Hydraulic Rams In Regular Use

Hydraulic engines

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3251 S. Pine Barren Road McDavid, Florida 32568

Once in a while someone will bring hydraulic ram pumps to an engine show. Every now and then someone will write something about them in GEM. Yes, I know. They aren't gas engines, but they are rusty iron and have the ability to bumfuzzle the general public, just like a good hit 'n miss engine. The fact is, one company called them hydraulic engines!

Most of you have never seen one running, so I thought I'd share some pictures. You see, for the past eight years, all of my water has been pumped from a spring by rams.

I have a tough installation. Water is piped from a spring nearly a hundred yards downhill to get ten feet of fall. At the end of the pipe is a standpipe, which feeds the drive pipes. The original drive pipe is forty-two feet of galvanized 1' iron. The second drive pipe is sixty-three feet of 2' galvanized. The pressures in the drive pipe are such that you just can't use PVC here.

The water goes through about 3400 feet of pipe to get to the house. Along the way it runs a hundred feet uphill. It goes into an accumulator with an aver age tap pressure of 25 psi. This amounts to 150 feet of head. Most rams, like the Davey or the Goulds, are limited to 100 feet by the leather check valve. They can be modified.

I've used a worthless, store bought PVC ram, a 100 year old No. 2 Goulds, a newer No. 5 Goulds, and two homebuilts. The Goulds, with modification for the high pressure, did very good work, but the metal valve is rather noisy. I once heard two hunters express an interest and decided to hunker be hind a tree. Good thing, too, because they loosed three loads of buckshot in the direction of the noise!

Diagram showing working parts of Rife Hydraulic Ram: A, drive pipe connection; F, Discharge pipe; E, air chamber; C, escape valve; D, delivery valve; H, air feeder.

My Model 20S, manufactured by the Rife Hydraulic Engine Company, was first used somewhere in Baldwin County, Alabama. Someone found it and brought the rusty carcass to Norvin Bauer's place where we enjoy a fine fall show. I saw it there and later benefited from Norvin's generosity. It was sand blasted and coated with a thick layer of polyurethane. David Blackwell made two castings and I made replacements for other missing or damaged parts. Rife is still around, but wanted $600 for the parts I needed.

A purist may note that the middle of the tank should be gray, but I like it all painted red. I showed it in Century, Florida, at Sawmill Day, and at the Laurel, Mississippi, show. I also took it back to Norvin's to show in October.

After that show, I carried the 225 pound monster down the trail and across the bridge to the pump station. There was no trouble getting it to the ground. Connections were made and it immediately went to work. It is adjusted to a rate that is a bit low for this size pump, but the spring gets a little slow during droughts and I set it for the mini mum. It is incredibly quiet because of the rubber valves. It may not be a gas engine, but it sure is a good hydraulic engine, right down to the cast brass name tag.