A New PVC Pump!

PVC Pump

I returned to the States last week, but there are still many parts to share about Panama, so I will be sending out a couple more posts about the people and projects of the past two months. 

A new PVC Pump.

Every once in a while, the little engi-nerd side (a very small part of me) is revealed and this post is one of those times. Who else would get excited about a hand-pump made out of pvc parts and a bike inner tube? 😛

The 3 guys from Youth With A Mission (YWAM) who helped drill Nelson’s well (highlighted in this post from last month) had been part of a water focus track in their training called Justice Water. They told me about a PVC pump built in Haiti and a week later they sent me a sketch of the pump. It was a design similar to one of the designs I have worked with in the past, but it was even easier to make with the limited parts usually available abroad. I built the pump with Simon and, after making some modifications of our own, developed a PVC Pump Manual in English and Spanish to help Simon to build them in the communities. At first, we made them without any power tools at all since, in most cases, we will not have access to a hand drill or drill press. We heated up different size nails to make the holes for the valves and used a machete and hacksaw for some of the large holes (like in the 4″ PVC cap).

Hammer the nail into a large stick in order to heat the nail and use it to melt the pvc pipe without getting burned. Yes, eventually the stick burns and you need to cut down another, but it is still a good method 🙂

Our first go at the hole in the 4″ cap did not end well for me. I got a nice hacksaw cut from the top of my thumb down alongside my nail. Lesson learned though and we figured out that heating the machete blade works best for cutting that particular hole.

This photo is less about my cut thumb and more about my amazing ability to include Elf quotes in my day 😉

After Simon was comfortable with making the pumps, I spent some time just producing as many parts (foot valve, pump rod valve, tops) as I could for him to use in future pumps.

One of the afternoons that I was making valves, Bella came to help me. She was particularly good at cutting the inner tube to make the little gaskets. It was so nice having a fun little helper and we made 5 valves that afternoon!

Bella fitting the inner tube into the 1″ cap to make the valve
The valves are made from 1″ caps that are sanded down to fit inside the 1 1/4″ riser main pvc pipe.

You can check out all about the pump in the PVC Pump Manual. This is my first draft, so if something doesn’t make sense, please let me know! I would love to hear if anyone tries to build one of their own 🙂

The first pump installation with the new design. We had a couple problems, so there is an extra fitting on this one where we had to cut the pipe, but it works great!

One of the short-term volunteers, Pablo, helped me finish the pump shown above. Pablo, from Germany, spent nearly a month working with Bobby on different projects on Isla Bastimentos and Isla Solarte. Pablo was a lot of fun to have as part of our Panama family and even taught us some new games (that the kids and I played over and over again).

Pablo was also a [mostly] willing volunteer for me to practice removing stitches (he had 6) and keeping wounds clean. In Panama, I like to help Shirlene where I can with wound care and put into practice some things I learned at Equip in their Missionary Medicine Intensive class. My next adventure will be putting the stitches in (yay!), but I have to wait for someone to need stitches (and I can’t go around trying to hurry someone into needing stitches. That’s quite frowned upon…)

Juan and Pablo on our last day with our German buddy

Juan is another part of the Panama family, but he is here to stay (forever, we hope!).  Juan is a gifted artist and an awesome chef. If you ever visit the new marina, all of the snazzy signs and cool wooden sinks (and more!) were created by Juan.

Another talent Juan has is playing guitar and he used that one day to cheer up the lunch crowd at Asilo. I mentioned Asilo (the asylum for elderly, physically and mentally disabled) in the post titled “5 Awesome Volunteers!”).

Dimitri playing harmonica with Juan

On this particular day, Shirlene, Ellie, Jamie, Juan and I went to spend time with the residents. Jamie and Ellie colored with a few ladies and Juan played guitar for the residents while they were in the lunch room. My favorite part of the day was when one of the wheel-chair bound residents, Dimitri, and one of the young mentally disabled ladies, Gina, joined Juan in the music. Dimitri played his harmonica while Juan played guitar and Gina sang. It was a fun mix of different tunes and sounds and a lot of laughter (Gina has a cheerful wonderful laugh 🙂 ).

I think this is a good note to end on (get it?)

Have a SuperDuper Wednesday!


4 thoughts on “A New PVC Pump!

  1. I love your updates and so happy you’re stateside! Our amazing GOD has blessed our amazing Cait…hugs sister…

  2. Cait, I just love your posts and how you can build functioning equipment from basically nothing! Glad you are back in the States and hope you can find time to get to Portland in September. It’s not Panama, but what the Hey!

    1. I was just wondering when you would be posting again, I am always astonished with your talents and endurance. You have blessed so many and have been blessed in return. Beautiful to see the child involved. Amazing the things we can learn.
      So happy to you have returned home safely!

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