Build Your Own Treadle Pump


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Important Notice:

These pages are under construction and do not yet contain full information necessary to build a pump.  We will be adding information and when complete, we will remove this notice.  Until then, feel free to browse as the site is finished. 

What is a treadle pump? 

 I asked the same question when I received a request asking me to design and build one from an organization in Haïti called CODEP.  You can learn more about CODEP by clicking on the link at the left.  

To find out what a treadle pump is, I did web searches and soon learned that they are foot-operated water pumps and are used all over the world.  They are made in many different forms from very primitive to high tech.  The high tech ones are usually made of steel and require metal forming equipment and welding for their construction.  Moreover, most of the commercial sources that sell them are not located in the Western Hemisphere, so the cost of buying and shipping a pump to Haïti is expensive.  I soon realized I needed help so I called on my friend Larry who is an engineer and excellent craftsman and together we came up with a design using commonly available materials such as wood and plastic PVC pipe.  During the design and testing phase, we kept an online blog about our experiences.  If you’re interested in the history of how we arrived at the present design, you can see the blog at or click on the link in the box to the left.

We set as our goals:

-         low cost

-         ability to be constructed out of commonly available materials

-         ability to pump water to high elevations

-         Ability to maintain in the field. 

-         Ability for a person to operate it for long periods without fatigue

We tried many different designs with variations in types of treadles, placement of pivot points, piston sizes, and piston placement to provide proper leverage.  We built models of each for testing and finally settled on the design we present here.  We also built a model and sent it to Haïti for field trials.  This pump can easily pump 15 gallons per minute to moderate elevations and higher elevations with less flow.  

Purpose of this Web Site: 

The purpose of this web site and our aim is to provide complete information including dimensioned drawings and sufficiently detailed  instructions to allow you to build your own pump.  We estimate the cost of materials to be between 35 and 40 US dollars.  The pump has many uses other than the obvious one of providing water to gardens on hillsides.  For example, many people use cisterns to collect rain water from a roof.  They then pump the water to an elevated tank in order to have gravity feed to faucets and shower nozzles in the house.  In places where there is no electricity or unreliable electrical power, this pump could be used to move water from cisterns to roof-mounted tanks.  Our hope is that people from all over the world will use our plans and  build their own pumps. 

 Jim & Larry