A Manual Well Pump for Grid-Down Scenarios: The Bison Pump
Guest post by Stephen Clay McGehee who blogs at The Southern Agrarian.
When we decided to add manual pumping capability to our electric pump well, it came down to two alternatives – the Simple Pump or the Bison Pump. Both are designed for different uses, so one is not necessarily “better” than the other. They are, however, very different. We chose the Bison pump. Before we discuss the Bison pump, let’s look at the Simple pump.
The well and pump company that we use – Trentham Well Drilling in Orange City, Florida – has installed a number of Simple pumps over the years and has had very good results with them. The Simple pump is significantly cheaper than the Bison pump. The Simple pump is also designed to be fairly easy to install by a reasonably skilled homeowner with a helper rather than needing to be installed using professional equipment. The Simple pump might be a good choice if you want to have a complete system stored away in case it is needed in the future. The video instructions on the Simple Pump web site show how to install it. The drop pipe is lightweight plastic and the sucker rod is thin fiberglass that can easily flex to make assembly easy. That is great if you have to install it yourself without the tools of a professional pump company. The same light weight and component flexibility that make it easy to install also mean that it clearly lacks the solid design and construction of the Bison Pump.
Where the Simple Pump is light weight and easy to work with, the Bison Pump is solid and very heavy duty. Everything about it is top quality and it is obvious that they spared no expense in making this the best hand pump available. The workmanship is flawless – welds are smooth and solid; machined parts are finished to a nice polish; moving parts work very smoothly. The material for the main pump body and the pump cylinder is solid stainless steel; the valve at the spout is brass (or bronze); the sucker rod is solid stainless steel; the drop pipe is Schedule 120 PVC. There is nothing that can rust, corrode, or deteriorate. For a hand pump installation that should last a lifetime, the Bison Pump is the hands-down winner. This is the kind of solid made-in-America craftsmanship that this country used to be famous for.
The Bison pump is not cheap (pricing information here). It is a piece of equipment that is built to last a lifetime, made from the best materials available, and designed and built by folks who truly know what they’re doing. There are some things in life where it makes sense to cut corners to save money. Bison does not cut any corners making their pumps, and when it comes to providing your family with a dependable source of clean drinking water, you shouldn’t cut corners either.
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