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Water Works

March 23, 2012

Repairs at the kitchen table – the water will flow again!

To farm you must be a jack-of-all-trades…and hopefully you get to the point where you are the master of most of the tasks you have to deal with.

With many things, like in the case of our hydraulic ram water system, you don’t stop the works to make unnecessary repairs.  The ram system dictates WHEN you work on it.  The over flow stopping at the barn is our first indication that the ram has stopped pumping.  That’s when the ramologist gets to troubleshoot… .

When the water stops we hope the following things in this order:

♥  A lizard got stuck in the face of the ram, therefore stopping it.  Easy fix…remove lizard, bless his little lizard soul, start the ram.

♥  The leather is worn out, and the ram stops.  Semi easy fix, make new leather, install and start the ram.

♥  Pin hole in the drive pipe.  This one brings groans, and pleading to the water gods, “Please don’t be the drive pipe.”  This fix is the hardest, carrying heavy pipe a quarter mile through the timber and down into the canyon, plus all the tools.  Involves the whole family, not fun.

♥  Things we haven’t even thought about going wrong.

It turned out to be too cold for lizards yet, the new leather didn’t fix it either, and finally after a tear down and inspection of the parts, the shaft wasn’t moving properly, so Hangdog freed up the shaft, turned it to a fresh spot, and walked back down into the canyon and reassembled the ram.  It took off like a champ, the pipe was singing (which is what you want to hear) and water was again flowing to the tank!

26 Comments leave one →
  1. jenj permalink
    March 23, 2012 7:31 am

    Having been under the tractor for the last two nights trying to figure out why the mowing belt won’t stay put, I sympathize completely. Fortunately, we still have running water so it’s not a huge crisis, although our back pasture is rapidly turning into a jungle.

    • March 24, 2012 6:31 am

      Jenj, I know it’s always something isn’t it! I haven’t seen our grass for awhile, it’s under snow! Good luck on your mower!

  2. March 23, 2012 8:48 am

    THANKS AGAIN!!! Do you have a write-up of your surface water system somewhere – do you filter the water, how do you manage silt build-up, what does your forest install look like, do you have a storage / holding tank, … ?

    • March 23, 2012 10:01 am

      Marilyn, here’s a link to an old post, which gives you an idea of how our water system works.

      As of now, we are only have one ram going, and bit the bullet a few years ago and hooked up to the municipal system for back-up/drought proofing. We rarely use the “town water” but it’s nice knowing it is there if we need it. We are pumping from a spring so our drinking water is not surface water.

      The beauty of a ram is that it uses water power to pump water, no electricity needed! Just the right situation for enough head and you’re good to go.

  3. March 23, 2012 9:13 am

    Why it’s funny you mention that. We got rain yesterday, and when I checked the electric fence, it was down around 2-2.5 kV, which is lower than I like to see. “Looks like it’s time for the first spring fence-mowing, I thought. I’ll get to it when the rain stops.” This morning, it was down below 2 kV, and I decided I had to mow it right now. So I did, and it got up to around 4 kV, which is still lower than I like to see, but it’ll do. (I think it is probably being pulled down by some net fencing which is out in an unmowed field.)

    While walking the fence, I noticed that a particular corner brace looked like it might be starting to pull out. “No problem,” thinks I. “I’ll just put a few more turns on the twitch stick.” And so I did. And the brace wire broke. So now I have to replace that brace wire, but I’m going to do some of my paying work and get to it this evening.

    I think the fix is going to be to put a ratcheting tensioner in instead of a twitch stick. The wire broke right at the stick, where all the twisting tension was put on it. I have every confidence that a ratcheting tensioner will put that corner right, and, lucky me! I actually have an extra tensioner sitting around the barn, so I don’t even have to run down to TSC.

    You know it’s spring around here when all of the sudden, there are ten jobs that all must get done right now.

    • March 24, 2012 6:33 am

      Joshua, good luck with your fence repairs! We’re a ways off from that yet and spring too, I fear. 😦

  4. March 23, 2012 9:28 am

    It does feel good when you get it working…

  5. March 23, 2012 9:37 am

    I grew up on a farm and my dad drilled in our heads that you need at least 4 things – duct tape, bailing wire, a big wrench, and a sledgehammer – ha! Have a Great Weekend:)

  6. Bee permalink
    March 23, 2012 10:00 am

    Trouble is these days, nobody bales hay with wire anymore, and baling twine just isn’t the same somehow…

    Glad you got the ram working. I can deal without electric power a lot more easily than I can deal with no water. And that’s even before I start the generator!

    • March 24, 2012 6:30 am

      Bee, we’re a generator-free farm, so when we lose power we lose power. Depending on how you look at it, that may be our weak point or our strong point.

  7. March 23, 2012 10:03 am

    Congratulations on a tricky fix!

  8. March 23, 2012 11:47 am

    How often have lizards met an un-timely demise? You listed it first, and that made me think it’s the common problem. Funny!

    • March 23, 2012 2:18 pm

      adalyn, it’s pretty much confined to the spring hatch, sometimes they squeak by with just a missing toe or something, and we don’t know about the ones that got away. There should be a warning sign near the intake pipe, I guess…I imagine it’s a wild ride!

  9. March 23, 2012 11:50 am

    Glad to hear you got it up and running.

  10. March 23, 2012 6:58 pm

    Hey MOH, it’s been a while since I’ve commented. Still keep up with your blog. Been thinking about you guys a lot with the crazy Spring weather we’ve been having. Hope all is well on your side of the mountain! 🙂

    • March 23, 2012 10:10 pm

      Paula, we think of you often too! Gosh it’s all pretty good here except the darn white stuff everywhere!

  11. March 23, 2012 9:59 pm

    Gotta love a man who can fix stuff. Very sexy.

  12. March 23, 2012 11:30 pm

    My last comment didn’t seem to appear, please delete this if it is duplicated!

    I was really interested to hear about your repairs to the ram jet water pump.
    We moved to France last year after living all of our lives in the UK. We have two and a half acres of ground along with a stream and small wood. I am really interested in trying to build a ram jet water pump to supply my new garden at the top of the field.

    Working on the land is all new to me and today I’m about to try to plough for the first time!
    Is there a way to subscribe to you? Although I logged on with a wordpress account I don’t use it as I didn’t get on with it very well. I do have a blog at

    • March 24, 2012 6:25 am

      LIB, each ram site is different, but when the application is right they are great. For our ram we get 10′ of lift for every 1′ of head or drop from intake to the ram. We are lifting our 125′, our canyons are deep and steep with flat farmable land on top the ridges. That’s just a general idea, homebuilt rams and other brands may do more or less.

      You can sign up with email, there is an area for email subscriptions on the right hand side bar. I’ll check out your blog, thanks for the link and best of luck to you!

  13. March 24, 2012 3:01 am

    Here, my DH does all repairs on the cars/trucks/tractors, has built everything here but the barn (but reno’d that 3 times), did all the plumbing/electric/etc, fixes computers and builds custom fishing rods for off farm income, and generally keeps the farm and home running and repaired.

    I’m generally in charge of fence repair and all gardening, but can do minor repairs myself.

    He and I are self taught, as we can’t afford to pay someone to do it. But over 30 years, practice makes perfect.

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