Pumped Up: Preserving Antique Pumps

Well drillers’ collection of antique pumps shows the evolution of the technology.

| November 2019

A 1927 F.E. Myers bulldozer pump and 1929 and 1945 Flint & Walling shallow well pumps.

In 1950, Ivan Fay Dohm started a well drilling business in Dowagiac, Michigan. A few years later, he bought a Bucyrus Erie drilling rig, built in Milwaukee, and mounted it on his truck. In 1963, he upgraded to a new GMC truck. The family believes that drilling rig, now in someone else’s hands, remains in use today.

Longevity in this business applies to people as well as equipment. Brother and sister Kelly Schaus and Chris Gamble, two of Ivan’s six grandchildren working alongside other family members, represent the third generation to operate Dohm Well Drilling.  

A Goulds hand pump with a shower attachment and towel rack (shown above the pump). Purchased in Granville, Ind., the pump is estimated to date to the 1800s.

Relics bring past to life

One of the oldest and most unique pieces in their collection is a Goulds double-acting force pump with a shower attachment and a separate towel rack. The pump (minus the shower head and longer faucet spout) listed for $23.50 (roughly $384 today) in an 1864 catalogue; production of the unit ended by 1912.

This Delco-Light Farm Electric Plant, with piston pump, dates to the 1920s.

This piece of history is Kelly’s favorite part of their collection. They have been told a pump like this was seen in an episode of the TV series Gunsmoke. Goulds began operation in 1848 and remains in business today in Seneca Falls, New York, 171 years later.

10/25/2020 10:44:30 PM

I have a deming marvalette shallow well water system. It's a single cylinder electric water pump and pressure tank. Can't find too much on what year it is. But it is cast iron. How would I find out the year?

Heather Abbott
10/16/2020 4:27:00 PM

I have a vintage Fe Myers hand water pump. we are wanting to sell and I do not know how to quote can you help me i have pictures still works cast iron has number 2299 on the side. It has a wheel at the bottom. It was owned by 4 generation family. It hasnt been used since 1950's roughly. Not painted or anything


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