spring pressure on the waste (clacker) valve is at the moment my most likely candidate for a stall. But I am not up to speed yet on if it might be too much or too little.

 

You state the inlet is well submerged and screened, so sucking air or dirt causing a valve leak are less likely.

 

It sounds like you are able to restart operation without adding or removing air from the pressure tank; if so, then that is also not likely to be a cause of failure.

 

I'm also assuming when the pump fails, it is still holding the lift water.

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10 hours ago, John Kloehr said:

How long is your inlet pipe, and what diameter is it? How much lift are you trying to get from the system. How much higher is the inlet compared to the pump.

 

Spring pressure on the waste (clacker) valve is at the moment my most likely candidate for a stall. But I am not up to speed yet on if it might be too much or too little.

 

You state the inlet is well submerged and screened, so sucking air or dirt causing a valve leak are less likely.

 

It sounds like you are able to restart operation without adding or removing air from the pressure tank; if so, then that is also not likely to be a cause of failure.

 

I'm also assuming when the pump fails, it is still holding the lift water.

The inlet pipe is about 100' feet of 1 1/4" black plastic attached to ten feet of 1 1/14" galvanized pipe. The pump itself is made out of 1 1/4" plumbing fittings. The valves are brass flapper valves with no springs. All it takes to start pumping water when the pump stops is to flip the clacker down and it takes off. There's about 6 feet, maybe 8 feet, of drop between the inlet and the pump. I'm lifting the water, at most, about 20 to 25 feet.

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And it's currently been running for about 7 hours without stopping

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Update: run time is now approaching 24 hours!

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maybe the intake is too small ? im not a hydraulic guy but it appears that might be an essential part of the equation 

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The intake is 4 inch pipe going into 3 inch pipe going into 1 1/4” pipe

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Update for those who care: as of 5 PM this evening the pump has run for 24 hours straight...

 

That is all...

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On 6/7/2021 at 9:23 PM, Sedalia Dave said:

What did you change?

Nuttin'. That's what's so confusing. Sometimes it runs for a long time, others not so much. So since I'm not using it for watering a big garden I've pretty much decided to just start it up when I need it... 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update: Several days ago I gave the drive pipe a second look and found a couple of small, unnoticed humps in it. I rearranged stuff so that the humps flattened out and got a couple of air bubbles out of the pipe. The pump still didn't run consistently but it did run better. Then I had a "Eureka!" moment yesterday morning. The pump had run all night with the outlet end of the outlet hose at the top of my yard filling a 500 gallon holding tank. As soon as I towed the end of the hose down to where I could water my irises, about 8 feet above the pump, the pump quit working. I had recently seen a Youtube video in which the guy who made it had done some "back pressure" testing so I wondered if I needed more back pressure on the system. I elevated the first 15 feet of the outlet hose so that the water has to climb about 16 feet or so from the pump before it can go on out the hose. The pump has since only stopped twice since 6AM this morning and those stops appeared to be from tiny pieces of silt between the clacker valve and the seat. I think I may have solved the problem!

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The pump has now run for almost 40 hours straight. It's not putting out a huge amount of water but also isn't constantly shutting off...

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Further update: for some unknown reason, the pump has now been running, with two brief stops, since 3PM on Thursday and it's now noon on Monday. For those who might care... :D

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I actually do care, thought it is more a general DIY and physics/science caring. But I do care.

 

I found it (your Thursday update) interesting that putting a taller head on the output (500 gallon tank versus the irises at a lower elevation)  seems to have improved reliability.

 

What I am wondering... As you increase altitude on the output, does the pump cycle (clack) slower? Does this happen until the pump finally stops t some higher lift? Or is there some minimum (or maximum if I have it backward) clack speed or volume of output at a certain altitude?

 

Being an engineer, I would make a plot of altitude versus speed and altitude versus volume. Try to find the sweet spot. Then look at tweaking the sweet spot.

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50 minutes ago, John Kloehr said:

I actually do care, thought it is more a general DIY and physics/science caring. But I do care.

 

I found it (your Thursday update) interesting that putting a taller head on the output (500 gallon tank versus the irises at a lower elevation)  seems to have improved reliability.

 

What I am wondering... As you increase altitude on the output, does the pump cycle (clack) slower? Does this happen until the pump finally stops t some higher lift? Or is there some minimum (or maximum if I have it backward) clack speed or volume of output at a certain altitude?

 

Being an engineer, I would make a plot of altitude versus speed and altitude versus volume. Try to find the sweet spot. Then look at tweaking the sweet spot.

 

JK,

 

Try reading this  Determination of Hydraulic Ram Pump Performance: Experimental Results

 

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7 minutes ago, Sedalia Dave said:

I could tweak a system from that study!

 

"An increase in waste valve beats per minute tends to decrease the supply flow rate, delivery flow rate, and delivery head. But it tends to increase the head ratio, the flow-rate ratio, and the overall efficiency of the pump. It must be pointed out that there is only a limited range of waste valve beating values for each particular HRP system."

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Weekend update: The pump has been running since Thursday a week ago. I have added another garden hose to the system so that the hose connected to the pump ends at essentially the same elevation all of the time. When it's time to water my irises, 'maters, etc. I unscrew the hose that is going to the bulk tank and screw on a 100 foot hose going back downhill to the "garden". This appears to be keeping the pump going steadily. 

On 6/28/2021 at 2:33 PM, John Kloehr said:

I found it (your Thursday update) interesting that putting a taller head on the output (500 gallon tank versus the irises at a lower elevation)  seems to have improved reliability.

 

What I am wondering... As you increase altitude on the output, does the pump cycle (clack) slower? 

Changing the location of the output doesn't seem to have affected the clacker speed. It has always run about 2 seconds per cycle no matter where the end of the output hose is.

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For the last week or so I've been getting a skosh over 20 gallons per hour 24/7. It's not a huge amount but it's plenty to keep my 'maters and stuff wet.

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