One of the problems we face in Guatemala is the result of the heavy use of hand pumps. We count Baker Manufacturing as one of our supporters and they make available the best hand pumps at prices we can afford. Pumps with brass cylinders, heavy castings and stainless steel pump rods. These pumps are engineered to be tough and they can normally be expected to give many years of good service without repair.
But the uses we put them to are not normal. There are often 300 to 400 people in a village. Because of this, the pumps are in constant use. The water is usually high in iron and high in particulates and that might contribute to the wear rates, but we have found in some villages that the pump will need to be serviced with new leathers every three or four years or less.
We have found the holes in some of the pump handles wear oval and other holes get wallowed out and the joint gets sloppy. The threaded brass bushing that guides the pump rod get worn to the threads and sometimes beyond. We have had to replace handles and other parts, and we have been looking at ways to address this wear problem. We have tried to weld material into the hole and then drill it out, but that is really not satisfactory.
During a recent trip to a dentist in Santa Elena, (who is from Spain and has as good equipment as a dentist in the states and speaks very good English), Gary noticed a very nice looking machine shop. He went in and saw good milling equipment and the owner was immediately knowledgeable as Gary explained to him that we needed to do.
The next time Gary went to Santa Elena, he took a new handle and a few worn ones and other parts that needed to be repaired. In all there needed to be 17 bushings installed. The owner looked it all over, said he could help us and gave us a price of about 200 Quetzals for each bushing installed and he would supply the bushings. That is about $25 USD.
In a few days, Gary went back and picked up the handles and other parts. The work appeared to have been done carefully. The bushings were installed and looked right and the parts repainted. Gary learned he made the bushings out of 1” bar stock and drilled out the 5/8” hole. Perhaps this problem is solved. Time and use will tell. We will give them plenty of both.