About Us And The Beginning of The Handy Well Pump IdeaBruce and Eileen after a long day of marketing The Handy Well Pump at The Heirloom Seed Festival in Santa Rosa California. Hard work requires drastic measures.
My First Handy Well Pump.
A number of years ago, during another recession, my family and I moved onto a piece of ground in the Lower Sierra Mountains in Northern California. I had just had a well drilled and was completely tapped. Staring at the capped well casing coming out of the ground, it sank in that I still needed to get water to my family and I was out of resources to do it. In other words, I was broke.
When I would shine a light down the hole, I could just see the water. I could hear it when I dropped a pebble. But I couldn’t get to it.
Feeling a sense of frustration and urgency, I went to see my brother who had a little garage machine shop behind his house at the time. We began pondering the problem together. This was pre-Internet so we started looking though old pump manuals, Mother Earth News Magazines, etc. to see if we could come up with a pump solution without having to spend the several thousand dollars normally necessary to put together a water system.
Initially, nothing we looked at directly addressed my needs, or it was just to expensive. Oh, I forgot to mention that I didn't have any electricity either. Just a cabin on two acres with a new well that was 130' deep and a 60'water level. (1988) Long before solar was anywhere near affordable.
A Hand Pump Solution.
After a bit of rustling through some books, we did find some old schematics on windmill pumps. We started pondering how we could build something comparable without to much expense or time as I really needed to get something working at home. To make a long story short, we built a simple piston pump out of basic plumbing parts and a bit of simple machining. I had it in the well and was pumping water into a blue barrel within three days at a cost of under $200.00. The excitement of hand pumping water out of a deep well far exceeded anything that I had by turning on a faucet in town or firing up a generator to operate a submersible pump. I felt empowered. There I was, High on a hill with no power and water coming out of the ground from over 75'. Freedom! (1988)
It could be Better.
This little original handy well pump made from plumbing parts, all-thread, pipe and a bit of ingenuity was producing several gallons a minute so I could take care of my family's basic needs but we needed to haul water because the design that the pump was based on would only bring water to the surface. It wouldn't push water uphill to the cabin which was 75' away and 20' higher in elevation. At best I could only fill a blue barrel at the well itself. (1988)
Trial and Error.
As time went on and finances improved, I put together a prototype of something I thought would pump water from the well and deliver it to a series of six blue barrels connected together about 20' higher than the cabin so that they could be filled and we could use water with a gravity flow back to the cabin. There were some bumps in the road with this design but after a few dozen times of pulling the pump out of the well and redesigning different portions of the pump and head assembly, I came up with a pump that would deliver water uphill after pulling it from the well. At an average of 3 gallons a minute, it could fill one of the barrels in about 15 minutes. That's if I could keep the kids focused on pumping long enough while I took care of other pressing issues. Now I had a real Handy Well Pump! (1989)
Another Pump Improvement.
As I sat looking at this handy well pump one day that proved to be so essential to our needs, it came to me that I could make it better and end the daily task of pumping water with only a little time and a trip to the salvage yard. My idea was to attach a wind-shield wiper motor to the head assembly of the pump and then run the pump from a car battery that I could charge on my 20 mile trip to work each day. After a bit more trial and error I had a pump that could run all day, or night until I got a second battery to take with me while the first one was running the pump, and not only fill the six blue barrels in about an hour and a half but now there was water for other uses as well. Such as doing laundry, a garden and so on. Life is good! (1991)
Real Freedom and Satisfaction.
Imagine taking a shower knowing that you put the entire system together on your own and you don't have any electricity or other amenities that we all take for granted. You can do that with a Handy Well Pump!
Yes, we Take Things For Granted.
It's amazing how much we take things for granted in this society. We turn on a faucet and get water from, well we don't really know, do we? If we do know, we are still mostly disconnected from the process. We depend on an infrastructure that is disconnected from us. Today, my wife and I live on two acres Fort Bragg California, We pump our water and have a Handy Well Pump Installed in our own well. We grow a garden, and stay involved with our community in ways that help recreate a sustainable culture. Life is still good!
Local Business Is Best.
Anyway, that's how The Handy Well Pump started. Today they are made right here in our little machine shop. We're not big time with CNC everything from contract shops all over the world, but a good quality pump is produced here in limited quantities that is affordable, durable and easy to use.
The purchase a our Handy Well Pump not only supports our local business, it supports the various makers of components that we really try to get only from US sources. It also supports a variety of community service organizations that we support by donating The Handy Well Pump for raffles and such. If you decide to buy one I'm sure you'll like it.
We Do Other things too.
If you go to our main website www.beingwater.com you will see some of our other interests like composting toilets, rainwater harvesting components and greenhouse gardening.