Understanding pump applications
Australian Pumps’ Warwick Lorenz explains the origins, development and applications of portable petrol engine drive water pumps. Their relevance to users is often taken for granted, with many dealers and distributors largely unaware of the technical importance of correct selections.
What do users want?
They want to transfer or jet liquid at a given volume, expressed in litres per minute and at a specific head. Head, or pressure, can be expressed either as psi, bar, or metres of vertical lift. It sounds easy. In a primitive way, windmills and shadoofs can perform that function.
Users want convenience, reliability, a job carried out fast and they want low cost! The answer… enter the engine drive self-priming pump!
It’s not clear who developed this basic technology. Al Marlow, the founder of Marlow Pumps, Midland Pumps and Pacer Pumps developed the technology in the US in the 50s and 60s. Originating from a top mounted tank on top of a centrifugal pump, Al started designing tanks into the pump body to allow for self-priming. A priming port was built into the pump head to enable the pump body to be filled with water. The water being poured into the pump is held there by a check valve on the suction port. It might sounds easy today, but it changed the concept of how this equipment works.
Marlow, and other American pump builders like him, took advantage of the explosion of availability of low-cost single cylinder petrol engines coming out of Briggs and Stratton, Kohler and Tecumseh. Those giants of the small engine business of the 50s and 60s provided the power to match the self-priming pump concept.
Since then, men like Al Marlow and Jim Gorman took the same concept and added more horsepower to produce big self-priming pumps for projects as diverse as bypass sewage to construction and mine site dewatering. For farmers, the availability of lightweight portable pumps provided a new capability.
What do farmers want?
Speaking from an Aussie Pumps’ point of view, they tell us they want a lightweight portable engine drive pump that delivers exactly the right amount of head and the right amount of flow for their application. In other words, a combination of pressure and flow is as variable as any pump man’s imagination.
The reality is that farmers will use a self-priming engine drive pump for a multitude of tasks, many with different pump performance requirements. When Australian Pumps launched the Aussie Fire Chief, the pump got instant recognition because of its performance characteristics. It can self-prime from 7.6 metres vertical lift. That’s pretty important if where you are pumping from has a water level that is seven metres down.
The ‘Chief’ can move water up to 500 litres per minute depending on the engine fitted and it could deliver heads of up to 75 metres (100 psi). All of that in a pump driven by a 5.5HP Honda petrol engine!
The secret is in the big, heavy duty 7.5” impeller and the volute hydraulic designs. The Fire Chief simply delivers more water at a high head, providing a dimension of efficiency and performance. At the same time it achieved all that without overloading the Honda engine.
Another example for farmers might be an application involving pumping water up from a creek to a tank. The tank might be gravity feeding water to a number of paddocks and stock troughs.
How fast you can fill the tank is the key. If it takes an extra hour, the pump is too small and the poor old farmer may need to refuel. This can be quite inconvenient if he is doing work on another part of the property.
Flow and pressure combos are vital and unfortunately many farmers, and for that matter dealers, don’t necessarily have access to reliable performance information on the products they sell.
An obvious application for fire pumps for farmers and professional firefighting authorities is putting out spot fires or even, with larger self-priming pumps, providing a level of village fire protection. For the farmer, the pump can be used for agricultural sprays transfer, spray irrigation and plant wash-down.
Big pumps make sense
Stimulated by the huge success of the Fire Chief and the continual feedback from users, Australian Pumps launched their ‘Gusher’ range.
With flows of up to 2,600 litres per minute, the pumps gave farmers a whole new idea of how to get large volumes of water moved conveniently. Pumps can move huge volumes using a single cylinder petrol engine like the Honda 13HP GX390 or Yanmar 10HP Diesel.
The pumps can be thrown in the back of a ute, so instant water harvesting can be carried out where necessary.
The ‘Gusher’ range evolved into Aussie’s Brigade Boss series. The Brigade Boss are high pressure versions in 3” and 4” capable of big flows and high pressure.
These pumps make great village protection firefighting units, high pressure transfer pumps and are being used in applications as diverse as mine site fire stand-by, high pressure transfer and dust suppression on construction sites. The Brigade Boss is probably the most popular dust suppression pressure pump.
These big pumps provide the same level of convenience as a 5.5HP pump but, can deliver big performance matched with convenience; heads of up to 70 metres are available, delivering big volumes at 50 or 60 metres head.
For a farmer, comparing the time it takes to transfer water with a 400 litre per minute fire pump compared to a 1,800 litre per minute ‘Gusher’ is a no brainer. Apart from that, the volume of water produced compared to the fuel consumed is obviously also a major saving.
Protecting the suburbs
Self-priming high pressure firefighting pumps are available from Bunnings, tool shops, irrigation shops and specialised pump dealers. Small engine dealers, for example Honda outlets, also generally stock good quality high pressure pumps, powered by Honda.
Many of the products being sold are third world production with copy Honda engines and pumps that look like a version of an obsolete Davey design.
The problem is that although the pump looks like a pump and has all the physical features, its performance may not meet expectations.
The urban purchaser, with the best will in the world, may not get around to reading the manual or testing the product until he or she sees smoke on the horizon.
It’s a popular concept that you can protect the house in the event of a bushfire, provided you have a swimming pool or water supply conveniently nearby. All of that is a waste of time if the pump won’t prime, the engine won’t start or the instructions have gone missing.
Dealers and distributors have a duty of care to make sure that the pumps being sold come with some form of documentation. Training data that shows the buyer what to do in the event of fire is essential.
Australian Pumps produce a ‘Survival Guide’ for consumers and give it away free of charge through dealerships across the country as part of the company’s philosophy in giving back to the market.
How about dealers? What’s their job?
That’s simple. A dealer’s job is to make sure the customer buys the best product available for the application. Understanding how to qualify the customer and make sure they understand the job is simple stuff.
Australian Pumps’ unique pumpology guide book is a training course that can be applied anywhere around the country.
‘Aussie Pumpology’ is readily available as part of the company’s commitment to consumers. Dealers don’t want customers complaining that they have bought the wrong pump, and blaming the dealer. Dealers need that like a hole in the head.
Dealers need confidence that the product they are supplying is the best, has an engine that is fully supportable (Honda is a very good example of that) and is backed by a suitable warranty.
Aussie Pumps backs theirs with a unique five year pump warranty on all quick prime ranges of pumps (including the Fire Chief).
A recently announced extension of the warranty on Aussie QP pump to four years on Honda engines by Honda is double insurance for the user that they are getting the best possible combination of pump and engine, with an exclusive five plus four warranty backed support programme.
Free copies of Aussie Pumps’ Bushfire Survival Guide and the Aussie ‘Pumpology’ training course are freely available from Australian Pump Industries on 02 8865 3500, or check out the website www.aussiepumps.com.au.