A HISTORY OF HYDRAULIC RAMS
John Whitehurst is credited with inventing a non-self-acting ram pump in England in 1772.B. Montgolfier, had added a valve which made the device self-acting, making the ram pump almost a perpetual motion machine when water supplies were steady.
In 1809, the first American patent was issued to J. Cerneau and S. S. Hallet in New York but it wasn’t until 1832 that information began spreading across the eastern states about the “simple pump that pushes water uphill using energy from falling water”.
Prior to the 1840′s most ram pumps in this country were imported from Europe, but in 1843, H. H. Strawbridge of Louisiana claimed to be the first to put an American-made model into use. His first ram built entirely of wood, exploded, prompting a later model boasting “cross-bolts and rivets of iron”. A cast iron ram soon followed.
The pumps intrigued water-hungry rural Americans. Benson’s Patent Water Ram could pump water from the powering stream or spring up a hill or it could use that power to push another water supply…potable water perhaps…uphill. Articles in magazines such as the FARMER’S CABINET and AMERICAN FARMER brought further recognition and understanding of the ram and its possibilities. A detailed book on the ram, published in 1842, was in its 16th edition by 1870.
In 1879, THE PEOPLE’S CYCLOPEDIA included the hydraulic ram among the 55 most important inventions in the history of mankind! It defined the hydraulic ram as “A simple and conveniently applied mechanism by which the weight of falling water can be made available for raising a portion of itself to a considerable height”.
Benson’s ram was said to “raise twice the water than any force pump will with the same water power”. It was described as “very simple and easy to keep in order”.
Patents on the ram abounded in the 1840′s and 1850′s, but after 1858 none were secured until 1870 when another burst of interest saw four patents awarded in three years.
Though many used rams for individual homes and farms, an 1852 advertisement for Birkinbine’s Patent Improved Hydraulic Ram proclaimed that the ram had pumped 20,000 gallons a day to the town of Naples, N.Y. The ad invited individuals to order a “proper ram and pipe sent them with directions for putting up”. One of the best-known large rams was the Rife Hydraulic Engine that could pump (under the right conditions) 50,000 gallons daily and 200 feet vertically. Cost was a major factor in growth of ram use. Not only were the machines inexpensive to buy, but they also were simple to install…. and they were almost maintenance free.
In 1844 John Latrobe imported a ram from England at a cost of $100.00 including 500 feet of pipe. A. J. Downing in 1847 paid only $60.60 for an American made ram and several hundred more feet of pipe. Downing’s ram itself cost only $12.00:; larger models cost as much as $30.00. Repair cost ranged from $5.00 every five years for replacement valves on the English models to Birkinbine’s claim of “repairs not over 25 cents a year”.
For more than 100 years rams were major movers of water to homes, farms, industries, railroads and towns. They contributed to improved crop production, the introduction of extensive landscaping and gardening and, perhaps most importantly, to health and sanitation. But with the advent of electric pumps, interest in hydraulic rams became dormant. Ram pumps were allowed to rust in the stream until expensive parts, fossil fuel shortages, and environmental concerns brought back to the public’s mind the need for a pump that is inexpensive, requires almost no repairs or maintenance, is self acting, and which can raise water to a considerable height.
Thus ram pumps once again began to flourish. Large models can pump water hundreds of feet vertically. But the public began searching for a ram it could readily afford, pick up easily and move if necessary.
SO, now comes the B & L Hydro-Ram. Built with high quality (PVC) and stainless steel, the pump is efficient, and will give long and dependable service. The B & L Ram is almost maintenance-free, extremely easy to set up, and is a leader in modern ram technology.