I have discovered that fixing up an old piston pump is quite a challenge. Not that the water pump is difficult to work on, far from it, but around here, parts are a bit of a challenge to locate. I began yesterday early in the morning with a run to a place advertising pumps and pump repair parts etc. Only to discover that dispite their website saying differently, the store was not open on Saturday mornings……that was a huge letdown. So Wendy and I set off to find the parts I wanted using a phone book, visiting one hardware store after another, mostly to no avail.
I was looking for a new galvanized water tank, and a ‘pump kit’ which contains gaskets, new springs, and various other little parts for the internal workings of the water pump. At one store, Kent Building Supplies, the seemingly knowledgeable store clerk assured me that the tank he was selling me, was what I needed, and I have to admit, the picture on the box looked like what I needed. However, when I got the tank home, and opened the box, the tank, instead of being what I needed, was something entirely different. Yes, I might have been able to make it work, but it would have required extensive changes to the plumbing set up under the camp to get the pipes to line up etc. It wasn’t even made the same as the original tank. This one laid on it’s side, while the one I needed stood upright. So it had to go back.
So, except for a couple of new springs and a couple of cotter pins, that was no good. The “leathers” which came with that kit looked right at first, however after about two hours of monkeying with them, trying to get them to fit the pump, I realized they too were too big, and had to abandon that plan. The good news is, the old leathers didn’t look too bad, so I put them back in the pump. There is a lesson in this….always read the fine print…….
Frustrating or what…..However the new switch box I bought did fit, so I wired it in, and also installed a new extension cord. My Dad, always resourceful when it comes to the cottage, had a piece of gasket rubber he gave me, from which I was able to cut out a couple of new gaskets, which I installed in the pump along with a generous helping of silicone glue, which I hope will create a half decent strong seal.
After a frustrating day, and my description here does not do justice to the trouble I went through, I put the pump back together, installed the new plug and wire, and plugged it in…..it worked! Of course, no water to hook it up to, but the motor ran, the pump seemed to be pumping, and things seemed ‘normal’.
Since I began my sojourn into the rebuild a piston pump project, I have rethought things a bit. It seems that the world has moved on, everyone now is big into centrifugal water pumps, or ‘jet pumps’ as they are called. The hardware stores are full of them, as well as parts and accessories for them. On the other hand, the old reliable tried and true piston pumps have fallen by the wayside, given over to the new technology. Like everything today, you can get on board the new wave, or you can have it wash over you and leave you soaking wet……As much as I love the old piston pump, and as much as I will be continuing to use it, I have resolved (at least for now) not to put too much more time and effort and money into it. I think I would be better off to switch things over to a new jet pump. Changing over, including new hose and some alterations to the plumbing under the cottage, probably will cost around $500, however at least everything will be new, and finding replacement parts as the years go by, might be easier.
In the meantime, this summer anyway, unless it absolutely doesn’t work, I will be keeping our old piston water pump, happy to hear it chugging away under the camp. Besides I would miss those Friday nights crawling around underneath the cottage with a flashlight in my mouth, playing with water and electricity and possibly skunks….. trying to get the pump primed etc……
Today I am off to the cottage to get the old galvanized water tank. I think I can fibreglass it to get another year out of it too. It only leaks a little……I will keep you posted.
UPDATE: I apologize for not updating this sooner, but frequent readers will already know this….after several attempts to get the old piston pump working I finally said, “This is stupid” and bought myself a new jet pump! And I have to tell ya, I am more than a little happy with the new pump. So far it runs circles around the old tried and true piston pump, it’s quiet, it’s light and easy to drag under the camp, and hookup was a breeze. We did have to increase the size of the plastic hose going to the water supply, but otherwise, with the exception of the pump, no major expense. I am a happy camper with my new jet pump!
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