|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 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.