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This is going to sound bonkers, but what the hey.

Anyone ever consider a whirligig for a source of power for, say, a water pump?

I'm not speaking of the kind that generates electricity, then powers a water pump, but rather the old fashioned kind that came before electricity was ever used at all. I'm relatively certain that these things had to have existed at one point or another, but finding any kind of information on them is turning into quite the hassle for me.

I'll even consider using a hamster to pump water. Seriously. If they can enjoy running all night long on that squeaky wheel contraption, then I feel that they should be earning their keep. I did manage to find a hamster powered night light through the awesome power of google, but finding a way to directly pump water from the damnable wheel is a challenge.

Any one have suggestions?

I may consider setting up a pond to test these things out.

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Windmill - it may be expensive and possibly the wind may not always blow.  Hamsters get tired.

Good luck

that's close to what I'm talking about, but not quite it. Whirligigs are way smaller.

Definitely not bonkers, Debra. Although I have just started out in AP recently, I have kept the thought of an off-grid application firmly in mind. There are a few sources of these old school wind pumps, Mills Fleet Farm sells them here in the midwest. Coupling a mill like George linked to with a sizeable sump tank (for regulated gravity release) and maybe solar and/or TEG powered aeration is a system I strive for. Might I suggest the off-grid group here to access people far more knowledgeable on these matters. Good luck!

Look up rope pump.  Now I doubt a hampster is going to lift much water since they are little rodents but I've seen rope pumps powered by hand crank or a stationary bike or even by windmill and if you have a handy stream that flows down a hill by your place, you could have the falling water work to lift water for your system.

I've seen rope pumps, actually. They are not what I want to use. They waste too much water. Lol.

I know I'm picky.

I've taken apart one of my electric pumps. It was broken because of running dry, thanks to the coons getting into the pond and punching a hole in the liner some time back. The pumps are pretty simple things. Just a four prong paddle that spins thanks to the electric field generated by the tiny motor, and all the water that surrounds them in the plastic box comes out of one hole drilled into the side.

On one of my days off, I finally decided to try to make a mock up of the idea, but make it so that it had to be cranked by hand. Now. I'm not much of a mechanic. The thing was clunky, ugly, and awkward to work with; but, the mock up did seem to work. I was just hoping that there were better ideas, or even builds, out there for such a thing besides what I came up with.


It looks like everyone who has answered me so far preferrs the bigger type of solutions.

Hasn't anyone here wanted a small pump that runs on wind?

(Anyone who runs an aquaponics systems should know that the pump doesn't necessarily have to be running all the time. That's why I brought up the hamster idea. )

The pump might not need to run all the time but it does need to run fairly often and regularly or you will find yourself moving the water by bucket or cup full by hand or your fish may suffer if the wind doesn't blow or the hampster dies.

I believe there are some pretty powerful hand crank pumps out there, I don't remember the link though but I think it will take a bit more torque than the hampster or whirlygig is likely to provide.  Now maybe if you could train a Jack Russell terrier to run in a wheel, well that might provide not only enough force to lift a reasonable amount of water but also a handy outlet for some of the dog's excess energy.

now there's an idea!

actually looking up the hand crank pumps now. I hadn't realized that wording was closer to what I was looking for...

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