Friday, June 27, 2008

Pitcher Pump

Sorry for the last couple of days' gap in journal postings. But I have a good excuse. I spent all day yesterday putting an old fashioned pitcher pump in my back yard. I started work right after breakfast, about 6:30, building the platform...all from scrap lumber I had lying about. By late morning I was ready to put the well point and the 5 foot long, 1 1/4" galvanized pipe together. It was no easy task since the parts were used (cousin Ed donated them), and the ends needed to be re-threaded. I used the outdoor vise at the school and had that part of the job finished by 12:30.

After a quick lunch I was back at work preparing to sink the well point. Instead of pounding the point into the ground with an old truck axle for weight and heft (that's the old-time way), I used a water hose and minimal force to aid penetration down into the lens of fresh water a few feet below the surface. I still had to pound the last five inches into the ground with a sledge hammer, and then screw on the cast iron pump.

Finally I laid the boards to make a work bench, screwed down the pump base, primed the pump, and voila! Just like in my grandparents' day, we pumped up water and carried it to the plants in galvanized buckets.

It was 6 o'clock, time to shower and go over to Zillie's for Thursday evening wine tasting!

If you're not real familiar with the Outer Banks, you may wonder how we got water from a pipe that is only a few feet in the ground, and, without pictures, the description above may not make much sense. So I asked Lou Ann to document the whole process with photos. She will be writing a monthly newsletter in the next few days, and we'll explain the whole thing with pictures. Look for that soon!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the brave and courageous members of the US Life Saving Service. You can read it here.


  1. Anonymous5:12 PM

    Great, I was hoping for some pictures of the work. Life was different back in the days, but not so bad. At least from what I have heard about it. Great Job!
    Terrie @ Walkertown NC

  2. Anonymous10:22 PM

    I'll also look forward to seeing it, we own a couple it will probably make the wife make me put one of ours to use. Think I've told you the house we rent on the island still has hand pump mounted on kitchen counter, you know who. Not to do advertising, but there is a hardware store in Ohio (that sales a lot to the Amish), that has all the supplies for this and other old style water systems.(Lehman's) - Friends called last night to say they had stopped by your shop, hope they purchased something. See you in the fall when its cooler!!! - Nollie, Mtns of NC

  3. My grandfather had a pitcher pump on his farm, my cousins and I used to love playing with it and using it to help water our grandmother's flowers. Brings back memories of the good ol' days.