Ram Pump

After I retired from the military and got all of the boys off to college, we decided to move back ‘Home’, but . . . we had been away for a very long time. It had been almost 30 years. Pat’s father offered us land if we would move to the farm, so one weekend in December 1997, we decided to look at the land on the farm. Our oldest and youngest sons came to walk the farm with us. We must have walked the nearly 200 acres, looking for the perfect place for us to live, and found a couple of promising spots.
Now, if you have never been to our farm, I have to warn you that it is not like the flat plains of the midwest states, but it is at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in south - central Tennessee. In some places, the difference in elevation easily rose 150 feet in the span of 400 feet, causing us to quip about the how the hills are closer to mountains when you have to walk them,
As we walked, we knew that the two main things were were going to need was water and electricity. City water is over 3 miles away, and we were told we could not get it for any price. So, we knew we needed to find a spring to support our water requirements. Pat’s dad show us all the springs; he was born and raised on the property and knew which springs were “year ‘round” and which weren’t.

After more than two days of walking and looking - looking back from the valley, looking down from the hill tops and various level areas, Pat’s father wanted us to take a good look at the apple orchard and the hill above the apple orchard (there probably haven’t been any apple trees there in the past 100 years!). We looked and looked and looked. Finally, we spotted a group of walnut trees - then found our way up the hillside to the top. Perfect! The perfect location. Flat land and a great view. But we had a big problem. Water!!

This hilltop (mountaintop) was on a draw, so I sent the boys in search of water. David went up the hollow on one side, and the Kerry went up the hollow on the other side. It was only a few minutes before David came running up the hill (he is in the Army and is in good condition). He found water. A spring. A big spring - bigger than the one that supported the original homestead. It was being used by our neighbors who’s house had burned under suspicious circumstances. Unfortunately the spring was not on our property. The spring in question was approximately 150 feet down a steep hillside with an elevation change of over 100 feet.

The spot to put our house was looking more and more promising with the discovery of water. We checked with the electric company, and learned that we could get electricity brought in from the old homestead 1000 yards away. The only two requirements were to clear the hillside and to get running water!
In this area, if you drill for water, 9 times out of 10 it would be sulfur water. I talked with my brother-in-law, a mechanical engineer (rocket scientist) who lives in Huntsville. The next weekend he came up to look at the place. He was very interested in the spring and how ‘we’ could get water from the spring for our use.

After trekking down to the spring, he declared, “What you need is a ram pump.”

Picture of the Ram Pump
Closer Look at the Pump itself
I didn’t know what that was but got on the internet over the next week. I found a company in Virginia that sold them and gave them a call. I talked to the late Richard Fleming, who referred to himself as the Water God, at The Ram Company. He asked questions about the spring, the lay of the land, the fall from the spring to the stream, the rate of flow of the spring, etc., and finally told me that I needed a 1 ½ inch Ram pump.
I talked with the owner of the land where the spring originates and got permission to use the spring. Then, I had a long talk with my brother-in-law, and we made the decision to buy the pump. The parts arrived, and my brother-in-law and I assembled the pump.
The following day, we took the pump, parts, garden hose, PVC pipe and other materials to the spring. Toting of all of this required several trips down the hill. Kerry assisted. We installed the Ernie’s Reverse Flow Pickup Strainer in the concrete catch tank, and installed a stack and the 1 ½ inch PVC pipe from the concrete tank to the ramp pump.
We put several pressure gages in, although I’ve never figured out what they are for. Then we unrolled the 150 feet of commercial garden hose from the top of our mountain to the Ram Pump. After all of the connections were made, we opened up the upstream valve and the pump started pumping, about 70 beats a minute. Within a few minutes, Pat shouted to let us know we had water at the top of the hill. Just a trickle, but we had water.
PVC Pipe Running Across the Valley Floor
Installing the Pump

We checked the flow of water at the top of the hill, and discovered we were getting 5 gallons every 7 minutes. For the first couple of weeks, maybe even a couple of months, we would collect the water in a bucket when we needed water or in jars. We added another garden hose and ran the hose into the kitchen sink. At one time we connected the water directly to the water pipes to the house and with that, we had running water in the house and we could now get electricity!!!

Running water may be a little over statement; we had a stream of water. A couple of weeks later we bought a 550 gallon tank and a shallow well pump with a pressure tank. We poured a concrete slab and build a cement block “pump house” for the tank and pump. We ran electricity to the “pump house” for the shallow well pump, and we had water with pressure in the house.
About once every month, I have to make the trek to the spring to check the ram. The ram has a bladder that must be checked and air added every once in a while. We have also had breakage of the PVC pipe, the pump, the check valve, and the cradle. But when it is pumping, it pumps approximately 1000 gallons per day. Fresh, cool, clear, pure spring water.
After a couple years we determined the holding tank overflow could be directed down the other side of the hill to provide water for the goats. 450 feet of ½ inch black pipe later and the goats had spring water. A 100 gallon holding tank near the bottom of the hillside provides a little pressure when needed.
Water flows from the spring, down the PVC pipe to the Ram pump, up the hill in a garden hose to the 550 gallon tank, through the overflow pipe, down the hill in the black pipe to the 100 gallon holding tank, then through a hose to waiting water tubs so the goats can have fresh clear spring water.

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Ken and Pat Motes
Clear Creek Farms
33 South Clear Creek Road
Fall River, Tennessee 38468
Phone: (931) 852-2167
Fax: (931) 852-2168

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