Turning Water Motion Into Water Pressure! Amazing!


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well on first start-up but suffered from a design flaw which caused a loss or “dissolving” of air in its pressure chamber. This in turn caused an intensive banging in the entire mechanism.

It was his son Pierce Montgolfier that solved the problem by developing and designing-in the air or “snifter” valve to reintroduce air into the chamber. (Most home built designs try to either simplify or work around the complexity of a snifter valve). Skip forward to the present and not very much has changed design wise in the last couple of hundred years. The UK based company Green & Carter now holds the original patents of both John Whitehurst and Joseph Montgolfier and are in business today manufacturing and installing their Vulcan Ram’s the world over. Visit them on the web at: http://www.greenandcarter.com/ 

In the original Montgolfier design (diagram shown below), a water supply or delivery pipe feeds into a larger bored pipe that is turned up at the end and also necked down creating both a pinch point and a venturi effect causing the water to increase in speed and pressure at the exit. The iron ball, which was most probably a cannon ball that happened to be handy would fit easily into the larger bored pipe but was larger enough that it could not escape out the venturi at the end of the pipe. The force of the water flowing into the larger bore pipe would push the “cannon” ball down the bore and into the venturi suddenly stopping the flow of water.

This sudden blockage of the delivery pipe would cause a dramatic increase in the water pressure behind the ball commonly referred to as “water hammer:” which in turn forced a small amount of water through a one-way valve and into the air chamber and delivery pipe. The pressure would then dissipate and release the iron ball, it would roll back into the larger bore area and the cycle would begin all over again. In operation the water would have been delivered in short pulses under high pressure into the air chamber which would act as a buffer, smoothing out the supply of water heading into the delivery pipe and on its way to the intended destination.

The addition later of the snifter valve allowed a small amount of air to enter into the air chamber keeping the system operational for much longer periods of time between normal inspections and servicing. Some of these designs ended up being quite large with drive pipes exceeding 8 inches in diameter. That must have been quite a site to see them operate.

Now go figure out your water flow, and build a ram-pump for your water needs!

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