Hydraulic Rams In Regular Use

By Staff
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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

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

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

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.

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