Folk Hydraulic Ram Pump

This site is under construction. My plan is to share what I have learned about the amazing ram pump. So far I've uploaded some pics and videos. From here I will continue to detail the process we have gone through over the past 8 years in the installation (spring 2003), modifications and operation of our Folk Ram Pump.


Use the energy of flowing water to move water just about anywhere. We have harnessed a spring on our property and have used a ram pump to pump a continuous flow of water between 1.5 - 4.5 gpm up a rise of over 200 ft with nearly 1000 LnFt of run (in 200psi 1" poly pipe). Amazing!! And it's been running now for nearly 2 decades (installed 2003) with virtually no problems. Our biggest issue has been wanting to continually improve the overall system. 

Our newest (summer 09) modification. First you'll notice the green 3" feed line (flex irrigation pipe) coming from the collection basin. This feeds the self-cleaning filter (a simple box with a screen for the best explanation see the video). This is sitting on top of one of our earlier improvements. Another Rubbermaid trash can. It is used to provide a back shock cushion between the drive line and the collection basin. It has been flexing with each pulse now for 4 yrs. The pulsating of this tank is what allows the self-cleaning filter to work. With each pulse in flows back through the screen and washes away any collected debris. Again, see the video. 

Slice of tire sidewall makes the best washer for the constant bouncing of the flapper valve. Can't believe it took me nearly five years of cutting out pieces of various types of rubber gasket to figure this one out. Duhhh!

Haven't had to replace this one for several months now, and it's not showing any signs of wear. 

Our pump was made by Jim Folk. He does not sell his pumps directly but through Real Goods company. He has always been available to help with any problems/questions I've had, and definitely stands behind his product. Parts can still be ordered directly from him at:

Jim Folk at Folk Water Powered Ram Pumps, 2770 White Court N.E.;

Conyers, Georgia 30207, Phone (404) 922-4918

Additional Resources:

Article from Home Power magazine describing rampumps. Thorough plans on a homemade version.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hacking our ram pump

Don't get me wrong, we are tickled with our Folk ram pump. It has been pumping away for over 5 years with virtually no problems. One of the inconveniences, however, was the need to charge the system with air every month. This is due to the fact that Folk pumps have a permeable membrane in the air chamber. Other pumps, that I've read about not seen personally, use a snifter valve to keep the chamber pressurized. The down side to this is a loss in efficiency, but then you don't have to add air monthly.

Well, I think we've figured out a way to work around this issue. Recently we discovered that our permeable membrane had totally broken. This occurred because we didn't get around to pressurizing the chamber often enough. When we went to replace it, it came over us that if we could get a non-permeable membrane in place, one might never have to add air again. The trick is getting the pressure equalized on both sides of the membrane while your setting things up, without bursting the membrane. You can't see inside to tell what's going on.

What we did, was to fill the lower part of the pump with water, then place a non-permeable membrane between this and the air chamber. The purpose of the water was to create a backing for the membrane while we pressurized the chamber. Once chamber was reassembled, we started to fill the chamber with air. We knew our operating pressure was between 95-100psi, (See Calculations below) so we slowly pumped up the chamber to that pressure. When we opened the feedline with it's back pressure, everything was equalized. We didn't hear any "pop" noise, and figure we now have a non-permeable membrane in place, the pressure set, and will never (or mostly never) have to add air again. So far, 3 days into it, it's looking good. If it's still running smoothly 3 months, 6months... from now, then we'll know we've got it.

posted to Blogger by RocketRob @ Sunday, August 24, 2008

update @ Aug 2022 Still running... we've had to rebuild the self-cleaning filter screen but haven't touched the pump since.


Converting pressure in psi to head in feet

h = p 2.31 / SG (3) where h = head (ft) p = pressure (psi)

Our pressure converted to head/rise (Specific Gravity of H20 is 1)


h=219.45 ft.

Run of 1" polypipe ~600 ft.

resource link: Engineering Toolbox

New backup pump

self-clearing input screen filter

backside water flow into main collection tank. Filter screening installed since this picture ~2022

Pump in actions

tank pressure with 200' head

supply tank with overflow pipe. Feed pipe to ram is the green one at the bottom

rubber tire piece for damper gasket

drive pipe covered with straw and plastic

self-cleaning filter set up

power box for future use

excess drive water flowing out of pump house

pump house sitting on concrete base

storage tank connecting lines

valves for shutting down 2 tanks in the winter

Four 2,500 gal poly tanks, wrapped with insulation. Gravity feed to houses

Water storage house

Water lines labeled, Note: pressure sensor added to 2" pipe at the "connection to other tanks"

Arduino box with ESP8266 module for monitoring sensors: 

Ultra Sonic for water lever, Pressure for backup water lever, flow meter for pump running check

Analog guage test reading at pressure sensor installation point.

verifies pressure at ~8psi 58degF