All's Well

So we are now proud tenants of not one but 2 pieces of land in our small village. However, we have a small issue with the allotment down by the river. The well is dry. Either side of our patch are glorious French allotments full to bursting with every conceivable type of vegetable and sweet water in abundance.

With the aid of a ladder I’ve been down the well. The base is covered with about a metre of silt and rubbish. My limited knowledge on wells leads me to believe that this muck could be acting as a cork over the Aqua Course that the well is feeding from.

Does anyone have any advice, knowledge or experience?

I forgot to mention, the river, on the surface, is dry and normaly is dry between June and October.

Couldn't resist a chance to post this little joke pen-tidy I made for Xmas for my nice doctors in Devon:

Love the first photo. It looks like an attempt by POW's trying to escape a prison camp:-)

If you use the "image" thingy next to the word "Link" at the top of a reply you can load your pics direct.

Last of the 3.

Why won’t more than one picture load?

So, we have, as of yesterday, dug out about 2 foot of sand, silt, dead cats and walnuts. Regrettably the last couple of inches uncovered several entry point! Although extremely exciting to discover that during the driest part of the year there is still a healthy supply of water, it will make the next few feet difficult to say the least. The sand and silt is now reverting to the same consistency as a half decent fish soup. I did wonder if the Pompiers may fancy a run out and a bit of a training exercise? I could put the OH down the well and they could rescue her!

A couple of pictures included again.

La Gloire De Mon Pere and La Fille Du Puisatier are too more of the same style, by Gagnol.

Or read the books Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources by Marcel Pagnol. Widely available in French or English. Both good reads.

Hello Martin et al. We have a well too, but no issues with drying up fortunately, as no close neighbours. I HAD to tell you all though, you should really watch this

It's in 3 parts.

I'm not much of a Gi-Gi fan (Gerard Depardieu) but these films are great, and if you watch them I promise you will be very amused, or probably horrified, to relate the story to your own well experiences.

You can see it all for free, with english subtitles, on youtube

Happy viewing and BE CAREFUL DOWN THERE!.

Not very deep then. Probably why the lifting gizmo was fitted. I couldn't see it holding water long enough for a long lift.

Currently 10 feet. Once dug out probably 14 or 15 feet.

Excellent! I've never seen one of these. It's not a pump, it's a water lifting device. The "rubber shoes" are pistons/plungers like one finds in a syringe. The device relies on these pistons being a tight fit in the tube so they can lift water as they rise when pulled by the chain. It's a bit like Brunels atmospheric railway. It will work as long as the pistons/seals are good, but once they wear it won't work. You would have to pump (turn the handle) pretty fast to get any water once it was a bit worn. Fascinating bit of history, don't part with it.

As a matter of interest a pump will only theoreticaly "suck up" water to a height of one atmosphere (about 10 metres) but in practice about 7 metres. This is the reason most pumps are submerged at the bottom of wells, bore holes etc. & "push" the water up. There is no practical limit to the height/pressure a modern multi stage pump can achieve by positive pressure. How deep is your well Martin?

And, frustratingly, again.

And the other pictures which didnt arrive the first time?

As requested. The photographs.

  1. Shows the well from the top. Also visible is the steel tube that the chain passes through on the up stroke and free chain is behind the tube for the downward.
  2. Shows the cranking and trough assembly. The tube connected to the hole without the weir tube and water then flowed into the trough and out through the spout.
  3. Shows the rubber shoes on the chain. These are approximately 4 feet apart.

So the operation. Lets say the level is halfway up the well and this will of course be replicated in the tube. Turning cranking mechanism will rotate the chain. The rubber plungers must have been a good tight fit and lifted the water up and into the trough. The water in the tube will naturally flow back in and maintain the same level as the well at all times.

Assumptions. The cranking mechanism would not have been easy to turn due to the snug fit in the tube.

Dear Ed,


Our hand dug wells are some 1m+ in diameter...

Look at the land and what neighbours are doing.

Most will be pumping water from boreholes so the effect is to reduce

flow to your well. Answer: bore a new hole down your well hole, deeper.

License should be OK as you are merely helping your own old well...

neighbours might not be happy but... buy old pump or new electric turbine/generator. Etc..

The advice on safety is EXCELLENT. I lost a pal

when the sides of a hole he was working in BELGIUM caved in.

Pulling him out was impossible...7+ tons of sand/mud...

So, check the sides, reinforce if you can.

TWO man job, rope, harness etc...

DAVY Lamp? Scarce as hen’s teeth.

Buy a ten cent canary in an old cage. Lower it before you.

If it goes “tummy up” there is gas/CO2 etc so give it a good burial.

Ventilate, use outflow from household vac...down pipe...

to bottom, let it run for a bit, lower new canary...leave it there, check...

and recover at end of day...etc...

To get mud out...use hose and pressure flood bottom with water

and lower in a “SLUDGE PUMP” to pump out mixture...keep going until clear...

Stones/rocks/wood/bodies more can use GRABS like

two metal basins or prongs that come together...when pulled up... easy mechanics...



I would be interested in seeing some photos of the progress too Martin if you can take a couple.

Martin. How deep is the well? I'm very interested in these old pumps so any photos would be great.

Sounds like pretty good progress to me :-) Thanks for the update.... The pump sounds pretty interesting to although I don't pretend to understand what you are saying about it :-) Good luck!!!

I will. If any well is built correctly it relies on the aqua source being able to flow. Mud, silt, rocks and dead invaders could restrict and then stem that flow overtime. With my trusty ladder in place yesterday I ventured in to remove the large debris, very nice it was too, but I prefer a Cantal currently. Anyway, not more than an inch below the top of the mud and silt water seeped in as I scraped away. In addition the old pump chain, what a beautifully simple system that was, sort of a hybrid recip pump with sliding shoes, my thought process leads me to think that exposing the lower pulley wheel will actually revert the depth back to the builders design.

I’ll keep you abreast sir. Now where is my miners headlamp?