Collecting Rams are my Hobby. Courtesy of William G. Enfield, Felton #1,Pennsylvania 17322
Enfield Felton #1, Penna. 17322
Most people sometime or other in their life time have had a hobby of some kind. It may be a simple one such as collecting buttons or stones. Other collectors go into collecting bigger things, such as steam engines and old cars. These collections sometime become quite elaborate and expensive. I believe the stories behind these collections are just as interesting as the collections themselves. It is interesting to know why and how one decided to collect or what caused one to collect this type of article.
My story, you might say, started from the time I was born. I was born on July 28, 1911 on my father's (John Enfield) farm in East Hopewell Township in the southeastern end of York County. The farm is about four miles east of the little town of Stewartstown and two miles west of Laurel, a railroad station. This is some of the best farming land in York County although there are plenty of rolling hills. In addition to the hills there are numerous springs and streams all through this wonderful land.
My father's farm contained about 96 acres, which was the average size farm in this area at that time. Electricity was not available to most of the farms at that time. Some farmers who had wells used windmills to pump water to their houses and barns. If he was fortunate enough to have a spring with an adequate flow of water he could use a simple device known as a ram. My father was one of these lucky farmers for when he purchased the farm in 1908, there was already a ram installed in a spring on the farm.
I will describe later what a ram is and how it operates. But first I would like to tell you more about my early life and how I was associated with the ram. My father had eight children (5 girls and 3 boys), so in addition to ten people to supply water for, he had many cows, hogs and chickens to provide water for drinking. This took lots of water, but the ram always pumped plenty of water. It was no fault of the ram when in the early 1930's there was not enough water for the animals and our family. We had a drought and the spring almost dried up. My father did not remove the ram from this spring but instead bought another ram that had been used on a neighboring farm. This ram he installed, with my help, in. another of our springs, Electricity finally arrived at our farm but we continued to pump our water from the spring with the use of the ram.
In 1937 I was married and moved away from the farm. That same year my older brother, Clarence, removed the ram, which was on the farm when my father bought it, and installed it in a spring on his nearby farm. He used it for about ten years and then removed it from the spring and stored it in his summerhouse. From 1937 until my father sold the farm in 1946 I still would came in contact with the remaining ram, but only on my visits home. The rams were gradually forgotten with the cares and interest of raising my own family (a boy and a girls), my work (welding at a manufacturing plant in York) and other duties of the time.
I have my own welder and during my time off from my regular job in York, I do welding for my neighbors and invent other little devices for myself. Naturally I am always interested in making anything operate which no longer operates.
One day in early spring of 1965 I was visiting my wife's sister's son, Benjamin Eaton. He had bought a farm in the same general vicinity of my father's former farm. In the course of conversation he mentioned that there was a ram in his spring in the meadow. It was no longer used to pump water because electricty was now used to pump water with the use of a pressure tank. He told me I could have it if I dug it out. So a short time later I dug out the ram, which was in a pit three feet under water. It was dirty, rusty and in need of repairs as it was not used for many years. This was a real challenge to me, but I enjoyed it all the way. This was the actual beginning of my collection, but the real desire began many years ago.
Once I had this, my first ram, working I now began looking for other rams and naturally I remembered the ones on my father's former farm. Mr. William Warner, Sr. had bought my father's farm, so I went to see him and told him my story. Mr. Warner said there was still one ram down in the spring. He said I could have it for nothing if I was willing to dig it out. I did not hesitate and in early 1966 I had my second ram. Mr. Warner also bought the farm where my brother Clarence moved to when he married. He told me that the ram which Clarence had removed from my father's farm was in the summerhouse on Clarence's old farm. I could have this ram also because it had been my father's ram. So thanks to Mr. Warner I now had my third ram. Two rams which I knew in my boyhood and one stranger. A short time later I received my fourth ram. I acquired this one from the Hershey Brothers farm in Cross Roads, which isn't too far from where I received the other rams. I also made a ram of my own, which is only of the size of a #1 size ram.
All four of the rams were manufactured by Allen Gawthrop, Jr., Inc. of Wilmington, Delaware, How old they are I do not know. The Gawthrop rams were manufactured since 1845. When these rams, which I have, were manufactured is unknown. They were still being made as late as 1927. The one from my father's farm is at least 60 year old and older.
Now what are rams and what will they do. Here is what the manufacturer says. A ram is a device for pumping water by means of waterpower, connected with a spring, creek or artesian well, with a flow of 1 gallons per minute or more. It is necessary to have a fall of 20 inches or more. When so located, it will automatically pump a good volume of the water to a height of 26 feet for each one-foot of fall available. They use no gasoline, no electricity thus no power bill. A ram will pump a continuous flow of water day in and day out, year in and year out, without one cent operating cost. The flow and fall of your own water does the pumping.
The operation is simple, it is as follows: Water flows down the drive pipe from the spring or well to the ram and develops a certain power due to this weight and velocity. It flows through the outside valve until it reaches a certain velocity then the valve closes suddenly. The column of water continues on through the inside rubber valve into the air chamber. When the pressure in the air chamber equalizes and overcomes the driving force behind it, a rebound takes place. This operation is repeated from 25 to 100 times per minute working the Hydraulic principle, building up pressure in the air chamber, which in turn forces water through the delivery pipe up to where it is desired. With each stroke of the ram the water in the drive pipe rebounds or backs up, which causes a partial vacuum under the outside valve, allowing it to drop away from its seat. Momentarily the water again begins to flow down the drive pipe and the action is repeated. When the rebound takes place a small amount of air is sucked through the air feed valve and lodges in the upper portion of the base and is forced into the air chamber when the next blow takes place; this prevents the air chamber from filling up with water. It is really very simple.
In the picture from right to left you will see the rams hooked up and working. The first one is the one which was originally on my father's farm. It is a Gawthrop Hydraulic #1 single action ram. I did not alter this ram, just cleaned and put in new valves and washers. The next one is also a Gawthrop #1 single action from the Hershey Brothers farm. I made this one into a double action ram, which means it is run by dirty creek water but pumps clear clean spring water. The third one is the one I helped to install on my father's farm in the 1930's. It is also Gawthrop ram, but a size #2 single action. This one I cut off the cast iron air chamber and put on a glass one so people could see the air space and the amout of water in it. The last one in the row is a Gawthrop #3 size, single action ram. This is the first one I received, the one I received in 1965 from my nephew. I did not alter this one only cleaned and replaced valves and washers. The little one in front is the one I made from beginning to end. It is the size of a regular #1 single action ram, but operates exactly the same as a full size one and pumps the same amount of water per size. I have this one and the one with glass top hooked up to a pressure tank. They will pump the same amount of pressure. The fall 1 have it will pump 60 pounds. Thus pump water until the pressure is the same in the air chamber as it is in the tank. The rams continue to run as before but only pumps waste water that runs away.
I used a 275 gal. gas tank for my spring and a childs swimming pool to catch the waste water that would go on down the stream then I used a electric sump pump to pump the water back in the tank.
I have had many enjoyable hours working with these rams. Not only cleaning, repairing and adjusting them but also displaying them. I never cease to be amazed at their operation. I hope you too can share this pleasure with me.
'All of us have to face the facts of life occasionally.'