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Thursday, 12 April 2012

Old Wooden Water Pump

Hole bored right through the beam by hand
I was going to put these pictures on and ask people to guess what they were but I was so impressed when I saw it I thought I'd have to just do a post about it.

The end of one length of pipe
These are parts of an old wooden pump from a friend of my fathers' farm, pulled out from a well that must have been sealed shut for 100 years and nearly 50ft deep.
The "bucket"
The well itself is impressive but these beams are something else! I'm almost a 100% sure they're elm from what I know about the subject and they would have been felled and worked on straight away, green,  before they could develop cracks. Drilling out the centre would have removed the heart wood and the cause of most of the cracking and this would keep each piece water tight. The augers to drill it out were long (obviously) with different blades that attached on the ends, they normally started with a 2" cutter and then worked up the cutters to get a 5" hole in the finish (I didn't measure these but it looks about that).
Picture showing the length
As this well was so deep there was quite a few sections to the pump and each would have been joined with hot suet and cloth (from my research).
The well - about 50ft deep dug out by hand - These were some men!
If anyone is interested in more information on how these were made there is a great chapter in the book "The Village Carpenter" by Walter Davis (quite possibly my favourite book ever) where it is describe in some detail.
I think this is a real testament to old craftsmanship, to think there would have been wells like this all over the country up until a couple of hundred years ago is amazing, now the knowledge to create them is almost lost, only what is written in books - I wonder if one has been made in the last 50 years? With something like this the knowledge sometimes needs to be in the muscles not just the head and only if we tried to do it would we see what other techniques and tools we'd need.
A rare treat to see this, really made my day.
I'd love the opportunity to make an old wooden pump and see it work.

9 comments:

  1. Nice find Kev, I hope that something good happens to those old wooden pipes. Are they going to restore the well :)

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    1. The author of village carpenter is WALTER ROSE i have just finnished reading it again it too is a faourite of mine i found it on AMAZON john g [ carpenter]

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    2. Sorry You're right! It's published by Stobart Davis So thats where I got the Davis from - I am thick sometimes! It is an increadable book, Probably read it 5 ro 6 times now!

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  2. we have a aquired an antique wooden water well pump. One ten foot long pipe and one six foot pipe. The pump chamber is cast iron with porcelian lining. How does one age this piece and where would one post to sell this piece

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    1. Cast Iron with a porcelian linning wouldn't be as old as a wooden one, iron pumps came later. I would need more detail to find out anymore but if you're only intersted in selling then it might not be worth it. Museums and collectors would be the only people interested in buying it I'd guess, but I always feel something like that should stay with the property as a little bit of its history.

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  3. My gran uncle was a wheel Wright and he also bored wooden pump sticks. My family still have the augers and extentions for boring them .Amazing how it was done.

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  4. My gran uncle was a wheel Wright and he also bored wooden pump sticks. My family still have the augers and extentions for boring them .Amazing how it was done.

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  5. My gran uncle was a wheel Wright and he also bored wooden pump sticks. One of my family still have the augers and extentions for boring them. Amazing how it was done.

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