Low Head Ram Pump

I went out to test the 3/4″ hydraulic Ram Pump for minimum head. (Remember that you can buy pre assembled pumps here at land to house.) I have been filling up my 55 gallon drum with my 1-1/4″ ram pump with 5 feet of head. This setup allows the drum to be filled in less than an hour but I have moved the pump for watering my garden. So instead of moving the big pump I thought I might as well set up the small pump and see what it can work on. Check out this video of the 3/4″ pump working with only 1′ of head. Now I always say that the ram pump has a 1 to 7 ratio meaning that every 1′ of head falling into the pump you will get 7′ of water pumped. In this case there was a lift of more than 8′ but you will notice that the water is very much pulsing.

10 thoughts on “Low Head Ram Pump

  1. Hi Seth, well done for a great set of videos on the pump. I’ve seen various websites with them including engineer7745 and dieseljonnyboy in England where I live. Having watched dozens of videos, mostly the same but some with subtle differences, my question is, does the size of the pressure tube matter? I ask because dieseljonnyboy uses a plastic pop bottle with good results. My thinking is, does a larger tube like you use, which takes more time to reach pressure, give the pump any more advantage than the bottle?

    Obviously by reducing sizes you reduce costs. I would guess that you starting using a plastic second swing valve instead of a brass one for that very reason?

    Lastly, why stop at a pump that is less than 2″? Can you do a video on testing just how big you can make one of these things? Is there a limit? apart from the water supply?

    Many thanks for all your hard work, great job.


    1. Thank you! I have had such a good time learning about the ram pump. There is still so much that it can do that I have not learned. I have seen the videos you speak of as well. Have you seen the ones by wranglerstar? He is skilled also.

      The tank sizes that I use on my three sizes of pump are as small as I would go. It does make a difference. Even though it might take an extra 2-3min in the initial prime the final pressure is much better with a larger tank.

      Going with the plastic valve is a cost thing but because of initial purchase as well as shipping cost. It is aslo much quieter when it operates.

      I have been wanting to test a large pump but the price goes way up after 1-1/4″. Now I have tested the 1/2″ model and it works very well on very little water. From what I have read the large pump is only limited by water supply. You also have to have strong components. I dont have the resources at the moment for that type of test. i have seen the pumps up to 6″ !!!

      Thank you for watching my videos!

  2. Hello Seth, thank you, your videos are really informative and detailed! Big props to you for sharing your knowledge. I have been given the task of finding out if I can use a ram pump to pump through 3″ up a very genital slope of about 10 metres elevation over about 150 metres. I would like to know if pumping at 3″ requires a huge pump and what sort of header would you require as I will be trying to use a lake with a circulation system for getting the water around the lake. I can incorporate a header system to feed the ram pump if needed, I however get really confused with all the flow rate equations and its overwhelming. Would you be able to help with some simple is it possible first off tips and how I should look at going about it.

    Keep up the great work

    Regards Hylton

    1. Hello. Thank you for checking out my website. My first question is are you planning on pulling the water from the lake? Do you have a location that is downhill from the lake that will act as head pressure? The ram pump has to have this drop in elevation to operate. Because the pump works with a pressure wave that goes both from the source to the pump and back to the source it is not possible to use an artificial head generator. Such as a house garden hose. If you are using a creek or river you will need approximately 2 meters of head to pump water to 10 meters. The 150 meters is of little concern. I am not entirely sure what you mean by 3 inch. If that is the drive pipe then yes that will be an enormous pump. I would recommend installing a standpipe and reducing that 3″ to 1-1/4″ drive pipe. The delivery pipe can be any size you want. I hope this helps some. Please feel free to ask more questions.

  3. How deep could a 1 1/4′ pump be submerged to increase head and still work? I am on a river with approximately one foot of drop from source to pump and need to pump water approximately 14′ in elevation over 500 feet. Would submerging the pump and adding a stand pipe help to achieve this?

    great info on Land to House

    Ken Mitchael

    1. Hello. I have actually learned a lot more about the ram pump since I tested the underwater pump. The pump does gain more head pressure as the pump is submerged but that new pressure is negated as the hydrostatic pressure increases. You are better off running a supply line that feeds a stand pipe. From the stand pipe run the drive pipe to the pump. The supply line allows you to get more head pressure. Typically you do not want to run the drive pipe longer than 100 feet of the pump will lose efficiency. I hope this helps.

  4. Hi Seth, I have my pump running, 1”1/4 supply, 1” pump, 3/4” delivery, producing 2000litres a day at a height of about 10’ and 180 litres a day at 14’. My neighbour has kindly let me run the supply pipe into his property to give me more head, but to go into his property any further would be unsightly for him. I have more gradient further into my property but there is a relatively flat are in between. I was considering giving the supply a little more head by digging a sump to put the pump in maybe adding 20” to the head of water with a drain pipe heading off further down hill for the valve waste, as Mdpe is cheaper than using more 1”1/4 and moving the pump itself.
    Any alternatives to give me more lift, as I want about another 8’ lift.

    Love the videos, inspiring buddy.

    Ian S in the UK.

    1. Hello. Nice to hear you are working with the ram pump! The first thing that I would recommend is to match the ram pump waste valve to drive pipe. If your pump is 1″ I would use a 1″ drive pipe. This will increase the efficiency because the pressure wave in the pipe will match the waste valve size.

      Digging a hole in the creek is not a good idea. True you will gain head pressure by going lower but you will also have hydrostatic pressure on top of the pump. Basically this does not add any pressure. If you use PVC as the drive pipe you can expect better results than poly pipe.

  5. Seth
    When you say ‘poly’ pipe, are you meaning polypropylene or polyethylene? Does it matter? What thickness? The big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot only carry polyethylene and it seems rather thin-walled for this application… Home Depot sells 100 ft of the 1/2″ poly (polyethylene) pipe below for a mere $20 but specialty plumbing suppliers sell poly (polypropylene) which runs about $200 for 100 ft.

    Specs for Home Depot 1/2″ poly pipe
    Model # 501251004
    1/2 in. x 100 ft. IPS 125 PSI UTY Poly Pipe
    Material – Polyethylene
    Actual inside diameter (in.) 0.622
    Actual outside diameter (in.) 0.682
    Nominal Inside Pipe Diameter (In.) 1/2″
    Pipe Wall Thickness (In.) 0.08

    Based on some of your experiments with the drive pipe, I would guess that it needs to be rather rigid and perhaps a bit thicker that what is shown above in order to propagate the pressure wave properly. Could you please clarify the specifics on what you use and are recommending as poly pipe?


    1. Yes the pipe that I am talking about is polyethylene. The locals around my area call it black roll pipe.

      You will be just fine using that 125 psi pipe. I have tested pvc vs poly pipe and found that the pvc is a lot better. If you can use pvc you will have much better results. But if you need to use the poly pipe I recommend that you place a heavy rock every 5 to 10 feet to help with rigidity.

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